Tag Archives: Evangelism

The Beauty of Raising a Family in the Cause of Christ

The other day my wife said that the pursuit of the cause of Christ would be infinitely easier if I didn’t have a family.

She said it casually, kindly, towards the end of a conversation we were having about pursuing missionary work. She said if not for the obligation to care and support a family one could easily pursue the work of God.

She has a biblical case.

She trotted out Jesus’ statement, “And there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake for the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.”

And she mentioned Paul who indicated that the married man or woman who has divided affections, serving the spouse, the children, could not give the full weight of their attention to the cause of Christ.

“Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that.”

Egg Drop Soup for Breakfast

Sensing that I wasn’t seeing her point she suggested that we wouldn’t have the house to sell or the multiple cars needed in today’s mobile society to be agile. If I was a bachelor, my accommodations would be meager, a pillow and mat in some hostile that cost me $60 a month.

All my belongings in a back pack. Egg drop soup for breakfast, bananas for lunch.

While there is something noble about the devotion and simplicity of being single to serve the cause of Christ, I hardly think it is something to be cherished by a man who is married and with children. Paul said, “Each man must remain in the condition in which he was called.” It seems that Paul was perhaps combating the acts of some Christians who abandoned their family for Christ.

Of course my wife wasn’t suggesting I abandon the family, just merely suggesting that I probably dream about the simplicity of being single to champion the cause of Christ.

Okay. Fair enough.

Lone Missionary v. the Family

The longing to be single to pursue the cause of Christ, in the name of Christ, is a very real temptation. Yet to indulge that temptation would do nothing but sully my testimony of Christ.

To justify with a cold calculation that I could possibly impact more people because I had more freedom by sacrificing my family could quite possibly be one of the most damaging things I could do–both to my family and to Christ.

The other thing that did not sit well with me, and a notion that did not occur to me until afterwards, is that God would get more glory in a family championing the cause of Christ than a single person doing the same thing.

In fact, we expect the single Christian to live unencumbered, to devote a large degree of their time and energy into the causes of Christ. We simply don’t see it as being much of a sacrifice.

We expect them to have a near-reckless faith.

A lone missionary travelling to Nigeria makes sense. A family with small children, on the other hand, is a different story.

When God Gets the Greater Glory

To even engineer that move is woefully complex. Passports, shots and finances. And the dangers are very real. The cemeteries of mission fields hold the graves of missionaries, many of whom are small children. Yet it is done hundreds, if not thousands, of times a year.

And it is that type of sacrifice and obedience that gives greater glory to God. The larger the family and the the greater the burden, but the more grace from God needed, and the more glory that God gets in the end.

For someone like me who is prone to thinking he must achieve something great–a body of literary work that spans centuries, for example–a family is paramount to keeping him grounded and ever trusting in God for what is truly important in this life.

A corpus that cements my existence in the collective memory for a century or two is a failure if it is done at the expense of one’s family.

As Jesus said, “For a man who wishes to save his life will lose it, but the man who loses it for my sakes will find it.”

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“The Definition of Marriage in the US Is Dead and It Was Killed by Christians”

That’s a quote from a discussion I started on Reddit. I asked the question ““

The answers fell into two general categories: one, without question, sharing the gospel was more important. And two, the two are not mutually exclusive. They are the same thing.

My own bias leans toward sharing the gospel. In the introduction to the question I gave a 300-word reason why.

But I have to say that the arguments from those who said the two were the same thing were persuasive.

Where Sharing the Gospel and Subduing the Earth Are the Same

Keep in mind that this discussion occurred in a thread where users affirmed the teachings of Calvin and embraced the ideas behind TULIP. In other words, the group as a whole were opposed to same-sex marriage. We did have one dissenter, an Episcopalian. I thanked him for joining our discussion.

The arguments for those who defended the notion that saving biblical marriage and sharing the gospel were the same thing centred around the premise that we were given two commissions: the great commission and the cultural mandate.

