Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Week in Review

Pollard Book Review
Jewel D. Williams

How do you evangelize a world that is not interested in hearing about Jesus? Nick Pollard, the author of, Evangelism Made Slightly Less Difficult, tries to answer that question. The book examines new insights for evangelizing the lost. Pollard brings several interesting facts to light that we will look at to observe how they can help evangelistic efforts.

One of the most interesting facts comes in the very first pages of the book. Pollard states people you meet tend to come in four categories. Three of these categories are: people that are ready to become Christians, those that want to be Christians but have some doubts, and those that are interested but are not sure where to begin because they do not know much about Jesus. The fourth group is the largest group and they are those that are simply not interested (14).

After that statement, one could get discouraged, but Pollard takes the steps to show how this large group can be reached. One important fact was to understand people have different worldviews. What is a worldview? “Since everything anyone does has a reason behind it, it is evident that we live by propositions. A system of the propositions underlying a person’s actions and beliefs comprises a person’s philosophy of life or worldview. Such a system is unavoidable because humanity strives for meaning” (McDowell, 2). This is an important step in understanding how to reach others. If one does not understand what a person believes and what governs their decisions, it will be almost impossible to bring fact or truth to their beliefs. Pollard did not examine all worldviews, but he touched on two types. These were the bottom-up worldview model and the top-down worldview model. The bottom-up model is, “people take the answers they find for these fundamental questions and combine them to form their worldview” (33). The top-down model is, “people will give particular answers to the fundamental questions because they hold a certain worldview, rather than holding that worldview because they have given particular answers to the fundamental questions” (34).

I have found having an understanding about worldviews helpful in my dealing with others as well. When people have stated, “Christianity is fine for you but not for me”, I am aware this is a relativism worldview. If I did not understand the view they were using, I could have found myself going in circles to bring clarity to the situation and only probably defeating my efforts. In teaching teens, I find myself having to give an answer to correct these views. I had a student say they should be able to believe what they want as true and that there was no way something could be true for everyone. I realized this child had a view that there are no absolute truths. I asked the student, “What color is the sky?” “It is blue most times”, is how the student answered. I said, “but I do not want it to be blue. I do not like blue. Blue is not a good color for me, so I choose the color of the sky to be purple”. All the students laughed at me. It began a dialog about why that was not possible. It brought everyone back to this truth, there are things that are true for everybody and I was able to share that God’s truth was one of those things.

Another point made is that non-believers as well as believers need to have their worldview’s examined. There are believers that have wrong views that have hindered their understanding of biblical things. These views have made it more difficult for the believer to help those not interested in hearing about Jesus.

Pollard uses a term, “Positive Deconstruction” which means, “helping people who are currently comfortable with their non-Christian beliefs to think again about them – and possibly to become uncomfortable with them, so much so that they begin to want to find out about Jesus” (15). People need to be taken through steps to examine what they believe alongside the truth of the Bible, before they are able to take the next step of accepting the Gospel message.

Another point that Pollard formulates is about the attitude of the one giving the message. He states, “‘make the most of every opportunity.’ It is important to note that we are not told to ‘make the opportunity’” (20). This was very encouraging information. The message normally given to the believer is, “you go and get them”. The believer supposes it is there responsibility to go out and beat the bushes and the by-ways to bring in the lost. This can be very discouraging when one comes back empty handed. Instead, Pollard informs the reader that God is the one that makes the opportunity, but the believer must be ready to take it.

Pollard states, “I was motivated more by a desire not to feel like a failure than by a real concern to help people” (21). I found this statement in line with statements made in the book, Biblical Foundations & Contemporary Strategies: Missions. The author, Gailyn Van Rheenen, also states the mission is God created and the body of Christ is to carry out the mission. He also states “Almost all Christian missionaries and ministers have defective motives that do not reflect the heart of God. These motives are intermingled with secondary and primary motives” (43). This is vital information for believers. Believers should stop and look at the reasons why they want to give the message of salvation to others. If one’s motives are not in line with God, then this is the time to seek God to be given his heart for the mission.

Pollard also tells the reader, one must understand the gospel story in order to share it with another. He suggests one first prepare it within their mind so when asked, they are ready to “give an account of it”. This is also important information to all believers, regarding being prepared to tell others that which they believe. He shows how important this is in other areas, such as when asked about suffering, is the Bible true and can you prove it. Those are not answers one can come up with quickly if study and preparation has not been done.

The author’s main purpose, I believe, is to give the reader encouragement to be ready with answers, not for debating but for giving honest answers to heart felt questions. People have a right to question what they do not understand. Believers must not feel intimidated because they are questioned regarding what they believe. Again, the mission is God’s and the believer is the avenue to the world. Rheenen states it very well in a graph that reads, “God originated the mission, Jesus enacted the mission, the Holy Spirit gives power to the mission, the Church carries the mission and the world hears the mission” (18).

The most significant message I received from this book was on the last pages. Pollard states, “But if the results we hope to achieve are our prime motive for evangelism, what happens when people don’t become Christians? So what should be our motive for evangelism? The answer is this: love…I urge you to join me in praying that God will give you such a passionate love for people – that you, like Paul, will find that this love compels you. And if you have found this book helpful, will you pray that prayer for me also?” (176).

As I read these words, I began to weep. I weep because I want God’s love for the lost. Not simply to add numbers to the church I attend, but for the solitary reason that I love God and I want to do what he is pleased with. So I prayed for myself as well as the author. This is a very important power the believer has, prayer. If the believer prays for one’s self as well as others, for God to give wisdom and the ability to give the message clearly, he will do it.

