Monday, May 25, 2009

Fireproof (DVD, Bible study, curriculum and other resources)

About FIREPROOF, the movie

At work, inside burning buildings, Capt. Caleb Holt lives by the old firefighter's adage: Never leave your partner behind. At home, in the cooling embers of his marriage, he lives by his own rules.

Growing up, Catherine Holt always dreamed of marrying a loving, brave firefighter...just like her daddy. Now, after seven years of marriage, Catherine wonders when she stopped being "good enough" for her husband.

Regular arguments over jobs, finances, housework, and outside interests have readied them both to move on to something with more sparks.

As the couple prepares to enter divorce proceedings, Caleb's father challenges his son to commit to a 40-day experiment: "The Love Dare." Wondering if it's even worth the effort, Caleb agrees-for his father's sake more than for his marriage. When Caleb discovers the book's daily challenges are tied into his parents' newfound faith, his already limited interest is further dampened.

While trying to stay true to his promise, Caleb becomes frustrated time and again. He finally asks his father, "How am I supposed to show love to somebody who constantly rejects me?"

When his father explains that this is the love Christ shows to us, Caleb makes a life-changing commitment to love God. And so with God's help he begins to understand what it means to truly love his wife.

But is it too late to fireproof his marriage? His job is to rescue others. Now Caleb Holt is ready to face his toughest job ever...rescuing his wife's heart. (Read more About FIREPROOF; surf to the FIREPROOF blog)

Fireproof Your Life

Like the movie itself, this new book from Michael Catt, senior pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church and executive producer of FIREPROOF, tackles real-life issues. With practical insights and wisdom, Fireproof Your Life encourages readers to fireproof key areas of their lives, including their marriages, finances, and faith.

Learn how you can build a faith that survives flames in Pastor Catt’s latest book. Fireproof Your Life is published by CLC Publications and is available at Christian bookstores and online. (Learn more at the Fireproof Your Life website)

The Love Dare

In FIREPROOF, Caleb Holt tells his father that he is about to get a divorce. Caleb's dad asks him to wait 40 days before moving forward. Dad's challenge: work a day-at-a-time through a handwritten book he calls The Love Dare.

Central to the movie's plot, The Love Dare is now available from B&H Publishing Group. Written by Alex and Stephen Kendrick, The Love Dare is hands-on study that both men and women can integrate into their marriages.

A deluxe "Legacy Edition" of the book will be available in early 2009. Look for The Love Dare at your favorite Christian store, online, or wherever you buy great books. (Visit

The Love Dare Bible Study

This eight-week study is designed to help you lead your church or small group through the Love Dare challenge. It starts by showing the FIREPROOF movie to the group using the included DVD. Then each session reinforces the week's Love Dare teachings with added biblical insight, commentary, and provocative questions that spark lively and helpful group discussions. Session themes cover issues such as honoring your spouse, forgiveness, building marriage on prayer and God's word, unconditional love, and more.

The Leader Kit comes with a variety of resources to help make your group study a success:

  • FIREPROOF movie on DVD
  • The Love Dare journal
  • Member Book with leader notes
  • Teaching clips DVD
  • Fireproof Your Life by Michael Catt
  • CD-Rom containing sermon outlines and helps for church planning and promotion
Fireproof Your Marriage Curriculum

After seeing FIREPROOF, couples will contemplate the state of their relationship. The FIREPROOF Curriculum from Outreach provides the opportunity for couples to work through these important relational issues.

Featuring clips from the movie, this curriculum is ideal for small groups, Sunday school classes, premarital classes, or for couples to do on their own at home. The six-part study challenges couples to look at love as a lifetime commitment.
  • Study topics include:
  • Forgiveness
  • Marriage as a covenant
  • God-designed differences
  • Unconditional love
The Fireproof Your Marriage Curriculum is available at your favorite Christian store. (Find out more from Outreach)

Host A FIREPROOF Movie Event!

FIREPROOF touched the hearts and impacted the marriages of millions of moviegoers. Churches across the country purchased entire show times to help strengthen marriages in their congregations and to reach out to their communities. And those churches reported increased attendance in response!

