Category Archives: Evangelism

6 Ways To Promote the Gospel & Demonstrate Your Love for Others This Easter

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This is a body life post for Grace Bible Church of Pleasant Hill

  1. PRAY before coming to worship. Pray for the word being preached on Good Friday and Sunday. Pray for the gospel to be made clear. Pray for the Sunday school teachers. Pray for the visitors. Pray for any last minute decisions being made whether to attend or not. Pray for the nursery workers, ushers and greeters. Pray for the worship leader and worship team. Pray for those serving in the media ministry and those having to stay at home to watch online. Pray for the Hispanic meeting. Consider coming to pray at the 8:15 a.m. prayer meeting. Consider staying to pray at the beginning of the 2nd hour service.
  1. Arrive EARLY to our worship services with your heart prepared to exalt the Lord for His gracious salvation. Show your concern and love for others by not being a distraction by arriving after the service of worship has already begun. This is a simple act that shows consideration for others.
  1. Park a bit further from the facility. Show your love and concern for visitors by not taking the closest parking spots but instead leaving those for our guests. Help people find their way if you see them in the parking lot.
  1. Sit up front. Show your love and concern for visitors by not forcing them to sit in the front seats in a new and sometimes intimidating setting. However, if you have small restless children sit closer to the exits and rear of the worship center. Be willing to give “your seat” to a visitor.
  1. Sing and praise God with your whole heart. Set aside your personal preferences and remind yourself that you are not a consumer but a worshipper. You are here to offer your praise to God and He is worthy of your attention, involvement and vocalized praises. It’s all about HIM. HE is the audience of ONE. Outsiders and children see the reality of your faith expressed by your genuine engagement in the worship of God.

Here is the link to the new resurrection praise song (“It is Finished”) we learned last week. Become familiar with it:

  1. Be gracious and hospitable. Reach out and introduce yourself to any and every new person you have the opportunity to greet. Ask people if there is anything you can do for them. Help people that look lost find their way around the facility. Offer visitors a free Bible or gospel literature found in the lobby.

Remember, you are the hands, feet and mouth of the Lord to others.

“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious…” (Col. 4:5-6a).

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A Tremendous Time to be “In the World but not of it”

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We live in a time of unprecedented opportunity for the gospel. The history of the church in the world is at a crossroads due to globalization and technological advancements in communication. The world is in a constant dialogue and the church has a voice in it. The frustration and anger in our society due to political and financial struggles is more than palpable in the current presidential election year. At the root are troubles and hardships common to all of us. We are surrounded by people who need the gospel truth of Christ.

As I sat in my study this week with my window open I could hear a man yelling obscenities and venting his frustration at someone on his cell phone. My prayers are now being shaped by what I’m seeing in the election debates and hearing on the street. I’m asking, “Lord give the church an audience with people such as these. They are everywhere. What can I say to them Lord?” What are we to do in such unprecedented times?

To the church at Philippi Paul wrote, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life…” (Phil. 2:14-16a). Several things in these verses deserve our attention.

First, Paul encourages the church to pursue a harmonious existence within the body. The world is in disarray and people have forgotten how to disagree with respect and courteousness. Self-love and discontent is the order of the day. But Christian contentment (a theme Paul takes up later in this epistle) is a breath of fresh air in a selfish, whining and complaining world. We have so much to be thankful for even in our disagreements.

Our world is divided into ever-smaller tribes due to the concept of “personal preference” as a most important defining principle wrongly derived from “individual rights.” Like the many warring tribes struggling for power in Egypt, Iraq and now Libya, our society is collapsing into special interest groups each advocating for their interest. The church’s ability to unite people of diverse backgrounds, socio-economic status, color, race and language in a single loving and harmonious community is starkly different. This is just ONE simple area of the church’s life in Christ that is contrasted to the world. Think of how many other aspects of our life together can potentially stand out against the darkness.

