Archives for posts with tag: Care2Share

Care2Share Blog
I don’t know whether CEO’s (Christmas and Easter Only) are a reality or a myth and I don’t know if the people coming on those two Holidays are simply COO (Come Only Occasionally), but the fact remains: on those two Holidays people are overwhelmingly more inclined to come to Church.

Though I love the opportunity to invite folks to come to church on those special occasions, there is a part of me that dislikes that. I want to ask myself: Is that what following Christ has been reduced to for the average Christian? What does it mean to be a disciple of Christ? Is it to come only occasionally, give your five bucks and go missing the rest of the time?

That is not the feeling I get from the way Jesus went about making disciples. He first met these people, looked them right in the eye and said, “Follow me.” And they immediately left whatever they were doing and started following Him. Both men and women did. Rich and poor, loved or hated, clean or corrupted… They were all fascinated with this man who asked them to leave everything behind and follow Him. And Jesus kept drawing a line in the sand, and soon people were on either side of that line.

But today that line seems to have been blurred. Or it keeps being redrawn. Or in some cases there are no more traces of it in the sand. Many people have come to believe that they are disciples but will find themselves hearing the Judge say on the day of reckoning, “I never knew you.” I can’t imagine the magnitude of the tragedy when they get clued in that all their good deeds amounted to zero. They didn’t even get to the introduction part. “I never knew you.” How devastating that will be!

Once again our churches will be filled with CEO’s next Sunday. Then, the following Sunday, the parking lots will be crying for metal and rubber to fill their nicely painted spaces. We will go back to MIA (Massive Individual Absence) again. We’ll be gearing up for Christmas!

So I have a challenge for all of us: Don’t just invite people to come this resurrection Sunday. Yes, that is where you should start. Everyone in your neighborhood should get an invitation to the Easter Party at Grace on Saturday and to one of our services on Sunday morning. But if you see your friends there, take the next step – invite them to come the following Sunday. Plan to be there to meet them and maybe even invite them for lunch after they come the Sunday after Easter. Then keep inviting them and don’t go MIA yourself. You will soon see the results of your labor of love.

Easter Sunday is “Black Friday” for us at Grace Church. We will spare no efforts to offer people a wonderful celebration of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. You will notice when you come that there will be food and lots of colorful things around our building. The mood will be festive and there will be plenty of joy to go around. And people will hear about this wonderful Messiah who holds our affection. We want to celebrate the resurrection with the same zeal that motivates people to brave the weather hours or even days before the stores open on the Friday after Thanksgiving. It’s Sunday and Jesus is risen, what could be more significant than that?

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

Care2Share Blog

Whenever I hear the word “evangelism” I think of my pastor during my university years. He was one of those natural-born soul winners, if there is such a thing. He practically filled an entire church building with people he led to the Lord within just a few months of his coming to Christ. And he never ceased to talk about it, Sunday after Sunday: how we ought to be “evangelizing;” how easy it was to do it; how we would have to give an account to God one day; ad infinitum.

His preaching, however, didn’t motivate most of us. It made us feel bad, guilty, and like incomplete Christians. It wasn’t until much later that I discovered how one-sided that pastor was. What he called “evangelism” had little to do with the biblical teaching on the subject.

What I find in the Bible is that everyone who says s/he is a Christ follower must be involved in some aspect of sharing the good news of the gospel, but the styles and approaches vary as much as the individual personalities of those followers.

First off, if you are a believer in Christ, you ought to be sowing seeds of hope everywhere. Jesus said as much in John 4:37-38: “Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” Notice that he even calls sowing “the hard work,” a correct translation of the Greek here. I understand this passage to mean that not everyone will reap but everyone must sow.

But the process of sowing takes different approaches. Some are more direct like Peter, others more indirect, like Matthew who threw a party for his friends or the woman at the well who gave an attractive invitation to the people in her town: “Come and meet this man who told me everything about my life. He couldn’t possibly be the awaited Messiah, could he?” Paul used the more intellectual approach and Dorcas became a community activist for the destitute.

