I saw this in my own family growing up. My family and our neighborhood was a violence-drenched mess. My uncles were so violent that the Denver mafia nicknamed them “The Crazy Brothers.” To add insult to the real possibility of injury our very Welsh and very white family was right in the middle of a largely Latino community. Suffice it to say that our streets and hearts were rife with racism.
But then a hillbilly preacher nicknamed “Yankee” reached out to my family with the Gospel and one by one the root of evil in the hearts of “The Crazy Brothers” not only got cut, but replaced with Jesus, who was nicknamed “The True Vine” in John 15:1-8. Soon, racism was replaced with relationships and violence replaced with victory through Christ!
I wrote extensively about this in my upcoming book that releases November 9th through Tyndale, Unlikely Fighter: The Story of How a Fatherless Street Kid Overcame Violence, Chaos and Confusion to Become a Radical Christ Follower.
This book demonstrates the power of playing offense (sharing the Gospel and mobilizing believers to share the Gospel) over defense. There’s no defensive strategy in the world (prison, rehab, moral education, etc) that could have rescued my family. But the Gospel turned my family from street fighters into street preachers, almost over night.
Prayer and the Gospel are our primary offensive strategies as Christians. We must unleash them to transform society from the inside out.
So how can you stop playing defense and start playing offense right away? Here are three actions you can take:
1. Tackle Every Issue in Light of the Truth and Mission of the Gospel.
Of course we as preachers need to tackle difficult cultural issues from time to time. But, as we do, may we lead our congregations back to the blood stained cross of Jesus and find the solution there. And may we dare not merely EXEGETE the Gospel. May we EXECUTE it’s mission as well. We must mobilize our congregations to reach their spheres of influence with the Gospel.
2. Refuse to Get Distracted From the Last and Lasting Mandate of Jesus.
The 12 Apostles didn’t get distracted from their mission of making disciples. They devoted themselves in Acts 6 to “prayer and the ministry of the Word.” The ministry of the Word had a two pronged focus: the strengthening of the believer and the reaching of the lost. Refuse to get distracted from the one thing that should drive everything: making and multiplying disciples.
3. Mobilize Your Young People to Lead the Way.
Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:12 to, “Let no one despise your youth….” Instead he told young Timothy to lead the way with his life and witness for the entire church.
Are you despising the youth of your church? Are they more of an afterthought than a strategic focus? Do you view youth ministry as a necessary evil, a kind of glorified, God-ified babysitting until they are old enough to become “real” contributors to the church?
Remember that Jesus chose primarily teenagers to be his followers. God used a teen named David to defeat a giant, a teen named Esther to save a nation and a teen named Mary to bring the Savior into the world.