Discipleship and Evangelism, Part 2: Worship and Urgency
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Rob Haynes 0:10
Welcome to World Methodist Evangelism’s Real Faith Real World podcast, where we connect the faith within us with the world around us. At World Methodist Evangelism, we desire for Christ followers in the global Wesleyan family to become agents of transformation by sharing the Gospel to the power of the Holy Spirit. We do this through training, gathering and resourcing, to meet our goals to equip and encourage Christ followers around the world to share their faith in the context of today’s realities. My name is Rob Haynes of World Methodist Evangelism and today I’m joined by our Executive Director Kim Reisman. For the second part of our three part series on Discipleship and Evangelism. We want to thank you for listening and also thank the folks at Christ Church Global in Memphis, Tennessee for sponsoring this podcast; we are grateful for their support. Can we take a moment to ask you to rate and subscribe? Help us get the word out about this podcast so that others can learn about these resources and faith-sharing in the context of today’s realities. As I said, today is the second part of a three part series on the connections between Evangelism and Discipleship. We’re breaking down some important parts of a curriculum called Embrace: Sharing and Showing the Love of Jesus Christ and those six postures are humility, clarity, prayer, integrity, worship, and urgency. Last time we discussed the importance of integrity and humility in our conversations with others and in our relationship with God as we grow in our own faith, so that we can share it with others. Today Kim is here to discuss the connections between worship and urgency in our own faith journey and ways that we can share God’s love with others. Kim, welcome to the podcast.
Kim Reisman 2:11
Thanks, it’s always good to be here.
Rob Haynes 2:14
So give us just a real quick update on how Embrace can help us be where we want to be in our own faith journeys.
Kim Reisman 2:25
Well Embrace really hits two important points in terms of following Jesus and living out our faith. The first is that the Christian faith is in fact a journey and it’s never static, so once we come into relationship with God through Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit begins to move in our lives and we grow in our faith. So we don’t just immediately become a Christian and poof, we are where we need to be from a spiritual perspective. God works within us from the moment we’ve come into relationship with Him all the way until the time we stand before Him on the Day of Resurrection, so it’s a process of growth and that’s really, really important. Embrace touches on that because Embrace enables us to become more in tune with our own story, our own story of faith, the way that God has worked in our lives and the way that God has shaped us, maybe the the way God has changed us, or met some sort of need in our lives. The Embrace journey enables us to get more in touch with that and also to grow our faith in a deeper and stronger way. So it helps us develop as Christian disciples of Christ. Then the second thing it does, is touch on the second part of following Jesus, which is our responsibility to show and share the love of Jesus with the people that are in our lives. Embrace gives us ways in which we can do that with grace, we can do that with integrity and we can just do that in a way that’s natural and authentic in the relationships in our lives.
Rob Haynes 4:28
So you, in Embrace, have laid out those six traits that we just discussed. Today we want to focus on worship and urgency. Now, at first glance, worship seems pretty obvious in terms of how we want to grow in our faith but urgency can mean some different things and not always a very positive connotation. Talk about what you mean exactly by urgency in terms of of our own faith development and faith-sharing.
Kim Reisman 4:55
Well, I think one of the first things we have to do is realize that when a lot of times when we’re thinking about urgency, especially in our daily lives, we tend to be driven by all the small things that are urgent, that seem to be urgent in our lives. Our life is ruled by distractions and ruled by just all the things that we have to get done and that’s really not at all what I’m talking about. In fact, that kind of tyranny of the urgent can get in the way of what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about is a more holistic understanding of urgency. There’s an earthly urgency and there’s an eternal urgency. In both of those kinds of urgencies they prioritize what’s truly important and that’s a lot different than the kind of distractions and the urgency that we feel in our daily lives because it takes it to a different broader, deeper level.
Rob Haynes 6:11
So when you say urgent, I think of some of the things that can distract us like the fact that my phone is frequently near me and always buzzing and everyone wants my attention on an app so that I can see an ad so that they can generate more revenue or the 24 hour news cycle pushing things being more and more urgent to tune ins. When I first heard urgency I want to push back against that. How do we think about urgency in a spiritual sense so that I can step away from all of these things that seem to keep me running at a frantic pace?
