Editor's Note: This is a work in progress, and is part one of a longer work that seeks to establish a Biblical basis for evaluating the effectiveness of Christian mission (in a Seventh-day Adventist context). Increasingly, Adventists recognise the need to stop and take a look at ourselves, to see how we are doing, whether we are doing it as effectively as we might, and whether we have made the best use of resources, whether of money or people.
This week’s lesson emphasises the need to report about witnessing and to keep accurate statistics. This is not the most exciting topic. I taught history and religion at Newbold College for ten years but in one course, on economic history, I regularly taught what I called “quantitative data methodologies for historians”—i.e., statistics. Every year, as the students, realised that, though they were taking a history course, they were going to have to grapple with statistics, I could see certain looks on their faces—first tedium, then often, fear and finally something like betrayal.
My Journey. I grew up in a Wesleyan Methodist family where the church program, daily Bible study and hymn singing, were central in our lives. Sunday was our Sabbath for which the house had been cleaned in readiness on the previous day, hair washed, shoes cleaned. Special meals were eaten, best clothes worn, hospitality practised. Between three services we enjoyed times of friendship, music, reading and admiring our beautiful and spacious garden. It was the only day of the week when my mother’s knitting needles did not go clickitty-clack.
Commentary on Romans 10:14-15 by John Gill (1697-1771), English Baptist pastor, biblical scholar and theologian.
How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! (KJV)
I have lived long enough to be amazed at how many ways and kinds of people God uses in this grand work of inviting/welcoming others into His living kingdom.
Let's begin with the Douglass family in Springfield, Massachusetts, back in the late 1930s. At that time I had three brothers and we lived upstairs in what we called a tenement (today, of course, it was a condo!). My Dad had just bought a 1933 Dodge that was quite a treat for us all, including the neighborhood kids.
Last week the lesson was about personal evangelism and this week about team evangelism. The importance of both seems too self-evident to require prolonged discussion, let alone debate, in this forum of the wise. I decided therefore to take a slightly different approach. The inclusion of the word “corporate” in the title of the lesson brought to my mind on first read the potential role of business corporations and institutions (which are a type of corporation) in evangelism.
Anyone who has read the Gospels will know that Jesus understood the power of rhetoric. Yet, Christ’s rhetoric (unlike its Greek counterpart) contributes little to the art of formal persuasion. Jesus spoke often in riddles, parables, and imponderables that re-arranged the human soul, and he spoke with a ‘sword’ that put the ultimate question to all of our artful dodging. To put it another way, Jesus did not try to win any cultural or religious debates, prop up any regimes, nor, according to the same logic, did he try to ‘win’ any souls over to a purely ideological commitmen
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,
Instead of a footnoted tome, this week’s comments are an example of being a living witness.
“Granny”: An “Ordinary” Church Member
“Granny” was a member of one of my churches. She was in her 70’s, had not finished grade school and lived in the same house in a rural agricultural area for over 50 years. She had been heavily educated in the “University of Life” and her hands exhibited it, gnarled by hard work and rheumatoid arthritis.
At the beginning of this quarter, I did a quick survey in my Sabbath School class on the topic of this quarter’s lessons, “Evangelism and Witnessing.” Not only do I have a strong preference for lessons rooted in the text of Scripture rather than those based on a theme, but I also know that the theme “Evangelism and Witnessing” really excites some people, but terrorizes others. I told the class that I wasn’t enthusiastic about the plan for this quarter, but wanted to check their pulse on the topic as the basis for class discussion.