Second, it is this sort of practical Christ-like, Spirit-produced behavior that proves or demonstrates that Christians are “children of God.” Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn. 13:35). Elsewhere, Jesus also said that when we love our enemies then we are “sons of our Father in heaven” (Mt. 5:45). The grumbling people of the wilderness generation, by contrast, were repudiated as “no longer his children (Dt. 32:5). Love, said Francis Schaeffer, is the “final apologetic” and it is the believer’s “badge.” It is one thing to confess the faith and be listed on the roster of a local church; it is another to display love—the fruit of the Spirit.

Third, though this Christian community is contrasted to the world it is “in the midst” of a “crooked and perverse” generation that this excellent life is lived out. The church cannot be so separate as to not be “in the midst.” This is a reflection of the old adage to live “in the world but not of it.” The church family and the individual believers that comprise it are to be distinguished by its behavior yet there can be no distinction without proximity. This may take place in the work place, neighborhood associations, schools and other normal intersections of life. The church is distinctive in its handling of things such as money, sexuality, opportunity, difficulties, family, power and influence and this distinctiveness is noticed in our interactions with the lost.

Fourth, the result of being “in but not of” is that “you appear as lights in the world.” The word Paul uses means “luminaries” (Greek phosteres). The term is used in the Greek version of the Old Testament in Genesis 1:14-19 of the sun, moon, and stars. As F. F. Bruce notes, “these luminaries do not shine for their own sake; they shine to provide light for all the world.” You and I possess what the frustrated masses need – the light of the truth. God’s truth informs and shapes all of life. Hence, His light can be seen in all aspects of our behavior and speech. It is recognized as HIS light when we verbalize the fact that the source of our insight or reason for living the way we do is the Lord Jesus. If we leave people to supply their own explanation they might reason that we live the way we do because we are “religious” or “moral” or perhaps we are Mormons or practice yoga and are very “centered.” What gives glory to God is our verbalizing the reason for our behavior as rooted in the gospel and our relationship with Jesus Christ. This is “confessing” Him before men.

How are some believers doing this? How are some encouraging others to do this? What does this look like in my field? These are good and helpful questions. My own pastoral suggestion is to live in community with other believers in order to discuss these matters and pray together. This is one of the benefits of our small groups. The testimonies of God’s grace in other people who face similar circumstances can be tremendously encouraging and challenging. This can take shape along the lines of our existing community groups or I can imagine forming small groups based upon scheduling or geographical challenges.

For example, I have read of churches in city centers forming “vocation groups” in order to meet other Christians in their profession and talk about the challenges and opportunities they share and how they are building bridges for the gospel in their specific field. This might provide not only examples and insight but prayer partners that really “get” what you face. To this end I can imagine student groups, public servants, teachers, homemakers and others meeting for a handful of times. These are but a few suggestions.

We live in a time of unprecedented opportunity for the gospel. The world is listening and watching. Sit for just a few hours on a park bench or a BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station or a town center and you will see the pain, confusion and turmoil of those “wandering in the darkness” as Jesus spoke in John 8. This is a great time to appear as lights in the world. Let’s find ways to do this together and individually by the grace of God.

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The Fruit of Small Seeds and Deeds

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A Few Reflections on Sunday’s “God at Work” Testimony

Periodically we have the opportunity to be blessed by a personal testimony demonstrating how God is living and active in the life of people through the ministry of our local church. This Sunday we learned how the Lord brought a young man and his fiancé to faith. It began with someone giving her a small book to read and culminated in attending our bible narrative study “The Story of God” and a personal discipleship through the book “What is the Gospel?” In the end, our gracious Lord brought them to see Jesus is Lord of all.

In their heartfelt account we learned that they first came into contact with our church through the unpretentious ministry of our Christmas Carolers during the Christmas holiday in 2010. It was there that they were invited to a Christmas worship service and given a cup of hot chocolate. Four years later he was standing before us sharing the story of their journey to faith. Think about this, it started with Christmas hymns on a rainy night, a cup of hot chocolate and a small in-house designed invitation card. Take a moment to reflect on the many “small” contributions made in each of those components.

