Evangelism and National Hoops Ministries


Most conservative churches are struggling in the area of evangelism. The leaders will readily admit it. Most pastors are discouraged by the fact that we seem to be doing a pretty lousy job of spreading the Gospel message to the lost. I believe that conversion is God’s job, but evangelism is our job. And it seems we’re pretty anemic at doing our job.

nhoop_logo.jpgWhen it comes to methods, we seem to be just as confused and discouraged. Most Gospel tracts seem to be tossed aside (Truly, when is the last time someone came to your church or got saved because of a Gospel tract?). Christian rock concerts compromise our philosophy of ministry. We have reacted against the “felt needs” approach. Door-to-door evangelism can be helpful in inviting people to church but is rarely effective in seeing someone come to genuine conversion. And what do we have left?

Unsaved people aren’t knocking our doors down on Sunday morning to hear our message. Many have jumped on the bandwagon of relational evangelism only to discover that it’s much more difficult than “confrontational” evangelism. It takes more time and often has the same result as more direct approaches. Worse, relationships sometimes develop, but people never share the message. Bottom line—most pastors I talk to feel like they’re “all thumbs” when it comes to evangelism. I feel your pain. Evangelism in a postmodern society is difficult. On top of that, most pastors don’t face a tough job review in this area. How can a flock who don’t evangelize hold accountable a pastor who doesn’t evangelize? It’s much easier just to do what’s expected from the congregation rather than to do what God expects. Read more about Evangelism and National Hoops Ministries

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Translation Change Best for Us


For some time, I have believed we needed to make a change in the translation that we use at Red Rocks Baptist Church as well as what we use at Silver State Christian School. But I have been in ministry long enough to know that “change,” regardless of how small it may seem to leadership, can impact church members in a big way. Over the years, I have made a16111.jpg number of changes in our church, not in core beliefs but in the area of methodology and practical ministry. We have rewritten our constitution, moved our facilities (twice), changed our worship service format and times, changed our name, utilized technology in our worship services, restructured our outreach program, reformatted our Sunday school and children’s ministries, developed our music policy, and refined our membership materials and process.

From my experience, at least four essential ingredients make change happen “decently and in order.” Read more about Translation Change Best for Us

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Of Church Organization, Part 1


The Church Covenant

In The Nick of Time
The ecclesiology of the gathered church centers upon the notion of covenant. Gathered churches are also known as “free churches.” They are distinguished by the fact that their membership is voluntary. Gathered-church ecclesiology contrasts with the parish system, in which an established “community” church includes all the people within a particular geographical area. Traditionally, Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and Reformed churches have operated according to the parish system. Anabaptists, Congregationalists, Baptists, and their spiritual kin have insisted upon gathered churches.

The parish system normally relies upon civil authority to enforce the requirements of church membership. In the most extreme cases (Zwingli’s Zurich, for example), the distinction between church and state dwindles to the point of imperceptibility. In the modern world, most countries have separated church from state. This has forced most parish churches to adapt in ways that make them more similar to gathered churches.

Gathered churches cannot rely upon civil authority to enforce church matters, and they would not use it if they could. On the contrary, each gathered church relies upon its covenant to distinguish it from the surrounding community. It is the covenant that sets a church apart from other institutions and makes it a church.

Not every gathering or organization of believers is a church. Mission societies, Christian camps, and Christian educational institutions may be organizations of believers, but they are not churches. They have no authority under the New Testament to perform ecclesiastic acts or to exercise church discipline.
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Pure Religion and Cold, Hard Cash


Adoption and the Blessings of God

For five days in September 2006, I saw the keen blade of SharperIron being used, not to draw blood (however beneficial bloodletting can be) but to pluck fruit that will last a lifetime. We were about $7,000 short of a $13,000 fee that would allow us to kids1.jpgbring home our daughter, Chloe Jane, from Korea. The agency had given us great leeway, but time was running out. We were on the verge of saying, “No, I’m sorry. Here’s her file back.”

In one sense, the adoption process began in March 2006 when we first inquired about her. But it really began in 1999 when I saw an ABC news piece about Russian orphans. The sorrow I felt at seeing those little ones who could not stand up or walk due to a lack of adult interaction sent me to my computer to learn about adoption. For four years, that was all I could do—research adoption. Part of that time was spent discerning whether Mick, my husband, and I were on the same page about adoption. The rest was spent praying for the money to adopt. Our church could not help. (RIGHT: Chloe, David, and Bailey)

I looked at page after page of children’s faces and checked out country requirements for adopting couples—Russia, China, Vietnam, Korea, the Philippines, Cambodia, Romania, and more. I called agencies for information packets, attended informational meetings, and even selected the agency I would use, if we were ever able to adopt. My husband insisted that we should have the money in hand before we started the process; but looking at our finances, we realized this condition was an impossible dream, apart from an outright miracle. We pursued a couple of domestic opportunities, but they fell through.
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Christian Law Association—The SharperIron Interview | Part 2—Hovind, Ligonier, and Bob Gray


gibbs.jpgI recently had the privilege of interviewing David Gibbs III, attorney for the Christian Law Association (Seminole, FL). I conducted four interviews with Dr. Gibbs and Matt Davis, another attorney for the Gibbs Law Firm (Seminole, FL). The first two interviews are about the Terri Schiavo case; Dr. Gibbs was one of the lead attorneys on the case. We will air those interviews closer to the two-year anniversary of her death.

This interview details three recent legal issues: the Hovind case, the Ligonier case, and the Bob Gray case.


Jason Janz

Listen to the interview (29:09 min., 26.69 MB).

To save this file to your computer, simply right-click on one of the above links and choose “Save Target As…”

SharperIron Podcast RSS Feed—can be subscribed and listened to in applications such as iTunes or Juice or a standard RSS reader such as Google Reader or Bloglines.

Click here to subscribe directly via iTunes.

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Internet Safety


12 Things Christian Parents Should Teach Their Children

by Debi Pryde

  1. Teach your children to seek and love wisdom and discernment. Encourage teens to discuss actions and words of people they believe are wise as well as people who are not wise. Teach them how to weigh words and to discern truthhttp1.jpg vs. deception. Make discussing the application of wisdom enjoyable, practical, and casually informative. Commend your child when he makes wise decisions or comes to a wise conclusion. Remember, this process is about your child learning to be wise, not about your informing your child about what is wise!
    Proverbs 2:10-15 (KJV) – When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee: To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things; Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness; Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked; Whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths:

    Proverbs 3:13-18 – Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her. Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.

    Proverbs 21:12 – The righteous man wisely considereth the house of the wicked: but God overthroweth the wicked for their wickedness.

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New Year’s Resolutions


Have you broken any of them yet?

How many of you have ever felt the searing frustration or grinding discouragement over lack of personal discipline or steadfastness to personal commitments? Even in February?

What is wrong with us?

Over 2,700 years ago, God clearly communicated to Judah through Isaiah their problem:

I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider (Isa. 1:2-3, KJV).

I am sure you have heard in the public arena the expression “Don’t be a pigheaded fool!” Well, I was at one time even worse than a stubborn mule. In fact, I still deal with the wretched tendencies of the sinful nature continually warring against everything that is good that I desire to do in 2007 for God’s glory.

Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment (Isa. 1:4-6).

How much chastisement will it take from God before we finally change and no longer do the sinful habits with which we engorged ourselves in 2006? From top to bottom, Judah had misery and no desire for healing.
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Church Planting, Variety, and Elijah


In The Nick of Time
by Jeff Straub

Last week, my colleague and friend, Kevin Bauder, challenged my notion that North American church planting is little more than a preference for variety. He argued that people ought to choose churches out of a sense of biblical obedience. They implicitly make a covenant with a church that they believe teaches and practices what the Bible prescribes. He also suggested that while some places have an abundance of biblical churches, other places are woefully under-churched. Moreover, whole ethnic communities within North America—the Hmongs, Somalis, etc.—are virtually unreached. Of course, he is right on all three points. He has made a good argument for North American church planting, even in Atlanta, if one can find an area that evidences a legitimate need. One needs to keep in mind, however, that only mature Christians will be able to enter the kind of covenant Dr. Bauder suggests. Many believers are not mature in the faith and de facto choose churches for a variety of other reasons. The sheer number of church choices is a testament to the desire for variety. To go back to my ice cream illustration, the very fact that a flavor is on the menu suggests that it sells. If it does not sell, it disappears quickly from the list!

Expanding on Dr. Bauder’s good ideas, I would like to suggest appropriate general categories within a North American context where church planting ought to be considered seriously.
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