Tuesday, August 25, 2009


As some of you know, I am preaching a series of sermons on the core values at Bethel United Methodist Church. I am preaching out of my three-plus years with Bethel and out of my own ministry of some years in the church. I am using the letters in Bethel to work out our core commitments.

Last week we worked on a Biblical Foundation together. We worked on this not in an effort to make everyone the same. We worked on this to challenge ourselves to read the Bible everyday and to study it in groups. Groups like Disciple Bible Study offer a unique opportunity to get into the Word. Scripture has a privileged place among us.

On Sunday, Aug, 23rd, I worked on the second core value: evangelism. We've said a lot about evangelism over the last couple of years, mainly because "need-oriented evangelism" was singled out by Natural Church Development as our minimum factor (the one on which we need to work most as a church).

Visits to Sunday School classes gave us reasons why we are low on evangelism. Reasons stated were: it's not a priority; we don't see it as important; we are afraid. So, I think we need to commit ourselves to making it our core value if we are to be a fully alive church.

In my sermon I said first what evangelism is not. Evangelism is not: manipulation, or canned, or offensive, or unusual. Evangelism is not weird or anything like that. It is not beating people over the head with the Gospel. There are some who still do that, by the way.

Lucy said to Linus: "I have finally convinced the boy behind me in class that my religion is better than his." Linus said: "How?" She said: "I hit him on the head." That kind of convincing witness is not worthy of the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Then, I spent some time on what evangelism is. Evangelism is: caring, sharing, the spiritual dimension. I said that it's like planting seeds, good seeds.

My main point was that our assumption that everyone who is outside the church is somehow different from us- is false. 90% of Americans in almost every poll say they believe in God already. A large percentage of Americans are interested in this "spiritual". So, the truth is that we are not, on the whole, dealing with people who are aetheists.

Evangelism is about love because everyone needs to be loved; everyone needs a community; everyone needs God in Christ. So, we plant our seeds and leave the rest to God.

Look among the people in your sphere of influence. Pray for them and as the Spirit gives you opportunity share, witness, invite others to Jesus Christ.

Dave Nichols

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Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

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About Me

A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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