Ed Stetzer Endorsement for the Sharing Jesus Book

I’m blessed by lots of friends in ministry who have encouraged me and believed in me over the years. Ed Stetzer, the  Billy Graham Distinguished Chair for Church, Mission, and Evangelism and executive director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College, wrote this for my new book, which officially releases APRIL 1:

“Let’s face it: most Christians are freaked out when it comes to evangelism. We don’t need someone scolding the ineffectiveness of the church today as much as a leader to show a fresh, effective way to tell the timeless good news. My friend Alvin Reid does just that in this encouraging book. You can have real and effective conversations with people about Jesus; Alvin will show you how.”

Here’s a video Ed recorded for me as well. I’m honored to serve as a Fellow at the Graham Center and to serve you with Ed for the cause of evangelism!

 

Returning to My Roots: Disciple-Making

062029F22A

In 1999, Phil Neighbors–co-pastor of the Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield–invited me to speak at a youth weekend. That weekend helped cause a shift in ministry focus for me over the next 18 years. It led me to a strategic part of ministry as a teacher, writer, and pastor, one I will continue to emphasize: the Next Gen. during these years I’ve spoken on scores of college campuses and at countless DNows, youth rallies, and camps. I loved this season.

This past weekend I did an event in a church where I’ve done some Next Gen events. But this weekend took me back to my roots. I trained believers to share Jesus Without Freaking Out. Yes, we are talked about evangelism, but I actually see training believers in this area as the heart of my calling: disciple-making.

When I was in seminary I saw a bifurcation between evangelism and discipleship that seemed unhealthy. We did it denominationally, compartmentalizing by agency, and we did it personally. Some were of the” evangelism party” and  others were of the “discipleship faction.”

I’m convinced that making disciples–which includes winning people to Christ, growing them as believers, so that they become disciples who make disciples–is the need of the hour.  I’m also convinced that one of the fundamental ways to help Christians grow is through getting them sharing their faith, inviting others to join in this grand endeavor.  Learning to live out our faith verbally is certainly not the only way to become more like Christ, but it’s hard to imagine doing so without this. If our Bible studies and devotional times don’t lead us to actually live out our faith in word and deed, I question whether we really get what we are reading. Christianity is far more than an intellectual study.

If my habits demonstrate a desire personally to study the Bible and pray but don’t lead me to care for my fellow man and love my neighbor, I may be an example of American individualism more than a biblical Christian. Which leads me to this weekend. I’m back to my roots. I spent several hours training leaders in South Carolina to share Jesus conversationally, out of who they are. I’m trying to help believers connect who they are in Christ and who God made them to be with their daily lives.  There must be a greater purpose to our discipleship than simply getting information.

Don’t dichotomize two things God has emphasized. We win people to Christ so they may know, worship, and grow in Him, and so they can win others, and so on, until Jesus comes. Let’s be about this task together.

When Freaking Out Is Okay

Haight Ashbury

Haight Ashbury

In October 2014, I visited San Francisco for the first time.  The first place I had to go was the corner of Haight and Ashbury streets. This street corner represents the epicenter of the hippie culture of the 1960s, and there was a hippie playing a guitar when I arrived, right on cue.

This is also where the earliest signs of what would be called the Jesus Movement began. A hippie named Ted Wise got saved, and then others joined him. Before long the movement went south, where a man named Chuck Smith and a church called Calvary Chapel exploded. Thousands of youth came to Christ, while at the same time thousands of youth in established churches experienced a new zeal for Jesus. Churches filled with youth groups, and Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ (now Cru) organized an event called Explo ’72 where eighty thousand young people came to Dallas, Texas, to learn to share Christ. On the Saturday following the event, some 150,000–180,000 youth gathered for a massive festival featuring Billy Graham, among others.

I was saved in those days. I remember young people who did not have a church background, who didn’t have a lot of theological training—okay, they had none—but who had a passion to tell others about Jesus. We had a name for them:

Jesus Freaks.

A Jesus Freak is someone who loves Jesus more than you do.

It’s time to recapture the spirit of the Jesus Movement, to rekindle a passion for Jesus that spills out of hearts of love for God and others, and brings joy to those around us.

I just wrote a book about sharing Jesus WITHOUT freaking out. But some things should freak us out. Negatively:

–The lostness of the world;

–The rise of the “nones,” those who identify with no religious preference;

–The vast numbers of the next generation we are not reaching and are hardly keeping in our churches.

And positively, some things should freak us out:

–That the God who spoke and made the universe loves us and came to save us!

–That God uses the likes of us for his glory!

–The forgiveness of sins, the grace of God, and the inheritance of the saints.

What freaks you out? Let’s be freaking out over things worthy of the sentiment.

Learning to Share Jesus Is a Journey

BVJ82E1ILO

Getting in shape: I know, there are all kinds of promises out there telling you how to do it in a week or two. Take this pill, do this miracle workout or diet, and so on. I have a Greek term for all that: baloney.

If you want to get healthy physically, it takes time, effort, and patience to see changes. But changes will come over time, and the more time you take the more likely the changes will stay.

It’s the same in our spiritual growth. You don’t microwave or point and click your way to growth. You take a journey. It. Takes. Time. But it’s worth it!

I wrote the Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out book to help you and those you lead take a journey. It’s a short book; 115 pages or so. But don’t let that fool you–you can’t grow significantly in your witness just by reading a book. Information doesn’t equal transformation, but information plus reflection plus personal application does bring growth. That’s why we’ve added a couple of features to help believers grow in a journey of witnessing. First, I recorded a series of eight videos where I teach about 20 minutes each on the eight chapters. This allows churches to do an eight-week small group study if you choose. The videos are available at no cost and can be found SOON (not quite yet, but you can bookmark the page now) at this landing page.  Second, the book has a 60 day journey at the end for you to follow to grow in what you read over time.

It takes time to build anything that matters. A tree. A skyscraper. A life. Give yourself time to grow as a witness. I want to help.