Sunday, July 27, 2008

Conference Update #2

This morning's session had Mark Cahill as the speaker. Mark is a speaker whose ministry is to equip and encourage believers to boldly stand up for what they believe. He is also author of two books....One Thing You Can't Do In Heaven and One Heartbeat Away.

Mark's talk was more than just a was a spiritual spanking of sorts due to the fact that most Christians do no share their faith. He told us that when he checked in at the hotel he asked the gal behind the counter how many people from the conference she had checked in. The answer, of course, was many. He then asked her how many of those people had shared Jesus with her as she checked them in. The answer, as you can imagine, was zero.

To be honest, the style of his talk was a bit unsettling to me personally. I'm not saying it was bad or wrong...just unsettling. Many times that is good because it is when we are unsettled that we often really grapple with issues being talked about and that is very positive. I left grappling with some issues from this morning's session which I am grateful for hearing. For example, I loved the challenge being given to our fellowship of churches to witness. Boy, do we need that! But I sometimes wonder if guilting people into witnessing is the most effective way of equipping them (by the way, I am not saying that Mark did is just a thought that crossed my mind and that Matt McElravy and I talked about after the session).

I appreciate so much those who like Peter in the New Testament can just boldly walk up to anyone and ask a spiritual hot question like, "What do you think happens when you die?" But I wonder if that approach is the best approach for every believer? Now don't get me wrong, I am not saying that this is a bad approach. I believe that the best approach when it comes to sharing your faith is the approach that you actually use and I have used this direct approach many times before. But I also believe that there are many different styles of evangelism and ways to share Christ and I am not always sure that trying to narrow everyone's approach to one style or method is the most effective. I wonder how many people after being strongly challenged to participate in the direct approach with strangers respond by saying, "If that is evangelism...I can't do it so I just won't be involved at all and leave it to the evangelists among us." Again, I am just sharing out loud some thoughts I have been grappling with this afternoon which made the session this morning very effective.

Mark's talk was a great reminder that at the very least, wherever I go I need to start conversations with people I pass and see if God is doing anything in their lives that I can join Him in planting a seed in or watering a seed that had been previosuly planted by another. In fact, after the session Matt and I were at Best Buy and we were able to strike up a great conversation with an Italian man named Francesco who teaches Physical Education at a local high school and who is Catholic. We talked for a good 10-15 minutes and were able to bring the conversation around to spiritual things quite easily. Francesco asked a lot about our church and so I gave him one of my business cards that had our church's website on it.

Mark kept coming back in his talk this morning to a point that I have been thinking about a lot this afternoon. He said that witnessing is a conversation, not a presentation. I like that. If we could just learn how to start conversations with others we would be amazed at the direction God takes it. Anyway, Mark gave me a lot to chew on. He is also speaking tonight about how to use culture to share our faith. I am really looking forward to that session. Something else that was cool about Mark. Most speakers talk about their books a lot and then enourage you to go to the book table and buy them. Mark talked about his books a lot but then he gave every person at the conference a free copy of each of them. How cool was that? I look forward to reading them over the rest of this summer.

Matt and I picked up Doug Kegarise at the Tampa airport this afteroon and then we went to Smokey Bones for lunch. It was great hearing all about the exciting things that happened at Youth Conference. Be sure to plan on being at the youth led outdoor communion this Sunday evening, August 3rd to hear testimonies from our teens and to see several teens baptized!

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