Kim Reisman 6:48
Well you’re absolutely right, we all do feel this sense of urgency. I mean, technology dominates our lives so I think we can all absolutely relate to that. I’m sitting here talking to you and also thinking about my to-do list that when I finish up our conversation I’ve got a whole list of things that I’m going to have to accomplish today. None of us can really escape that, but urgency in the way that I’m talking about it, again, provides us with a bigger picture. One of the things that is part of the Christian life is developing the ability to see the bigger picture and the ability to step back, even if it’s just for a moment, and think in terms that are larger than our own selves and our own worlds and in this case, our own to-do lists. So what urgency does when we begin to think about it in the way that we talk about it in Embrace is we start to think about the fact that Jesus calls us to abundant life and that has an earthly dimension, but it also has a spiritual dimension and an eternal dimension. In the earthly dimension, Jesus calls us to this eternal life now, I should say, this abundant life now and that kind of call relates to all of the structures and all of the systems in our world and the way that our world is structured. So that kind of urgency to be able to claim abundant life NOW challenges us to look at our world in a way that highlights the things that need to be transformed, just like we need to be transformed internally through the power of the Holy Spirit, our world needs to be transformed in the same way so that this abundant life can be experienced now and be experienced by everyone, not just those who are currently Christians.
Rob Haynes 9:17
So it is for everyone but also you mentioned that it can infect the whole world. Do you mean just things that are right within my arm’s reach in the neighborhood or when you say world are you talking about the global political issues that are pushing us and that sort of thing?
Kim Reisman 9:36
That’s a good question because it’s both really, I am pushing you to think globally. There are systems all over that impact our entire world. Most of us realize that we can’t solve all of those global things unless we first begin to act in our own contexts. Thinking globally and acting locally, that’s kind of the saying that’s popular these days. So we think globally; let’s take the issue of immigration, for instance, that’s a huge issue and human migration, just people moving from one part of the world to another part of the world that’s a huge issue and we may not be able to address that as individuals, we may not be able to address that on a grand global scale. We can look in our own community and see the people who have come here from other places, or identify cultures, pockets of cultures, that are transplanted from one location to another. Then we can begin to reach out to those communities and be engaged with those people in a way that’s transformative both for us and for the other people. In that way, we are in fact, seeing the big picture but we’re acting in ways that are realistic for us to accomplish and have a local impact. That’s kind of what I mean by thinking globally and acting locally.
Rob Haynes 11:26
So tie this to urgency in terms of what you mean for discipleship and then evangelism.
Kim Reisman 11:38
Well, Jesus came to announce the dawning of the kingdom of God, the inauguration of the kingdom of God and that is an environment of justice and peace and righteousness and love and compassion that is supposed to be unfolding now. It is, in fact, unfolding now, we don’t always see it. But it is, in fact, unfolding now and part of the Christian life is engaging with God in God’s work in that unfolding of the kingdom. That’s the urgency that I’m talking about, that the kingdom of God is here, but it’s not quite yet here, and God expects us as followers of Jesus to join with God in the work of making that kingdom real. Now, in our current world, not in some far distant future, in heaven, eternal life, blah, blah, blah, that you can’t actually see and touch and feel, but right this moment, God wants us to be partners in that process. So the urgency that I’m talking about is an urgency that people would recognize that there is an urgent need for us to become partners with God, in the unfolding of God’s kingdom, in our world right now, so that we all might experience abundant life.
Rob Haynes 13:15
It’s almost as though we as the people of God, as Christians, who follow Jesus and His calling, are almost like a harbinger of the kingdom of God, just as Jesus is then we too do the same. Is that fair to say?
Kim Reisman 13:33
Yes, that’s a great word, harbinger. We are, when people see us and the way that we live our lives, they ought to be able to get a glimpse of the kingdom. That’s where our life of discipleship and our life of growing in faith intersects the call to show and share the love of Jesus and reach out to others on behalf of Christ. That’s where they intersect. As we engage in our own spiritual growth and live out our faith, as signs of this kingdom, people are able to see that, they’re able to see that something is truly different with our life. And we’re able to engage them in a way that then brings them into a relationship with Christ and offers them the same meaning and the same love and the same salvation that we ourselves are experiencing.
Rob Haynes 14:33
Speaking of signs of this kingdom in relation to urgency and then tying that back in with worship, talk about the role of the Holy Spirit driving all of this.