The beauty of the Body of Christ is that people come in all color and shapes. God wants us to use our unique make-up and experience to leverage our lives into the lives of Christ’s other friends, so instead of worrying to paralysis that we may not do it right, how about this? Let the Spirit guide you into an approach that most naturally fits you and leave the results up to God. He is the one who makes all things grow.

If you want to hear more, come Sunday morning. I guarantee you: what I have to say will change the way you think of evangelism once and for all.

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

Care2Share Blog

There are some people who just don’t seem to get things right when it comes to sharing matters of faith. They are standoffish. They can’t help but come across as judgmental and the “know-it-all type.” And they always carry that air of superiority about them. In one word, they are obnoxious. This type of behavior is so prevalent in our days that it would do us all a lot of good if we read these words about 10 non-obnoxious ways to share your faith.

I find it amazing that Paul, who nowadays is often accused of being somewhat of a bully because of his strong views, was bold but not brash when it came to his witness. He never ran away from telling the truth, but he did it in a way that drew the listeners in. Paul was a genius when it comes to sharing truth with sensitivity to an often hostile crowd.

Two examples. The first one comes from Acts 17. When Paul was in Athens his heart was stirred by the number of idols he saw in the city. The word in the Greek is very strong. You could say that the multiplicity of idols and shrines in the city upset him. He was more than a little annoyed. He was terribly upset.

But when he had a chance to speak to the people, he didn’t start out by saying, “You bunch of idol-worshipers, worthless idolaters Athenians. How can you believe in the sort of nonsense I saw around your city?” Rather, Paul kept his revolting heart in check and said, “People of Athens, I see that you are very religious in all things.” Really? Then he goes on to use the very fact that they had an altar to an “unknown God” to announce to them that this God they worship without knowing is the true God, the creator of the universe. What a lesson in magnanimity that should be to us!

The second example comes from Acts 14 Paul and Barnabas were in the pagan city of Lystra. While there, Paul healed a man who had been crippled. When the crowd saw this, the people rushed to bow before the apostles, worshiping them, and even attempting to offer some bulls in sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas. Being good Jews they were, these two men were outraged. They tore their clothes and started running among the people asking them to stop that nonsense.

When the crowd finally calmed down, instead of engaging in a vituperating speech about how blasphemous their behavior was, when Paul began to speak, the first words out of his mouth were, “Friends, why are you doing these things? We are only human beings like you.” Then he went on to present to them the true God their hearts should go after. Notice, there is not even a hint of superiority in Paul’s opening statement.

The reason Paul could be so kind even in the face of some most egregious religious behavior, I believe, is because the living Christ was living in him. And Paul was interested in presenting the Person of salvation first before he presented the plan of salvation. Paul was displaying the kind of behavior that genuine Christ-followers should show before a world that is skeptical. The plan of salvation without the reality of the Person of salvation living within us is just noise and often that noise is annoying.

Learn how to share the Person of salvation before you present the plan of salvation this Sunday as we continue our series we are calling “Care 2 Share.”

Hope to see you there,

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

Care2Share Blog
“I am leaving your church,” a lady told me once.  When I asked her why, she said, “You guys talk too much about outreach.”  What do you say to someone like that?  “Sayonara?”

So many people are clueless about the real mission of the church.  God could have saved us and transported us directly to heaven at the moment of salvation.  But he didn’t do that, did He? Reason being we have work to do here as His ambassadors, carrying the message of salvation through Christ to a lost world.  When our work is done, He will call us home.

The famous theologian Lewis Sperry Chaffer’s words ring true here, “in a well-balanced ministry, Gospel preaching should account for no less than 75% of the pulpit testimony. The remainder may be for the edification of those who are saved.”  I believe in that rule and try to live by it in my pulpit ministry.

Trouble is followers of Christ struggle with what Bill Hybels calls, “the proximity factor.” If you are not close enough to people who need to hear about Christ, you will not succeed as an ambassador, even if you are a most dedicated Christian.

