I never know how I feel about gospel tracts. Actually, most gospel tracts are just fine, but it’s the use of them I find to be appalling at times.
There have been times when I have flat out refused to use gospel tracts but I’m now discovering that I like to have some on hand in case I have a gospel discussion with someone and want to leave him something to reflect on later.
The problem I have with gospel tracts is that many are poorly made, have poor theology, and are handed out like it’s no different from a We Buy Gold! flyer. We cheapen the gospel when we sink to tactics like dropping a “million dollar bill” tract on the ground hoping that someone will pick it up. Or, another tactic I’ve heard is after you use a public restroom, leave a gospel tract in the toilet paper roll for the next person to discover.
Nothing conveys the incomparable value of Jesus’ sacrifice and glorious resurrection quite like discovering a cheap, unhygienic gospel tract just before you flush.
If your personal evangelism strategy includes dropping gospel tracts on the ground or hiding them in a roll of toilet paper you might need to rethink the gospel.
The War on the War on Christmas started early this year. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but a vocal minority of Christians have already begun to fight.
The so-called War on Christmas began a few years back when nativity scenes started being removed from public spaces and when the greeting “Merry Christmas” began to slip from civil and corporate parlance.
Some Christians began to take offense and someone labeled this cultural phenomenon a War on Christmas.
Let’s just get one thing straight: There is no War on Christmas.
Instead, there are millions of Not Christians who want to celebrate Not Christmas. Is that so hard to understand?
Are non-Christians required to celebrate Christmas in America? No.
Are Christians required to celebrate non-Christmas holidays in America? No?
So, what’s the problem?
You may not know Kenneth Byrum.
Kenneth Byrum was an ordained United Methodist minister and missionary for nearly 60 years. He served in Alabama, Iowa, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Texas. As a skilled brick mason, he did major renovations and new building projects at almost every appointment where he served. He was survived by his wife, Lois, 4 married daughters and 4 sons-in-law, 8 grandchildren, and 9 great grandchildren.
I am grandchild number three and on January 8th, I had the privilege of preaching at my Grandpa’s memorial service.
In this post, I want to share two remembrances that were shared at that memorial service: The Last Visit (written by my Mom), and This One Thing Remains (written by me).
What if Mark’s Gospel had been written as a series of blog posts? Here’s what he might have to say about Jesus based on Mark chapter one verse one.
The Beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. – Mark 1:1
Everyone needs to know Jesus.
Why? Here are 3 reasons that come to mind:
1. Jesus is King
The word “gospel” means “good news”.
But not everyday good news. Like, “Gospel! My indigestion seems to be clearing up!”
More like, “Gospel! A king has been born.” Or, “Have you heard the gospel? Our king conquered the enemy army!”
I was recently at a missions forum put on by the International Mission Board (IMB). This forum happened a couple of days after I blogged about reaching unreached people groups in US cities. The opening session was led by David Campbell of the IMB and the title was “Challenges to Reaching the Unreached”. I want to share some of David’s talk and use that as a springboard to go a bit deeper into what I previously wrote about reaching the unreached.
According to various sources (IMB, Joshua Project, etc.) there are something like 11,600+ people groups in the world today. The IMB definition of a people group is “the largest group through which the gospel can flow without encountering a significant barrier”. About 6,750 of those people groups are unreached (which is defined as a people group with less than 2% evangelical).
David listed physical, religious and safety issues as some of the challenges to our missionaries in other nations.
- Travel time – Many of the unreached peoples of the world are in areas that might take 2-5 days to get to.
- Climate – Some of these areas take a lot of adjustment (high altitude, rainy, extreme heat or cold, etc.).
- Daily life – It’s just a different pace and a different way of life for some people of the world.
- Isolation – Once a missionary gets to the field it might be months or years before he or she can make contact with friends and family back home.
- Health concerns – I’ve been on more than one short-term mission project where participants went home with deep illness. Water is almost always an issue in some hard to reach areas.
- Physical exertion – I’ve trekked through the Andes from one village to another and the high altitude almost killed me.
There are people from at least 62 unreached people groups living in New York City.
One way to reach them would be to train and deploy 62 missionaries in 62 countries who would spend 2-3 years learning the local dialect and culture, and be supported financially for the rest of their lives to live in those countries (where they may never be fully accepted).
This, I think, is our primary international missions strategy and it is effective. We need to continue sending missionaries to live and serve in nations around the world. We need to count the cost and go to them.
Where are the Unreached Most Reachable?
However, in our great cities, the nations of the world are coming to us. They are sacrificing everything for the privilege of living in my neighborhood. They are leaving family and severing strong social bonds to be here. They are learning our language.
We can show them kindness by helping them adjust. We can share a meal with them and provide for basic needs. We can help them learn the language. We can help them create strong social bonds here with the Christian community.