Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cancer and moving forward

The two scariest conversations I've ever had with a doctor are 1) you're going to be a father and 2) you've got cancer! I'm still recoving from both!

I've hesitated to talk about this especially on a blog about online church evangelism. However, I changed my mind because:
1) I hope it might help some who might not know much about it but may need to
2) if you don't want to read it you're under no obligation, and
3) my doctor asked me to.

I was getting to "that age" when men have to undergo the "finger test"!* Most of my doctor appointments consisted of my getting blood tests done then meeting with him to discuss my "numbers". I always appreciated his knowledge and his great professional manner.

But I wasn't always convinced his knowledge was worth as much as my insurance paid him. However, during my first "finger test" and after the shock!!!, I said to him, "As far as I'm concerned, Doc, you just earned your money! Wasn't expecting THAAAAAAAAT!" (Imagine the sound of Jerry Lewis whining here....)

My GP wanted me to get a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) which to me as a laymen meant basically a blood test. The numbers came back slightly high. He sent me for another one...high again! He had me talk to a urologist, discussed my numbers and determined that surgery was probably the best alternative.

Before moving forward with surgery, he wanted me to talk to some doctors from nearby Yale Medical Center to hear from them what options were available, namely: 1) do nothing, die younger than I'd planned(?!), 2) try radiation (but, surgery wouldn't be an option if that didn't work) or 3) get it removed...which everyone recommended...because "you're so young". I thought if I heard that phrase one more time, I'd scream!!!

Ends up, (no pun intended) that I had to get a prostatectomy...or as I like to say, I was "gutted like a fish". Still have the 6" vertical incision up my front side. This was a little over 3 years ago (January 2007). Surgery went well. Stayed in the hospital about a week and for the most part, the experience was bearable.

By far the worst, and most uncomfortable part of the surgery and recovery was the catheter. I always feared if I didn't sit, lay down, roll over or walk exactly right I would puncture my bladder. I was assured that was unlikely but "unlikely" just didn't seem to be good enough. I still worried... be continued...

* If you're too young to know what this is...consider yourself lucky...just wait! It's one of the "joys" of manhood.

Would appreciate hearing your thoughts about this...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Blogger's Life...when it gets out of control

How you know when your life is out of control...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

From the pulpit to the pew...and beyond

Like you, we have preached our share of evangelistic sermons. Some received greater responses than others. Many Churches today seldom preach the promise of eternal life from the pulpit. Their reasoning usually is based on the idea that the pew helps get people in the Church, the pulpit will help keep them there.

Our seminary professor use to challenge us with this thought about unbelievers attending our Churches. He said, "Why would a stranger come to a strange place to sit with a bunch of strangers to listen to a stranger talk about strange things?" Perhaps, the miracle is that they would attend our Churches at all.

However, the fact remains, before they can hear our wonderful "Three point sermon" about eternal life they first have to sit in our pews. Is there anything we can do to help get them there?

A Gospel Invitation starts with the Gospel itself

An online Gospel presentation can create a venue for those who want to know more about your Church and your beliefs. And, hopefully, that venue will tweak their curiosity to visit your Church. THEN, they'll hear your 3 point sermon.

Nothing more clearly states our committment to the Gospel than the Gospel itself. And, our websites allow the world to see our core belief, e.g.
"We believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the most important truth you will ever hear. And whether or not you ever have the opportunity to visit our fellowship, we want you to discover The Road to Eternal Life for yourself.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

No Illusions Here

A quote from The aXiom Network:

"The aXiom Network has no illusions about the once lost throngs queuing up to the throne of grace someday as a result of our meager efforts. However, we do believe, whether many or few, every soul that finds the joy of forgiveness will be eternally thankful to the Church that made it possible!"

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Church in Crisis

A quote from The aXiom Network:

"The 'crisis at the heart of the church is that we give disciple making lip service, but do not practice it'. * Isn't sharing the Gospel implied in the definition of a (growing) disciple? It's time we provide our disciples with the tools they need, online and print, then get out of their way and let them do the job for which God has prepared them!"

* Bill Hull  Disciplemaking Pastor

Do you agree or disagree with this statement and why?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I accepted Christ as Savior in college after years of abusing my body, my relationships and the law (but enough about that!). I had been a “hippie, yippie, dippie” musician for many years playing guitar in noteworthy rock groups, traveling throughout the South during the peak years of Doobie Brothers, Allman Brothers and other Southern Rock Bands.

