July 8

This past week I had the blessing of being at Lipscomb University in Nashville for their annual Summer Celebration / Lectureship. It was actually the first time I have ever been on the Lipscomb campus, and it was a great experience. I appreciate the elders and the church enabling me as well as our other ministers to have important opportunities such as these “to be fed” ourselves.

While there I attended a luncheon put on by Health Talents International, the ministry that our Sheri Kretzschmar works with in Guatemala. It was a blessing to see Rick Harper and Julie Wheetley and chat briefly with them, and be reminded once again of the great good that Sheri and the others involved in this medical evangelism are doing. I also met Ernest Scarbrough, who lives in Alabama and provides Sheri’s health insurance. Please continue to keep our Sheri and this great work in your prayers.

Speaking of missions, our Ukraine mission team will fly to Donetsk this Wednesday, July 11th. Sue Ann Mills, Leslie Dunbar and Audrey Vance have been preparing for this mission effort for months. Our shepherds will lead us in offering to our God a special prayer this Sunday for them and for all of Team Imagine and the ones they will touch with the love and Word of God. I ask that you pray every day for them over these next few weeks until their return on July 30th.

Today the sermon will focus on our own sharing of the gospel. We are called to spread God’s love and Word in Guatemala, and Ukraine, and all around the world. But we are also called to do that right here. While at Lipscomb I sat in on a few sessions that dealt with this very important task. Here are some comments from those sessions.

How do we hold together the “show and tell” gospel, emphasizing how you live while continuing to use words? We’ve taken this too far—“friendship evangelism” that’s all friendship and no evangelism. People aren’t going to become Christians just because we are doing social justice or developing relationships. It won’t happen because salvation by grace through the sacrifice of Christ can only be shared with words.

One problem today is we’re not talking to people who are lost about Jesus. Romans 10:17—they need to hear, whatever the method. We must trust in the telling of the gospel and not in the method. We must “put in a good word for Jesus,” and share Jesus with people in natural ways.

Our greatest opportunities in this country are young people. In the USA, 95% of those who will come to Christ will do so before age 20. We need to connect there. We have to build some bridges to young people, and young people want to become missional. Our young people and young adults want to be a part of a church that expects more out of its members and is more intentional in reaching out to others.

You have to do what makes sense to the people you’re trying to reach. We need to depend more on the gospel and less on the method.

There are 197 million unchurched people in the USA. Not one county in America has more people actively involved in church today than it did 10 years ago. The USA is the 4th largest unchurched nation in the world.

Bill Allen

Dr. Bill Allen preached at South Fork from 2005 to 2015. He received a Bachelors degree in Bible from Oklahoma Christian in 1978, a Masters in Bible from Abilene Christian (ACU) in 1988, and a Doctor of Ministry from ACU in 1992. He now preaches at the West Erwin Church of Christ in Tyler, Texas.

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