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Episode 13 - Communicating Across Deep Divides

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Date: September 5, 2018
Run Time: 11:19
Host: Dr. Gregory R. Perry
Guest: Dr. Steve Brown, Dr. Richard Pratt
From the Series: Growing Bold, Not Old, in Our Faith

Program Notes

Because of growing divisions in our society, it's getting harder to talk about important things, not just with our neighbors, but even in our own families. In this episode, Dr. Richard Pratt and Dr. Steve Brown share stories and talk about:

  • How they met, shared an office and defeated their enemies
  • Evangelism as a party
  • Being authentic and why we need to lose the Christian jargon

Sponsor this Month: Key Life Network

Our guests this month are Dr. Richard Pratt, the founder and President of Third Millennium and his friend, Dr. Steve Brown, President of Key Life Network, an organization that encourages lots of folks through its weekly broadcast on over 600 radio stations. Please go to their website at keylife.org to experience their programs and many other resources, which are designed to help us understand God's astounding grace to us in Christ. Both of these men have been pastors, seminary professors, quite unconventionally we might add, in order to provoke Christians to stop playing it safe, but to truly be 4 the World as Jesus' witnesses.

Podcast Transcript

4 THE WORLD PODCAST
EPISODE 13: Communicating Across Deep Divides
Guest: Dr. Steve Brown and Dr. Richard Pratt

4 the World is a production of Third Millennium Ministries where we believe every Christian deserves a well-trained pastor. To study Scripture deeply or to learn more about how you can partner with us to provide Biblical Education. For the World. For Free. download our App to your phone or visit our online classroom at Thirdmill.org. And now, your host 4 the World, Dr. Greg Perry.

Welcome everyone. Thank you for sharing part of your day with us by downloading 4 the World, the weekly podcast of Third Millennium Ministries. I’m your host, Greg Perry, and my guests this month are Dr. Richard Pratt, the founder and president of Third Mill, and his friend and a friend of our ministry, Dr. Steve Brown, who is the president of the Key Life Network which encourages a lot of folks through its weekly broadcasts of over, well, you’re on over six hundred stations. Is that right, Steve?

Steve: Yes, with two or three different broadcasts. But yeah, the cumulative effect is “millions and millions” of people. (Laughter) Don’t hit me. No, about six hundred stations.

And they can go to Keylife.org and learn about all the programs.

Steve: Yes, you can.

THE MEETING OF BROWN AND PRATT

That’s great. How did you guys first meet?

Steve: Years ago, before the seminary was in Maitland, Richard I invited, and I was pleased he would come — I didn’t think he would — he came and did an officers’ retreat.

Richard: Yeah, you and Kent Keller brought me down for an officers’ retreat.

Steve: And it really impacted our church in great ways. And I think we liked each other, and then later on we became colleagues at the seminary.

Richard: Shared an office for about five years.

Steve: Yeah, we shared an office. I was there when he started Third Mill. We fought the same battles, had the same enemies, and won.

Richard: We won. You’re absolutely right. I agree with that completely.

Is that the way you remember it, Richard?

Richard: I remember it very well, just like that. I remember that retreat. I still have that nightmare, I mean, that evening in my mind and still have images of it.

(Laughter)

Steve: You know, all kidding aside, it really was an amazing retreat that significantly impacted the leaders in our church.

EVANGELISM IS A PARTY

Steve, you talk about evangelism as a big, fun welcome party. And I know I don’t think of it that way. I don’t think many of listeners think of it that way. Unpack that for us. Why do you talk about it that way?

Steve: Well, you need to know that a real major heart concern for evangelism has not been my MO. I was at Perimeter Church, where Richard preaches and speaks a good deal, and announced that millions of people were going to hell, and I didn’t care. Boy, it got quiet. And I wasn’t bragging. I said, “I don’t know their names.” And as a result of what I said there, I began to pray about it, and God has really, and it’s really from him a passion, that others would see Jesus. And it’s called good news, and we present it as bad news. So, a good metaphor to use is that it’s a party. I have a friend, and Richard’s friend too — we share friendships in churches — at Independent Church in Memphis, John, used to say that we stand at the windows of the church with our nose against the window wishing we could be out there with him. And he said, “I wanted to change it so that the pagans have their nose against the church wishing they could come in.” But most of the time, we’re so staid and conventional that pagans have us figured.

Richard: That’s right. You know, I can say this, Greg, when people take the time and go ahead and risk reaching out to the lost and someone actually does come to Christ, it’s one of the most joyous, wondrous things in the world. I just had that happen to me recently with a man in Indonesia. I got sick at his house, and he walked into the bathroom where I was passed out on the floor… Do you know this story, Steve?

Steve: I love this story. It is so good I can’t stand it.