Kim Reisman 14:45
Well the Holy Spirit is obviously crucial to the unfolding of the kingdom because the Spirit is the presence of God in our world right now. The Holy Spirit is that power that we are able to experience that moves us out of our comfort zone. The Holy Spirit is what urges us to tackle these things that are global issues but maybe we’re tackling them on a local level. Whatever the issue is, whether it’s immigration or any other large major social issue: systemic racism or the issue of abortion, there’s all kinds of difficulties facing our world and they’re complicated issues and sometimes they can be intimidating. The Holy Spirit is the force that urges us out of our comfort zone and gives us the competence to begin, step-by-step, addressing these issues and these needs in our own individual communities.
Rob Haynes 15:58
You bring up some really important lessons and principles about why it’s important. How would one begin to put this into action? If I want to be a deeper follower of Christ, if I want to grow in my own faith with Jesus but also share that with others, what would I do? How can I begin to live this out in my day-to-day life?
Kim Reisman 16:25
Well, I think the very first thing you would need to do is begin to really pray and to recognize that prayer is not just about making requests and then waiting for answers. Prayer is about joining God’s movement in the world, so when we’re praying, we’re first praying for the insight that we need and the openness that we need in order to see and be aware of the needs that are around us. That’s the very first thing, there are needs that are all around us and we’re certainly as individuals not going to be able to tackle every single need that’s out there, but there may be a need, that if you are patient and if you are open and if you genuinely are asking God to show you what you need to do next, God will do it. God will show you, God will put something on your heart tat’s an important thing for you to tackle, an important thing for you to do as part of your discipleship and as part of your reaching out to others on behalf of Jesus Christ.
Rob Haynes 17:44
Certainly prayer is an important aspect of that, that would permeate everything. Let me talk about one other thing that should permeate all of our lives but we may not always think of it that way and that’s a matter of worship, that we listed as an important priority. Today, as we’re recording this at the end of 2020, worship is difficult sometimes because of the digital aspects of social distancing and in all of the aspects that go into that. But like prayer, worship is not necessarily a “one hour on Sunday” sort of thing. Can you talk about what you picture as an important lifestyle of worship beyond just say, the Sunday morning experience?
Kim Reisman 18:29
Yes and I think this is a really important thing to think about right now, in particularly and truthfully when I originally wrote Embrace, this kind of talk about digital worship and all that was prior to the Pandemic and us having to do this was not as much on my mind when I actually wrote Embrace and so a lot of what I talk about is the context of creating environments in which the Holy Spirit can move. That’s the focus that Embrace takes what as it relates to worship. Actually, in the long run, I think it probably is as relevant now as it was when I wrote it because worship is all about experiencing the presence of the Holy Spirit. That can take place in your prayer time alone and that can take place in the context of family worship. It can take place in your living room with your family or around the dinner table as you pray before your meal. There are a lot of contexts in which the Holy Spirit is present and moving and that brings us into a more worshipful mindset. It may not be worshipful in the stereotypical sense that we think of on Sunday mornings but that doesn’t mean it’s not worship, it actually is worship. When we’re engaged and aware of the presence of God and the movement of God’s Holy Spirit, we are engaged in worship and because our minds are moving away from ourselves and towards something larger than ourselves and that is very much at the heart of worship. I think this is important because if we’re deliberate about cultivating that kind of an attitude then that frees us up to be able to be in a worshipful mind and a worshipful spirit way more than just once a week, that alters how we view the world, I believe. It alters how we view our prayer time or our devotional time or even our quiet meditative time. I think it does make a difference in how we’re able to do those things and it opens us up to experiencing the Spirit in ways that we might not have before. When I say experiencing the Spirit, there’s a wide range of ways in which we experience the Spirit, it can be quiet, it can be private, it can be exuberant, it can be public, there’s just a wide range. I’m not talking in any stereotypical way, I’m really talking about the way that God works in our own lives, the way the Spirit touches us is always going to be unique just the way we are unique and that can move us in our own way into a worshipful mindset.
Rob Haynes 22:04
A lot of what I’ve heard us talking about so far has been related to disciple making. The subtitle of Embrace is “Showing and Sharing the Love of Jesus.” So how does this impact faith sharing? How does this help us learn how to better share our faith, or share our faith in a new posture for the sake of the Gospel?