Their testimony reminds us that we often see very little of the fruit of our ministry. Paul states, “I planted, Apollos watered but God caused the growth.” By the time gospel seeds come to fruit the original seed caster is often no longer around. But all along the way there were people contributing to the cumulative process in which the Holy Spirit was drawing and illuminating people to the grace of God in Jesus. They also don’t often see the fruit of their watering and many don’t ever even see their contribution at all. I am so thankful the Lord drew the curtain back on their story and highlighted some of the details for all of us.

In light of this, I want to encourage all the “behind the scenes” people and all who wonder if the little gestures and contributions really make a difference to remember the words of Paul.

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” – 1 Corinthians 15:58

Please consider how you can make similar small but significant contributions to watering the seeds of the gospel in the lives of others. I offer a few suggestions below which I read recently in another blog entitled “20 Ways to be Refreshing in the Local Church” over at The Gospel Coalition. You can find the entire list and post here.

  • Greet people on Sunday mornings with a smile. It is o.k. to let your face say that you are “happy” to be at church. Go out of your way to say, “Hi,” ask questions about the lives of others, and listen attentively.
  • Visit the widows and shut-ins of your church. Take an afternoon and visit three or four. Sit, talk, listen, and be willing to look at their photo albums—all of them (1 Timothy 5:3)!
  • Have a mouth that is overflowing with grace (Ephesians 4:29) and is slow to wander down any other road.
  • Show up each Sunday morning with a mental list of three or four people that you are going to find and minister to (Philippians 2:4). Many of us walk into church with an attitude of, “I wonder who will minister to me today.” Nothing can be as drastically encouraging to a local church’s membership than a people united in the understanding that they are there to serve and love one another.
  • Don’t rush out of church on Sunday mornings. Be one of the last to leave because you are taking the time to talk with everyone you can (this will be hard for the introvert—but some of the most engaging and refreshing people I have served with are introverts. They wear themselves out on Sunday morning). The football games and lunch will be there fifteen or thirty minutes later.
  • Often remind others of the benefits of salvation and the graces that flow from union with Christ. Let it season your conversations.
  • Routinely have a crock-pot meal or roast cooking on Sundays and spontaneously invite a visiting family or family-in-need for supper following the service.
  • Seek out those visiting the church, get to know them, and introduce them to others. Find connections and be a networker to the glory of God.
  • Aim to remember peoples’ names and greet them by name each Sunday (I wish I was better at this, because it means so much to people). The Cheers’ theme song had a point, we all feel loved when our name is known (Isaiah 49:16).
  • Get to know the children of the congregation and seek to talk to five different children each Sunday morning (Matthew 19:14).
  • Know the Word and season your conversations with it. This isn’t to impress others, but rather to encourage them in the faith. The Word does not return void (Isaiah 55:11).
  • Write and mail anonymous encouragement notes to members of the congregation. Why are we so hesitant to pass out encouragement? We can never encourage others too much (1 Thessalonians 5:11).



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Books I Read on Sabbatical

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BooksThis summer’s sabbatical was not to be a “working” break so I read very little by way of methodology and philosophy of ministry. It’s hard for me to turn off the utilitarian “how could this improve our ministry?” perspective. As I result, I started with Black Hawk Down, by Mark Bowden. This is a fast moving and intense historical account of the longest sustained firefight involving American troops since the Vietnam War, which took place in Mogadishu, Somalia. This book later became a major film. Hardly a “church methods” volume (though the portrayal of human courage and sacrifice could possibly rouse the apathetic).

I usually read one historical war novel each summer, mostly those set in WWII, but this was given to me by a friend so I dove right in.

I won’t comment much on each of the remaining books but will provide a few thoughts.

Holy Bible – English Standard Version

I’m still familiarizing myself with this wonderful contemporary translation. I read through the Book of Psalms, Ecclesiastes, 1 and 2 Timothy, Ephesians and the Gospels of Matthew and Mark.

