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My spiritual Top Ten

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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top ten blue red (Credit: TR3 via Fotolia)

I am leading a study tour of Greece and Turkey for the next two weeks.  Internet access will be unreliable, requiring me to write this morning essay in advance.  It’s difficult to discuss the day’s news a week before it happens, so I’ve been wrestling with topics.

Many of you responded so graciously to our recent survey with insights that will be very helpful for our team as we seek to expand this ministry.  Several readers asked that I take time occasionally to share more personally with you.  With that thought in mind, last Thursday morning I was praying in my St. Louis hotel room when I sensed God’s clear direction to talk with you about the ten most important spiritual truths I’ve learned so far.  I stepped to my laptop and began typing; the series flowed as though I were taking dictation.  Beginning this morning, we’ll explore my “spiritual top ten,” starting with the earliest principle I learned and concluding with the latest.

Here’s #10: If we don’t go to them, they won’t come to us.

A school bus photographed in New York, New York. Bus is a 2000-2001 Carpenter Classic 2000 body with an International 3800 chassis (Credit: herval via Flickr)As many of you know, I am the product of a “bus ministry.”  In the summer of 1973, a pastor named Cecil Sewell moved from Alabama to College Park Baptist Church in Houston, Texas.  He brought an evangelistic heart, with a passion to reach the unchurched in our community.

In response, a mechanic named Julian Unger helped the church buy an old school bus that Mr. Unger rebuilt.  They painted the name of the church on the side and went into the community, knocking on doors to find children and teenagers willing to ride their bus to worship.  In August, they came to my apartment.  Ours was their last door on that hot, steamy Saturday morning.  My father answered their knock and assured them we would be on their bus the next morning.

This was my first encounter with church.  Dad had been a Methodist Sunday school teacher before fighting in the Second World War, but his horrific experiences made it hard for him to reconcile his faith with what he saw.  As a result, my brother and I grew up in a very moral home but we had no spiritual life.  If the church had not come to us, we would never have come to them.

On that Sunday morning I met people who had something I knew I needed.  A few Sundays later I asked my Sunday school teacher, Mrs. Sharon Sewell, how I could have what they had.  She led me to faith on Christ.  Six months later, my brother became a Christian.  Mark is today the senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Conroe, Texas.  We will be in heaven because College Park Baptist Church brought Jesus to us.

From its inception, Christianity was a missionary movement.  When Jesus’ disciples wanted him to stay in Capernaum, after a morning spent in prayer he told them, “Let us go somewhere else–to the nearby villages–so I can preach there also.  That is why I have come” (Mark 1:38).  Three centuries before churches owned buildings, they reached the lost by taking the gospel to them.  If we stop going, Christianity will stop growing.

How will you use your influence to take Christ to someone today?