That makes a FIREPROOF Movie Event a natural ministry tool to inspire and challenge the people of your church...and beyond.

Provident Films has partnered with Outreach to provide the official Site License DVD for FIREPROOF Movie Events at churches. (DVDs are not licensed for public group showings.) Outreach can also provide all of the Movie Event resources and materials you need to build interest and make a long-lasting impact!

Note: For articles on relationships. marriage and the family, please visit my Salt and Light blog.

Click hereMarital infidelity: causes, consequences and conclusions; Mediation not allowed in domestic violence cases (with apologies to Pia Guanio); Why marriages fail: He said, She said; Transformers: Why do persistent suitors become passive husbands? How to save your marriage alone; All about women; Why do men think the things they think, say the things they say, and do the things they do? Surviving marital infidelity; Marriage: The Ultimate Fighting Championship; Legal lessons from Willie Revillame and Liz Amoro; Boundaries in marriage; and other articles

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Evangelism: understanding and using the Engel Scale and Gray Matrix

+5 Stewardship
+4 Communion with God
+3 Conceptual and behavioural growth
+2 Incorporation into Body
+1 Post-decision evaluation
New birth
-1 Repentance and faith in Christ
-2 Decision to act
-3 Personal problem recognition
-4 Positive attitude towards Gospel
-5 Grasp implications of Gospel
-6 Awareness of fundamentals of Gospel
-7 Initial awareness of Gospel
-8 Awareness of supreme being, no knowledge of Gospel

What is the Engel Scale? by Pastor Jason Harper

James Engel wrote a book in 1975 which profoundly changed many people’s idea of evangelism, entitled “What’s Gone Wrong With The Harvest? A Communication Strategy for the Church and World Evangelism” (published by Zondervan).

The Engel Scale has been used to introduce many Christians to a new understanding of evangelism. In the past, people have often seen evangelism only in terms of people being converted.

Understood this way, most of our evangelism must be counted as pure failure. Few people can live with that level of failure, and few survive as evangelists, or even as effective witnesses, for long.

The Engel Scale completely changes this picture. If you understand something of the journey a person must take in order to discover God, then you know that helping someone take one more step towards God is successful evangelism just as much as helping them over the final line. The Engel Scale helps people to understand this journey.

Evangelists have long known the truth of this, but it has not often been taught and understood. Almost everyone who makes a commitment to Jesus has a story to tell of people and events in their lives bringing them closer and closer to the point of total surrender. Some figures indicate that the average length of the journey, from the time people start looking for God to the time they find Him, is four years. However reliable that figure, and whatever it means, it is clear that for most people the journey to God is a long one.

Understanding the Gray Matrix, from Internet Evangelism Day

Engel promoted a revolution. Not Engels the Marxist thinker, but James Engel the missiologist. He first outlined what has become known as the ‘Engel Scale of Spiritual Decision’. This describes the way in which an individual, or by extension a whole group, progress in their understanding of the Gospel, as God’s sovereign grace begins to illuminate their hearts. By understanding the way God communicates, we can become better co-communicators.

+5 Stewardship
+4 Communion with God
+3 Conceptual and behavioural growth
+2 Incorporation into Body
+1 Post-decision evaluation
New birth
-1 Repentance and faith in Christ
-2 Decision to act
-3 Personal problem recognition
-4 Positive attitude towards Gospel
-5 Grasp implications of Gospel
-6 Awareness of fundamentals of Gospel
-7 Initial awareness of Gospel
-8 Awareness of supreme being, no knowledge of Gospel

Don’t be put off because it looks mathematical! For instance, when someone has come to realise they have a spiritual problem, they are at -3 on the scale. If we understand roughly where a person (or a whole target group of people) stand spiritually on this scale, we can adjust the way that we present the Gospel to them. [Detailed graphic of Engel Scale]