George Whitefield – a Biography by Arnold Dallimore

I really enjoyed Dallimore’s concise biography of Charles Spurgeon and found this work to be just as readable and digestible. A sweeping overview of a man used by God to awaken so many. The vigor and relentlessness of Whitefield’s devotion came through clearly and was what struck me the most. It is a fast paced condensed version of his massive two-volume set.

Spurgeon on Leadership – by Larry J. Michael

This book is more than a collection of quotes and excerpts from Spurgeon’s writings. Each section includes comments, reflections and thoughtful contemporary application. A worthwhile  read for those less familiar with Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students.

Evangelism – by Mack Stiles

Stiles lives what he writes and this comes through on every page. A quick read that will not leave you discouraged with your own evangelistic blunders. Rather, it will stir you to prayerfully consider how our Lord could use your work-a-day life to reach others and how to contribute to a church culture of evangelism.

The Art of Intelligence: Lessons from a Life in the CIA’s Clandestine Service – by Henry A. Crumpton

This was the only E-book I completed. It is New York Times best-seller. I enjoy a good spy mystery but this was no fantasy espionage. Crumpton is a 24 year veteran of the CIA and he provides fascinating insight into how the post-911 military response took shape and why the CIA became the tip of the spear. He will make you reflect on the value and necessity of foreign and domestic data acquisition.


Here are a couple of volumes I read from but did not quite complete during the summer months.

Lit! by Tony Reinke

This is a book on how and why to read books. It’s nowhere near as long and technical as the best-selling classic How to Read a Book, by Mortimer Adler. It will spark you to re-evaluate your time spent in the digital world and might even inspire those who think they don’t like to read or don’t have time. It is written with a Christian world-view in that it cherishes the Christian imagination and value of Holy Scripture. Ironic that I didn’t complete the book on how to complete books!

The Life of Martyn Lloyd-Jones – a biography by Iain H. Murray

This is a one-volume condensed version of Murray’s two volumes published a few decades ago. Murray sat under the ministry of Lloyd-Jones and his first hand knowledge and access to original sources comes through. No modern Christian celebrity-ism here. A bit slow at first, this biography traces how God sovereignly used a humble doctor and man of prayer to proclaim the truth of the gospel to a time and people that did not want it.

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Diving into Diversity with the Gospel Pt 2

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Reflections from GBC Mission Conference – 2014

Our mission conference week has concluded here at GBC in Pleasant Hill. It was a tightly packed eight days with a focus on “Reaching the Unreached” people groups. Most of the emphasis was upon increasing awareness of the concept of unreached people groups (UPG) and the dynamics of the diversity that exists in the Bay Area alone.

Specifically, we learned there are 13 various UPG’s living in the Bay area,  totaling 730,000 people. Often these groups are more open to the gospel – or at least expect that they will hear about Christianity –  simply because they believe the USA to be a Christian nation. This affords us with many opportunities to enter into discussion with them regarding the good news of Jesus. The map below outlines their distribution throughout the Bay Area (click to see more clearly).

UnReached in the Bay Area - gospel - reformed While the conference was primarily informative by design, the question was asked “What’s next?” That is to say, “What are we as a church going to do to take the gospel to the nations in our backyard?”

What we do as the “church gathered” is under prayerful consideration and will be communicated as initiatives take shape. It was great to see a high interest level among the flock in response to becoming aware of the number of UPG’s in the Bay Area (over 100 in attendance). This will help us as we evaluate the various options before us.

But in the meantime we should all remember that the “church scattered” (that’s you and me living our normal daily lives) is always on mission. The calling to make disciples belongs to each of us. Christ in His sovereign grace fulfills the great commission – we obey it. We have now been made better aware of a potential harvest field and we don’t necessarily need organized outreaches or evangelistic efforts sponsored by the Mission Ministry to respond to the challenge set before us. Here are a couple of steps you can immediately begin to individually consider.

