Book Plunge: Sharing The Good News With Mormons

What do I think of Eric Johnson and Sean McDowell’s book published by Harvest House? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

There are many books about Mormonism that explain the problems with the historicity and the theology. There are not many books that explain something simple. How to share the information that you do have. What is the right approach? Do you have Mormons in and beat them down with facts about the Book of Mormon? Do you just sit around and lead a good life and hope that the Mormon will ask you the questions? Both of these approaches have problems. The first can create atheists and agnostics more often. The second puts you in a position of hoping the Mormons will see you as different and then hoping they’ll ask and then hoping they’ll listen.

Johnson and McDowell want to give other approaches. They have a large number of them and these aren’t even all the approaches that they are. This is just meant to be a good start in helping you find innovative ways of communicating the good news of Jesus with Mormons.

The book also starts with sections on the existence of God and Biblical reliability. Why have that in a book about Mormons? Don’t they agree to both of those? Many would, but many are using arguments from the new atheists and many Mormons have been told that if the church is not true, then nothing is, and they leave Mormonism and go to atheism or agnosticism. This gives them a fallback position.

From there, we look at a number of ways of communicating. Some will work for you. Some won’t. You could start a chapter and say, “This isn’t for me.” That’s okay. Just go to the next one and see if you think you could do that. For example, open-air evangelism is one technique. This is essentially street preaching done right. This would not work for me because I am terrible at initiating conversations like that and there aren’t enough Mormons in my area to find a place to do this. If you are an outgoing person who lives in an area like Nauvoo or Salt Lake City, you could be in a different situation. However, I am skilled at internet evangelism and I can totally do that route.

There are also other interesting ways to approach Mormons. One suggestion is to print out something like a brochure or newspaper and hand them out for free. These can be kept at someone’s home and they can investigate claims on their own then. Amusingly, when this was done outside of a temple, temple authorities would try to seize the papers which made people only want them more. That practice didn’t last long.

Johnson contributes to a chapter where he hands out free copies of The Miracle of Forgiveness to Mormons in Utah. This is a book by later president of the Mormon Church Spencer Kimball. The message of the book really could be that if it is true, it would be a miracle if anyone was ever forgiven. It helps illustrate the impossible gospel of Mormonism.

Another technique involves holding up a sign with a website on it for Mormons. Note that if you do this, make sure you have such a website and that it has content to it that is helpful. One example of such a website was called Josephlied.com. This has a provocative name also that will stick in someone’s mind.

In my interview with Johnson, he talked also about other techniques that didn’t make it but were effective for such people, such as a guy who set up a ping-pong table and talked to Mormons who came by to play during the game. Another involved someone who drew pictures of the temple and used those to communicate. The main message is do what you are good at and what can spread the gospel without being immoral.

This is a great book to have for conversations with Mormons. We could go with a Greg Koukl reference and call it Tactics for Reaching Mormons. If you have the knowledge, you have one piece of the puzzle. Now you can get the delivery system.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Why Christianity Is Not True Chapter 3

Do we have a problem with evangelism? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We’re going through David Pye’s book again and looking at chapter 3 on evangelism and eternity. I consider this chapter to be a weak argument for what it sets out to prove, but hard-hitting for the content. I am still really considering sharing this in some Christian groups to get us all to remember why we do what we do.

At the start, Pye says that Christians believe someone is either a Christian or lost by default. I think it is more likely they are, but there is the question of those who never heard and Christians have different answers to that. My answer is that God will judge us based on the light that we have. The judge of all the Earth will do right.

Pye goes on to say about evangelism that

Both the evangelistic crusades of the past and the Alpha course of today are, I believe, significant evidence against Christianity being true. If Christianity were true we would expect to see Christians integrating into their lives what they say they believe – sharing the Gospel with their relatives, friends, neighbours and work colleagues. In which case neither the Evangelistic crusades of the past nor the Alpha course of today would have been necessary.

This is a giant non sequitur. Let’s consider how we could put this in a logical form.

Christians are supposed to evangelize.
Christians do not evangelize like they should.
Therefore, Jesus did not rise from the dead.

There are any number of reasons why Christians do not do this, many of them bad. Also, keep in mind that knowing what it is we should do doesn’t seem to lead to us doing it many times. Many of us know about diet and exercise from our doctors, but we don’t do it. Many of us know that we are to treat our neighbor better, but we don’t do it.

If you want to show Christianity is not true, you have to show that Jesus did not rise. You can show Christians aren’t following their marching orders, but that only says something about Christians. It doesn’t say anything about Christianity. Keep in mind that Pye bases this on what he sees in the U.K. There is nothing about data in third world countries, especially those where doing evangelism can lead to execution.

From here, Pye goes through a list of reasons why people don’t evangelize. One of the first ones is that they want their lives to be the witness. I agree that this is a flimsy excuse. Some people do that and no one ever asks them anything. You have to lead a radically, radically different life for this to work.

Generally, in face to face relationships, I try to get to know the person first and then try to weave my way into any openings. I’m not as good at face to face which is why most of my work is done on the internet. There is a fine line. You don’t want to be obnoxious where people think you shove Christianity down their throats, but you don’t want to be totally silent so people have no clue you’re a Christian.

The second reason is that some people say God hasn’t called them to evangelize. I think this is weak as well. Do you have the Great Commission in your Bible? That’s part of your marching orders. I agree with Pye that it is tiresome to hear people talking about doing what they feel called to do or led to do, this without any Scriptural warrant.

I used to attend a church and when the offering would go around, the pastor would say “Give as you feel led.” Part of me wanted to be sarcastic and put a penny in and say “That’s what I felt God was leading me to give.” I suspect I would have been told I wasn’t listening. Just because we have the Holy Spirit doesn’t change that we are to follow wisdom, such as in Proverbs. If you want to know about giving, read a passage like 2 Cor. 8-9.

