Week One  |  Week Two  |  Week Three  |  Week Four

Week One Sermon

Friendship Ablaze!

Message one in a four week series leading up to Friendship Sunday. Be sure to obtain proper licensing before showing movie clips. Illustrations are indented.

Introduce the concept of Friendship Ablaze! – 3 weeks of preparation and Friendship Sunday on the 4th Sunday.

Here is what will happen over the four weeks of this series:

  1. How to identify people in your life that are most receptive to an invitation to Friendship Sunday.
  2. How to invite them to join you on Friendship Sunday.
  3. On Sunday (date) we will have an incredible morning of worship, specifically designed for you to bring your friends/family so that they can meet your friend Jesus.
  4. Today – Begin by helping you understand God’s plan for connecting people to Jesus

Illustration: That's just wrong!

An elderly man was desperately ill. Knowing the time for his departure was near, he called for his closest friends to come see him one last time. Attending him were his doctor, his pastor and his business manager.
The old man said, “I know you can’t take it with you, but who knows for sure? What if the experts are mistaken? I want to account for all possibilities. So I’m giving you each an envelope containing $100,000. When I die, I want you each to slip the envelope in my jacket pocket at the funeral service. Then, if I do need money in the life to come, I’ll be ready. And I’m giving the envelopes to you because you are my most trusted friends.”
Shortly thereafter, the man did die. Each of his three friends was seen slipping something into the deceased’s coat pocket as he walked up to the casket to pay his final respects.
Following the service, while these friends were visiting with each other, the doctor, with a sheepish look on his face, said, “Guys, I have a confession to make. You know with the cost of medicine today, I don’t make that much money. The hospital is desperate for funds. We can’t even replace the CAT scan machine that’s broken down. So, I took $20,000 for the new CAT scan and put the rest in the coffin.”
The minister cleared his throat and looked down at his shoes. He said, “I, too, have a confession to make. As you know, our church is seriously overburdened by the needs of the homeless. I couldn’t see just burying that money. So, in hopes of helping the homeless, I took $50,000 out of the envelope and put the rest in his pocket.”
Looking sternly at the doctor and the minister, the businessman exclaimed, “I can’t believe what I’m hearing. I am astonished and deeply disappointed that you would treat a solemn trust so casually. He was our friend. I want you to know that I placed in his casket my personal check for the full $100,000.” (From Sins We Love, by Randy Rowland, p. 125-126) 

That’s just wrong!

What we say: 
Our congregation is in the business of connecting people to Jesus.

What we actually do:
Most of the time we connect with people once they’ve made a connection with us THAT’S JUST WRONG!

Imagine what can happen if we intentionally change this reality?
Paint a picture for the congregation of the dynamic transformation of lives for eternity that will result when we step up to our God-given responsibility

How we’re going to intentionally change: Learn, Identify, Pray, Invite, Celebrate

Paul Little, in his book "How to Give Away Your Faith," defines witnessing: "Witnessing is that deep-seated conviction that the greatest favor I can do for others is to introduce them to Jesus Christ."

God’s Plan for Connecting People to Jesus

1. It begins in us through faith in Christ

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast.          Ephesians 2:8-9

They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"        Luke 24:32

For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."   Acts 4:20

Howard Hendricks said, "In the midst of a generation screaming for answers, Christians are stuttering."

2. Jesus calls us not only to come to Him, but to go for Him
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20)

3. Your mission makes a difference in someone’s eternity
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body. (Philip. 3:20-21)

4. God wants you to take your mission seriously
We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ Himself now: Become friends with God. (1 Corinthians 5:20-The Message)

“Schindler's List" is the “based on truth” story of Nazi Czech businessman Oskar Schindler, who uses Jewish labor to start a factory in occupied Poland. As World War II progresses, and the fate of the Jews becomes more and more clear, Schindler's motivations switch from profit to human sympathy and he is able to save over 1,100 Jews from death in the gas chambers.
Video: Schindler’s List
In: At the end of the movie – Schindler stands outside the factory with Jewish workers and they present him with a ring. Begin with the distant shot prior to the ring presentation.
Out: Schindler collapses saying, “I could have saved one more” and woman walks off with garment.

Use this clip to communicate the passion and motivation to see people saved – one more matters!

5. Your mission begins where you live
Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him (jailer) and to all the others in his house. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God--he and his whole family.         Acts 16:32, 34

93.7% of the population in the United States lives where they have a witnessing church, but most Christians are not sharing their faith; usually about 2% do on a regular basis.

Our congregation’s “Friendship Ablaze!” goal = ___ friends in worship on (Date).

Your personal goal? 
How many will you bring? Begin to pray – ask God for names and faces – real lives -who need Jesus.

Next Steps:
1. Identify and Pray – next Sunday
2. Invite and Pray – in two weeks
3. Celebrate - Friendship Sunday