For example, we complain that God has been kept out of public schools but every day across the country godly people can volunteer at schools doing a myriad of things and in the process build a relationship with a student and perhaps even his or her family. We are vocal about illegal immigrants but in many of our cities we have the opportunity to befriend internationals for Christ right where we live. I used to have a t-shirt that said, “I am an illegal immigrant” on the front. On the back it said, “May I hear about Christ legally?” I stopped wearing it when I moved to California…

One family in Canada noticed that all of their neighbors were home only on Sundays when they were involved with church activities. They asked permission from their elders and began to intentionally reach out to their neighbors on Sundays. Several months went by and they came back to one of the Sunday morning services. Someone noticed them and said, “Hey, we haven’t seen you guys for a while, where have you been?” They said, “Oh, we’ve been home-churching.” And after about a year their efforts paid off as several of their neighbors came to Christ.

Some people use their hobbies or special abilities to build bridges into the lives of people they are intentionally trying to bring to Christ. A friend of mine gives free guitar lessons to refugees from Kosovo. Another bakes cookies and delivers to certain neighbors on special occasions such as Birthdays and Anniversaries.  All of these things are ways to gain access into the lives of Christ’s other friends. And as long as we do it with a genuine interest in the person and are not simply looking for an opening to “preach,” we will find a lot of receptive hearts.

This week we will continue our series we are calling “Care 2 Share” with a message on how to build bridges into the lives of our friends. This is a powerful concept. As a matter of fact, I am convinced that if every follower of Christ went back to her/his community with a resolve to be known as the most caring, the most compassionate and friendly person within the neighborhood, just that would open all kinds of doors for us to share our story of redemption with others.

So why not start by being purposefully nice and cheery? That’s not where it ends, but it sure is a good start. The world awaits a new breed of Christians – a more gentle and compassionate one. You don’t believe me? Check out 1 Peter 3:15!

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

Care2Share Blog

I am a stickler for picking the right words and using them intentionally. Therefore, when I hear somebody twisting my words or intentionally taking them out of context, I can easily skip my dinner over it – and go to sleep mad.

I used to be a part of a church that had a program called “Evangelism Explosion.” Every Thursday evening a small team of us went out into the homes of people to share the Good News of the Gospel with them. One night, as the few of us sat and prayed in the parking lot before we left, I noticed a large group of women entering the church for a Bible study. On Sunday, as I taught a class in church, I told that story and made the comment that I wished there were as many people going out of the building to share their faith as there were going into the building for Bible study.

The very next day I got a phone call from the lady in charge of the women’s Bible study. She wanted to meet with me. She had heard from a person, who was not at the class when I taught, that “Pastor Ivanildo is against the women’s Bible studies at the church.”

I missed my dinner that day.

This story only illustrates the nature of the battle we must fight when we attempt to elevate the value of witnessing our faith. You would think that would be a no brainer, but you would be wrong. It takes ten times the effort to keep the mandate to evangelize in front of our people as it does just about any other activity in the church. Why is it so much easier to get people to serve in the nursery, teach Sunday School, attend a Bible study, etc., than to verbalize their faith with Christ’s other friends?

The answer to this question is multifaceted. Many Christians don’t seem to care whether people are going to hell or not. Others are so scared they dare not open their mouths. Some are afraid of rejection. A good number, perhaps, need to be saved before they can share the good news of salvation with others. It is not a mere coincidence that the famous preacher Charles Spurgeon once said that “One of the first jobs of the preacher is to convert the Christians.”

But I would like to believe that the vast majority, perhaps, don’t do it because a) they simply don’t know how to do it; b) they are confused about what “evangelism” means, thinking somehow that they must do the persuasive work and “close the deal,” when indeed they are called first to sow the seed of the gospel; c) they are not held accountable, which means they are perfectly fine with living a Christian life that does not require verbalizing their faith.

At Grace Church we are trying to address all of the above by promoting a culture where sharing faith is just second nature to a follower of Christ. That’s the main reason we started this series we’re calling “Care 2 Share.” The ideas that are being shared have the potential to radically change the way you see yourself in relation to the world.

