Posted on 12/04/2011 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***
Public Prayer Requests:
*** There are no public prayer requests this week. ***
Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.
A REASON TO REJOICE
I have a reason to rejoice
I have a reason to clap my hands
I have a reason to lift my voice
and sing praises to the great I Am
I have a reason to move my feet
and take the Gospel into the street
I have a reason to lose my will
and let Jesus take full control
For you have set me feet to dancin'
You have filled my heart with joy
You have freed me from my passions
and filled me with the Holy Ghost
You have set my heart on fire
Fill my soul with your desire and
Melt me Lord 'til only you remain!
SING A NEW SONG
Sing unto the Lord a new song
Sing unto the Lord all the earth
Sing unto the Lord a new song
Sing unto the Lord all the earth
For God is great
and greatly to be praised
God is great
and greatly to be praised
I EXALT THEE
For thou O Lord art high
above all the earth
Thou are exalted
far above all gods
And I exalt thee
I exalt thee
I exalt thee O Lord
*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***
The title of my message today is "Making Disciples." However, I'd like to take a different angle on this topic -- an angle that the business world has used for years to successfully market their products and services.
Let's start off by reading the source of my approach today, which is found in Luke chapter sixteen, verses one through thirteen, which says:
1 (Jesus) said to His disciples: "There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods.
2 So he called him and said to him, 'What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.'
3 "Then the steward said within himself, 'What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me. I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg.
4 I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.'
5 "So he called every one of his master's debtors to him, and said to the first, 'How much do you owe my master?'
6 And he said, 'A hundred measures of oil.' So he said to him, 'Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.'
7 Then he said to another, 'And how much do you owe?' So he said, 'A hundred measures of wheat.' And he said to him, 'Take your bill, and write eighty.'
8 So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.
9 "And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous wealth, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home.
10 He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.
11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will commit to your trust the true riches?
12 And if you have not been faithful in what is another man's, who will give you what is your own?
13 "No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and riches."
Now I realize this passage is well suited to a lesson about finances, but what better investment could we possibly make than the investment in souls?
Jesus makes a very interesting statement here. In verse eight he says, "For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light." And in verse nine he says, "make friends for yourselves by unrightous wealth, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home."
Sometimes we tend to think that what the steward did was a bit sneaky and a true Christian wouldn't even think of doing such a thing. But Jesus said the man was commended for dealing shrewdly, then goes on to suggest that we should learn something from his example, something that we can put into practice in our dealings with others.
With that being said, perhaps you won't think me unspiritual for talking about smart business practices and the application of those principles for making disciples.
In Matthew chapter 28, Jesus gives what we refer to as "the Great Commission." He and his eleven disciples were there, and he was giving them final instructions. These words, being his last before being taken up into heaven, were obviously of the utmost importance. Let's read this, starting with verse 18 of Matthew chapter 28.
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
Now since he was speaking directly to the eleven disciples, does this mean that, just as some claim the miracles and tongues and healings and resurrections passed away with the apostles, was he speaking only to them, and perhaps to those in great leadership roles today?
Just as he never even hinted that miracles and tongues and healings and resurrections would cease with the first apostles, so too he did not intend these last of his words to pass away.
In fact, when he commanded them to make disciples, he also gave a very brief yet thorough description of what that means. In verses nineteen and twenty he says,
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations," (how?) "baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you."
So first we see that he is commanding them to begin a life-long journey of being a Christian, and the job description of that lifestyle is to "make disciples." And then he expounds upon this lifestyle by explaining, in other words, "You make disciples by immersing them in the fullness of God, by teaching them to obey and live by everything I've taught you." And he could have added, "Everything, that is, up to and including THIS."
After all, if they had not taught the new disciples to make disciples, they would not have been teaching them EVERYTHING that Jesus commanded.
So one of the primary responsibilities of every single Christian, every single disciple of Christ, is to make more disciples, teaching them to obey EVERYTHING that Jesus taught.
Basically, Jesus was teaching a business principle. Just maybe Jesus was heeding his own words that were recorded in Luke chapter sixteen, "Make friends for yourselves by unrighteous wealth." After all, Jesus never did teach mechanics or rituals or a ten-step formula for Christian living. Rather, he taught principles and spiritual truths. And I believe if we look carefully, we can make a parallel between the way the world promotes its good and services and the way Jesus was instructing us to save souls from eternity in hell.
Here's a quote taken from an article written by Andy Sernovitz. Listen carefully to what he's saying, and keep in mind that the principle behind this is echoed by every marketer or business executive who knows anything about successful advertising.
"Recommendations from friends" is considered the most worthwhile form of promotion by 57% of internet users, with email newsletters a strong second at 33%. Clue to marketers -- Telemarketing is at 0.6% and web banners at 2.6%. Move your time and money to word of mouth marketing, where it actually works! (Andy Sernovitz)
You may have already heard statistics like this, but you may not have made the connection we're about to make here.
He first says, "Recommendations from friends is considered the most worthwhile form of promotion." Listen carefully to those words, and remember the unrighteous wealth Jesus spoke of.
Then he mentions a couple of very ineffective forms of advertising, ones which waste the advertiser's time and money: telemarketing is at the bottom, at 6/10th of a percent, while banner ads are at just 2.6 percent.
Can you think of any form of evangelism which might fall into this former category? Telemarketing is so ineffective because people hate telemarketing calls. In fact, people hate not only telemarketing calls, people hate the telemarketers themselves. Of course if they thought about it they'd realize they don't REALLY hate them, but everything associated with the unwelcomed intrusion of a telemarketing call is tainted with this loathing.
In an article about telemarketing loathing, I found this short but insightful sentence: "Telemarketers work off scripts." Maybe that's why we hate their calls so much. It's as though their boss is one of those hated spammers, and he has given one of his spams to the telemarketer to read to us just in case our spam filter caught it.
While telemarketing calls, at least the ones I've received, are never about viagra or Internet porn, most of us hate them because of the following reasons:
1. They're impersonal. The caller is reading a script. They're spamming us.
2. They usually don't care anything about us, and just want our money.
3. They don't care whether we want to hear their message, their job is to force us to listen to as much as they can before we hang up on them; they're pushy, forcing their message on us.
Have you ever seen someone try to spread the Gospel like that? Sure, they might make a convert of 6/10th of a percent, but I suspect their numbers are much lower. After all, it's one thing to spend twenty bucks on something you don't need just to get the person off the phone without being rude. It's quite another thing to turn control of your life over to someone unseen.
How about banner ads? They're a little better, at 2.6 percent approval rate. Perhaps these could be compared to signs, or Gospel tracts. I realize that many people have found Jesus as the result of a Gospel tract, and there's nothing wrong with a Spirit-led sign. But the writer of our article on advertising points out that the response is incredibly low, and people generally don't like them.
So let's talk about what DOES work. 57% of the individuals mentioned in the article respond to word-of-mouth advertising.
Let's read a few statistics about word-of-mouth advertising from another article on the subject.
The author writes:
67% of all consumer decisions are primarily influenced by word of mouth
1 out of every 7 social conversations are word of mouth based (Northeastern University) - Think for a moment from a media perspective - how valuable is a two way, in-depth, interactive medium from a trusted source which answers all your questions and validates the way you think about a product and is something we tap into 14% of the time we talk.
90% of customers identify word of mouth as the best, most reliable and trustworthy source about ideas and information on products and services - It just makes sense, we tend to believe things when we receive information from a trusted source - be that friend, family or colleague. People lay their reputations on the line when they recommend something to somebody else. The currency word of mouth is thus enhanced by its most valuable characteristic - "honesty" - which makes it the purest marketing form we have.
