From Event Driven to Person Focused

May 10, 2018

Like every year, the month of May has arrived in the Bird household with the usual flurry of end-of-school year busyness. Each evening seems to be filled with band concerts, baseball practices, track meets, and more on top of our typical commitments.

If you are like my family, let me encourage you - hang in there. It will end!

New Email Series: Four Shifts in Sharing Jesus
With four Thursdays left in May, I want to use each week to talk about four shifts* I think need to take place within the American church if we are to fulfill Jesus' command to make disciples. By talking about these four things, I hope to give you a glimpse into how Riverwood does ministry, as well as encourage you to share your faith with your spiritually disconnected friends and family.

The first shift I want to talk about is moving from an event-driven approach to evangelism to a person-focused approach that waits patiently through a process.

Disclaimer - This is for Jesus-followers
Let me pause for a moment to way this: Often, when I write this article each week, I am regularly aware that some of you might not have a relationship with Jesus yet. I hope my writing encourages you to take that step to make Jesus the center of your life, but I also write with an awareness that you might not be there quite yet.

So if that's you, let me say two things to you:

#1. Thanks for reading! That means a lot.

#2. This series is aimed at people who are already following Jesus. I invite you to keep reading, because if you do one day choose to follow Jesus, then what I am writing about for these 4 weeks will be for you. But until then, I encourage you to keep investigating the story of Jesus.

Beyond One-Hit Wonders
We've all heard of rock bands and pop stars that have a single song go viral , only to never hear from them again. They were able to write one song that captured the hearts of millions of fans, but they couldn't duplicate the success with other songs. Oftentimes, these bands and singers end up being viewed a bit derisively.

However, bands that churn out album after album filled with hits receive tons of respect. They don't just end up the answer to an obscure trivia question, rather they end up in Hall of Fames.

When it comes to sharing our faith in Jesus, I think the American church approaches it like a one-hit wonder band. The church pours its money, energy, people, and time into on big event - a concert, a magic show, a "Christian" haunted house, a movie, an onstage drama, a famous speaker, etc. - hoping for hundreds of people to show up, hear the gospel, and have a radical conversion at the event. They're hoping for the one-hit wonder moment.

However, I think we should be more like the band that consistently keeps putting out good music. It isn't about doing a big event one-time (or even annually), rather it's about regularly speaking the gospel to others in everyday life.

Now, don't get me wrong. Thousands upon thousands of people have found life in Christ through events. (I would argue the Billy Graham crusades were an event, and God used him to lead throngs of people to know Jesus.) Events are not evil. They can be used God to open spiritual eyes.

But are events the best use of the resources God has given us? If so, then put on the best event your city has ever seen! But I think we can use our time, energy, and finances more effectively when it comes to sharing the gospel with others.

Jesus' commands was not "Go, and throw an event." It was "Go and make disciples." It isn't about how good the music is, or how funny the speaker is, or how perfect the drama went. It is about people who need Jesus.

So I encourage you to not solely rely on Riverwood to pull off an event that will help your friends or family find Jesus, but rather see that God has already sent you into their life, and He wants you to patiently share Jesus through your words, actions, and presence. For many people, finding Jesus doesn't come at a single event, but rather through a process of questioning and searching. Let God use you in that process of helping these spiritually disconnected people discover the power of the gospel.

*To give credit where credit is due, these four shifts come from Gary Rohmeyer, President of the MidWest district of Converge.

Erin Bird Lead Pastor - Riverwood Church

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Riverwood Church, Waverly Iowa

We are on a mission to help people love like Jesus loved and live like Jesus lived.

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