Soon after becoming a believer I went to a large university where I was approached by the campus director for Campus Crusade, and, after a few discussions about my faith, my maturity and such, Rich asked me if I would consider being “song leader” for Crusade’s large meetings. (To this day I have no idea how Rich knew who I was).

At the time I didn’t even know what a “spiritual song” aka chorus* was much less how to be a solo song leader of 100+ college students every Thursday night. Since for years I’d stood in front of a wall of amplifiers and behind guitars and microphones playing in public I felt I would be reasonably comfortable leading songs. Besides, I had traded my '57 Les Paul (electric guitar) for a Gibson Dove (acoustic guitar) and, until then, wasn't sure how I would use it. After a few weeks I began to figure out the pace, the chord changes, etc.

NOTE: Choruses at the time were still a new worship style and would NEVER have been sung in any "respectable" Church. How things change!

Because of my close work with Rich, I was eventually asked to join what was in those days called the “Central Action Group”. I still question his wisdom in that decision…but I thank God often that he saw me through, as it were, God's eyes and not merely his own.

With Rich’s investment in my life and “personal ministry” (I had never heard that term before) God began to develop in me a vision of what the Christian life was; namely, a pro-active, conscientious and faithful effort at winning those who remained without Christ and then discipling them. (My experience as a new Christian being discipled on campus would prove to be VERY different than anyone I met in local Churches for many years to come.)

As a CAG we read, discussed, trained with and prayed about some great materials that focused on Evangelism, Disciplemaking and the Christian life, including:

  • Four Spiritual Laws – Campus Crusade for Christ
  • My Heart, Christ’s Home
  • Tyranny of the Urgent (Intervarsity)
  • The Hand Illustration (Navigators)
  • The Wheel Illustration (Navigators)
  • Disciples Are Made, Not Born – Walt Henrichsen
  • Born to Reproduce – Dawson Trotman, founder of Navigators
  • Ten Steps to Christian Maturity – CCC
  • Dedication and Leadership – Douglas Hyde
  • So What’s the Difference – Fritz Ridenour
  • How To Be a Christian Without Being Religious – Fritz Ridenour
  • Knowledge of the Holy – A.W. Tozer
  • Evidence That Demands a Verdict – Josh McDowell
  • Training of the Twelve - A.B. Bruce
 And of course, and especially,

Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman.

(NOTE: As a pastor can you imagine expecting your leadership team to read these? As a new believer I thought every Christian had benefitted from these types of materials.)

There were many more but these are only the ones I could still find on my bookshelves. Yes, we read all of these and many more during our years of college.

Question: Are you familiar with this list of books/booklets and how/when did you learn about them? After all, these were life-changing resources for thousands, perhaps millions over the years.

Question: What do YOU use in your personal discipleship ministry?

Question: Suggest a topic around these titles, their use, what you've found to be helpful and I and others here will attempt to respond.
We all look forward to hearing your thoughts...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Visionaries, The Gospel and Technology

A quote from The aXiom Network:

"Visionaries have always pondered how they could use technology to help reach their generation for Christ. For the first time in history we have a means they could never have fathomed but surely would have put to use. Do we lack the vision, passion or compassion of those whose shoulders we stand on? Were it possible, would they not be leaning over the side of heaven urging us on?"

Would like to know your thoughts...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Purpose of this Blog

The intent of this blog is simply to promote evangelism online through Church, and other Christian websites. Well, occasionally we'll address other issues, too. That might include comments that sound alarming like whining and crying.

Overall, I want to interact with you and others about how this task can be accomplished more effectively and efficiently. I will attempt to make comments that reflect the importance of this subject and others but with a more "open collar" format. (See Website for the "closed collar" version)

I guess I feel like lots of others do about blogs. Why would anyone care what is said here. I am personally very cautious about whose opinions I listen to, or more specifically, how many opinions I listen to; not because I don't want a variety of views; rather, like you, I have only so much time during the day and giving that time over to useless, banal blogging isn't my idea of good stewardship: mine or yours.

Therefore, I will try to write about ideas and issues that you agree are important even if you disagree with the opinion(s) itself.