44% of consumers claim to avoid buying products that overwhelm them with advertising, and 56% of people have stopped doing business with a company that doesn't respect them - The consumer in 2006 has three extreme scarcities that are creating diminishing returns from mass marketing and leading to a consumer exodus - no time, no attention and no trust. Think of advertising and word of mouth as two of your best friends - who do you want to hang with - the friend who is flashy but brags to the point of lying, doesn't listen, doesn't even let you speak, interrupts what you like doing and makes you pay a lot to be with them, or the friend who you trust, has the same interests, listens to your concerns, is there when you need him, introduces you to stuff that isn't widely known or available and gives just as much as she takes.
Where does word of mouth happen? Answer: Everywhere. With whom, do you participate in word of mouth?
- In your family 88.9%
- In your social networks 77.1%
- In a work environment 71.0%
- In an online community 55.0%
- In your neighborhood 53.9%
- In a hobby or interest group 45.7%
Word of mouth is prolific - you find it everywhere. The more groups you're part of, the more valuable you become as a word of mouther. It doesn't come by appointment, it doesn't force you look at a screen or shout at you from a billboard - where there is oxygen, you'll find spontaneously generating word of mouth. So for the most intrusive, omnipresent form of marketing in a supporting role, please put your hands together for "word of mouth"
On product recommendations, 90% trust their spouse and 65% trust their friends, however only 27% trust manufacturers, 14% trust advertisers and 8% trust celebrities - to what levels have we sunk, when our profession is ranked among the least trustworthy professions alongside politicians, stockbrokers and lawyers. Gone are the days when Franklin Roosevelt considered the role of adperson as the noblest profession of them all. (Today), if you want brand credibility, you don't invest in advertising, promotion or even many forms of PR and editorial, you invest in your friends (and the much overlooked group -employees).
With conventional media, one impression means one consumer. With my word of mouth scenario above, one impression means 3,200 consumers. How 'bout those apples!
43% of marketers are either engaged in WOM campaigns or plan to get involved in one over the next 6 months. Organized word of mouth is no longer bleeding edge stuff. With its own flourishing trade association and developing industry norms, successful companies are attracting major investment.
77% of word of mouth is face to face, 17% is by phone and 6% is online - I love this stat. If anything, it suggests that word of mouth is not "a naked mascot" street campaign or a "make a chicken bark like a dog" online viral campaign, it's about what you do as a company. If this were five pin bowling, the word of mouth pins would be - 1) an ethical company culture committed to a clear direction, values and culture of innovation, 2) a magnetic, conversation-worthy brand or product, 3) a rabid audience of volunteer evangelists willing to go to bat for your brand, 4) a smooth message that people want to talk about and get involved in and 5) marketing tools that make it easy to pass the along the message.
I'm sure that as I read that excerpt, you were drawing connections to spreading the Gospel. Successfull marketers of worldly goods and services are wiser in this age than the children of light. But it doesn't have to be so, and I believe the words of Jesus in Luke 16:9 are instructing us to learn from this worldly wisdom.
People don't want to hear a canned message. People don't want to have ANYTHING shoved down their throat, even if they might otherwise like or embrace it.
Instead, we all want something real, something personal, something alive and full of meaning that is relevant to our lives.
Whether or not you've considered it, we all want someone who will pour themselves into our development, growth, and success; someone who is walking on the path of success and who is ready to show us the way and stand beside us, even if it costs them everything.
It boils down to this: What the world needs, what the lost need, and what will turn the world around for Jesus is primarily found within men and women and even children who have a real, personal, intimate, and daily walk and relationship with Jesus, and who share what he is doing in their lives with others.
If I walk up to you and say, "I think you should go eat at the Oaktree Diner because I read an ad that said you have to go there," you'll either think I'm joking and therefore consider going, or you'll think I work for them and am reading a badly-written ad.
However, what if I instead walk up to you and say, "Last night my wife and I ate at the Oaktree Diner, and I tell you, not only was the atmosphere wonderful, but that was the best steak I've ever eaten in my life! It practically melted in my mouth. You should take your wife there some time, I think you'll love it."
