From the Elephant Room website:
What elements must accompany a faithful presentation of the gospel? What can a pastor do to ensure that others in his ministry are presenting the gospel in all its fullness? What are some ways you have seen decisions for Christ effectively acknowledged? What responsibilities does the preacher have to lead people in a public response to the gospel? When have we oversimplified or made the gospel formulaic? When have we made the gospel too complicated, and demanded more in our evangelism than the Scriptures do?
Session 2 - Can't Buy Me Love
Loritts, Furtick, MacDonald
Pragmatism takes us to the wrong place. Two banks: Content of the message (the gospel) and the holy approach given to us in the Scriptures. Pragmatism flows out of that.
We’re making assumptions about those two things nowadays that are getting us in trouble.
People gravitate toward heresay not because they like heresy but because they find things that work and gravitate toward those.
The gospel is too broad today (in some cirlces). Paul did not have a speech problem when he wrote 1 Corinthians 15:3-11. There are the four basic elements of the gospel here.
I love your description of the banks of the river you had. Presenting the message creatively isn’t watering it down.
I don’t disagree with the 1 Corinthians presentation. I would never leave out the cross, our need for a Savior, the resurrection, and I would never leave out the need for faith by grace.
When we hijack the word gospel, we make it about our propensity. I love the gospel and the greatest evidence is that I’m giving my life to preach it—not critique it.
I was a traveling youth evangelist, and as I was traveling I saw a lot of good things but also manipulative gospel messages. It became so troubling to me that when we first started the church we wouldn’t give a public invitation. I was worried by what I’d seen, that I took the message of Jesus which is offensive, double meaning, and I was playing defense.
Through studying the Scriptures, I came under conviction that it was wrong for me to not invite people boldly to meet Christ understanding it’s the Holy Spirit that brings them to him.
We want a great church where new Christians can have small groups and hear great message. It’s not throw the seed and hope it turns out. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with erring on the side of urgently presenting the gospel.
Amen. That’s a big thumbs up. Crawford, respond.
Steven, I’m doing cartwheels in my heart. What we forget inherent in the gospel is urgency. There are certain methods, lifestyle and relational, but … what we have lost is the fact that hell is forever. The style of preaching today that is so conversational is not Biblical. There is an air of urgency. We don’t control the clock or the calendar.
One thing I press into young preachers is please don’t be casual about eternal matters.
I’m affirming what you’re saying Steven. You give people and opportunity to respond, you don’t get them to respond. You don’t give a sugar-coated message to get them to respond.
Give people an opportunity to respond.
Sometimes our theological constructs get us into trouble. One of the things I remind younger guys is this: Please stop front-loading the gospel. Point people to Jesus. Don’t cloud the cross. The cross is simple and profound and eloquent enough. When you’re drowning in Lake Michigan, you don’t describe the features of the boat.
I’m lost. He died. He rose again. I turn from my sin.
I love that. The only thing that came to mind is when you talked about conversational style. I guess because I’m young and still learning, I want to be very careful to understand someone’s context. I’ve heard many times about someone that they don’t preach the gospel, but then I see them and they are.
We had leaders who lost their 17-year-old son, and I asked them permission about presenting the gospel because you can manipulate emotions in a funeral. So I slowed down and presented somberly. I said, look around and you’ll know that Riley’s life was not in vain. I don’t know their heart or soul, but if I’m going to err, I’m doing it on preaching the gospel and giving an invitation.
When you (Lorrits) said urgency and you (Furtick) preaching is personality, it’s not the tone that makes the difference. It’s the message and urging people to respond.
It’s a very interesting conversation. I respect both points. They’re parallels of the same truth. It’s important that…we’re in an age where we come up with a recipe for everything. When we get down to a science, we negate the mysticism of the cross.
Jesus spit in dirt and created clay to heal a blind man. We could break that down scientifically and miss the point.
Sometimes we excommunicate someone that God is simply using differently.
If we bring people to the cross of Jesus and teach the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord, our methodology is not as important.
5 things that can’t be left out of your gospel presentation?
Sinless God, I’ve sinned against him, he came as Jesus, he died, was buried, and is risen, faith alone for salvation
On the day of Pentacost, they knew how many became saved through counting baptisms.
Pastor Jack, on the day you came to visit I knew it’d be a fun one. I preached the gospel. Following Christ is not like following Bieber on Twitter. He gives us some commands. One of them is baptism and I invited them to come. We did some baptisms.
It’s important to baptize. I wish everytime we give an invitation we could baptize them.
I baptized my son who is 6, and I had someone on Twitter that I had just made another false convert.
That’s why you need to stop being on Twitter and go out to ice cream with your son.
That’s funny, but also not because I had people sharing on Twitter about their baptism and people picking them off and saying that it was false converstion.
That’s just pathetic.
My people on Twitter don’t know the difference. I want to be slow to announce people as false teachers.
I don’t disagree with you. When I say urgent, I’m not talking about tone and style necessarily. There is an arrogance that sometimes sets in when we elevate our approach and strategy to the Gospel where we take that response off the table.
The Biblical mandate is for people to picture the death, burial, and ressurection of Jesus through Baptism. It’s not what saves you, but it’s a picture. We need to be urgent on calling to response.
It’s an act of obedience.
Some of my friends take shots because they try to be creative to get people’s attention. We know that the gospel is what saves. I applaud my friends who do what they can to preach the gospel.
There are pharasees who sit in the front row and critique how people got saved rather than that they are healed.
Is there a wrong way to meet Jesus?
It’s easier to be a critic than a pastor.
We all think that the gospel happens despite us. To critique the man brings more glory to God anyway.
The method is not the issue. The urgency and passion of the Gospel and brining people to Jesus is what matters.
Don’t you think that evangelistic churches get categorized as shallow? We should work to make sure this urgency is part of every church.
If the focus is on honoring God and Christ, more disciples. I care about growing them up and sending them out.
How does emotion play into a gospel presentation?
It plays heavily both in a positive and negative way. Engaging people emotionally is absolutely within the bounds of the NT example. Paul in Acts 20:18.
I think we make the assumption that being passionate and emotional is somehow not authentic. It’s wrong. We have to care about people’s sin and bondage. It brings authenticity.
Jones said that a man that can speak the Gospel dispassionately isn’t preaching.
The preceeding were summary notes from the Elephant Room. These are not direct quotes but rather a play by play intended to give an overview of each conversation at this year's event. I encourage you to watch this year's conversations once available for fullest context. - Jake