It’s also amazing how often these “signs” that people follow coincide with what they already want to do. This is not to say God cannot do something like this, but we should not expect it to be normative. I agree with Pye. This is often an excuse and giving divine authority to our feelings is dangerous.

A third reason is that God is in control. After all, if God wants them saved, He’ll do it. Even many of the staunchest Calvinists today would say God will do it, but He’ll do it through evangelism. I also wonder if Christians will do this in other areas. Need food? Don’t go to the grocery store. God will give you food if He wants you to eat. Don’t put on your seat belt when you drive. God will keep you safe if He wants you to live.

Pye shares a verse from a poem about this.

Christ has no hands but our hands to do His work today
He has no feet but our feet to lead men in the way
He has no tongue but our tongue to tell men how He died
He has no help but our help to bring them to His side

There is also the adage that goes back to Augustine of to pray as if everything depended on God and work as if it all depended on you. It would be wonderful for an Arminian to have the confidence in the sovereignty of God that many Calvinists do. It would be wonderful if many Calvinists thought they absolutely had to do evangelism like Arminians do.

The fourth is about the leading of the Holy Spirit and identical enough to the second that we need say nothing more.

The fifth is that people already know the Gospel. Many of them do, but many who think they do also misrepresent it and not necessarily intentionally. We should not presume that someone does.  Many Christians I think don’t even really know the Gospel.

A final reason is that it’s better not to have heard than to hear and reject and be lost. I consider this quite flimsy. I don’t think it even deserves a response if a Christian treats this seriously.

There are other reasons though. Sometimes people don’t know what to say. Sometimes they don’t know what could turn a person off. For this, I honestly think the church needs some classes on evangelism.

Finally, we end with some questions on Hell. Now my perspective on Hell is different from many others. I also think there are degrees of suffering in Hell and degrees of reward in Heaven. This is a complex question and simple answers won’t do.

I also agree with Pye that we should take no delight in people being in Hell. If it weren’t for the grace of God, it would be us. Moody is once said to have said that if you speak on Hell, you’d better have tears in your eyes. I sometimes see Christians say eternity is a long time to be wrong. If someone says that, they’d better think about what that means.

Pye presents two scenarios then:

(i) A 65 year old Christian, Clive, is retiring from the job he has been in for the last 30 years. On his final day there is a presentation to him and he is shown a great deal of warmth and affection. Likewise Clive feels a deep love for his colleagues who he’s spent so much time with and with whom he’s been through many good times and bad times – challenges, disappointments, joys, successes. None of these colleagues are Christians.

A few days later, alone at home, Clive reflects about the eternal destiny of these people who he worked with and loves. Can it really be that they are condemned? he wonders. Can it really be that they’re destined for hell? Surely not? He imagines himself in heaven with the knowledge that these dear people are suffering in hell.“Would I be able to enjoy heaven in those circumstances?” he asks himself. He vaguely wonders whether he should at some point have tried sharing the Gospel with any of them.

Then he reflects further: “‘For your thoughts are not my thoughts’ saith the Lord.” With a deep sigh Clive reflects “Who am I to argue against the Word of God? Who am I to think that I can judge better than God what the consequences of unforgiven sin should be?”

And with this he makes himself a cup of coffee and switches on the TV.

Clive is pathetic and might I add misusing a text of Scripture. No Christian should applaud what Clive is doing. Many of us wouldn’t, but in many cases we do act like Clive.

He then gives a second story

(ii) A man, Donald, goes through his working life employed in a factory. He is a decent man, hard-working and honest. At 20 he marries his childhood sweetheart and they go on to have 3 children. Life is hard. Donald’s health is poor but he rarely misses a day’s work. He and his family constantly struggle to make ends meet. People who know Donald see him as a devoted husband and father, a man who is kind, reliable and trustworthy. Family life is happy and joyful despite the lack of money.

Donald retires aged 65 but within a year he has a heart attack and dies. In his life Donald never became a Christian.

Pye asks how we feel about this, but really, does that matter? I don’t feel good about many things in the world, but that doesn’t mean anything about them. Reality doesn’t change depending on my feelings.

On the other hand, would Pye prefer the more Islamic system of angels recording good deeds and bad deeds and you’d better hope the good outweighs the bad? How is this system not arbitrary? Who decides how many points X is worth for good and how many points are deducted for Y? How do we know the point system?

The reality is God gave a non-arbitrary system. Perfection is the requirement. He also offers to pay it for us. Donald did do good things, but how did He treat the greatest good out there and if Christianity is true, God is the greatest good. Does one spurn God and say they will go their own way? The thing about Pye’s system is really God is irrelevant to it. That’s not a Christian system at all. Of course, Pye is not a Christian, but how could this system be compatible with Christianity?

The next chapter will be about faith. I have my concerns about how that will go, but we will see.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 3/17/2018: Rhonda Stoppe

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It takes two to tango in marriage and sometimes, women who marry Prince Charming find out he’s not really all that charming after awhile and is just a royal pain. It’s easy to look and think that all the problem lies with him. Also, it could be that the problem isn’t with him, but you know, you have to change something with yourself in order to be loved.

This isn’t to say that the husband is necessarily a saint. Sometimes, complaints can be true, but what can women do to improve their marriages? What are women doing to undermine their marriages? Are there some lies that a woman is believing about her husband that are undermining her marriage?

Rhonda Stoppe says there are. She’s my guest to talk about her book If My Husband Would Change, I’d Be Happy And Other Myths Wives Believe. Rhonda writes to women to help them see past the lies that they are believing and how defeating these lies can help them live free in their marriages and in Christ. The book also has a note from her husband who is a pastor at the end of each chapter.

So who is she?

