Changed Lives – Modern Challenges

by Terrance Taylor, Pastor of the New Movement and Richland Seventh-day Adventist Churches

God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. ~ Romans 5:20-21

Modern evangelistic efforts come with a new set of opportunities, but also a new set of challenges. Today, people are not as familiar with Biblical themes and stories as they have in times past. Biblical illiteracy is on the rise, and regardless if people attend church or listen to sermons, the practice of studying Scripture is largely underdeveloped in most believers. The challenge is, presenting messages with heavy theological themes makes it difficult to creatively set the context for some topics that require a much more comprehensive understanding of the Bible.

However, this new reality is also creating new opportunities that are exciting. Little to no biblical knowledge gifts learners with the beauty of starting from scratch, often without many of the harmful preconceived interpretations that can create barriers to growing faith. The opportunity to approach Scripture from a “childlike” posture, leaves the reader more open to the leading of the Holy Spirit in revealing what is necessary and every foundation to the Christian faith. We have found this year that we are attracting a growing demographic of new believers which are changing the way we reach our community. We are embracing what is new with hopeful anticipation of making new disciples in Christ.

Living Free was the title of the series we chose to offer, and it was all about finding freedom through God sent relationships. This topic proved to be a powerful evangelistic tool in that it was so practical, it was able to translate well in all major issues of life. In this series, we explored the idea of freedom of being what God wants for us and how he uses people to do it.
Instead of focusing on what tends to have us bound, we focused on seeing the help God has constantly offered us, even in our darkest moments.

This approach allowed us to connect the mission of Christ with the mission of the church in the incarnational method God uses to send salvation through people. Overall, we found these topics to hit home for many people, which raised awareness of people needing people to get through hard times, which voiced the need for having a family (church) to journey with.

One younger member of our church had been off and on with God for about two years before eventually he started attending more frequently, about three months before our series begun. He had just started a new relationship with someone who had no religious background, but he invited her to church. It was clear that she had no idea what was happening and, for the most part, was just there because she had been invited. But then, something amazing happened.

Our people embraced them, and loved them, and began to become friends. The real shocker was the first day they came to church by themselves. We were all amazed and grateful to God. After a few months, they began to help with the social media team, and I began to notice our posts getting better and receiving more traffic. One post I will never forget, was when I read the caption, “Saturdays are for second chances!” I was moved with joy and praise because I know who had created this post and I knew their faith was growing.

The only thing I didn’t know was how. No one was studying the Bible with them and they were only coming to church. I couldn’t figure it out. Finally, overwhelmed with curiosity, I had to ask, and their answer was shocking. In order to recap the message to create a social media post, they were listening to the message over and over again to find something to write. They were also paying close attention to the service and going back to read what Scripture was given. The day of their baptism, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Everyone knew that in some small way, they played a part in leading someone to Christ, and if we give God space, he can do amazing things.

We’ve decided as a leadership team to let grace be in charge, as referenced in the Scripture above. Christ needs to be the leader, both in our personal lives and in our church community. As we submit to his leading, we are praying that stories like this will become commonplace.

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