Sunday, May 16, 2010

Luke 24:28-32 - Sermon - Other's Need

Luke 24:28-32
For Sale: Our Witness
Other’s Need (Part II)
05-16-10

Last week we had some fun looking at some commercials and coming to the realization that if we are to witness to others than we need to learn the art of sales. We do this so we can gain some perspective on how it can be done. We learned that Adam Hamilton in this book, Selling Swimsuits in the Arctic, states there are seven steps to success in sales. They are…
1. Believe in the product
2. Believe that people need the product
3. Understand the needs of the customers
4. Offer an excellent product
5. Embody the product
6. Effectively market the product
7. Perseverance is the key to success in sales

Last week we talked about the product we are selling. That product is…God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I had you write down on note cards what Jesus Christ has done for you and you can see the bulletin board in the hallway that has those answers on them. There is some good stuff on there. Some of you reached deep into your soul and uncovered some precious stuff. Thank you. If you did not fill out a card and would like to there are extras on the board, feel free to add to our answer to that questions of what has Jesus Christ done for me.

That was the first key, know your product but today we dive into the second key, “believe that people need the product.” This is where evangelism or sharing our witness to others gets people starting to stir a little and I promise I am right there with you. We will get to those issues in a little bit but right now I wanted to introduce you to some people. There may only be a handful of you who are these people (who lives in a one mile radius of the church)? These people you all know, but let me introduce you to the 5,491 people who live in a one mile radius of us. ONLY ONE MILE!

[Go through slide show]

MissionInsite, the company that gave us these demographics, said that the best picture of this area could be summed up in what they called the “Small-City Endeavors”. See if this description could sum up our part of Thomasville. “Small-city Endeavors has a split personality, reflecting the cluster’s mix of young and old, singles, families and single parent households. In these diverse working-class communities…newcomers share blocks with longtime residents, drawn to the affordable housing and short commutes to work. Many of the adults never went beyond high school, and the employment base largely consists of low-wage blue-collar jobs in manufacturing, retail and health services…Given the mix of ages and family types, the Small-city Endeavors cluster is characterized by diverse lifestyles. In these small towns, pastimes like [baseball] and [four-wheeling] coexist with antiquing and board games. Most households enjoy outdoor activities…with their low income, there’s not a lot of discretionary spending on travel or cultural activities, and consumers limit their shopping trips to discount stores like Wal-Mart, Payless Shoes and Fashion Bug.” Does this sound like our part of Thomasville?

What we learn from these slides and that description is that we do not look too different from the community. According to a study done by the Stepping into the Stream group the average age here at Trinity is 40 years old. That was done about five years ago and I think we are probably a little younger. One of the most interesting fact I learned putting this sermon together is that single parent families is the fastest growing group in this population. This brings a host of needs, childcare, educational opportunities, and much more. The two schools that are only a stone’s throw from our sanctuary, almost 90% of the students who go there are on free or reduced lunch. To say it another way, 90% of the kids who attend these schools live at or below the poverty line. Today’s question is, Do others need what we are selling? Do the people in this mile radius of our congregation need the love, care, and support that is offered, free, by our God?

Even asking that question is making some of you stir, and that is good, it gets us thinking. Now let us put on our consumer hats for a moment and think about how we are sold things in our lives. Usually there are two ways products come about in the world. Either a need demands a product or a product demands a need. For example, this week I needed to replace two of the tires on my car. The tires are a product that came about because of the need. You can’t drive a car without tires. Since cars have existed tires are needed and an industry was created around that.

There are some products that break in that there wasn’t any need for them until they were introduced. How many of you sat in your kitchens and thought….”I have always wanted to grill something on my counter and I wished it would also have the ability for the fat to just roll away from the food?” Probably not many, until we saw George Forman on TV selling something that almost everyone has now in their cooking arsenal. The same can be said about MP3 players. How many of us, 10 years ago, were burdened with the weight of toting around CDs and we desired some sort of digital way of listening to music. But now everyone has some sort of iPod or MP3 player. Once again a product came into the market place and a need was demanded.

As a church, do we have a product that is needed or are we creating a need for our product? The simple answer is yes. People come to the realization that they need and can benefit from a relationship with God through a couple of ways. Some people come out a need to know God. There is a burning desire in their hearts to learn more and therefore they come searching for the answers to questions they already have. There are others who don’t know they need God and need to experience God before that need is understood.

The couple that were walking to Emmaus had experienced Christ before but when they broke bread with him their eyes were opened. Then they looked back and talked about how their hearts were burning as he talked and opened the scriptures to them. They experienced God, heard and understood the scriptures and were transformed by our resurrected Lord. They discovered a deep relationship with Jesus by being with Jesus.

What does this have to do with us and how does this affect our witness? We all understand bad evangelism. We have had those knocks on our door and we have yelled to the house, “Be QUIET! Maybe they will just go away.” There is also the bus type of evangelism. A person gets on the bus, walks up to you and asks, “Is this seat saved…are you?” It is in your face, turn and burn, type of evangelism. I recently drove past someone in who was on the corner of a really busy intersection with a megaphone preaching to the people who had stopped at a red light for one minute before it turned green. We all know the guy who holds up the John 3:16 poster at the football games, like a person who doesn’t know the Bible could actually figure out the message. Many probably thought it was a cue to the quarterback. JOHN – 3 – 16 – Hut – HUT.

In Adam Hamilton’s book he says, “In the consumer marketplace a great product does in fact improve and enhance the quality of life of the potential customers. It adds value.” I asked you to find the answer to the question, “What has Jesus done for me?” in order for you to understand how our product, God, has improved and enhanced the quality of your life. Not so you can then go jam that answer down the throats of your friends and families but so you can answer that question about how you have changed because of God. If your life is better because of God then why can’t someone else’s life change for the better because of God?

Jim Henderson wrote a book called Evangelism Without Additives: What If Sharing Your Faith Meant Just Being Yourself? I like the idea of organic evangelism; the type that comes out of simply a relationship with someone. As you sit in the break room eating your lunch, maybe you’re reading our summer book, Blood Done Sign My Name, and someone asks you about. What a great opportunity to talk to that person about what you are doing here at Trinity. Adam Hamilton talks about getting caught reading the Bible. What if you were on a plane reading the Bible, in a restaurant, in the park, even at home and someone asks you why you are reading it. A simple honest answer could lead you down a path of evangelism, or simply sharing your faith.

But unless we really believe that people need what we are selling there is no use in even this type of witness. I believe everyone would be better off if they followed Christ. If they had a personal relationship with God that enabled them to see the world through God’s eyes, I believe the world would be the place God created it to be. It would actually be the kingdom of God that Jesus talks about. I believe that God offers us something that no one in this world can, no other religion, no other material good, no other idea or philosophy. God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit offers us grace and unconditional love. No matter where we are in our lives God is there already. No matter if we believe it or not, God is still there. If we would put ourselves on the back burner and follow God, we can find purpose, meaning, freedom, and acceptance.

I truly believe people would have a fuller life, a deeper life, the one that they truly want for themselves if they would hear the call from our God and simply follow Christ. Do you believe it? Do you think the people in your family deserve that type of relationship? Do you believe your friends, co-workers and neighbors could benefit from that type of love and grace? Do you believe that the over 5,000 people one mile away from us could benefit from it? If so…what is holding you back from simply sharing what God has done for you?

And all God’s people said…Amen.

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