Do you see the difference? Of course you do. But all too often we take the first approach. We become salespersons, BAD salespersons, who are so focused on insisting that the other person "take the bait" so to speak, that we put them on the defensive. But a real walk with God, a life that begins each day in his presence, a living faith that lives each moment seeking the heart and presence of God, will result in a deep peace and a profound and growing excitement about how incredible the love of God is, the peace of Christ, the joy of being forgiven, and the freedom of having the weight of sin completely removed -- this will result in genuine word-of-mouth advertising, and lives will be forever changed.
I'd like for us to look at one last passage of Scripture. Let's turn to the book of Revelation, chapter twelve, beginning with verse seven.
7 And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought,
8 but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer.
9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
10 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.
11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.
12 Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time."
There's a wealth of knowledge to be gained by studying those verses. However, for today's exploration, let's focus on verse eleven, "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony."
What does this mean, "they overcame him"? Let's look at the verse before this; "Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ have come." Of course this is speaking of satan's being cast out of the realm where he is able to accuse the brethren before God day and night. And I believe we can also see a principle here, and gain insight for making disciples.
First we see that "salvation, strength, the Kingdom of God, and the power of Christ" have come, because satan was defeated. While this is speaking specifically of satan's being cast from the heavenly realm where he can accuse us to God, it's important to note that he is constantly battling us down here. And regardless of whether he's trying to hurt our witness or lead us away from Jesus, each of his battles is an attempt to win the war, the war for yet another soul. He wants you and those you influence to spend eternity in hell. He is warring against "salvation, strength, the Kingdom of God, and the power of Christ" in your life, in your neighbors' lives, in your family's lives, in your co-workers' lives.
But we can be victorious, and it tells us how in the very next verse. "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death."
So they overcame him by what? By the Blood of the Lamb, and by the Word of their Testimony.
Once again, why would satan attack? Is it just so he can say, "haha, I made him sin!" Or is it because each battle won increases the chances that a soul will be eternally lost?
Overcoming by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony is speaking of overcoming the efforts of the enemy to destroy lives and keep them from becoming disciples. For he knows that one true disciple means hundreds and thousands of other true disciples.
In the business world, this is called "exponential growth." If your product or service is good enough, your customers will tell their friends, family, co-workers, and aquaintences. And the people they tell who try the product or service will spread the word as well.
Is your relationship with Jesus so good that you can't help telling others about what he's doing in your life and how wonderful it is to be forgiven, to have peace in the middle of the most turbulent storm, to have joy even in the middle of sorrow, and how wonderful it is to be right with God and to have a future and a hope?
If not, you need to start drawing near to God. As Scripture says, "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you." Go beyond a comfortable little devotion every now and then, and start pursuing God with everything that is within you. Set some other things aside and let God know you're serious. Of course he already knows just how serious you are, but when you really are serious enough, you will take action you're not already taking. You will do something you're not already doing. And as you continue to seek after him in this way, you will find him.
And when you find him, and keep searching after a deeper and deeper walk with him, you'll find that you just can't keep quiet. Sure, you may at times struggle with shyness, fear, and other human characteristics which would silence your witness; but when you really get a good taste of God, you'll want to share him with the whole world.
Regardless of how easy or hard it is to share the Good News with others, don't wait until it becomes easier. Prepare yourself. And prepare yourself today.
Do you know your testimony? And can you clearly share it with someone else?
Those of you who are happily married or have a sweetheart could probably tell me exactly how you met, how you realized you were in love, and if you're married, every detail about your marriage. Most of all, you could probably tell me how this person makes you feel, and how your relationship with this person has changed your life.
Our relationship with Jesus has the potential to dwarf any human relationship, no matter how great it is. When you enter into a time of worship and become lost in the presence of the Lord, everything else completely loses your attention. Your greatest worries, your greatest ambitions, and everything else in between, all pale in comparison to Him.
Marriage counselors will often lead the couple in remembering what it was they first loved about eachother. In another sense of the word, he's asking them to remember their testimony and to share it with their spouse.
Your assignment today and for the rest of this week, and ultimately for the rest of your life, is to get a pad of paper and a pen and start writing. You can transfer it to a notebook later if you wish, just make sure you start today. And write down your testimony.
Write about your life before Jesus, making note of the turmoil, the confusion, and any other things which have changed since you started your walk with him.
Write about what led you to accept his free gift of Salvation.
Write about that day, that experience, what it was like.
And then write about the changes he made in your life. Not only external changes, but also and most of all the inward changes. Was the weight of sin removed? Did you have a peace like you'd never known before? Did you have a pure joy and a new excitement about living? Did all the creation of God look more beautiful? Could you finally look yourself in the mirror and not feel unbearable shame?
Write all this down. Add to it as things come to your rememberance. And make sure you know it well.
Then start a new chapter. And keep writing it for as long as you live. What has God done for you today? What have you learned from Scripture today? What struggles are you going through? (you'll want to reference those later when God brings you through!) And as something jogs your memory about your time before Christ or your salvation, go back to the beginning and write it down.
This exercise is not only some type of spiritual journaling... It's your testimony. And it's vital that you know it and you know it well. You should never be more able to say how wonderful the new resteraunt down the street is than to say how wonderful Jesus is and what he has done in your life.
In summary, making disciples means this:
1. Following everything Jesus teaches, applying it to your life. And studying the Word of God daily so you know what it says. This is the only way you can teach it to others.
2. Walking with God as a lifestyle, centering everything around and surrendering everything to Jesus and to the example and truth of Scripture.
3. Sharing your testimony with others, allowing the excitement and joy of your walk with God to overflow in word-of-mouth to others.
4. Teaching others by word and example to do the same, immersing them in the presence of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit by being full of the Word of God so it will come out to others, not always word-for-word, but always in spirit and in truth, and by teaching them to do the same.
In the business world, this is called duplication. Financial wizards have used this to grow their customer base into the millions, starting with a few who duplicate themselves into hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, and who eventually reach every corner of the globe.
This is true discipleship. This is true Christianity. This is effective and worthwhile advertising, but not for earthly riches which pass away, but for eternal riches and the rescuing of more souls than you can imagine who are taken from death and brought into life, called out of the darkness and into his marvelous light, set free from the bondage and slavery to sin, and given liberty, freedom in Christ, for whom the Son sets free is free indeed!
The ministry team can come to the front now.
Have you been a true disciple as we've discussed it today? Every single one of you has this calling on your life. If you've been reached by that beginning of discipleship two thousand years ago, then you are called to continue the process.
If you want to dedicate yourself to become a true disciple who makes disciples, get out of your seat and come to the front. Let's gather around the altar and dedicate ourselves to following the Master, obeying his word, walking daily with him, pressing in for a deeper walk with Jesus, remembering, documenting, and intimately knowing our testimonies, sharing them with others, and then teaching them to do the same.
Lord, thank you for your word to us today. Thank you that you have called us to the most rewarding, fulfilling, and world-transforming task, that of making disciples of all nations.
We ask that you speak to us now. Accept our dedication today, and let us never forget what being a true disciple means.
If there is anyone here today who does not know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, today is your day to find peace, joy, and true freedom.
His hands are outstretched to you now, and he is offering you life. Just reach out and accept it, and you will never be the same.
Talk to him now. You're invited to pray these words to him with me now. Say, "Jesus, I accept your gift of life. I accept the price you paid on the cross for my salvation. Come into my heart. Forgive me for my sins, and wash me clean. Teach me to be your disciple. And I will follow you all the days of my life. Thank you Jesus. Amen."
This altar is open. If you just gave your life to Jesus or would like prayer or ministry, please instant message someone on the ministry team.
In a few minutes we'll meet for fellowship in the room to your left, and you're all invited. If you want to carry on a conversation with someone, please do so over there to not disturb this time of ministry.
Come, and let's dedicate ourselves to be his true disciples who make disciples together.