“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Colossians 4:5-6 ESV).
Over the next few weeks we will be discussing how making the gospel the center focus of our lives will result in a kind of three cord strand of evangelistic living. These three strands include: building relationships, sharing the gospel, and introducing people to our community of believers. Together, these three pursuits will not only reflect our gospel-centeredness, but will result in gospel-saturated lives that create an invitational culture that will bring those far away from God near.
In the book, Total Church, the authors write about this idea of living “gospel-saturated” lives:
“We need Christian communities who saturate ordinary life with the gospel. The communities to which we introduce people must be communities in which “God-talk” is normal. This means talking about what we are reading in the Bible, praying together whenever we share needs, delighting together in the gospel, and sharing our spiritual struggles, not only with Christians but with unbelievers. We want our life together to be gospel-saturated. We want to live and talk the gospel as part of our shared life.” – Tim Chester; Steve Timmis. Total Church: A Radical Reshaping around Gospel and Community.
The apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Colossae about how they could live lives that were marked by this kind of gospel saturation. Using the word “walk” to describe the ordinary, day-to-day coming and going of their lives, Paul encouraged them to live with the kind of “wisdom toward outsiders” that would open up opportunities for gospel sharing. Knowing that outsiders would be attracted to the wisdom and grace of gospel-centered living, Paul advised the Colossians to be ready to “answer” them with the gospel reason for their behavior.
This kind of gospel-centered living changes our ordinary days into extraordinary ones as we see “outsiders,” people who are far from God, brought near by the gospel that they see demonstrated in us.
As we approach the Easter season, we are redoubling our focus on making disciples that live gospel-centered lives. With this in mind, we are offering four Easter weekend services this year, so our members will have more options for inviting others to hear the gospel. In order to put more focus on these additional services, we decided to cancel our usual Easter EGGstravaganza event.
So, remind me again why we cancelled Easter EGGstravaganza?
Sure, this event was very successful at attracting large numbers of people to our campus (Over 3,000 attenders last year), but we really couldn’t point to anyone who came to faith or starting attending our church as a result. The event did make us quite famous in Wilson and certainly made us a lot of friends, but it didn’t appear to be leading “outsiders” into our gospel community.
We have not given up on doing special outreach events, but we are determined to carefully evaluate every event to make sure it is leading people closer to hearing and receiving the gospel.
So, this year we decided to take the money and effort that we normally spend on Easter EGGstravaganza and put it towards actually inviting outsiders to attend one of our Easter weekend services. We are mailing out 12,500 postcard invites to our Easter weekend services. These postcards have been carefully selected to go to households that have children and will advertise our Easter services, as well as a fun egg hunt opportunity for the kids after every service. We are also printing 2,000 doorhangers that we will hang during our annual Hope Station food drive and we are giving out special Easter invite cards to our members to pass along to their friends.
As Chester and Timmis say in Total Church:
“Major events have a role to play in church life, but the bedrock of gospel ministry is low-key, ordinary, day-to-day work that often goes unseen. Most gospel ministry involves ordinary people doing ordinary things with gospel intentionality.”
The truth is, most people visit our church because they were personally invited by a friend or family member. This is where the real gospel work takes place. One gospel-centered person deciding to befriend, share and invite an outsider to come inside and experience the life-changing power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.