Thursday, June 16, 2011

Evangelism 101

The "E" word -- Evangelism, is scary to many Christians.  There is the fear of rejection, or even the distaste one has for evangelism due to the irresponsible ways some have gone about the task.  Maybe it will help to know that the job of an evangelist and the job of a preacher are two different tasks, and require diffent gifts. 

Yes, we should be prepared to be able to share our experience of salvation.  As Peter says, "Always be ready to give account of the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15)."  But we need to always remember that the success of our witness does not depend on us, it depends on God.  From another angle, our call is to declare the glory of God with our lives and leave the results to God.

One way we can evangelize is to prepare ourselves for the Lord's Day worship, and make every effort to be present.  It speaks volumns to those who visit our church to see a full sanctuary of Chrisitians who joyfully worship God.  It also is important that we are a welcoming church, so that everyone who enters into our worship is greeted and made to feel at home. 

Another way we witness is by making disciples, and what better place than Sunday School or some other small study/prayer group.  To be able to invite neighbors and friends to come and learn and worship together, for it is in such settings that the Holy Spirit can move in ones life. 

You may not be one to knock on doors, or start a conversation about Jesus Christ on an airplane, but you can come to worship prepared to honor God and you can attend Sunday School.  You can even invite a friend.

Let's keep our focus on Christ, and our witness to the Good News.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What do Presbyterians Believe?

What do Presbyterians believe?  That is an interesting question to ask about a church as diverse as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).  Most Presbyterians believe the sky is blue and when they view a magnificent sunset they think of God.  Many Presbyterians believe that Barak Obama is a great president, and many Presbyterians believe that George Bush was a great president.  Some Presbyterians believe that our country needs a strict immigration policy, while other Presbyterians believe that we should be a bit more liberal.  Most Presbyterians believe that many of the illegal aliens in our country are Christians.

I see our diversity as a strength and a weakness.  It is a strength for when we gather as a close knit covey of like-minded individuals we begin to stop thinking, for we stop challenging each other’s views.  It is a weakness, for diversity often causes controversy.  However, by God’s grace, He calls us together to be a church, and in the midst of our differences we worship and work together for the glory of God.

So, what does the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) officially believe?  Well you have to be careful here for often we allow others to tell us what we believe.  You can go to some websites that will tell you that Presbyterians see the divine in trees and we make trees the object of our worship.  Or, that we worship the goddess Sophia, what nonsense.

The official beliefs of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are contained in Part One of the Church’s Constitution which is our Book of Confessions.  Of course the 1.5 million Presbyterians in our denomination are going to have different beliefs, but one cannot say what Presbyterians believe without quoting the Book of Confessions, which are theological documents, written over the centuries which are grounded in what we believe Scripture teaches. 

The Book of Confessions contains eleven documents: The Nicene Creed, The Apostles’ Creed, The Scots Confession, The Heidelberg Catechism; The Second Helvetic Confession, The Westminster Confession of Faith, The Westminster Shorter Catechism, The Westminster Larger Catechism, The Theological Declaration of Barmen, The Confession of 1967, and A Brief Statement of Faith. 

Maybe the best summary statements that contain the basic tenets found in our Book of Confessions are given by Dr. Jack Rogers.  These statements are:

A.  What makes us Catholic:
            1.  We believe in the mystery of the Trinity
            2.  We believe in the incarnation of the Eternal Word of God in Jesus Christ

B.  What makes us Protestant
            3.  We believe that Justification is by faith alone through God’s grace alone.
            4.  We believe that Scripture is our authority.

C.  What makes us Reformed (Presbyterian)
            5.  We believe that God is sovereign.
            6.  We believe that God elects people for salvation and service.
            7.  We believe in the Covenant life of the Church ordering itself under the  Word  of God.
            8.  We believe we should be faithful stewards of God’s creation.
            9.  We believe the sin of idolatry is chief among sins.
            10.  We believe in response to God grace we are to seek justice and live in obedience to the Word of God.