Archive for Austin
As we strive to be a God-honoring, Christ-exalting, gospel-centered church, we remind ourselves that God glorifies Himself by taking rebellious sinners and transforming them into those who worship Him in spirit and truth; the Father is seeking such worshipers (John 4:23-24). We also remind ourselves that the church is the people to whom God has entrusted His gospel and who serves as His instrument to reach an unbelieving world.
It is our joy and privilege, then, to join the Father in the gathering of genuine worshipers into the body of Christ. We will, therefore, by any and all means available to us and permissible by Scripture, take the gospel of Christ to unbelieving and unchurched family members, neighbors, co-workers, friends, and acquaintances. However, I want to remind us that the primary evangelism strategy of High Pointe is YOU – each of you having natural, normal, conversations about the gospel with unbelieving, unchurched people. I want to challenge each one of us to do what no one else can do; invest time in YOUR unbelieving and unchurched family, friends and neighbors, and take advantage of opportunities the Lord provides to speak to them about Jesus – His life, death, resurrection.
A study of the formerly unchurched by Dr. Thom Rainer, President of LifeWay Christian Resources, shows that those who were closest to the unchurched were the most likely to reach them with the gospel. Of all relationships, family relationships proved the most pivotal. Rainer found that “of the different family members, wives were the most often mentioned as important in influencing the formerly unchurched to Christ and the church” (Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, 49).
The same is true in other relationships. Christians who invest in the lives of unbelievers are in the best position to introduce their friends, neighbors and co-workers to Christ and the church. This much has been proven already at High Pointe. Just last Sunday (Easter) our building overflowed with your unchurched family, friends, neighbors and coworkers. In addition, many of the visitor cards we receive each week are filled out by those who were invited to attend High Pointe by a friend or family member. Let me encourage you, then, to invest in the lives of unbelieving and unchurched family members, neighbors, friends and co-workers. When you invest in the life of unbelievers you will have opportunities to share Christ with them that others will never have. So invest in the lives of the unbelieving and unchurched with the intention of having gospel conversations that point them to Christ.
And don’t forget that many unchurched people are open to an invitation to attend a service with you, so ask them to come with you. In fact, invite them to come with you next Sunday as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, yet again. We promise to pray, plan and prepare for worship gatherings that will honor God, exalt Christ and present the gospel. We will also provide free resources that you can give to your friends and family at the Welcome Counter. I urge you, invest in the lives of unbelievers, then speak to them about Jesus. And as you have opportunity, invite them to come with you as we gather each Lord’s Day to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
As we share our lives together as a church founded on the gospel, High Pointe will increasingly grow as an attractive witness to the glory of God (Acts 2:42-47). However, our witness is not merely to be attractional; God has chosen that the church both originate and continue to expand through the intentional witness to Christ through gospel proclamation. It is to this end that we have been commissioned (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:14-16; Luke 24:44-49; John 20:21; Acts 1:8). Be encouraged, though, for we have also been promised the power we need for such a mission (Acts 1:8). Therefore, we go in faith under the authority of Jesus Christ, boldly proclaiming his gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 2:1-2). In this light, let me encourage you to pursue ten practices of intentional witness.
1. Know the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)! The gospel is the revelation of God concerning Jesus as the Christ (Matthew 16:16-17); it is a divine message. One of the ways we encourage you to remember this gospel is with four words: God, Man, Christ, Response. When we understand the gospel, we know that GOD is holy and created a world without sin. God provided the man with all he would need to dwell in God’s presence. However, MAN rebelled against God, declaring his independence because he wanted to be his own king. Such rebellion requires judgment, the penalty of which is death. But God in His grace and mercy, provided CHRIST as a substitute to live a life of perfect obedience acceptable to God and to receive upon Himself the penalty of sin. Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day indicating that the Father accepted His substitute life/death for sinners and had gained victory over sin and death. Now, all who RESPOND with repentance from sin and faith in Jesus have eternal life. This is the gospel, the good news that we must know and understand if we are to share it with others.
2. Live your life in light of this gospel. As this gospel takes root in our own lives and we begin to apply it to our marriages, parenting, relationships, lives together as a church, etc., then our lives will be markedly different than the world and thereby attractive. How can we announce that this gospel is the power of God to save and change lives if we who profess Christ continue living just like the world?
3. Pray and fast for unbelievers (John 14:12-14; 15:7-8). One reason unbelieving people are not on our minds is because we don’t pray for them. First, pray that God would break your heart for the lost in general and for specific people in particular. Then, make a list of unbelieving people and begin praying for them and their salvation because it is God who saves. But also pray for opportunities throughout the day. Ask God to open doors for evangelism, then by faith be obedient when the opportunities arise.
