When Failure Isn’t an Option: How to Press Forward in Sharing Jesus Even When We Stumble

Failure and repentance secure for us a more ample conception of the grace of God.

When I was in college, one of my InterVarsity leaders introduced me to the book Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders. Even though it was published in 1967, the guidance I found in those pages changed my life.

One summer break, when I was back home with my family, I found the same book on my father’s shelf. Like many college kids, I was sure that I knew more than my parents. So you can probably guess how surprised I was to learn that my father and I had both been shaped by the same writer! All these years later I still find direction and wisdom in that dog-eared copy my father passed to me.

Chapter 15 is titled “Searching Tests to Leadership,” which Sanders lists as compromise, ambition, the impossible situation, failure, and jealousy. Recently, I was reflecting on his comments about failure:

If we could see into the inmost hearts of many men whom we think are riding on the crest of the wave, we should experience some great surprises. Alexander Maclaren, the peerless expositor, after delivering a wonderful address to a large gathering, went away overwhelmed with a sense of failure. “I must not speak on such an occasion again,” he exclaimed, while the congregation went away blessed and inspired. Allowance must always be made for the reaction which comes from the rebound of the overstrung bow. Nor can we ignore the subtle attacks of our unsleeping adversary.The manner in which a leader meets his own failure will have a significant effect on his future ministry. One would have been justified in concluding that Peter’s failure in the judgment hall had forever slammed the door on leadership in Christ’s kingdom. Instead, the depth of his repentance and the reality of his love for Christ ...

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Is Orality Really Effective in Sharing the Gospel?

o·ral·i·ty: the quality of being spoken or verbally communicated

Increasing numbers of church and mission leaders are beginning to pay more attention to the orality movement that has emerged over the past 40 years. Some would say that the movement is one of the most significant breakthroughs that has taken place in the church/mission world over the last 500 years. Others have said that it’s changing the face of missions around the world.

These are bold statements and may seem to be overstatements or exaggerations. However, those who have been involved with or observed the movement over any length of time usually agree that God is in fact doing remarkable things in this time of history through the movement.

An interesting phenomenon we often observe is the creativity and innovation that the Holy Spirit gives to those who are properly trained in orality-based methods and strategies. There is an increased recognition of the multiple applications of the concepts, principles, and practices of orality. The mission/purpose statement of the International Orality Network is “Influencing the Body of Christ to make disciples of all oral learners.”

In other words, the ultimate objective in the Great Commission is communicating the gospel to everyone, everywhere, and making disciples among all people groups. That is introducing people to a vital relationship with the Living God and nurturing them to become reproducing followers of Jesus. An important consideration is doing so in ways that are biblical, international, cross-cultural, and reproducible.

On our learning journey in the orality movement, we are discovering many aspects and applications of orality methods and strategies. A very significant feature is simplicity and reproducibility. Actually, orality-based methods are the most ...

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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: What Does Evangelism Look Like in Your Day-to-Day Life?

As you go, wherever you go, make disciples of all people.

And the Lord added to their number …

What was behind the amazing growth of the Church in the Book of Acts? How did the Early Church grow—and grow so rapidly and with such diversity?

The 21st-century Body of Christ is exploding with evangelism-related resources. Christ-followers across the globe have immediate, at-your-finger-tips access to websites with seemingly unlimited links to articles and interviews, podcasts and video channels, even strategies for citywide collaboration.

Conferences, consultations, and cohort groups abound. Even as the Church declines in attendance it appears to be losing its upcoming generations and is now considered irrelevant, even dangerous, by our culture.


Like so many words we’ve lifted from the biblical text, “evangelism” has become more theoretical or methodological than personal and relational. When most think of evangelism, what comes to mind is an event or gathering we invite lost persons to attend so they can listen to someone else explain the gospel to them.

With so many in the Church bound to a programmatic or performance or professionals-only mindset of proclaiming the gospel, we are in desperate need to reimagine evangelism more as a living description than a textbook definition. Scripture anchors evangelism in our lived-out, new-creation identity in Christ; it’s a lifestyle.

We are, as my friend Walter McCray has written, “Gospelizers”—people who have been radicalized by the good news in and from Jesus the Christ. We have been changed by the hope-filled, faith-giving news of His divinity and humanity, His life and death, resurrection and ascension, and His return to reign and rule over and through all who authentically believe ...

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The “E” Word: Why Many Avoid It, and How We Can Reimagine It

Part One in a new series.

If we are honest, we must say that in many senses, we've lost our imagination, passion, and direction for evangelism. We need to put evangelism back into our imagination. To some, I may sound like a broken record (if you are old enough to remember records!). But I honestly believe there is nothing more worthy of pushing into and prodding the Church towards as making evangelism part of our daily lives. After all, it was the last command of Jesus before His ascension!

But why do I use the phrase “back into our imagination”? A quick definition from Merriam-Webster tells us that ‘imagination’ means “the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality.”

Evangelism has fallen on hard times and this definition is apropos. When it comes to evangelism, our imagination has become dim and marred in many ways. Most of us know someone whose heart beats for telling people about Jesus, and when we are near them, we are reminded of how we are not them.

Truth be told, people are more likely to make fun of evangelistic methods than actually engage in evangelistic practices. Churches love discipleship and they love social justice, but if the Church is going to fulfill its mission of showing and sharing the love of Jesus in our world today, both of these need to link arms with evangelism. We have to tell people about Jesus.

Last year, I wrote an article for the Washington Post, which they titled "Call yourself a Christian? Start talking about Jesus Christ." In that article, I reminded Christians that Jesus’ last words should be our first priority. The idea here is simple: Christianity is a missionary faith. As a missionary ...

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One-on-One with Dave Choi of Church of the Beloved in Chicago

Dave started the church in 2011 with no people, no resources, no building, nothing.

Ed: Dave, you came here and started Church of the Beloved in Chicago, but give me a little backstory. How did you come to start this church?

Dave: I was getting some offers from churches that were established with senior leaders who are highly respected and seasoned. I was really excited about the possibility of getting mentored by a few of them, so I went to a little chapel in the Billy Graham Center Museum at Wheaton College to fast, pray, and seek the Lord.

During that time, I felt the Lord saying, “Open up Exodus 33.” It’s the chapter right after Israel had worshiped the golden calf. God was angry with them and said, “You guys can go to the Promised Land, but I won’t go with you,” and Moses basically pleads with God that if His presence doesn’t go with them, what will separate them from all the other people on the earth?

I got the impression from the Lord that He wanted me to plant a church in Chicago and that His presence would go with me. I decided to say yes to the Lord and started the church on June 21, 2011, with no people, no resources, no denomination, no building, nothing. I knew God wanted me to plant in Chicago somewhere, so I drove around the city. Eventually, through God’s grace, I happened upon a guy who was a Wheaton grad who had a space at his church that was not used on Saturday afternoon. He said he would let us use it for free, and that’s how we started the church.

Ed: Why did you call it Church of the Beloved?

Dave: A couple of reasons. First, the name actually comes from the vision, which is that we want people to come to know they’re beloved of God because of Christ, so we are very big on gospel identity. At that time, we were planted in the ...

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