1 – Can the normal routine of your life be shaped to place you in contact with UPG’s? When we had an active college ministry on the UC Berkeley campus I would study half a day per week in one of the campus libraries or public spaces and have lunch locally. My aim was to shape the rhythm of my life to some degree around the students, waiters and other contacts. The fruit of this was several gospel conversations with students as well as a growing understanding of their world-view. Most of the concentrations of UPG’s are not in our immediate vicinity but many of you travel, commute and work throughout the Bay Area. What steps can you take to deliberately routinely intersect with them?

2 – Consider opening your home to an international exchange student. Students from many nations move here to attend Diablo Valley College because it is a stepping stone to UC Berkeley. Consider opening your home to one of these internationals. Several families in our church already do this including one of my own children. As a result a Chinese exchange student has heard the gospel many times and repeatedly experienced the love of a Christian household. He has been a part of our Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings for a couple of years. You can find all the information you need at this website.

3 – Consider serving at the International Christian Fellowship. This ministry was introduced by Tim Williams on Wednesday evening. There are various opportunities there for any who would like to take a first few steps towards interacting with internationals. You can find more info at their website.

Mission Fair Booths a Success

Sunday afternoon, following second hour worship, the fellowship hall was lined with various booths. Each booth offered information on upcoming short-term mission trips or other mission opportunities. Our thanks to our own Tim Hammack and the crew from Bay Area Rescue Mission for providing tasty morsels at each station. I had to leave for a special luncheon with one of the visiting missionaries before stopping at each booth but from what I was told the hall was eventually packed tight and there were 61 different requests for further information or expressions of interest in volunteering.

Hispanic Ministry Hosts Pastor David Robles

Pastor David Robles Second from Left

Pastor David Robles Second from Left

While many of us were in the second hour worship service the Hispanic ministry was meeting across the street in the Teen Center as they routinely do. However, this week they had the special privilege of listening to the word preached by David Robles. David is the preaching pastor of a growing church strategically situated in Leon Spain. He was in California attending a conference and accepted our invitation to speak. His presence provided both a link to our church’s mission focus and a personal connection to another Spanish speaking ministry serving Christ in a difficult foreign country. We hope to hear more about David and his ministry soon.

GBC Hispanic Ministry Gathering

GBC Hispanic Ministry Gathering

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Diving into Diversity with the Gospel

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Responding to the Reality of Unreached People Groups in our Back Yard

Harvest is Plentiful

Our focus this week here at GBC is on “Reaching the Unreached.” There is a lot on the calendar designed to create a greater awareness of the vast array of opportunities that surround us right here. It is our hope that the Holy Spirit will produce  a deep love for the many ethnic groups that live in the Bay Area and that this will lead to focused efforts at penetrating these communities with the gospel.

According to Wikipedia nearly 43% of California residents speak a language other than English at home. This is a proportion far higher than any other state. The Bay Area leads the state in this multiplicity of language. I offer this graph to help you visualize this diversity. It was formulated with US Census data. It does not reflect unreached people groups per se but it does vividly portray the mixture of nations in our own back yard.

Bay Area Ethnic Diversity

Bay Area Ethnic Diversity

Wednesday evening’s meeting will shed light on the difference between “unreached people groups” and ethnic diversity.  Not everyone agrees on a precise definition but Tim Svoboda of YWAM offers the following:

An unreached people group is a sociological grouping of people that shares a common affinity with one another and does not have an adequate amount of indigenous believers and resources amongst them to evangelize their own group of people.

You can find more information on “unreached people groups” at the Joshua Project.

As a congregation we will be discussing not only definitions and principles but practical ways we can begin to be more proactive in targeting efforts towards the unreached. I want to point you to the following article in order to prime the pump for this topic:

It is a post alluded to by Dustin in his message this past Sunday and written by Trevin Wax entitled “Failure to Live on Mission is a Worship Problem.”

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