Others have suggested different refinements of the Engel Scale. Frank Gray of FEBC Radio, has proposed a horizontal axis of antagonism/enthusiasm to create the Gray Matrix. It is a remarkably simple but enlightening concept because it helps us to visualise important evangelistic concepts. Christian evangelistic communication has often failed to touch people who are low down the scale, because it has been presented in Christian language and thought-forms and has not engaged with those it was intended for. The tragedy is that so often, evangelism is only touching the ’once-churched‚ (those with some Christian background) rather than the ’never-churched‚ (those who know nothing of the Gospel at all). The lower-left oval shape represents a person or group of people who are fairly resistant and lack knowledge. The challenge to us is always to use approaches which reach down as far as possible into the bottom left-hand corner!

gray matrix

The lower-left purple oval shape represents a group of people who are fairly resistant and lack knowledge. Our challenge is always to use approaches which reach down as far as we can into the bottom left-hand corner!

Lessons from the Gray Matrix

Effective evangelism not only requires people to obtain more knowledge – they must also move from a position of antagonism/indifference to a more positive viewpoint. They are unlikely to wish to find out more until they view Christianity more positively.
  • Anything which moves people from left to right across the scale is ’evangelistic’. This might include acts of service and friendship, mum and baby clubs, medical and development work – many things which are not apparently 'preaching' but which minister to felt needs. Yet in fact, the word Jesus used when he told us to ’preach the Gospel‚ has a much wider meaning than speech – it refers to communication. (There is a Christian debt-counselling service in UK, where 80% of those helped are eventually converted.) For some people groups, apologies offered for the past historical actions of groups perceived to be ’Christian‚ are also healing hurts and reducing antagonism to the Gospel.

  • Relationships are a key to helping people up the scale. Modes of evangelism which do not at some point connect not-yet-Christians in ongoing relationship with Christians, are unlikely to be fruitful. Research has shown that in lasting adult conversions, they reported a spiritual journey taking on average three years to commitment, and the most important factor in that period was a relationship with a praying Christian, who modelled faith to them: more.

  • If we can understand roughly where a single person or target group of people is situated on the scale, we can choose an appropriate approach to reach them – and we will need to understand their culture – how they really feel, think, and react.

  • If people are near the bottom of the scale, we must not use Christian language and ideas which will mean nothing to them. In fact we must assume they have zero knowledge. We must assess our message through their eyes, not ours. It may also be inappropriate to give a heavy ’preach for a decision‚ at this point. People need time to progress and understand. Instant conversions are rare. A style of presentation which bases everything around 'praying the prayer' without true understanding or preparation is counter-productive. We must also be aware of ways of presenting Christian content which is intensely annoying. Instead, an enticing style of permission evangelism may well be the most effective.

  • The Matrix illuminates the importance of using Bridge Strategy web-pages.

  • It also allows us to define the positioning of any Christian website, on the X-Spectrum.

  • It also validates the use of ’Chronological Bible Storying‚ [Ref 1] [Ref 2] used in many situations where the target group have zero knowledge of the Bible. It also highlights the need to contextualize the message to make it easier to understand for those with no biblical knowledge.

  • It is equally relevant in a cross-cultural or local church situation. An Australian church member writes:
    “I love the Gray Matrix. I was wanting our small group to talk about reaching out to the community, and I found the Matrix. Our Senior Pastor took it home and loved it, and used it as a basis for sermons on vision and mission. ’Moving people to the top right‚ has now become the catch-word for a visioning and strategic planning phase the church is going through. Our mission statement has become ’Working together with God, to help people grow from where they are now into fully devoted followers of Christ‚.”

  • Pressures of society and culture, and the strategies of the Enemy, will tend to pull people down towards the bottom left-hand of the scale. God's purpose is to draw people to the top right-hand side by His Spirit, through the witness of his people.

These vital issues of how to communicate the Gospel to people at different levels of understanding, in a local church situation, are covered in several of our book recommendations.

It is also very important to understand the ways that people actually learn anything because these closely parallel the way people gain (or fail to gain) spiritual understanding. These principles have important implications for every sort of outreach including Web evangelism. An apologetic approach can be part of effective communication.

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