4. Be willing to share your life with unbelievers (1 Thessalonians. 2:1-8). We can’t just share the gospel word, we must also share our lives, investing in those we desire to reach. In other words, we must make evangelism part of our normal lifestyle, not a special program! We need to take time to talk to people everywhere and invite them into our homes for a meal, or small group, or even church. But, in order to do that, we need to know the culture (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). The apostle Paul said he became all things to all peoples that he may save some. We must seek to understand people and their cultures in order to reach them. That means we need to get to know unbelieving people. We need to know where they live, shop, eat, recreate and move out of our comfort zones to look for opportunities to relate to them where they are, instead of thinking they will come to us.
5. Share the gospel with urgency! We are on an urgent mission (2 Peter 3:8-10)! We must share the gospel naturally & clearly. Since the gospel is a word/message about Christ, then we must be word-centered and use the Bible. Also, the gospel is a word that must be proclaimed! We cannot keep it to ourselves. But I think one of the reasons we struggle with evangelism is because we think it is “special” – we have to do it in a “special” way, using a “special” outline, and there are Christians who are “especially” gifted at this. The truth of the matter is that evangelism is NOT special; it is normal. Think of evangelism simply as a conversation about who Jesus is. If using the four words, God, Man, Christ, Response, is helpful, then think through the gospel story in that way. But in the same way we have normal, every day conversations about the weather, the Longhorns and Aggies, we should think of evangelism as normal – this is a normal activity of every Christian: speaking of Jesus when our conversations permit during the opportunities God gives us.
6. Study the doctrine of hell! If you lack urgency in evangelism, then perhaps you should do a personal study of the doctrine of hell. As you study what the Bible says concerning the fate of those who reject Christ, ask God to break your heart for those who reject Christ and to move you with urgency to share the good news.
7. Invite unbelievers to repent and believe! As I mentioned above, the gospel requires a response. We must call on all people everywhere to repent (turn away from their sinful ways) and believe (in Jesus Christ).
8. Invite unbelievers to church. This goes along with sharing our lives with unbelievers and investing in them. Invite unbelievers and unchurched to come with you on the Lord’s day so that they may hear the gospel proclaimed. Surprisingly, in a 2010 study of unbeliving, unchurched people in Austin, a large number of people indicated that they would be open to invitations to go to church. Imagine that! They don’t come because we don’t ask.
9. Trust Christ for the results. Faithfulness, not results is what God requires of us. Salvation is of the Lord, so we must trust the sovereign Lord to do His work in the hearts of unbelieving people. Our responsibility is to faithfully share the gospel indiscriminately.
10. Share with others and ask them to join you in prayer. I have found it greatly encouraging to hear other Christians’ stories of evangelism and to know that I am accountable to someone for evangelism. Share your encounters and pray together for those souls. May the Lord grant us a great harvest of souls!
at High Pointe Baptist Church, Austin
What is a culture of evangelism? It is a culture in which each church member seeks out unchurched, unbelieving people in their lives and shares in natural gospel conversations. We want to equip and encourage you to have such gospel conversations with your unchurched, unbelieving family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. Join us for a Friday night and Saturday morning as we spend time together learning from Mack just how natural evangelism can be.
Mack Stiles is CEO of Gulf Digital Solutions and general secretary for the Fellowship of Christian UAE Students (FOCUS) in the United Arab Emirates. He has worked for many years with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in the United States. He is the author of Marks of the Messenger and Speaking of Jesus. Mack enjoys photography and snow skiing, but most of all loves thinking through how to apply the gospel of grace to issues confronting students in the university world. He is married to Leeann, and they are parents of three sons.
Recommended Books by Mack Stiles
“Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ” (Colossians 1:28, ESV).
This past Thursday, our pastoral staff got away for a one day retreat to remind ourselves why High Pointe exists. Unfortunately, it is easy to fall into a mode in which we merely exist for ourselves—to increase attendance, grow our staff, increase offerings. As High Pointe has grown, so have our offerings and our staff. However, we want to ensure that such growth and increase be seen as the result of faithful and fruitful ministry, which God has blessed, not the end goal, which we have produced.
I hope to move this conversation beyond the pastoral staff, lest we forget our purpose and mission. In order to see our reason for existence, I will ask what I think are the key questions YOU need to be asking. I hope the answers will be clear in and of themselves.
What is the goal of our ministry at High Pointe?
At the end of time, when all is said and done and the elders stand before the Lord to give an account for High Pointe’s ministry (1 Corinthians 3:10-15), what will we have hoped to accomplish? Our goal as elders is stated by the apostle Paul in Colossians 1:28—to present everyone mature in Christ. Our ministry (teaching, preaching, praying) to High Pointe is all to the end that we might present you as whole-hearted followers of Jesus on that final day. This is the end for which we toil and labor (Colossians 1:29).
How will we seek to communicate this goal, our mission?
Our ministry goal falls in line with Jesus’ commission to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). Simply stated, High Pointe exists to see all peoples become whole-hearted followers of Jesus Christ. All this is to the glory of the Triune God, and we seek to communicate this mission in all our gatherings, beginning with our membership classes.
