Last week my wife and I joined around 350 other couples at the Acts 29 Pastors and Wives Retreat in Newport Beach, CA. It was a great time filled with solid teaching, sweet fellowship, and a lot of fun. But two things still stand out to me that, in God's providence, have affirmed my decision to start preaching in the streets of my city later this week.
First, Mark Driscoll called us to be men who desire and labor for conversions. We should love God and our neighbors enough to seek the salvation of the lost and make disciples. There is no carrying out the mission Jesus gave the church (make disciples) without seeing conversions. We should all have a holy dissatisfaction with the number of conversions we see--whatever those numbers are--for there are many more who need to be reconciled to God through Christ.
Then, during the final message of the retreat, Matt Chandler made a statement regarding our evangelistic and gospel presence in the community as pastors. These words were burned into my heart as soon as he spoke them, and they have been echoing in me ever since. Matt said, "A beast in the pulpit, but a coward in the neighborhood is not a win!"
It is generally easier to be courageous on Sunday mornings with the people of God, yet cowardly among the lost during the rest of the week. Gospel boldness is almost effortless among those who already affirm it, but it can be far more difficult when we must stand before others and herald the good news they find foolish. "A beast in the pulpit, but a coward in the neighborhood is not a win." Truth. Let me also say it this way, "Woe is me if I am bold among the people of God, but timid among the lost."
Of course all that was said here doesn't require "open air preaching." It simply calls us to preach (or share, if you like) the gospel with those in our cities. In my next post I will explain what is driving me to preach in the city this week., as well as how we will be doing it.