I've had the pleasure over much of the last year of being part of a rather obssesive team who is committed to helping the Church be more effective in her evangelistic efforts. I hope our efforts, our vision and this blog contributes, at least in part, some clarity and, okay, "guilt" about why this isn't already part of the evangelical landscape. I hope you will consider all of what we're about and join us. See The aXiom Network for more information.

Surveys: Each month I post a different Survey for readers to quickly share their opinions. Feel free to look ahead to future months to take the surveys even though nothing is actually posted yet. Again, I want to know what you think. I also believe Church (local and national) need to know as well. This is a good place to let your thoughts known.

Serving with you,

Rev. Don Walley, Director,
The aXiom Network

I Want To Hear Your Ideas:

Share your thoughts, opinions, general rantings about something I blogged. NOTE: Resectful, responsible and repeatable comments and opinions are welcome and will be posted.

Ground Rule #1: No respect, no response! (DISagreement is welcome, DISrespect for others or their views is not. NOTE: If you're not sure of the difference you probably should'nt write.)

Ground Rule #2: I decide! This is not a public bulletin board. It's about edification, education, encouragement and occasionally, whining about my blogs regarding evangelism particularly.

Ground Rule #3: Any questions? Read #1 & #2 again!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Lost Opportunities?

I believe the Church today has the greatest opportunity, the best technology and fulfills its highest purpose by combining the eternal message of The Gospel, the world's access to the internet and every person's deepest hurt.

To that end...

The aXiom Network has launched an effort to mobilize 100,000 Churches, Organizations, Christian Businesses and Individuals to provide online access to the Gospel to this and future generations using the Three Keys; namely,
  1. The Gospel on every possible Church website
  2. Effective follow-up and integration
  3. Ability to refer new believers to like-minded (member) Churches
I'd like to hear your thoughts on this; good, bad, indifferent; believer or non-believer, churched or unchurched, pulpit or pew, etc.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I'm just sayin'...

"I'm Just Sayin'..."

I (and The aXiom Network) am committed to encouraging, engaging, okay, even occasionally harassing evangelical Churches into adding the Gospel to their current websites. And, if for some inexplicable reason, they don't have a website to get one...NOW, if only to provide the Gospel online as a resource for the Holy Spirit.

Yet, there are some who want to discuss the "best way" to evangelize today. Without revisiting in depth the many options out there why not adopt the attitude that "the more ways the better". Maybe one way won't work today but will tomorrow and vice versa. If it works and is biblically sound is there a downside? My concern is that if we are led, or allowed to believe a particular approach doesn't then we're inclined not to engage in that approach. I thinks that's a reasonable fear. 

Perhaps, some approaches reap greater benefits (more converts) than others. So what?

"Did every effort result in a conversion? Of course not! My "success rate" was never the issue. In my mind, given the opportunity, I was simply being faithful with the training I'd had."
I say, "the "more the merrier!" Maybe your ministry of tract distribution, gospel sermons or online Gospel webpage won't turn the masses toward the Savior. How many lost souls would need to be saved to count any and all methods as successful. 3000 (Pentecost)? 250? 101? 70? 12? 2 (Road to Emmaus)?, 1 (me, you!)???

At one time or another I've been involved in nearly every type of evangelism possible: "Lighthouse" (Bob Jacks), "friendship", Billy Graham Crusades (phone support, crusade planner, financial, etc), door-to-door, "Street corner", tracts (Four Laws, The Bridge, etc), evangelistic sermons, and more. Each approach bore different results. But, I don't begrudge the method, my availability or the Spirit. One simply worked better at one time than another. However, and this is important...

I'm glad I was aware of and comfortable with each and every one of them. I felt then and now that without training and experience with each, I, and the person I was sharing with, would have been worse off. Did every effort result in a conversion? Of course not! My "success rate" never the my mind. Given the opportunity, I was simply being faithful.

We use to say in Campus Crusade (in college) that my role in the evangelism process is simply to "Share the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit and leave the results to God". I still think that's the best way to approach evangelism. However, having the resources, tracts, training, webpages, or the pulpit, for the Holy Spirit to use are critical.

I guess my approach is to "throw it against the wall and if its sticks, USE IT!" My way is far from perfect...

Let me know your thoughts?