This Sunday we will talk about the need to understand people who are still outside of Christ. We will be challenged to get to know our neighbors and connect with them in meaningful ways with the purpose of sharing the gospel with them. Among other things, you will hear me say:

“Now, if you are here and you consider yourself a follower, you have a decision to make. Do you want to engage in this mandate God has given Grace Church? Are you willing to do more than just talk about it? I say this because as I said last Sunday, this will be our main thing. We will pursue this mission with the same passion and determination of those early disciples who when Jesus looked at them and said, ‘Follow me!’ immediately left everything and followed Him. And He said, ‘I will make you fishers of men.’ And He did just that.

You will get tired of hearing me talking about our mandate. You will get somewhat uncomfortable if you are not engaging in some aspect of our mandate to bring men, women, and children to Jesus and help them grow in their faith so they can reach others. You will think I sound like a broken record. You will talk to your friends as if your pastor got struck by a new disease called “evangelitis.” You will wish that you could just have a three point sermon where you felt good about yourself and was never asked to do anything. You will even feel like you are back in school because you now have homework to do during a week. Whoever heard of a church that gives homework?

So you have a decision to make: are you in or are you out? And I hope you will decide to be “in” because this will be an exciting journey. You will see God use you in some amazing ways as you live your life intentionally before your friends who might still be outside of Christ. You will experience Christ in a new and exciting way and you will see people come to the knowledge of this Messiah we love so much. And that, my friends, is one of the most exciting things we will experience this side of eternity!”

Please be in prayer for this Sunday and make every effort not to miss it. It will be powerful.  And if you quote me, please think about the dinner I might have to miss… 🙂

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

Care2Share Blog
Two stories jumped out at me this week, if for no other reason than because they couldn’t be more alike and yet more unlike at the same time. They have an element of surprise, involve a rare find, and come with mysterious overtones. But the way they were handled couldn’t be more opposite.

In Gaza a lone fisherman gets the scare of his life when his net catches what appeared to be a person with extended arms. It turned out to be a 2,500-year-old bronze statue of the Greek god Apollo, which after the initial shock was brought ashore by the fisherman and his many cousins. In California a young couple walking their dog on their property discovers a cache of rare coins from the 1800’s which could bring them as much as $10M. Yes, that is not a typo.

As you can see, both finds have the potential of generating a lot of money to their lucky finders, but while the folks from California immediately put the coins into the hands of a renowned numismatic firm, the amateur guys with the statue hauled it away and kept it hidden “for safe keeping,” releasing only photographs of the ancient god who must now be protesting the abrupt change to his habitat.

Even though the coins will by nature generate a lot more cash, in terms of strategy, we can only guess which of these two sets of people is having more success marketing their product…

These two stories reminded me of Jesus’ statements in Matthew 5:

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16).

Obviously, there is a huge difference between our stories and Jesus’ lesson here, but here is the analogy: We, who call ourselves followers of Christ, came upon the greatest find of all but for whatever reason have hauled it away and kept it hidden, like the fisherman did, while competing finds can always count on the services of the best experts to advertise them.

It is still a mystery to me why Christians tend to be so shy about sharing the message of hope in Christ with others. Jesus said that He came “to seek and save those who are lost,” so it stands to reason that if we are His followers, we should want to enthusiastically join him in His mission. But is this what we see among so-called Christ-followers today? From where I sit, it would appear that many of Christ-followers live literally by the saying “finder’s keepers,” as if they didn’t care at all about the fate of Christ’s other friends, but there is still time for us to radically change that.

This Sunday we start a new series at Grace Church called “Care2Share.” For seven weeks I will be sharing some simple but powerful ideas which will help all of us connect with Christ’s other friends who are not yet part of His fold. This is a series for everyone, whether you call yourself a believer or not. We will walk you step-by-step into a new life that gets the light from under the bowl into the highways and byways of this world. You will not want to miss it.

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade