Creating a Culture of Evangelism – Mack Stiles Podcast

Mack Stiles PortraitMack Stiles, author of Evangelism: How the whole church speaks of Jesus and Marks of the Messenger, on promoting the gospel and creating an effective, Christ-centred culture of evangelism in your ministry.

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Mack may be the most passionate and naturally gifted evangelist I’ve ever met. He’s the author of five books, including Marks of the Messenger and Speaking of Jesus. This week, at the Together For The Gospel (T4G) Conference in Kentucky, Mack will launch his latest book – Evangelism: How the whole church speaks of Jesus. Born and bred in America, he now lives with his wife Leeann in Dubai, UAE, where he is CEO of Gulf Digital Solutions and General Secretary for the Fellowship of Christian UAE students. Continue reading

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Why You Must Always Exaggerate

MegaphoneOver the years, many teachers and preachers of God’s word have shaped the way I understand the Bible, the world, and myself. Easily the most important have been those who pastored me personally – who led the churches or ministries of which I was a member. People who knew me, invested in me, and shared their lives with me.

But there have also been many teachers and preachers outside my local ministries – authors, conference speakers, and various other leaders – who have played an enormous role in shaping my thinking and my life. Some are people I’ve come to know well; some are people I’m yet to meet. Some are the ‘big name’ authors and speakers that everyone knows; some serve in relative obscurity.

As I look back and consider why people I barely know have influenced me, a number of factors emerge. But for now, I want to mention one common characteristic among those who’ve impacted my thinking: a willingness to state the truth in bold and challenging ways. Put another way: a willingness and ability to exaggerate. Continue reading

Getting Things Done, God’s Way

What's Best Next Cover

What’s Best Next
b
y Matt Perman
Zondervan, 352 pages
Amazon | Book Depository

I admit that I’ve always been a bit skeptical about books on productivity. I don’t really know why, but I think I just assumed that reading a whole book and developing a comprehensive system for ‘time management’ was overkill. Surely all it needs is a bit of common sense, right? After all, I already make to-do lists, I have a diary and a basic weekly schedule, and I take time out to make sure that what I do gels with my overall goals.

Still, in the back of my mind, I knew I should get around to reading one of the books that everyone recommends. I’d seen the way books like Getting Things Done (David Allen) or First Things First (Stephen Covey) had helped my friends. I’d just never been quite motivated enough to make the time for it myself. Continue reading

Is your church really welcoming?

The startling adventures of ‘Jack Pagan’ and his post-earthquake ‘church crawl’

Welcome MatThree years ago, when the February 22 earthquake hit Christchurch, the church I worked for at the time (St Stephen’s Anglican in Shirley) lost the use of its building. In the scramble to find an alternative venue, we decided that our three congregations (which had met at 8.30am, 10am and 7pm) would have to combine into one. On top of that, we couldn’t find a large enough venue that was available on Sunday mornings or evenings, so we spent the better part of a year meeting at 2.30pm on a Sunday afternoon. Continue reading

Pray for North Korea

“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!” (2 Tim 2:8-9)

World Watch List 2Every year, Open Doors produces ‘World Watch’ – a comprehensive list of the 50 countries in which Christians are most persecuted for their faith in Jesus. Even if you’re not a believer, it’s worth taking a look at the list to have your eyes opened to the human rights violations that take place around the world every single day. But for Christians in the West, the list is a great encouragement to prayer, and a reminder that the comfortable world we inhabit is not shared by countless millions of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

For the twelfth year in a row, North Korea tops the list. Here’s part of the ‘World Watch List Challenge’ email I received today from Open Doors (you can subscribe to this weekly email list here): Continue reading

Electing a leader for challenging times

The Anglican Diocese of Sydney meets next week to elect a new Archbishop. Not from Sydney? Not an Anglican? Here’s why you should still care.

Glenn Davies (left) and Rick Smith
Glenn Davies (left) and Rick Smith (Photo Courtesy: sydneyanglicans.net)

If the phrase ‘church politics’ makes your eyes glaze over, you’re not alone. I suppose there are some people out there for whom it gets the blood racing (though lots of them won’t admit it), but for many, church politics is seen, at best, as something to tolerate; at worst, it’s seen as something to be despised or rejected. Continue reading

Persevering in Evangelism: Reflections on a godly stranger

Don’t give up sharing your faith in Jesus, even when it seems like a waste of time

Beautiful FeetOver the last couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking about Russell. Not Russell from Up! (probably my favourite Russell); not ‘evil Russell’ from Survivor (probably my least favourite Russell); and not the short, freckly kid who thought it would be funny to climb the tallest tree at school and tie my bag up there when I was in Year 9 (probably somewhere in between the other two Russells).

The Russell I’ve been thinking about is a man who changed my life. But I don’t even know his last name, and I met him just once, more than 15 years ago. Continue reading

Can a Christian fall away – revisited

Fall AwayIt’s one of the biggest and most frequently asked theological and pastoral questions: can a Christian fall away? Can a Christian stop being a Christian? Because I’ve been asked it so often, and because I’ve been asked it a number of times recently, I’m re-posting this article from a few years ago (with a brief addition at the end). I hope it’s helpful.

If you don’t want to read through this whole thing but you’re still interested: (a) don’t be lazy! 🙂 (b) I’ve put a bullet-point summary at the end. And please remember, this is just my way of thinking through the issue, and plenty of other Christians would think differently. So don’t just take my word for it – check if what I’m saying matches with the Bible. Continue reading

Jesus, human rights and bacon

BaconWhich of your rights will you give up today for someone else’s sake?

Reading through 1 Corinthians 8-9 this morning, I was struck (again) but just how incredibly counter-cultural the Bible is when it comes to thinking about our personal ‘rights’.

The language of ‘rights’ is everywhere in ethics and morality today. In large part, it flows out of the intense individualism that has enveloped our society. If you’re arguing for a particular position on any contentious issue, the quickest route to success is to establish that what you’re arguing for is ‘a basic human right’. Continue reading

Why ‘faith’ and faith are mortal enemies

A brief rant about (what should be) a painfully obvious idea

In Paul’s second letter to his protégé Timothy, he warns the young man ‘not to quarrel about words’. In fact, he goes as far as saying that this kind of arguing ‘does no good, but only ruins the hearers’ (2 Tim 2:14). It’s a strong warning, and one that many people today need to hear. But when we look closely, Paul’s warning is quite clearly against meaningless squabbles – arguing for the sake of arguing. When the truth of the gospel was at stake, time and again we see that Paul was clearly willing to hold his ground and disagree with others.

In our own day and age, I’m more and more convinced that Christians need to fight for the truth of a particular word, a word that goes to the heart of what Christianity is about: faith. Continue reading