Richard: I had thrown up all over his bathroom. I didn’t know the man from Adam, and I’m lying in my own vomit on his bathroom floor. He comes in, looks at me, and he gets down on his hands and knees — now, this man is a Buddhist — he gets on his hands and knees and he looks down to my face and he says, “Brother, you’re not going to make it.” At that moment I woke up, my eyes opened up, and I said, “That’s okay, I’m ready for this.” And I was. And I am. I’ve had a couple of times that I’ve been close to death, three or four times, and each time God has just kind of given peace about it. And I really meant it. I said, “It’s okay. I’m ready for this.” I was worried about him worrying about me dying in his bathroom. And that grabbed him and since that time, he’s become a believer, was just baptized on Easter Sunday, taking his first communion, all kinds of things. He is an absolutely transformed person. It’s the most amazing thing in the world. Well, you know, I can just tell you that it makes me party to know that. I mean, I’m talking on the telephone to this man over the internet from outside, standing against a church window trying to get a WiFi connection for two hours, and he comes to Christ on the phone. And since that time, his life has just been turned inside out. It’s just absolutely phenomenal, and it does make you want to have a party. If we could get those experiences of seeing people come to Christ, we’d have it.

Steve: And everybody who’s listening to this podcast, or watching it, who’s a Christian, their hearts are leaping and saying, “That is so cool!” You know, we want to speak in tongues and dance. And we’re Presbyterians and don’t do either one! Not very well anyway.

MODERN DAY EVANGELISM – LOSE THE OLD JARGON

You know, it’s interesting, I think a lot of our listeners, I can identify with some of the things they’re feeling right now, because we’ve just had Christmas not too long ago, families have gathered for Easter, and I think a lot of families are experiencing this, that it’s actually getting a lot harder, not easier, to talk about important things in a very divided culture, in very broken families. And Steve, I know you’ve written about this. And Richard too has written about communication, talking to unbelievers. But you’ve written this book also about how to talk so people will listen. What are some of the obstacles that both of you experience. And how can you … maybe give us some pointers about how to bridge some of those gaps?

Steve: By the way, I have — I’m not here pushing books, but — I just turned in the manuscript of a book that I just finished, and the working title, given what you just said, is How to be Right Without Being Insufferable – Speaking Truth to Those Who Don’t Want to Hear. So, Greg, you’re just going to have to wait until the book comes out and you’ll get complete, detailed answers.

(Laughter)

But, you know, it comes down to creating questions. What Richard did in the story he just told us, he created a question — you don’t want to have to vomit all over the bathroom in order to do that, but I’d be willing to do that. But Pagans have us figured. They really do. And they know exactly what we’re going to say, exactly how we’re going to say it, and they expect us to do this religious thing. Well, don’t do it anymore. Be authentic. Be real. You know, we’re always trying to hide our sins because we think we’ll hurt our witness. It ought to be the opposite. The most powerful witness we have is in our sin. And then we can say, “But Jesus likes me a lot. About ten percent more than you.” Actually, it’s authenticity. It’s quit playing games. And when you have an opportunity and you create a question, [like] Peter said, be ready to give answer.

Richard: One of the biggest challenges I get a lot in my life with grandchildren who are teenagers, and also being getting so dadgone old myself, is the generational gap. It’s huge in the United States. I mean, it’s bigger, I think, than it was between my parents and me — we’re talking the 60s and 70s. It’s like a totally different look at the world, and it’s hard for me to even know what they’re thinking unless I take the time to try to listen to them and get into their heads and try to understand what their values are, what their questions are, because they are not the questions and the values that I grew up with in the 70s and then as an adult in the 80s, and that kind of thing. This is a very different set of things. And if we’re going to reach people today, we have got to be able to get into their world. And that means we can’t just, as you were saying, Steve, just bring up all the old normal Christian jargon. This man I was speaking about, he said at one point in the conversation, he said, “I’ve got this heavy, heavy, negative karma on me.” And I said, “Well, Charlie, that’s what Christians call sin.” He said, “That’s what sin is?” (Laughter.) He didn’t know what the word “sin” meant. He thought he did just because he hears it, but he didn’t have a clue. And that’s where a lot of people are these days.

Steve: We’ve been given a gift, too. And the gift is, if we’ll quit using words like “gospel” and “born again” and we’ll be authentic, and we’ve got our story — and it’s the best story anybody ever heard — they will listen. Take your tie off and sit down and listen. And they’ll listen to you too. And that’s a gift we haven’t had since the first century.

Thank you for being with us this first week. We look forward to next week on our podcast, 4 the World.

4 the World is a production of Third Millennium Ministries where we are reimagining biblical education for Christian leaders in a global church. Each week we bring you conversations to cultivate your curiosity about God’s word, to inform your intercessions for God's people, and to equip your efforts in God's mission for the world. Our host is Dr. Greg Perry. Our sound engineer and editor is Christopher Russell. Our web designer is Ra McLaughlin. And I’m your announcer, Cindy Sawyer. Today’s podcast was brought to you by Keylife.org where you can find radio programs, weekly devotionals, and books produced by our guest, Dr. Steve Brown. He’s also our host for The Book of Revelation in our online classroom. Enroll at elearning.thirdmill.org today. And we’ll meet you next time on 4 the World.