Mission America challenges church to a new depth of 'loving your neighbor'


PALM DESERT, Calif. — America's churches and Christians need to practice a "prayer-care-share approach" to "loving their neighbors to Christ," according to a challenge by Mission America Coalition.

"We need a new surge of evangelism and discipleship in America," Dr. Paul Cedar, chairman of the Coalition, said in an interview during the group's annual gathering in Birmingham, Ala. in early March.

"The average evangelical Christian in America has such a resistance to being involved in evangelism. I'm convinced that fear, not wrong motive, is the major factor. They are just afraid."

Cedar addressed the group of 300, who gathered for "Accelerate 2010," the MAC annual meeting, which was held in conjunction with "Convergence," the National City Impact Roundtable.

The mission leader emphasized that evangelism is not work that we do, but the work of the Holy Spirit.

"There is this mysterious wooing and drawing and convicting of the Holy Spirit," he said, "And we just need to make ourselves available."

The method Cedar put forth for "making ourselves available," is the prayer-care-share lifestyle.

MAC wants to "blow the trumpet" to call and encourage churches and ministries to adopt a "prayer-care-share lifestyle," Cedar says.

Cedar said he advocates this natural method of outreach—which can alleviate some of the fear believers have about sharing their faith—because it relies on the Holy Spirit, not on the believer, to come up with the best way to minister or reach out to someone. The method begins with prayer alone, he said.

"If you can get Christians to really start praying for even a small list of three to five people, then as they pray, that gives opportunity for the Holy Spirit to get them to the next step," he said. "Then they are prepared to begin to love them and to care for them."

The third facet of this lifestyle is "share"—sharing the gospel.

Cedar says that while "the gospel always comes down to a verbal message," it doesn't mean that those who are praying for and caring about someone will share the gospel one-on-one.

He explained the "share" part of this lifestyle could mean inviting someone to a church service or an evangelistic event where they can hear the gospel message, or sharing a book or movie that presents the gospel, or many other means. The point is for the one praying to look for opportunities the Holy Spirit opens up, Cedar said.

Cedar said he and his wife, Jeannie, are amazed at the "mature" Christians they meet who have not caught the vision for beginning to pray for lost people.

"That is the key," Cedar said. "The right place to put the oar in the water ... is to get them to start praying for lost people."

Melisa Pearson, attending from Idaho, welcomed the evangelism challenges issued from the conference speakers, adding that she was looking forward to going back to Boise, gathering statistics about the hurting needs in her community, and praying over where God would have her start working.

"I want to be able to step into where that pain is and be willing to be vulnerable to allow Christ to flow through me to love them and meet them in their need," she said.

Headquartered in Palm Desert, the Mission America Coalition is a network of national church leaders, representing denominations, ministries, and other key Christian leaders with a shared vision to collaborate in prayer, evangelism, and revival.

Since its inception, leaders from 81 denominations, more than 400 ministries and dozens of ministry networks have been involved in the coalition.

For information about promoting a prayer-care-share lifestyle in your church or ministry, go to www.missionamerica.org.

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