As a previous student of the cultural mandate to subdue the earth, I understand where those who use this argument stand, and where they were going with it.

We were to create and cultivate civilization by building schools, businesses, art, laws and communities…and raising families, which are the bedrock of civilization. If the family unit is broken, then civilisation is broken.

As many pointed out this is equivalent to Jesus’ statement to .

Where Sharing the Gospel and Subduing the Earth Are NOT the Same

While I can buy that, I’m stuck on this: the gospel is a story about what the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ accomplished for us, namely peace with God.

To say that sharing the gospel is equivalent to defending biblical marriage I think is tantamount to saying we can live out the gospel, which is impossible.

How do you live out the narrative of redemptive history?

Certainly I believe that our lives can be a testimony to what the gospel can accomplish. While the gospel can save a marriage that is headed for divorce–and that testimony of its power can lead to a discussion about the gospel–a saved marriage is not the same thing as the gospel.

Why is this even important? Because God commanded us to , and through that method people are saved by the Holy Spirit.

So when energy is invested, at the expense of sharing the gospel, in preserving an institution that some people in a free nation don’t want then we look bad. Furthermore, we then start to look like we believe that we can create a utopia by preserving this nation through legislation…not salvation.

There was one key comment for me in this discussion. The one that said marriage is dead in the U.S. Here is the comment in full :

The definition of marriage in the US is dead and it was killed by Christians and non-christians alike long before the homosexuality issue. So when people see us yelling about the definition of marriage they see us yammering over something which does not exist.

It was killed by divorce and abusive and neglectful parents. Marriage is seen as just so easily breakable, by Christians and non-christians. Parenthood is defined by what the parents want to do, not by what is best for their children. These sorts of marriage and parenthood are just as displeasing to God as gay marriage.

As long as these issues are not taken seriously, there is no reason for seculars to view us as anything but anti-gay idiots, because it is what we are. We are rightfully labeled as hypocrites. Not that confronting those problems will solve everything, but I find it much more important to fix Christian marriages than nonchristian.

I think that last line is sublime, and reminds me of

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

The statement made by bygrace-faith is a strong statement. However, is there any proof that marriage is dead in the U.S.?

Proof That Marriage in the U.S. Is Dead

Well, you have the that from 2000 to 2010 nonfamily households doubled in growth over family households. A common nonfamily household is a person living alone, with an increase of 25.8 percent in 2000 to 26.7 percent in 2010.

In addition, the number of non-married partners living together grew by 41 percent.

However, the divorce rates actually declined in 2009. So, is America on a moral slide?

I’d argue that it is. But that’s debatable. And misses the point. Because regardless of our moral condition, we desperately need Jesus.

Clearly as Christians we are to take the biblical idea of marriage very seriously. But we can’t expect the culture around us to do the same thing.

So do we acquiesce? Do we let civilisation crumble around us?

No, I think we attack these issues head on. But there are better ways to do this than by legislation.

Mentoring young men who are at risk of abandoning their families. Supporting single mothers who are struggling to raise a family. Adopting children who are abandoned or abused by a family.

It’s a bottom-up approach versus a top down.

History is full of instances where Christians make very bad politicians. History, however, is abundant with examples of charity that have saved the lost, protected the forgotten, healed the wounded, visited the prisoners and fed the hungry.

Christianity didn’t spread because missionaries like Paul and Barnabas changed Roman law. It spread because of their relentless efforts to obey Christ. In that wake civilisations and their laws grew based upon Christian principles. And this is the appropriate way I believe in which we redeem the earth.

Your Turn

Do you think I’m off my rocker? Do you think that America is on a moral slide? Is there evidence? Is marriage dead in the U.S.? Did Christians kill it? Am I off with my bottom-up approach? Is there any room for a bottom-up and top-down approach? Is saving biblical marriage and sharing the gospel the same thing?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Brutal and all.

The Problem with Your Personal Testimony

Christianity is NOT about what Christ did in your life. It’s greater than that.

Not long ago philosopher  said that our private feelings about God do not belong in the public square.

Only appeals to argument that are universal belong.

I agree. I sort of agree. Let me explain.

In Rorty’s mind, religion is private. Emotive. Internal. Religion is an appeal to what gets me out of bed. What floats my boat.

Unfortunately, these are not claims to objective truth.

What a Personal Testimony Really Is

Rather, they’re claims to private feelings. Individual experiences.

Much like a personal testimony. And while personal testimonies are wonderful. They’re not the gospel.

Listen. The world is full of personal testimonies. Here are just 3 examples:

1. Writer  asserts he overcame a degenerate, drug-infested lifestyle through sheer will power.

2. Advocates of  believe they’ve learned how to turn weakness and suffering into power and abundance.

3. And followers of  claim they’ve recovered from emotional and physical pain through meditation.

In the end, if all we relied upon was our personal testimony to defend the truth of Christianity, you know what you’d have? A lot of noise.

What Is at Stake

You are not a Christian because of your personal testimony. And no one will become a Christian through your personal testimony.

Christianity is NOT about what Christ did in your life. It’s greater than that.

Christianity is a claim to historical truth. And that claim to truth is this: Over 2,000 years ago God became a zygote in a teenage girls womb. And she gave birth to that boy–Jesus–blood and all.

Thirty-three years later, after a wild and woolly rabbinical ministry, a man named Pontius Pilate–a man who if not for the gospels would’ve been left in historical obscurity–sentenced Jesus to death.

Jesus–a man not only born of a woman but also cataloged as a Roman citizen during  in 3 B. C.–perished on a wooden cross.

And it was his bodily resurrection from the dead that :

For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner.

In other words, Christianity is about the historical existence of an empty tomb. And we are staking everything on that empty tomb.

That means Christianity can be overthrown.

The Alternative to a Personal Testimony

Thus, this is the evidence we offer to prove that Christianity is true. It’s the evidence we should offer when someone asks us, “Why are you a Christian? And why do you think Christianity is true?”

And that is the appropriate, objective evidence for your belief to bring into the public square. It might be a bad argument. But it’s a genuine act of sharing your faith. And an act that people genuinely must wrestle with.

Image source:

An Open Letter to Skeptics

In which I write a very nice letter to my friend, the skeptic.

Dear Skeptic,

I apologize for not writing sooner, but I wanted this to be a meaningful response. Not one kicked out in an hour.

See, you level–like many others before you–a serious accusation at Christians that’s worth a deliberate, thoughtful reply.

A reply that evaluates every inch of your accusation…addresses the perception behind this accusation…and then corrects it.

Why Am I Doing This?

I think it may help you understand us a little better, because we’re all here to understand each other, right?

Well, let’s see how I do.

First, the Accusation

What is the accusation I’m talking about? Nothing more than we Christians like to change the subject on you.

Now, I confess: We do. At least I do. And I’ll tell you why in a minute. But right now I want to explore something else…

I want to unpack your perception of why you believe we change the subject. Tell me if I get it right.

See, you accuse Christians of changing the subject and suggest the reason why is that we can’t answer your objections.

Perhaps this is true in some circumstances. But let me suggest another option:

We change subjects because it’s pointless.

At some point in our discussion–and I’ve seen these struggles between believers and skeptics long enough to  know when it’s happening–we have to draw the line and say this person isn’t open to an earnest conversation.

He isn’t interested in my beliefs…he’s looking for a fight.

Or he’s looking to get his kicks from making Christians stumble. Or maybe he’s simply looking for a platform to display his arrangement of arguments and sophisticated intelligence. In the end, he’s just looking to snub and ridicule another person’s beliefs.

How Do I Know Your Motivation?

It’s easy to see. So often you’re asking the right questions. Questions like, “Is there eternal life? Did Jesus rise from the dead? What do I need to do to be saved?”

But unfortunately, you’re not looking to understand our position. You’re looking for a soft spot. And when you think you find that soft spot–you punch it…

You demand we give you a systematic explanation that satisfies you. We explain, you find another soft spot–and punch that one. Ad infinitum.