Kim Reisman 22:27
Well, what I’m hoping is that this enables us to see that showing and sharing the love of Jesus is an integrated thing. It’s both what we say and how we live and whenever we separate those two things we’re on the wrong track. Our words always have to be in sync with our actions and the way we live and vice versa. I think the other thing that’s important to me about this is that we recognize that faith sharing is not like a one-off thing that all of a sudden we have one conversation with someone and we share the gospel with them, or we do something more artificial and then we’re done. It’s an ongoing process of sharing our life with the people that we are in contact with. It’s about developing relationships of trust so that we’re able to share the important things in our lives. If our faith is an important part of our life, which I certainly hope it is, it will be an important thing to share with people just like anything else that’s an important part of our life that we share with the people who we care about. In that way, these things become natural parts of our conversations that we have with people not artificial. Now I’m going to talk to you about “Jesus conversation,” just natural parts where we’re sharing what has happened in our life of faith and it’s received well, because we are in relationships of trust and we have grown with the other people enough to where we’ve earned the right to speak into their lives. This is not a stranger situation, these are relationships of trust that we find ourselves in and we find those relationships all over the place, it’s not just my friend that I’ve known for 35 years. We are in relationships of trust with all kinds of people, the parents of our kids, the kids that our kids go to school with, their parents, our colleagues at work, our classmates at school, we have all kinds of relationships of trust. We just don’t always cultivate them in the way that we might.
Rob Haynes 25:02
Sometimes we’re really quick to talk about the things that really excite us. I live in a part of the world where this has been rivalry week in American football games. And so people really let you know where they stand on things, sometimes gently, and sometimes very strongly, shall we say. What I hear you saying is, with a posture of Embrace, using these emphasis of worship and urgency, it becomes a natural part of who we are and what we do. People know where we stand on these things, it helps us grow our discipleship, it gives us a way that we can share Christ with others, and encourages them to probably a whole other level of shalom, of peace, in our own lives, that people would then see. Is that fair to say?
Kim Reisman 25:55
Yes, that’s absolutely the goal of what I would hope would happen, because when people see you live in a particular way and when your conversation with others is natural and such that what you’re sharing is about what you believe and what your commitments are and they see you living those commitments out, that sets the groundwork for an entirely different conversation. That enables you, at some point, and we never can tell when this point is going to be, but at some point, to talk about the other side of urgency, which is not just the earthly part, but which is the eternal part. One of the things that we do believe as Christians is that there is an option of being separated from God. We believe that God absolutely respects our sacred right of acceptance or refusal of God’s love and grace and desire to be in relationship. If we do not want to be in relationship with God, God respects that. The ultimate result of that is potentially eternal separation from God and that’s a really sad thing. We should have a burning desire to not have people be able to have to experience that. At the same time though, you can’t speak that kind of message into someone else’s life, unless you have truly developed a relationship of trust, and they see you as a person of integrity, living out, day in and day out, everything that you’re talking about. These two things definitely go together, but the key is how we carry ourselves and how we relate to others over the long haul of these relationships. If we’re coming at folks from a perspective of humility like we talked about last time and if we have integrity and our words are matching up with our actions and if we’re honestly sharing our own struggles of faith and not acting like we have it all together, all of those things work together, to create the love and the trust and the compassion necessary to be able to have conversations about deeper things.
Rob Haynes 28:32
Kim that seems like a good place to wrap up this portion of the conversation on worship and urgency; we encourage our listeners to go back and listen to the last episode when we discuss the need for integrity and humility in our faith-sharing and in our own discipleship. Also, be sure to catch the next episode on clarity and prayer, when we’ll round out these six. Kim, tell us how we could get a hold of Embrace? What sort of options do we have as far as an Embrace training or teaching? Or how can I learn more about these principles?
Kim Reisman 29:09
Embrace is offered in a couple of different ways. We have a study book that you can use as an individual or with a small group and that’s self contained. Everything about Embrace is on our website: WorldMethodist.org. If you go to the website and click on Embrace, you’ll be able to find all the information you need. You could do it as a small group. We also have the option of either in-person or digital webinar type things or hybrid options for the material to be done in a workshop setting over the course of several sessions. Again, whether it’s all in-person over a weekend or something like that, or whether it’s a hybrid form over the course of several weeks digitally, there’s just a lot of different options of how it would work, and how it would fit best into into your life and the life of your church.
Rob Haynes 30:14
If someone wanted to find out more about that nor contact you about some of these principles, or to book one of these, how would they go about getting in touch?
Kim Reisman 30:23
If you want to connect, you can email World Methodist Evangelism at info@World Methodist.org. That’s a good first step in getting information about anything related to World Methodist Evangelism. That’s probably the best way to begin reaching out to find information
Rob Haynes 30:45
Kim, thank you so much for offering your insights on worship and urgency and we always appreciate the way that you help us view things that are very familiar to us in some really new ways so that we can put these in practice in our own discipleship and evangelism. As you may remember, the last episode we began a new segment: What Have I Found and Look What I Found. I’m going to ask you, since we were together last, what have you found? This is a chance for you to share a book that you’ve read, a podcast, an episode, a blog post, something like that, that can help us in our own journey?
Kim Reisman 31:25
Well, I was thinking about that because I knew you were going to ask me that question. I have had a pattern for many years, well, not many years, but the last couple of years, of writing a young man who is in prison now, he was someone that I when I was first starting out in ministry, he was in my first confirmation class. Unfortunately, he got off on the wrong track and ended up involved in a violent crime and was sentenced to a very, very long prison sentence as a result of that. Many years passed and I didn’t have any contact with him. As I mentioned earlier, if you pray about something, God is going to put something on your heart and that’s exactly what happened to me. God put it on my heart that I needed to begin writing this young man, so I did. I’ve been writing him once a month for a while now and I just got a letter back from him that I am basically the only person that he has contact with because his family is no longer connected to him and and I am the only person that’s communicating with him. Now, the reason I’m answering this to your question is because right at the same time I received this letter, I discovered a prison ministry called Crossroads Prison Ministries. I’m assuming, I don’t have the website off the top of my head, but I’m assuming if anybody Google’s Crossroads Prison Ministries, they’ll be able to find it. It’s a way for people to engage in Bible study like as a pen pal with people in prison. What I found is that God has now put on my heart, not only that I need to continue to write this young man, but that I might want to begin engaging in a mutual Bible study with him. That’s what Crossroads does; they provide the tools and the guides for a Bible study. Basically, you read the same chapters that your pen pal in prison is reading and then you discuss them via letters. That to me fits nicely with what we were talking about today because the Holy Spirit moved me out of my comfort zone. I think there is some urgency with this young man and he’s expressed the desire to begin reading the Bible and all of that is converging into the point of me having to actually act on what God is putting in my life, so that’s what I found.
Rob Haynes 34:30
Excellent, excellent. Well that’s a wonderful opportunity. I was not aware of that particular ministry but what an important way to connect. Mine is a book. I am reading a recent publication by N.T. Wright called Broken Signpost and I really like it.
Kim Reisman 34:47
I’m reading that same book. It’s really good.
Rob Haynes 34:51
It’s great. I liked the subtitle: How Christianity Makes Sense of the World, that’s what really drew me to the work and our listeners may know that N.T. Wright wrote a book called Simply Christian a few years ago. He takes it one step further, if you will, by looking at some other aspects of that. He’s going through the Gospel of John and what does John teach us about making sense of the world? So, in 2020, how Christianity makes sense of the world really resonated with me. I’m enjoying that work and I would commend that to our listeners as well.
Kim Reisman 35:30
And I would add my commendation as well. I’m really enjoying that book. That’s a good recommendation.
Rob Haynes 35:36
Well thanks and thank you for sharing about Crossroads Prison Ministries. We will see if we can find that and put that in the show notes as well. In addition, you will find links to Embrace and how you can connect with us. We also want to hear from you and your thoughts, suggestions, comments on the podcast; you can email us at podcast@WorldMethodist.org. In today’s show notes, you’ll also find all of our social media connections. If you’d like to connect with me on social media, I’m at Dr. Rob Haynes. We’d love to hear from you and what God is doing through what you’ve learned and what you’ve heard through the podcast. Our thanks again to Christ Church Global of Memphis, Tennessee for sponsoring this episode for Kim Reisman. I’m Rob Haynes and you’ve been listening to WME’s Real Faith Real World podcast.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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