How will we accomplish this goal, our mission?
The primary means that God has given the pastors/elders of His flock is the ministry of the Word and prayer (Acts 6:2-4; Eph 4:11-16). Therefore, we will seek to see people come to faith and maturity in Christ through the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Col 1:4-6, 25, 28; Acts 6:7; 12:24; 19:20; 1 Cor 1:18-2:5).
OUR STRATEGY is found within the great commission. We will make disciples of all nations by (1) reaching unbelievers of every ethnicity with the gospel of Jesus Christ, (2) incorporating such new believers into the body of Christ (as manifested in a local church) by baptizing them in the name of the Triune God, (3) and teaching them to obey everything that Jesus has commanded.
What might High Pointe look like if we were whole-hearted followers of Jesus?
While we are on this earth as pilgrims, this picture will be imperfect. Nevertheless, we hope that by grace through faith, with new hearts and God’s Spirit dwelling in us, that we would represent our king Jesus as faithful ambassadors and glorify Him as we live together in this place where God has called us together.
Such a church, I think, would look very similar to the first church in Acts 2:42-47: a church founded on and devoted to the apostolic faith (gospel); a church devoted to a common life rooted in the gospel; a church that responds appropriately, in the power of the Spirit to everything God is for us in Christ, both individually and corporately, formally and informally. Such a church will display a powerful witness of unity and love, which magnifies the Father’s glorious wisdom in salvation. May God work in us all that we might be such a church.
This year Good Friday will be on April 6. High Pointe will offer a Good Friday service at 6:00 p.m., but I would encourage all of us to prepare our hearts before then. One helpful way to prepare is to read through John Piper’s Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die. It’s available in a free PDF.
If you are in Austin and you don’t attend church, we would also invite you to our Easter Sunday service at 10:30 a.m.
For more information or to register click here:
Redeemer Seminary is the new name for the Westminster Texas Campus
Since 1929 Westminster Theological Seminary has been training “specialists in the Bible” who minister the gospel worldwide. In 1999 Westminster began a Texas Campus to extend the knowledge of the glory of God in Christ through offering theological education grounded in the seminary’s core values and serving churches and communities in the Southwestern United States. By God’s grace, the Texas Campus has graduated students who now serve churches and ministries across the United States. In 2009 Westminster Theological Seminary launched its Texas Campus as Redeemer Seminary, an independent institution which shares the core values and theological commitments upon which Westminster was founded. Westminster concludes its M.Div. and M.A.R. programs in Texas in cooperation with Redeemer during the transition. New students enroll as Redeemer Seminary students. For more of our story, read about Redeemer
Beginning this Sunday morning at High Pointe, October 23, we will begin a new sermon series on the Old Testament book of Leviticus. Join us. Be sure to check out our sermon series page for study resources.
1 Peter Sermon Series by Juan Sanchez
- Persevering Together Until the End (1 Peter 5:5-14)
- Elders: Shepherds of God’s Flock (1 Peter 5:1-5)
- The Logic of Christian Suffering (1 Peter 4:12-19)
- Let Us Love and Serve One Another (1 Peter 4:7-11)
- The End is Near: How Will you Live Today? (1 Peter 4:7-11)
- Road to Holiness (1 Peter 4:1-6)
- How to be Fearless and Humble in the Face of Persecution (1 Peter 3:8-18)
- Knowing and Honoring Your Wife (1 Peter 3:7)
- Daughters of Sarah: Holy Women who Hope in God (1 Peter 3:1-6)
- Entrust Yourself to Him who Judges Justly (1 Peter 2:18-25)
- Christians and Government: Revolutionaries, Patriots, Conscientious Objectors or Foreign Ambassadors? (1 Peter 2:13-17)
- In the World, but Not of the World (1 Peter 2:9-12)
- The People of God: A Holy Priesthood (1 Peter 2:4-10)
- So You Want to Change? (1 Peter 2:1-3)
- Growing into Salvation through the Living and Abiding Word of God (1 Peter 2:1-3)
- Born Again through the Living and Abiding Word of God (1 Peter 1:22-25)
- Love One Another Earnestly from a Pure Heart (1 Peter 1:22-23)
- Hopeful, Holy Christians in a Hostile World, pt.2 (1 Peter 1:13-21)
- Hopeful, Holy Christians in a Hostile World (1 Peter 1:13-2:3)
- So Great a Salvation (1 Peter 1:1-13)
- 1 Peter: Living as Strangers and Aliens in a Foreign and Hostile Land (Overview)
It’s been a long time since I’ve posted on the blog – a month to be exact. The absence from the blogosphere has been both circumstantial and purposeful: circumstantial in the sense that other responsibilities have taken priority as we began a new church year; purposeful in that I sought to not add this one responsibility to my many other tasks.
After an absence for about a month, I hope to post more regularly, though not slavishly. So, please bear with me.