Scripture: Matthew 28:16-20
Sermon: The Pointer
by Pastor Todd Buurstra
Finger #3 in our Discipleship Vision is the pointer finger which is about servant evangelism. What’s that?! you say. I’m not sure if I’m comfortable with evangelism.
Did you hear about the church in Warsaw, OH who is evangelizing by picketing the Fox Hole Strip Club? Yup. Pastor Bill Dunfee of the New Beginnings Ministries says, and I quote, “we cannot share territory with the devil.” So they travel the 9 miles past Amish buggy crossing signs and cornfields into the one traffic light town of Warsaw to picket. For the last four years the church has been photographing license plates and interrogating patrons, Does your mama know that you’re here? Lola, her pole dancing name, says that her profits are cut by as much as 90%! Now the strippers are picketing the church. On Sundays, as the church folk file past on in ties and full-length skirts, Lola and friends, “fueled by Cheetos and nicotine,” sunbathe in bikinis by the road. They get a few honks from pick-up trucks. Even as Pastor Dunfee has offered to help the strippers pay for food, rent, and utilities if they leave The Fox Hole, is this evangelism? I get a little nervous talking to strangers about faith anyway, so I don’t fancy being between a sick man and a pole dancer when I do it. Is this why the Great Commission has become the Great Omission? Assuming Pastor Bill’s way is a little off, what is Jesus’ way of evangelism?
Let’s lift our minds from the gutter to the Mount of Transfiguration. There Jesus stands delivering his parting words to his followers. Some prostrate themselves before the Risen One, literally, licking his hand like a dog. But according to v. 17, others, and I’d be in this group, “doubted.” I’d doubt if Jesus commissioned me to talk/picket the world into believing in Jesus.
And yet in 300 short years the same Roman empire that crucified Jesus and fed Paul to lions, was christened, “The Holy Roman Empire.” How? Historians tell us that Jesus’ followers got busy doing what Jesus would do: take in sick pagans, and treat women and slaves as equals; bury beggars who died on the side of the street… I’d call those Jesus deeds, servant evangelism.
In Jesus’ last words in Matthew, otherwise known as the Great Commission, notice he emphasizes, not talking, but doing. There are 5 verbs: go, make, baptize, teach, obey. Sounds like that old monk’s dictum: preach always; if necessary use words. Jesus’ servant evangelism.
You see, knocking on doors, or picketing strip clubs with Bible verses, or threatening to tell on someone to their mama is awkward because it isn’t serving but demanding. If Pastor Bill and flock just took collections to help the strippers pay for rent and food, that’d be Jesus’ way!
And so it is with you. Stand if you volunteer in some community organization outside of the church: school, a non-profit, send shoeboxes to troops, etc. You may be doing Jesus’ servant evangelism. All that’s required is to let the Spirit lead you when to combine your DEED with a DESCRIPTION of why you do this: I coach soccer because God put me on earth to make it better. Now stand if you volunteer for church as a: greeter, coffee hour host, usher, groundskee-per, etc. Those types of service may be evangelism. For example, if you mostly talk to people at church whom you know, then you’re serving yourself. But, if you interrupt a friend to say, Sorry there is someone I don’t know, I need to greet them first, you may be doing servant evangelism.
One of our 90 year old saints was telling me how much she enjoys Love Inspired, a wholesome version of the Harlequin romances. She says there’s no sex, couples pray; it’s healthy. Now she admits that she still enjoys the trashy Harlequins, but has been reading more Love Inspired lately. So what does she do? She brings her Love Inspired books to her senior center for others! That’s servant evangelism, the pointer finger of our discipleship vision!
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