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September 8, 2018Lausanne

One-on-One with CJ Davison on Sharing the Gospel in America and Intentional Relationships

"Make every expression of ministry relationally driven and every relationship ministry focused."
One-on-One with CJ Davison on Sharing the Gospel in America and Intentional Relationships
via Creative Commons

Ed: How long have you been involved in Lausanne International and what is your current role?

CJ: I first got involved with Lausanne at the end of 2015, helping with prayer on the planning team for the Young Leaders Gathering in Jakarta in 2016. I am now involved with the Young Leaders Generation, helping the Educate Initiative, which connects Lausanne’s young leaders with higher education scholarships.

Ed: Tell me about your current roll and what you do.

CJ: I work with a ministry full-time called Leadership International. We equip Christ-like leaders with training and resources in order to fulfill the Great Commission. We target least-reached leaders in order to grow church-equipping movements in strategic locations. My role is to resource our international partners with capital, coaching, and curriculum. To keep me sane, I travel to Africa and Asia to teach and encourage our team.

Ed: Tell me about the gospel and the church in North America, where you live.

CJ: In the United States, it seems the gospel is no longer seen as good news. Our culture prefers not to talk about sin. Therefore, “repent and believe” is not a message that is received well here.

The church in America is a lot like Laodicea in Revelation 3. I think that apathy, comfort, and ignorance are our biggest challenges. The solution is to heed the message to Laodicea: “Buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.”

In other words, we need to open our eyes to see the bigger picture, seeking purity and true riches in the life to come.

Ed: What is your impression of how the church is doing when it comes to sharing the gospel today?

CJ: We love to show the gospel (i.e. tangible acts of service). We love outreach programs, but often despise street evangelism. Here, “showing” is easier because it’s trendy and culturally acceptable. But I believe that people need to hear the gospel, too. I pity the person who “gains the world” through our social programs and loses their soul, especially when they were willing to listen after we helped!

When Christians share verbally, it is often limited to the culturally appealing parts of the gospel like, “Jesus loves you and wants to know you!” Less often do we share the difficult parts of the gospel like, “The earth is God’s. You have offended him. Repent and be reconciled to him through Christ.”

With access to books, sermons, and podcast, I would say that most Christians in America are fairly knowledgeable of the Bible. However, when it comes to faith and obedience, we are stale, docile, and immobile.

We are struggling to live out the gospel with overflowing joy and sacrifice. Obedience is not our first thought after hearing God’s Word. Our culture is incredibly distracting and so our gospel is an added convenience to our enclosed and comfortable lives.

Very few see that the cost of following Jesus is a life-altering decision that rarely ends in worldly success.

Ed: What advice would you give to Christian leaders in how to lead well in the complexities of today’s world?

CJ: The world may be complicated and confusing, but Jesus’ strategy for reconciling the world is not! I’d suggest two simple ways for everyone to participate more in God’s work.

First, make your friendships missional. Give purpose to the relationships God has given you. Find brothers and sisters to run with in ministry. Talk about how you can serve each other and God together. Don’t give up on international involvement (even if it is in your own city). Jesus’ mission requires reaching every ethnic group on earth, so develop relationships outside your culture. This will help you discover God’s heart for all people. It helps us find our place in the global church, serve our diverse brothers and sisters, and refine our gospel, which may be tainted by culture.

Second, make your mission relational. Ministry gets complicated when we stray from Jesus’ model. Make every expression of ministry relationally driven and every relationship ministry focused. This is how we bear fruit that lasts (John 15-16). The fruit of the Spirit is born out of our relationship with God and expressed in relationships with others.

Deep, meaningful, and intentional relationships are hard to find. In a distracted and overstimulated society, I hope the church will lead the way in love, which requires intimate, sacrificial, and purposeful relationships.

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