According to her bio:

Rhonda Stoppe is the NO REGRETS WOMAN. Rhonda is an evangelist who meets women at the point of their desperation and shows them the way to Christ. I could have listened to Rhonda talk all night is what audiences say at her No Regrets Woman Conference where she helps women break free from the regrets that hold them back––beginning with a genuine relationship with Christ.

For more about Rhonda’s women’s evangelistic conferences watch this promo video

As a pastors’ wife, author, favorite radio guest and speaker with more than 30 years experience Rhonda’s delightfully authentic teaching, grounded in sound doctrine, helps women discover significance and become more influential than they ever dreamed possible. To learn more about Rhonda’s messages and to book her for your next women’s event visit her at:NoRegretsWoman.com

Rhonda’s books (Harvest House Publishers):

-Moms Raising Sons to Be Men

If My Husband Would Change I’d Be Happy & Myths Wives Believe

Real Life Romance

The Marriage Mentor (to release 2018)

Rhonda and I will be talking about marriage and what women need to know about marriage. This is not to say those of us who are men have it all together, but we need to see material geared towards wives and towards husbands as well. Rhonda comes at this as one who has made some of the mistakes and who has a passion for marriages as well as a passion for evangelism.

I hope you’ll be looking forward to the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. I am always striving to bring forward the best material that I can and marriage material is always important to me. Please also continue going on iTunes if you can and leaving behind a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast. I love to see them!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

 

What Is Your Pastor’s Job?

What is your pastor supposed to do? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I wrote about how our churches are not equipping us. Someone replied at a place where I posted it saying an hour a week on Sunday is not enough. This is absolutely true. Even if we added in Sunday school and Sunday evening and Wednesday evening services, it still can’t compare to the media onslaught most of us get every day.

As I reflected on this, I thought of something else that is often not mentioned. Evangelism is not the pastor’s job per se. Now all of us are meant to be evangelists to an extent, but what I mean is that we often have an odd view of how to get people to come to Christ.

We go out and we meet a neighbor who is an unbeliever. What do we think the plan is? Oh! Well, you invite them to church and then when in church the pastor gives a message and the person is convicted and they repent and come to Jesus. This can happen, but this is not the way it really is supposed to happen.

It sounds like a stretch to some, but really, the person who is supposed to bring that person to Jesus is you. A pastor should certainly when giving a message keep in mind there could be unbelievers in the audience and be willing to offer them the chance to come to Christ, but that is not his main role. His main role is indeed to equip the saints further.

Our methodology today often absolves us of any responsibility. We get them to church and then the pastor takes over. Your pastor, no matter how good he is, cannot be Superman. He cannot do everything. He has his limitations on him as well.

Consider it as a coach. A coach wants players to be able to make the decisions as if he wasn’t even there. Sure, a player can go to a coach for a strategy if he needs one, but a coach will not be supportive of a player who goes to him for everything that he is thinking about. The player needs to learn how to play as much as possible without the coach.

This means that when you do evangelism, you might actually have to learn how to answer questions yourself. You might have to learn how to dialogue yourself. You might actually have to do some bizarre things. This could include such things as reading the Bible on your own, praying on your own, reading devotional literature or studying theology, apologetics, church history, or anything else on your own.

In other words, your Christianity might require some work on your part.

“But I don’t have time!” I hear as you sit down to watch the rerun of that show you’ve seen 27 times so far. I hear it as you sit down to follow your favorite sports franchise that you can’t seem to live without. I hear it as you do whatever is that you’re doing during the day.

The problem is that if something is truly important to you, you will make the time for it somehow. If your Christianity is important to you, you will make the time for it. If it isn’t, you won’t. You will find some excuse and go back to what is really important to you.

Your pastor should help you along the way, but that’s not what he’s there. He’s there to equip and encourage, but like a teacher, he’s also there to help you so that you won’t need help eventually. Hopefully, at that point, he will be like a wise mentor that you come to only periodically.

When the church is producing people who are ultimately teachers of the Gospel themselves and evangelists themselves, then the work is being done. When it is just producing people who think their only job is to bring unbelievers to the pastor, it is not, at least on that front. It is my hopes we will see more and more equipped churches where the huge majority is truly growing in Christ.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Dear Pastor….

Can I critique your sermon this Sunday? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

(Note: This post is not about my own church or our sermon Sunday. This is a hypothetical that could be used for what I think are the sad majority of pastors in any church on a given Sunday. No reference to any specific person or timeframe is intended.)

Dear Pastor,

I wanted to talk to you about your sermon. I think you did a good job of showing that the Bible tells us that God loves us immensely. I think you were correct in that we need to live our lives accordingly with what is revealed in Scripture. I think your sermon did have some excellent application to it. Unfortunately, while I agree with that, I have a problem with your sermon.

You see, I write in the area of Christian apologetics and defending Christianity. All that you said is true, but I kept wondering, what if someone doesn’t believe the Bible is true? What does it mean to them? What about someone who could be even wondering if the Bible is truly a revelation from God?

If someone wants to believe in the love of God, can they believe in the message of love if they don’t know if they can trust the messenger of that love? Suppose I go see a doctor who is right, but he’s right 90% of the time. He tells me I have cancer and I need to undergo intense chemotherapy to treat it. Would it make sense to sign up immediately? Should I not consider a second opinion just to make sure? His message could be right, but I would want to know if it was right. If I knew he was right 100% of the time, I would sign up, but what if I have that 10% of doubt? What if he’s right and I have that 10% and never go get a second opinion? That doubt could kill me.

Pastor. Your congregation is encountering this doubt. Now of course, many people are firmly in a position where they will not wrestle with these questions. Many are not. Many of them are watching the History Channel and the Discovery Channel and National Geographic and reading the magazines and they see these specials about the Bible. Every time Easter and Christmas roll around, you have these specials coming out undermining something about the Bible. You had a movie like the Da Vinci Code come out and the book itself was quite popular and even a skeptical scholar like Bart Ehrman had a best-selling book on textual criticism calling into question the reliability of the Bible.

