23 Apr Why We Engage
As we move through our “How to Follow Jesus Christ” series, the topic of Christian discipleship comes more and more to the front of what we are talking about. To help us “get there,” we are beginning a four-part email series about the “4 Es”. The 4 Es are our more fully-fledged discipleship principles at Mosaic: Engage, Establish, Equip and Empower, and we are introducing these more and more into our internal church conversation and systems to help us do “disciple-making” better. To start us off with the first “E,” I asked Peter Dusan, former Lead Pastor of The Springs Church in San Marcos who recently joined our team as a Regional Campus Evangelist with Every Nation Campus, to share the heart behind “Engage.” Enjoy!
– Morgan Stephens
It was another blistering-back-sweat day in September.
As I climbed the hill to the Texas State campus, I felt a mix of anticipation and apprehension. It was 2005, and after recently starting my new career as a campus missionary, I was eager to “get things done” and to “make things happen,” but the weight of it all was beginning to settle on me.
So as I drew closer to the center of campus, with throngs of students milling about in the quad (and with a clear disregard for social distancing!), I began to pray. “Lord, there are SO MANY STUDENTS who need to know you! I have so much work to do! I’m here to seek and save the lost!” Notice the subject confusion in those sentences? All about what “I” needed to do.
Quite frankly, that unhealthy burden of feeling like God needed me for His mission weighed me down that whole first year of ministry. I thought it was only “right” and “responsible” for me to obsessively focus on my role in kingdom mission. But, the burden would have soon crushed me . . . if a local pastor had not invited me to his men’s book group.
Because of the book group, I was compelled to read wonderful books on theology–books about God’s sovereignty in mission and His majesty in redemptive history. And in the book group meetings, my head-strong responsibility complex was challenged with enough substance to crush my false burden and liberate me to enjoy the beautiful adventure of God’s calling.
“Peter, WHY do we evangelize?” Like most questions I’ve ever fielded, I had an answer (that’s a joke), and I didn’t even have to think about it (see the problem)! I immediately quipped, “We evangelize to get people saved!”
Then, in the face of my confident resolve, and with more authority than Dwight Shrute’s signature “False!” pronouncement, my assertion would be carefully corrected. Through a series of conversations, deep-dives into scripture, and thoughtful book studies, I would come to learn that my response to the “why we evangelize” topic may not have been necessarily “wrong,” but it was gravely incomplete.
Friends, I write this email in hopes of boosting our church’s collective passion to ENGAGE others. But, I don’t want to simply throw another evangelism “how to” at you. My foremost concern doesn’t regard WHAT we must do to engage others with the Gospel, but WHY we engage others in the first place. In fact, I’m confident that if we’re secured with a good answer to the “why” question, we’ll always find fruitful methods for the WHAT and the HOW of evangelism.
Ultimately, we don’t engage others in order to get them saved. Fundamentally, we engage others to honor and enjoy the one who saved US.
Jesus is the one who said, “[I] came to seek and save the lost.” (Luke 19:10) And when Jesus seeks, Jesus finds. In fact, Jesus found me even when I wasn’t looking for Him. And now, He calls me to join Him on His mission. But, He doesn’t burden me to carry out His mission on my own.
Before ascending to heaven, Jesus commanded His followers, “Go and make disciples of all nations . . .” (Mat 28:19) But He was quick to clarify, “I will be with you until the end.” (Mat 28:20)
Jesus is the one who saves sinners, and though He uses sinners to speak to and reach sinners, He doesn’t NEED anyone. He doesn’t need you to work for Him; He invites you to work with Him.
So, we don’t work FOR the salvation of anyone else; we work FROM the salvation that He’s placed in us by His Spirit.
Make no mistake, we must engage others and show them Christ’s love. But, “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
Friends, I pray that our loving and our engaging would powerfully hinge on this great and glorious “because.”
So, here’s one practical challenge: reach out to a friend, perhaps a neighbor or coworker, and invite him or her to lunch or coffee. While there, be upfront and say something like, “I wanted to connect with you to hear more of your story, share with you what Jesus has done in my life and even be an encouragement to you.” You could even offer to pray for them.
Step out and see what happens. See if your enjoyment of Jesus working in that moment swallows up your nervousness about the risk you’re taking.
But know this: though Jesus doesn’t need you, He does want to work with you. Believe it or not, He likes you and wants you to enjoy Him too!
Let’s ENGAGE those around us.
P.S. (from Morgan): I wanted to note a couple of corrections to my message last Sunday. I incorrectly identified Pastor Abraham Cho as Chinese-American; he is, in fact, Korean-American. Additionally, I stated that Jackie Robinson played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, when in fact, he played for the Brooklyn Dodgers. I know, same franchise…but still. My apologies for both.