The sad thing is you’ve already answered those questions for yourself–in the negative, which is fine–but now you demand Christians intellectually gratify you.

Sorry. But we’re not obligated to do that.

This Is All We’re Obligated to Do

All we’re obligated to do is deliver a clear, graceful . To warn you of the consequences of rejecting that gospel. And to alert you to the danger of bowing down to men like Einstein, Aristotle or Plato.

Men who scientifically, logically and philosophically can walk circles around most Christians like me. But men who are morally inferior to the conquering Messiah.

The conquering Messiah who . Who walked on the earth. Who died. And who  [Warning: PDF].

Indeed, I wish I had the stamina and intellectual resources to answer your every objection. But thank God, I’m not obligated to do that.

I do try to evaluate each discussion. Answer honest objections. Discern the the sincerity of each question: Are they seeking? Or are they looking for a fight?

If it’s the latter, then it’s pointless to argue. It’s pointless because you are dead to the truth. Blind to reason. And doomed to stumble in intellectual darkness.

And it’s only the gospel that will pry your eyes open.

If you accuse me of being insane, irrational or simply naive, so be it. I glory in that accusation…in that association with the risen Christ.

Why I Change Subjects on You

Furthermore, when I change the subject on you, it doesn’t mean I can’t answer the question. More than likely it just means the subject you want to fight over is peripheral. And I won’t squander emotional equity on peripheral arguments.

Yet the subject I want to shift the conversation to–the wrath of God appeased on the cross of Christ–is the real issue.

And the issue I’m willing to die for.

It’s like fighting over the color of the seats while the plane is going down in flames. Let’s land this wreckage first then squabble over what remains. [Forgive me. I’m terribly pragmatic.]

I Won’t Neglect This to Satisfy You

Listen: I do have a biblical obligation to give a . To explain why I believe what I believe. Especially to those who come in a posture of humility–whether fans or opponents of the faith.

But I’m not obligated to gratify antagonistic, self-righteous opponents of the Cross. . And I won’t.

Neither am I required to appease your moral shock or intellectual grievance over my beliefs. This is simply part of the territory. The Bible plainly states:

Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense []…but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles [].

If I do try to fight…if I do try to answer your every objection…we will go around in circles. And I’ll neglect the most precious, joyful privilege I’ll ever have: Confessing Christ and explaining the law of the cross.

Understand, I’m horribly self-conscious about this letter. That I missed an angle. Or flubbed a point. But I hope at least I’ve edged our understanding of each other an inch in the right direction.

If not more.

I’m confident you’ll let me know if I did. Or didn’t. That being the nature of this type of communication. Looking forward to hearing from you.


Demian Farnworth

P.S. Please, share your thoughts. Brutal and all.

6 Excuses We Use to Avoid Sharing Our Faith


Here are six perennial–but pernicious–common excuses we use to avoid sharing our faith. With a few pieces of advice on how to overcome them.

Sharing the gospel is no picnic, readers. And once the slightest snub arrives, the dream of leading someone to Christ ends.

And the excuses begin.

Here are six perennial–but pernicious–favorites. With a few pieces of advice on how to overcome them stuffed in between.

1. We quote Assisi.

 said, “Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”

The preeminent license to keep your mouth shut when God urges you to open it.  Sometimes heard in tandem with any one of the following…

2. We must meet their physical needs first.

Granted, there is some truth to this statement, but…most of us don’t live near remote, drought-wasted Ethiopian villages.

Or among Cambodians who drink the same water cows defecate and decay in.

We’re talkin’ about your neighbor. Who probably makes more money than you.

3. We don’t want to be weird.

What we actually mean is, we don’t want to be rejected because man’s approval means more to us than God’s.

[Also, see no. 6 for a possible reason why we might feel this way.]

4. We’re too busy.

This IS my quintessential excuse.

“Must finish the lawn before the storm. Must pick up the pizza before it cools. Must towel dry the dog before she shakes.”