If that doesn’t leave you concerned, you’re not paying attention.

You see, you talked so much about what the Bible says and how to apply its message, but you said very little about the Bible itself. I’m not suggesting your sermon be apologetics, but wouldn’t it be a good opening to explain a little bit about the book you’re exegeting, when it was written, and some historical facts about it? This would not take long and it would also bring the text more to life. As it stands, if people don’t know the history of the Bible and when it was written and such, it’s essentially a text floating in air and it won’t take much to bring it down.

I understand you want to reach that person who is there for the first time also, but what if that person is an atheist? What if they’re a Jew? A Mormon? A Buddhist? You don’t know who they are. I don’t either. I do know that they won’t just blindly believe the Bible. They need some reason to do so.

Application is good and important, but is that all there is? Is the whole point of Jesus dying and rising again just so that we could be good people? I’m all for marriage enrichment and beating your personal problems and so many other things, and we need them, but you can have many of those things without Christianity. Christianity is not about giving good advice. It certainly will give good advice, but Christianity is about Jesus being the King of this world and how we must submit to Him.

If all we have is good advice, well Pastor, we can turn on Dr. Phil or Oprah or anything else and get advice. We’ve also never really been prone to follow good advice. I daresay that most people will leave the church and forget all that they heard in an hour if all they heard was good advice. If you give them a question that could be a thorn in their side that suggests that the Bible could really be from God and God could really have some authority on their lives, that is something that will not be easy to cast aside.

That’s something I want to hear. I don’t want to just hear moralizing from the pulpit because I can get that from anywhere else and from most any other religion. I want to hear what Christianity alone can tell me. I want to hear about King Jesus dying and rising again from the dead and not just what this means for me, but what it means for the future of humanity and the world that we live in. No other belief system can offer that.

Pastor. Let’s also not forget you have young people in your audience. Let’s even suppose the youth are growing up in good Christian homes, which is more and more becoming questionable since even many Christians are compromising in areas of morality, such as living together before marriage or endorsing homosexual practice. Is this young man or woman growing up in a devout Christian home safe? Not on your life.

Imagine them in their bedroom one day on the computer. No. They’re not watching porn, though you should also be concerned that many in your congregation are, but they’re doing something like listening to a song from their favorite Christian band. What do they see on the related videos on the side? “Ten Questions Every Christian Must Answer.” Pastor. What if that’s a video put out by an atheist? What if they get curious and click it? Have you prepared them for what they will see? If you know the answers to these questions and don’t prepare them, do you not bear some responsibility when they fall away? If you don’t know the answers, how can you get up and tell people the Bible is a revelation from God if you yourself have no reason to think that? Are you not the blind leading the blind?

They also won’t fall away for intellectual difficulties. I’m not sure if you watch any TV or movies pastor, but sex sells. It’s big on the big screen nowadays. We just had Fifty Shades Darker come out and I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of women from your church went to see it. Believe it or not also, young men and women are greatly tempted to have sex. Women want to have that love and acceptance from a man. Many young men just want to have a good time with a woman and think sex makes them a man.

Do they know enough to know why they shouldn’t? Yeah. We can tell them what Paul said. If they can resist what Paul said on lesser things, such as talking back to their parents or overeating or buying things they can’t afford, why think they will be able to overpower the sex drive? Do you know how strong that is? If you don’t, I think you’ve just said a lot more about your marriage than you intended.

So you might say that when they engage, they’ll feel great guilt and will repent. Maybe they will. Maybe they won’t. If they don’t, then they will think the church lied to them. What else did the church lie about? Do you know how many of them are being told the church is trying to restrict them? Do you know how many atheists talk about liberation from the church’s teachings?

Pastor. Would it really hurt your church to know the historical reasons for believing that Christianity is true? Again, you don’t have to do a whole sermon on this. In fact, I don’t think you should, but you should at least touch on it. Now if you want to have a class separate from the sermon on this, by all means go ahead. That would be wonderful.

You still have an obligation to prevent your flock from falling away. Please also don’t tell them to just have faith. I cringe most every time when a pastor says that we need to have faith. Faith is a badly misunderstood term and one that an atheist will pounce on in a second.

Pastor. You might want your congregation to be safe and not put in danger from contrary thought. First off, they aren’t safe. Second, they will encounter contrary thought be it in the classroom or on TV or on YouTube or at the water cooler in conversation. Third, we are not called to be safe. We are called to do the Great Commission and the historic Christian church was not safe. They still aren’t. I just saw a highly reliable friend post a study showing that 90,000 Christians were martyred for their faith in 2016. 90,000 are martyred and you’re thinking your church needs to be shielded from contrary thought? These weren’t. They had to live in it regularly and they were incredibly faithful. In fact, they were probably more faithful than even you or I are. When your life could depend on if the Jesus question is true or not, you probably take it a lot more serious and you know, you probably live out that application a whole lot better.

Your congregation is not meant to live in a bubble. They’re meant to do the Great Commission. How can they do it unless they are equipped to do it? It’s not enough to get them to tell their personal testimony. Everyone has a testimony. Even atheists in debate will often open with their personal anti-testimony. We don’t live in a time where testimonies have the same effectiveness. Consider instead combining them with a good apologetic, and you could be on to something.

Pastor. Please take these words to heart. I encounter atheists most every day that used to be Christians and they are often extremely evangelistic and antagonistic. If you’ve ever heard of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, they were established by someone who used to be in ministry as well. The sad thing is many of these questions are easily answered if you just have a congregation that is at least semi-informed. You’re the only one who can determine that. Think about your own standing before God one day. Do you want to be responsible for people falling away and the damage they do? Do you want to risk that you could be?

