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*All sermons by Rev. Oehler unless otherwise noted.
5.19.13 - Beginnings
5.12.13 - Rejoice at Home
5.5.13 - Road Trip
4.28.13 - Fell Upon Them
4.21.13 - Get Up
3.31.13 - What About Tomorrow Morning?
3.24.13 - A Spirit of Servanthood & Stewardship
3.17.13 - A Voice to Speak the Good News
3.10.13 - Knees for Prayer
3.3.13 - Arms of Love
In I Peter 3:15, we are instructed, “But in your hearts, revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” When it comes to EVANGELISM, I wonder how many of us are “prepared to give the reason for the hope that we have in Jesus Christ”. There are myriad reasons we shy away from sharing our faith with others: we might be fearful, embarrassed, or think we don’t know how to answer if someone asks. Perhaps we have not thought through our own story of grace, forgiveness, and hope. Maybe we have negative examples or stereotypes of what evangelists are — certainly not gentle or respectful.
Evangelism doesn’t have to be about guilt, argumentativeness, and pressure sales. Sharing one’s faith can be authentic, respectful, conversational, and borne out of relationships. In Acts 17, there is a great story about how Paul was able to share the reason for his hope with “gentleness and respect” with people who were spiritual seekers. That is our challenge today – in a modern, pluralistic culture – to share our reason for Christ’s hope with kindness and reverence. Yet that is the call, if we are to be authentic followers of Jesus. We must proclaim our faith through word and deed. The Membership and Outreach Task Force has been reviewing several different curriculums on EVANGELISM. My hope is that we will offer a class in sharing our own story of grace, forgiveness and hope in the near future.
If this church is going to be a congregation that grows spiritually, we must be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks us “to give the reason for the hope we have in Jesus Christ”. Let me leave you with An Evangelist’s Prayer by Ben Campbell Johnson and ask you to pray this prayer during the remainder of Lent:
O God, who is before all things, in all things, and through all things: You have created us in your image, called us according to your purpose, and commissioned us to share in your will. We have been dull in hearing, distracted by our own plans, and often disobedient to holy urges. Forgive us. Now we pray that our sensitivity will be sharpened, our vision focused on your clear call to evangelize, and our wills plunged into obedience to the call. Renew your Church. May Christ take shape among us. Let his healing, redemptive presence transform us and all who share our fellowship. Send us to our many worlds to meet those who do not know you, to offer them a bridge into the kingdom, and to dare to believe that, through your people, you will speak to them. Grant us a vision inclusive of the whole Church – not merely our congregation, nor our city, nor our denomination. Let us learn to be one “that the world may believe…” And, do hear our prayer that “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” when evangelism shall be no more, and you will be all and in all. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Philip W. Oehler, Sr.