Pathetic when unbelieving neighbors or strangers linger nearby.

5. We don’t know enough.

I’ve tried my best to eliminate this excuse for you with posts on the Messiah, the Gospel, the Cross.

The simplest remedy? Read your bible. And open your mouth.

6. We don’t believe the gospel can do what it says it can do.

If you fall into this category, the question is…do you even trust the Bible? You must bone up on the teachings of Christ.

And examine your faith, to see that it is anchored in the right place.


Did I miss any? Add any you’ve heard in the comments below.

Here’s the deal: I’ve used–and still use–all six to one degree or another. And I will continue to do so. The quest is to do it less. And less…

So that at some point the only thing that comes out of my mouth is a clear, graceful articulation of the gospel…and not some excuse.

**Part of The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Sharing the Gospel series.**

The Unflinching Solution to Spiritual Blindness

Part of the 10 Hard Truths about Being Born Again series.

People who reject Christ are blind: “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 

In the last several weeks I’ve seen this truth come to life over and over again.

In a sense, it grieves me. And in another, it humbles me.

It grieves me because I so bad want the light to shine in their hearts so unbelievers see Christ.

It humbles me because I can’t do anything about it.

Only a work of God can open their eyes. Only a work of God can give them life. Only a work of God causes the human heart to see the truth and beauty and worth and glory of Christ.

That work is called the new birth. And it has nothing to do with my desire. Or my effort. Yet…

In , speaking to Paul, Jesus says, “I am sending you to open their eyes.” The solution to spiritual blindness is plain: God opens the eyes of the blind through people who share the good news with love.

People like Al. Ryan Karpeles. . . Don at . . .

People who–in spite of rejection and ridicule–boldly proclaim the worth, the glory and the way of Christ.

I want each and everyone of you to know that your support and your witness means the world to me. You encourage me. You cheer me on.

More importantly, you make me proud because people will be born again through the living and abiding word, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, you faithfully share.

Jesus’ Resurrection: A Quick and Dirty Guide

Last week I wrote a series of posts working over Jesus’ life, death and resurrection…and defining what it means to us both spiritually and experientially.

In case you missed any of the posts, here’s a list and a summary:

HANDS: A Potent, 5-Step Defense of the Deity of Christ

An Easter Challenge for Christians

Small-Town Pastor Answers the Easter Challenge

Jesus’ Resurrection: Was It Physical or Spiritual?

3 Lessons We Can Learn from Jesus’ Agonizing Garden Prayer

Does God Suffer? An Argument for God’s Emotions

Atheist Confesses Heavy Price to Pay for Not Believing in God 

Suicide, Shame, Sorrow and Jesus’ Resurrection

One thing I learned as I interacted with comments here and elsewhere is that to the Christ-rejectors, the gospel is non-sense. But to those who believe, it’s powerful wisdom…

Nothing new to anyone familiar with Paul’s arguement that  in his first letter to the Corinthians.

I hope you enjoyed the series of posts and I hope you had a great Easter.

Harvard Turns Sermons into Business Books

Actually, that’s not true.

Harvard nor it’s  are turning sermons into business books.

But they could.

Odds are, any given Sunday, HBR could visit any church across America, take notes and develop a book or article out of the notes.

At least at any church in St. Louis.

Who knows, maybe the sermon could become one of the .

See, for the last two months I’ve listened to a half-dozen sermons from local pastors. My notes from one sermon look like this:

1. Build self confidence.

2. Manage yourself wisely.

3. Keep good company.

4. Nurture a strong drive to achieve.

5. Guard your mind.

6. Find common ground and build rapport.

7. Endure the hard times.

8. Cultivate a passion to work for reasons that go beyond money and status.

9. Pursue goals with energy and persistence.

10. Build a large team, like a family.

Why is this a problem? I think MacArthur, in his book  said it best:

Much of modern evangelism is building on sand. It allows no time for conviction of sin, no opportunity for deep reverence, no chance to understand why we must come to grips with the reality of our lostness and no occassion for the Holy Spirit to work.