I’m at your service if need be, but the ball is in your court. Please consider giving us something different. Give us a reason to believe and then to live differently.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Pokemon Go and Evangelism

How will you handle kids coming to church? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I happen to be an apologist as readers know, but I also enjoy playing Pokemon. My wife and I are eagerly looking forward to Sun and Moon coming out in November. Not only that, we’ve found some of our neighbors are also devout Christians and play the game. Unfortunately, they’re also moving away soon, but we’ve enjoyed their company for now.

Recently, a new version came out for smart phones called Pokemon Go. This would have been every child’s dream when Pokemon came out years ago. It’s going out into the world and catching Pokemon on an electronic device. What on Earth does this have to do with evangelism?

It has a number of things to do with it. First off, in order to get supplies and a few extra experience points, players have to stop at places called Pokestops. These are well-known locations like libraries and post offices and other landmarks in a town. Oh! Practically every church you come across will also be a Pokestop and you have to get right up next to it in order to get the bonus. Not only that, if you wait just a few minutes, you can get that bonus again.

Second, there are also gyms you can battle at. These are also located at landmarks including, yep, some of the churches. Not every church has a gym, but some do, and players from each of the three teams in the game seek to come and take control of the gyms and that will mean that they are indeed coming to the churches.

To see how this all works, my neighbor and I decided we would go out into town. My wife came along as his wife was working and we went all over town stopping at Pokestops and battling gyms. On the way, we had a number of good conversations and fun times together.

In fact, this Saturday before the podcast, my wife and I are thinking of going out to a park nearby for a Pokemon Go event. Yes. You’re going to have players coming from the Atlanta area all to a park where we will meet each other and interact playing a game. We will be out around noon in warm weather at a park as will many others.

You know parents how you’ve been wanting a reason for your children to get outside? It has come. In fact, your younger children who can’t drive will need you. Take this chance to spend time with your children!

Still, I mainly want to write about churches. What I recommend you do is have someone from your church download the game and look and see. Is your church a Pokestop? If it is, take advantage of this situation. I would like to emphasize some thought over at The Wardrobe Door and some I’ve thought of on my own.

First off, if you have someone at your church who knows Pokemon well, put them to use! Get them out there and have them meeting people that come by. If you want to, set up something outside your church during the week that will indicate your church is a Pokestop and welcome kids to your church.

This could include having bottles of water or small snacks that you can give out to the children. Let them know what kind of church your place is and that will make an impression on the parents. Let them come in and enjoy wi-fi and air conditioning and this can be a good chance to talk to the parents.

Second, allow people to have their events at your church. Host a Pokemon Go event at your church on the weekdays and have kids from all over come by. If you do this, don’t make it a trap by having a sermon preached. Instead, let them come and just enjoy themselves. Try to focus on the parents as well if they stay. If not, let the kids from your church be there who are playing and have them form the friendships that can get the children in the door.

Third, host other kinds of events. Have a tournament around the card games. Have a tournament around the regular games. Be the church that when Sun and Moon comes out, you will be ready.

Fourth, try having some giveaways. Some churches are doing this and you could let people fill out an entry form once a day when they come by for a Pokestop and let them have a chance to win a prize. It doesn’t have to be a big one, but feeling like they won something for going by the church can be an incentive.

In fact, if you want to know if people are coming to the church, just look at some of the material already put out.

 

Not all of these I shared due to language on some, but pay attention. You have people who even can’t stand religion going to a church to collect Pokeballs. If you have an apologist at your church, now is a time to use them when they show up. This will especially also help show your church that Christians don’t cut themselves off from everything. The Gospel is not opposed to fun after all.

I can already anticipate some objections. Some of you will be saying that we don’t need this to do evangelism. That’s true. We don’t, but you know what? We have it. Why not take advantage of it? Why not use it? If this is a way that we can get to spread the Gospel to people who are coming to our church, why not go ahead and do that?

I also hear it being said that the message should be enough to draw people to the church. Yeah. Keep that up. How’s that been working for you? It will be a draw if you’re dealing with people who are Christians who already love the message. You’re not. What you’re dealing with are people who are lost many times and now have a reason to go to church.

Consider raising children. Parents want to raise their children to eat well and study in school. It should be that being healthy and having a successful career is enough of a draw, but it isn’t. Usually, we’ll give incentives and punishments to help children do these tasks until they come to appreciate them on their own. Wait until your children value health or a successful career on their own and you’ll be waiting awhile. Give them incentive and they’ll start doing it.

Some have also complained about dangers of Pokemon Go, such as there are some people hijacking it to rob victims. Yes. Believe it or not, technology can be misused. By that standard, that Bible you have at your church is misused by the cults, so you’d better not use it. Some people are misusing Pokemon Go. You can be the church that uses it well.

Some people are concerned that you will draw them in and then use bait and switch with the Gospel. I have a problem when it comes to many Christian movies in that they think they have to shove the Gospel explicitly down your throats. They don’t. Those of you who care about friendship evangelism should like this idea. Get to know the people as people who come by and give them time. Do encourage them and if you see an opportunity, you can talk about it, but I wouldn’t be confrontational in this case. Just be there and if they have questions, answer them. Let your church be the church that everyone in town is talking about.

Speaking of talking about it, what makes me think this will happen. Look at the above tweets. When was the last time you had people tweeting so much about going to church who likely are not Christians? You want to pass up this opportunity?

Also along those lines, please don’t come up with cheesy catch phrase about Pokemon and turn it into Jesus and please don’t try to come up with a Christian version of the game that you can play. Just use the game as it is because when Christians try to copy things like this, they end up for the most part just looking ridiculous. That turns people away.