It is fitting to end with this message in scripture, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Col 4:2-6). May the words of the missionary and minister be made clear, as it should be so that the hearer can hear and respond, and evangelism can then be made slightly less difficult.

Work Cited worldviews. 2004. 9 February 2006.>.

Pollard, Nick. Evangelism Made Slightly Less Difficult. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997.

Rheenen, Gailyn Van. Biblical Foundations & Contemporary Strategies: Missions. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996.

Thompson, Frank Charles, D.D., PH.D. The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible. 5th ed. Indianapolis, IN: B. B. Kirkbridge Bible Co., Inc., 1988.

The Week in Review

Assignment 1 – Theology of Worship
January 11, 2007

What does it mean to worship? To gain an appreciation of what it means to worship, one could start with how one defines experiential worship. A person’s aesthetic capacity helps them experience God and find spiritual meaning in worship; it can also help characterize ones understanding of what it means to worship. When one answers these questions, an individual can begin to define their theology of worship.

What does it mean to worship? I like the definition given by author Stormie Omartian in her book, The Prayer That Changes Everything, where she states, “Worship and praise is the purest form of prayer because it focuses our minds and souls entirely away from ourselves and on to Him…That’s because praise welcomes His presence in our midst.” (9). She also states, “We were created to worship God…Worship must become a lifestyle” (22). Therefore, worship is devotion, adoration or love for God. We fulfill our purpose when we reverence God in our times of worship.

Worship involves one’s experiences. Experiential worship involves one’s thoughts and emotions. In the book, Experience God in Worship, the contributing author, Jack W. Hayford states, “One of Jesus’ most profound statements about worship came as he offered the woman at the well an opportunity to empty her cup of loneliness and brokenness and have it filled with his love (John 4:3-26). This passage illustrates that worship involves an exchange between God and his people. Healing and joy flow into our lives from heaven as we offer ourselves to God as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1)” (137). When believers do as scripture instructs, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30), individuals experience worship.

The individual is involving their heart (how they feel), they are involving they mind (their thoughts) and with the strength of their being. In the online article by Rich Warren, titled Planned for God’s Pleasure, he states, “God wants me to love him thoughtfully “with my mind”, passionately “with my heart and soul” and practically “with my strength” (1). Experiential worship then calls for the individual to become part of the worship by entering into the presence of God through their thoughts, as they think on the goodness of God. Just as Jack Hayford stated, when Jesus invited the woman to empty her cup of loneliness and brokenness, he was inviting her into an experience of worship where she would receive healing of her spirit from God. That is a vital part of worship. We come into the presence of God and experience his power to heal us of our brokenness and to fill our cups until they overflow with his goodness. When we receive these blessings from the Lord, we are to praise him in our thoughts, in our heart and souls and with our very strength. “God desired to bless people with victory, mercy, and lovingkindness. As we observe the worship life of David, it’s impossible to avoid one powerful conclusion: Not only is God unopposed to emotional, expressive worship – he welcomes it” (Hayford, 139).

This calls for us to come to a time of worship giving of ourselves, emptying ourselves so God can fill us. “There are three things God does not have unless you give them to Him. He doesn’t have your attention unless you give it to Him. That’s loving God with your mind. He doesn’t have your affection, unless you give it to Him. That’s loving God with your heart and your soul. And God doesn’t have your ability, unless you give to Him. That’s loving God with your strength…Whenever you take the things God has given to you and give them back to God, that friends, is the heart of worship” (Warren, pp. 7 –8).

When one accepts that worship involves experience, the next step is to understand that it is also an aesthetic experience. From the online document titled, Experiencing God through the Human Aesthetic Capacity, it states “God created us to know Him. He gave us sensory capacities to meaningfully experience His spiritual reality…He made us to be ‘aesthetic’ beings. It is God’s gift to us. It engages all dimensions of human experience. It is the interaction of cognitive properties with affective meanings and values, producing a psycho-biological/psycho-physical response” (1 –2). Man’s aesthetic capacity allows the individual to realize meaning, significance and value in one’s life (2). One-way of exploring and expressing the human aesthetic capacity is through art.

Artistic input into the worship services allows individuals to focus all their senses. “Our attention is directed toward a particular artistic stimulus. There is an exchange of human life-energy” (Experiencing God, 2). Some artistic inputs are in music, plays and visual productions, poetry and dance. It allows the believer to experience worship in different ways. The individual may have an emotional reaction to an artistic input, which may invoke previous experiences. Our attention is captured as we are engrossed by the artistic input before us, which draws upon our experiences.

The purpose for us having aesthetic capacities as stated is, “Aesthetic experiences in worship can happen either in responding to art, creating art, or expressing through an art form. God made us to find meaning in our interaction with art and artistic stimuli. Our aesthetic capacity was not given primarily for enriching the human experience; it was given to us as a means by which we may interact with God himself” (Experiencing God, 3).

Therefore, aesthetic experiences alongside our faith in Christ can help us to know God better, to sense his presence and to express our love toward God. God reveals himself to us through our experiences. When the believer allows him or herself to express their experiences in worship (in a biblical way), they are in fact allowing God to direct their worship. “Before we can experience a true sense of biblical worship, we must allow God’s Word to command our behavior. This includes active participation in expressive worship” (Hayford, 144).

Work cited

Barna, George, et. al. Experience God in Worship. Loveland, CO: Group Publishing, Inc. 2000.

Warren, Rick. Planned for God’s Pleasure. 2002. 7 January 2007.

Pmin-3303 Unit 1. Experiencing God through the Human Aesthetic Capacity. 7 January 2007.