By the way, anybody guess the pastor’s text form my notes above? At least the book? The Testament? Any thoughts on a goog title for this sermon? Drop your ideas in the comments.

Fear of Losing: Using Competitive Instincts to Conquer Evil

I like the passion that stirs in me when .

It’s mission minded.

And mission-minded, church-planting people are not stuck around the table talking about therapeutic procedures on how to overcome addictions to pornography or self-stimulation.

They’re plotting the down fall of Satan.

That’s why I’m downright serious when I say that our attitude–thus, our existence–as Christians needs to be grounded in aggressive, forward-moving warfare.

It needs to be reflective of a shock-and-awe type offensive, something that gets the enemies head spinning in bewilderment and saying, “What the hell’s going on?”

Like Timmy Brister says, we need to –not the perishable.

We’ve got to bake Scripture into our bones. Go to the mat in prayer. And, as John Piper says, we must .

I’m interested in no less. With me?

Evangelism: Introducing the Elevator Pitch


You’ve got 30 seconds with an outspoken atheist. How to share your faith in a ridiculously short time.

Let’s say you’ve just stepped out of the subway and bumped into a co-worker who happens to be an outspoken atheist.

You notice he looks sad. So you ask him what’s wrong. He lays this on you: His wife left him that morning.

As he talks, his voice cracks–and he won’t look you in the eye.

You walk with him over the concrete sidewalk, through the revolving door and turn the corner into a brown burnished hallway.

All the while he’s telling you life’s meaningless.

Just as the elevator opens–full of people–he turns and levels his eyes at you. He says, “So, you’re a Christian…what do you think?”

Introducing the Elevator Pitch

With such a short period of time, it’s obvious: You need an elevator pitch.

What’s an elevator pitch? It’s a ridiculously short summary of what you believe. And your elevator pitch should be grounded in these two principles:



Now listen: In your short discussions, never get distracted by side issues like “Isn’t God compatible with evolution?” or “What does the parable of the sower really mean?”

You don’t have time for that.

You make it plain. You make it simple. And you stick to the point. To help you create your own elevator pitch, let’s look at these key points.

Authority of the Bible

How do we know that the Bible is the ultimate authority? The argument goes something like this:

1. Jesus affirmed the Old Testament to be the inerrant, imperishable and inspired Word of God.

2. Jesus promised the same for the New Testament.

3. And if we know that Jesus is God, then what he says about the Bible must be true.

Your next point centers on the uniqueness of Jesus.

Exclusivity of Christ

Three things to note here.

1. No other world teacher claimed to be God.

2. No other world teacher proved his claims to be God through fulfillment of prophecy, a sinless life and resurrection from the dead.

3. And no other religious leader offered salvation by faith…apart from works…to clear guilt for human sin.

Throughout the  Jesus made it clear: he only offered two choices. One that saves and one that condemns. The narrow gate or the wide gate.

This Is What I Would Say

So, what would I say if I was about to step onto that crowded elevator? Something like this:

You know, I believe the Bible is the standard for truth. And the Bible says that God sent his son Jesus to reconcile a rebellious people to Himself. You and I are rebellious. But I believe if we confess Jesus to be our Lord and Savior and repent of our sins, we’ll receive forgiveness, avoid the punishment of our sin and enjoy eternal life with God.

Now, I’m not saying this would be easy. More than likely my chattering teeth would sound like pounding hooves.

Neither am I saying this is the perfect formula to persuade people to become a Christian. He’ll likely think I’m mad.

But it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that I said it.

Cheat Sheet for Your Own Elevator Pitch

Having trouble coming up with your own elevator pitch? Then memorize .

Or .

And once you’ve memorized it…practice reciting with your friends.

Your Turn

Do you have an elevator pitch for the Gospel you use? Share it with us in the comments.

**Part of the Curmudgeon’s Guide to Sharing the Gospel series.**