Some people think that Pokemon Go is being used as a lure in this case. The point is that Pokemon Go is already a lure. The people are already coming and they can’t just drive by at 45 MPH and get the bonuses. They have to make a deliberate stop. If they’re there, talk to them. Take advantage of it.

There are many people talking about so many events in the world that are important. We are talking about the Dallas shooting and we are talking about the Presidential election, but many of us are talking about Pokemon Go. That last one can greatly be used by evangelism. Take advantage of the opportunity. We finally have people we want to reach coming to church. I can only imagine what the Apostle Paul would do if he found a way to get people to come to church of their own accord. What would he do once they got there?

Also, your young people who don’t think they contribute to the church sometimes? They can have a sense of contribution just by playing a game and just by hanging out with others playing a game. Give them an idea that they are significant. Let them help out. You can have it that the kids talk to the kids while the parents talk to the parents. Use this opportunity to tell them about your church and then when in the church, tell them about Jesus.

As for me and my wife, we’re going to be enjoying our game, but I certainly hope churches use this opportunity. You have children coming to your door. Are you going to drive them away, or are you going to be there waiting for them in preparation for getting them there on Sunday morning to give them the Gospel?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Happy Fourth of July

Are you enjoying the 4th of July? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Today we celebrate the fact that we are supposed to be a free people and this based on an event that happened 240 years ago. My wife and I will be celebrating by going to see her parents for a cookout. I’m also bringing Apples To Apples with us in case we want to have some gaming going on. Naturally, I’ll have my books with me as well because they tend to go everywhere with me.

Yet today, I wonder more and more if we’re not taking our freedoms for granted here. We’re living more and more in a society where businesses are being told how they must run their business and who they must sell their goods and services to. Whenever this happens, our freedoms die little by little.

I fear a world where we have way too much government inclusion. It’s what I call the nanny state. It’s too often looking like we are implicitly told that we are too stupid to know what’s good for us so we need the powers that be to come alongside of us and tell us what is good for us.

Many of us who are Christians are also worried about what we can do to stop the downward slide in our nation. There are some sadly who think that since Jesus will return soon, that this is what’s expected and this world is going to be done away with anyway so why bother? Sure, this doesn’t match everyone, but I have met too many with this mindset.

What is my advice in this situation? If we don’t like the way the country is going, then what are we to do? My advice is simple. The church has to be the church.

We are too often passive in what we want. We say “We’ll just live our lives and wait for people to ask us about what we believe.” They weren’t like that. Paul went into the synagogues, where he would be challenged by those who would have the most knowledge about what the Messiah would be, on a regular basis and spoke from the Scriptures about Jesus. He went to the Greek marketplace and Mars Hill and spoke about Jesus. Never do we read in Acts

“And Paul went into the city and he lived a good and pleasant life among the peoples and they came to him and asked ‘Why do you not live as we do?’ and from that point on, Paul spoke about how Jesus changed his life and gave him new desires. All the people in the city were impressed and decided to follow this Jesus. Paul won many converts then in that city and went on to the next.”

Paul was one wanting to bring the message wherever he could. Today, we’re living more in response mode. We don’t lead in the culture. We respond to the culture. This is also shown in our Christian bookstores selling what has been called “Jesus junk.” Just take a popular saying of the day, put Jesus in it, and then put it on a T-shirt.

Some of you might be wondering what it will take to get the church to be more aggressive. Now note I don’t mean violently aggressive. There is no place for picking up the sword to do evangelism. What I mean is we are to be pro-active. For that, we need to train our people in what it is they ought to believe and know about Christianity and how to show it and spread it. Our Christianity has often been reduced to moralizing, particularly on sexual issues. Of course we should speak on those, but that is not all that we are about.

If the church gets to be the church again, we can change our culture. If first century Rome can be changed, then who on Earth can 21st century America not be? Of course, this doesn’t just mean doing evangelism alone. Christians should take the lead in charity, and in many ways we do. Christians should take the lead in academia. The best scientists, engineers, lawyers, etc. should be Christians. We should strive for greatness in all that we do.

Christians should also be able to rely less and less on the government. I think one of the sad reasons that we have so much government dependency today is that the church let the government do that job. We are to be the ones to take care of our own. Why aren’t we doing that?

Even if you think this world is going to go away soon, that doesn’t negate your marching orders. Jesus gave the Great Commission to be done. There is no plan B. There is nothing that tells us what happens if we don’t do plan A. We are simply told to do it and if Jesus is our King, then we will do it.

Today, celebrate the fourth, but remember if you want to hold on to those freedoms, don’t look to others. You do what you can in your own power to preserve them. Freedom is worth it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

What Should Christians Do In Light Of Cruz Dropping Out

What is the call of the church? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I was pretty shocked when I heard the news last night that Cruz had dropped out of the race. Frankly, I hadn’t been too enthused about many of the candidates at all. Still, I did think Cruz was our best shot. As I say that, I know that there are many Christians who do support Trump and if you are one of those, this is still relevant to you.

Many of you were Cruz supporters. You were downcast and saddened last night. After all, we’ve gone through a hard eight years in this country. We don’t want more of the same. Many of us have been discouraged by the decisions of the Supreme Court as well.

In some ways, if you’re shocked, it will take some time to get used to. Our minds tend to jump to panic. I’d like to see I was a paragon of virtue in this. I’d like to, but I’d be lying. I didn’t rest well last night. I do get concerned about America, so what I say to you, I say to me as well.

I was talking with someone last month at a restaurant and he asked me about our country. I gave the same answer I always give. How do we turn our country around? The church has to be the church. We unfortunately have not been being the church.

We have become so individualized we do not think beyond ourselves. I find this best modeled in the lady I heard in a small group once say that she’s saved and her children are saved so she’s just going to wait for Jesus to come. What a horrible attitude! What about your neighbor’s children? If your children go off to college, will they remain Christians?

When we become the church, we will be living as Jesus lived. We will give as He gave. We will sacrifice as He sacrificed. We will care about the things that He cared about, and there are many areas I have to improve on that personally. A pastor at our church gave a sermon on prayer lately that showed me that yes, I have a long way to go. We all have many such areas.

Bart Ehrman actually gives an interesting example of this. He’ll give a talk to his incoming students in his classroom. Keep in mind, this is an agnostic saying this. These classes will have about 400 people in them. He’ll ask how many of them agree with the proposition that the Bible is the Word of God. WHOOSH! Nearly every hand goes up. Then he’ll ask “How many of you have read The Da Vinci Code (Or whatever the book of the day is. I’ve heard Harry Potter used for instance). WHOOSH! Nearly every hand goes up. “And how many of you have read the Bible from beginning to end?” A few scattered hands go up. Ehrman points out that he can understand wanting to read a great novel, but by their own admission, these students have just said the Bible is the Word of God and they don’t seem to care to read what He has to say. How many of us are much better?

As I went to bed last night thinking about the church being the church, I thought that it’s a shame we put our hope in politics so much. Of course, it’s not that politics is unimportant. We should care about politics. It’s that we already have a savior. We already have a Lord and Master. We dare not say “If our political candidate does not get elected, then all hope is lost!” No. The world will still go on. The Gospel will remain unchanged. Let’s list some facts we believe as Christians.

Fact: Jesus Christ is the risen Lord of the universe.

Fact: God is enthroned in the Heavens and laughs at attempts to usurp His power.

Fact: We have the Great Commission to do.

Let’s keep these in mind. Christ originally gave the Great Commission to His followers and you know what? They didn’t have the internet. They didn’t have cars and planes that could travel the Roman Empire. They didn’t have the best education. (In fact, the most educated among them could have been Matthew the tax collector who would have worked WITH the government as a tax collector) They were fishermen and they were told to go into all nations and make disciples.

All nations would include Rome.

You know, Rome, that empire that ruled the world. That empire that came to persecute Christians. That empire that demolished every attack against them. They were to give the most bizarre message that would have been given and they would have done so without being able to look back on past generations of Christians who had done the same. They didn’t even have a New Testament to preach from!

Of course, the scholar Paul joined the party later on and he did a great work, but he did it without all that we have today. He had to be the original pioneer in many ways. Can you imagine what Paul would do if he had the resources that we had today? Paul had no hesitancy in going to Rome even though he knew he was going to die.

We act like all hope is lost meanwhile based on an election that hasn’t even happened yet in a country where we are not yet fearing for our lives.

You see, it doesn’t matter if Trump or Hilary or Sanders gets elected or if Cruz or Rubio or anyone else had got elected. Our mandate is the same if Ronald Reagan is in office or if Barack Obama is in office. Our command is to be the church. We are to do the Great Commission. Our marching orders haven’t changed and maybe we panic because we have put our hope in government.

Unfortunately, we’re also great hypocrites with this in a lot of ways. When we talk about bathrooms, we say that people are not of the opposite sex just because they feel like they’re a woman in a man’s body or vice-versa. I agree. We dare not give authority to our feelings to tell us who we are. We look at Mormons and say the burning in the bosom is not the testimony of the Holy Spirit, and I agree. Then after all that, we look and say “Well I don’t feel like we can do anything and our country is doomed.”

Your feelings and mine do not overpower Scripture. You can have those feelings, and it’s likely you will, but we must work to overcome them. We do not determine the truth of God by how we feel and if we start doing that, then we are placing our feelings over Scripture. If you have a feeling that disagrees with Scripture, well so much for your feelings. They’re simply wrong. This is why we also need to preach the Gospel to one another and remind ourselves of the truth.

I also thought last night of how Jesus said that in this world we would have troubles in John 16:33, but He has overcome the world. Note that. He has overcome it. It’s not a future thing. It’s a done deal. We don’t see all the results of it, but Jesus has overcome. Ultimately, we’re on the winning side.

We’ve had a lot go wrong in our country, but perhaps things aren’t gloom and doom as much as we think. Years ago the Supreme Court defended abortion. Today, you’d find that more and more people are turning against abortion. I suspect the same thing will happen with their recent ruling on homosexuality and marriage. If our case is right, and I am sure it is, then we need not live in fear. A worldview like this can’t live for long. It will self-destruct. Some of us think we’re seeing this start in the whole transgender issue.

In fact, let’s look at the homosexual community. They make up a small portion of our population and yet, when they made a plan and acted on it and charged forward in the face of opposition and fear, look at what they accomplished. Now we claim that we have the God of the universe on our side and what are we doing in response? We are a far larger portion of the population than they are. The truth is the homosexual movement is doing more for their behavior than we are for Jesus Christ.

So what am I going to do?

I’m going to keep doing my blog.

I’m going to keep doing the podcast.

I’m going to keep doing apologetics the way I’m supposed to.

I’m going to keep doing the Great Commission.

I’m going to continue to love the wife God gave me.

I’m going to continue to strive to walk as Jesus walked.

And you know what, I’m going to do that regardless of who gets elected? I would do that if Cruz got elected. I will do it if Trump or Clinton or Sanders gets elected. I would do it if somehow Obama got a third term. I would do it if somehow Reagan came back from the dead and got elected again.

By all means, vote and be active, but don’t put all your eggs in the political basket. If you think things are going to be harder, well that just means we have more of a challenge. It doesn’t mean we have a big game over.

My wife and I like to watch The Flash for instance. Now if you have seen recent episodes, and we haven’t seen last night’s yet, we saw where the Flash lost all of his speed and it went to the villain speedster recently. My wife and I did not turn off the TV then and say “Well that was a good series. Looks like it’s all hopeless for him now.” No. Instead we look and say “Dang. I don’t know how he’s going to get out of this one, but he’s going to find a way and he will defeat the villain in the end.” Why? Because we know that’s how these stories work. The authors do not write stories where the good guys lose like that. We don’t have to know how the author will pull it off. We just know that he will.

The author of this story is God. He’s the one in charge. If I can have trust that the writer of a TV show will bring about a good ending, can I not do the same with the greatest author of all? He’s  in charge. Life is still an adventure. There will always be challenges regardless of who is in the White House, but we can still do great things if we’re willing to just get up and do them.

Your marching orders are still the same. Be the church. If you want to see the change, be the change. You will either be part of evangelism or a hindrance to evangelism.

I plan to be a part of it. How about you?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 4/30/2016: Luke Cawley

What’s coming up on the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Evangelism is sometimes said to be a lost art among evangelicals. We live in a world where we don’t really interact as much with people and make evangelism the focus. The early Christian church spread in an empire where there was no internet, few people writing apologetics works, and great persecution. We have so much more than they and we do so much less than they did. What can we do to improve our track record? How can we better reach those around us?

In order to discuss that, I have decided to bring onto the show Luke Cawley. Who is he?

me on stage

According to his bio:

I am a writer, speaker, trainer and the director of Chrysolis, an organization I helped start in 2012 with the aim of enabling others to better communicate the Jesus story.

Much of my time is spent in contexts where God is not typically discussed in depth. I love interacting with skeptical audiences in universities, schools, bars, cafes and theaters, and anywhere else I’m invited.

I also enjoy enabling individuals and Christian communities to better engage those around them with the story of Jesus.

I have spent most of my adult life founding and developing (missional) Christian communities on university campuses in Britain and Romania and am a regular speaker at conferences and outreach events in different countries.

I was previously part of the writing team at InterVarsity Evangelism and a columnist at the Church of England Newspaper. My first book, The Myth of the Non-Christian: Engaging Atheists, Nominal Christians and the Spiritual but not Religious, was published by InterVarsity Press in 2016.

I have an MA in Evangelism & Leadership from Wheaton College and a Certificate in Theological and Pastoral Studies (concentrated in Christian Apologetics) from Oxford University. I’m married to Whitney, a lovely South Carolinian school teacher, and we have three young children.

Luke is the author of The Myth of the Non-ChristianThis book is not about some kind of idea of universalism. No. It’s a book about how to do evangelism and reach three different types of people. Those people are the ones who describe themselves as spiritual but not religious, atheists and agnostics, and then nominal Christians.
Cawley’s book is one that certainly got me thinking about evangelism and does so still to this day and with my wife and I having a new church here in the area we’re attending, I’m thinking of implementing some ideas if given the chance. Cawley’s book does have apologetics in it, but those are more resources in the back. Instead, consider it a book to be more like Greg Koukl’s Tactics in that Cawley teaches you more how to do apologetics and it depends on the person that you meet.
We’ll be discussing these kinds of matters. Why is it that some evangelistic encounters can fall so incredibly short? Is there a proper time to answer someone’s questions and a proper time to just cut through the questions? How does apologetics play a role in the process of evangelism? What do you do when you encounter people who say they are Christians but who do not really live lives that seem to match Christianity and you fear that they could be Christians in name only?
I hope you’ll be joining me this Saturday for the Deeper Waters Podcast. Please also leave a positive review on ITunes.
In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: One Gospel For All Nations

What do I think of Jackson Wu’s book published by the William Carey Library? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Would you like to hear the good news of the Gospel? You would? Okay. Long ago our ancestors Adam and Eve disobeyed God and were banished from His presence. In order to bring us back, God sent His Son to us. He lived among us and died on a cross, but God raised Him from the dead and all who believe on Him can find forgiveness in His name.

Such is the way that a Gospel presentation can usually go. Now of course, when presenting the story of the Bible, one cannot give a full presentation of everything in the Bible, but isn’t it amazing how much is left out of this? Where is the history of Israel in this presentation? Does Israel have no purpose in God’s story? Where is the mention of Jesus being a king? You can see Him as savior, but will you see Him as King?

Jackson Wu is a Chinese scholar who writes about how to interact with Scripture in a more practical way to present the Gospel to all nations. After all, such an approach might work fine here in America to an extent (And that extent is lessening), but go to a more Eastern mindset and you could find it less effective. Wu primarily shows his own people of China as a different culture that contrasts heavily with our modern Western culture.

In doing so, Wu takes us back to Scripture and says we must look for the themes of covenant, creation, and kingdom. Whenever the Gospel is presented, we will find something of this there. You might not find all the themes, but you will find at least one of the themes.

This means also that when we go to another culture, that we can see how they interact with Scripture and find grounds of agreement first. We can disagree with the Marxist ideologically for instance, but could we find something we can agree on? We can agree with the desire to find a perfect society together. We can agree with the idea of removing distinctions that separate people. We can then show that these are also part of the new covenant in Christ.

The book also contains some interesting insight into Chinese culture where the goal is often to save face. How you look to the people around you means everything and if you don’t have a good reputation, it is as if you were already dead. There is also emphasis on how one treats their family, especially their parents. Picture going to this culture with the Gospel of the man who talks about how He must be more important to you than your own family and suddenly those ideas take on a whole new meaning.

Wu’s approach is contextualization. It means that we don’t just read the Scripture at face value alone, but try to interact and see the culture behind the Scripture as well. An honor-shame context is a better approach to understanding the Bible and as Wu shows by an example of Chinese culture, is still very much active in the world today.

Wu’s book is an excellent resource for missionaries or for anyone serious about evangelism. After all, to do missionary work today, you don’t have to go to another country. You can find people of another culture in our own neighborhood and you can turn on your computer and find people of a different culture. Wu’s book is one to read to better understand how Scripture and culture should interact together.

In Christ,
Nick Peters