How Pastors Can Shepherd Their Church to Love Muslims
Islam and Muslims. What are the first thoughts that come to your mind when you think about Islam and Muslims? Be honest. I have asked this question at many churches in traditional, revitalized and church plant contexts across several states. Can you guess the number one Christian answer? Terrorism. This makes sense as most of our people follow the news and radical Islam is real. RADICAL ISLAM vs PEACEFUL ISLAM?
Yet, it is also real that most Muslims are not terrorists. Most are dads, moms, brothers, sisters, grandpas and grandmas seeking to live their lives in America in peace. Most Muslims in the US are moderate and go to great lengths to separate themselves from ISIS and radical Islam. Last year, I was on a mosque visit with a group of Christians in Minneapolis and the Imam (mosque leader) went as far as to say that even Saudi Arabia is not a true Muslim country!
The next question that many Christians and churches ask is usually, “Is Islam really a religion of peace as so many Muslims claim or are groups like ISIS the true Muslims?” Christian Apologist Nabeel Qureshi answers this question in his book, Answering Jihad, by responding yes and no. For now, let us just say, Islam is complicated and Muslims fall across the board in their theology and beliefs. Nabeel says, "Islam is not Muslims, and one can criticize Islam while affirming and loving Muslims." Yet as I said before, most of the Muslims our people will meet here in the US are very peaceful and moderate.
THE ROLE OF THE PASTOR AND THE EVANGELIST
As an evangelist working among local churches, my job is somewhat similar to your job. Ephesians 4 unifies my main goal with your main goal as a pastor and church leader, “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until …[they] all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God” (Eph. 4:12-13). We both share in the same calling to properly exegete the Scriptures, teach the Church the Word of God and shepherd the people.
With that said, we both have particular responsibilities in our roles that cause us to focus our time on different areas of equipping the saints. While most pastors are called to teach and shepherd one local church at a time, most missionary-evangelists equip and serve many local churches. As an evangelist, I have the responsibility to equip the saints to carry out the Great Commission. To make disciples. To proclaim the Gospel among the unreached people groups of the world. And for me personally, I am even more focused in this evangelistic calling to equip the Church to reach Muslims.
At Crescent Project, our goal is to see every Muslim, all 1.6 billion of them, have the opportunity to respond to the Gospel and be connected to true follower of Jesus! In order for the goal to become a reality, God has to show up and initiate another Great Awakening. At Crescent Project, we believe there is another Great Awakening already happening in our day; this time among Muslims all around the world! More Muslims have come to faith in Christ in the last 20 years than in the last 1400 years! As pastors and leaders in the Church, I urge you to shepherd your church to love Muslims and engage them with the powerful Gospel of Christ!
HOW YOU CAN SHEPHERD YOUR CHURCH TO REACH MUSLIMS
- Send your people to our National Conference November 2-4 in Raleigh/Durham, NC
Come join us November 2-4 at Apex Baptist Church if you want to know how God is working across the Muslim world! Dr. Jim Haney, Director of Global Research at the IMB, will share how Muslims are turning to Christ by the thousands! Many of you are familiar with David Garrison’s recent book, Wind in the House of Islam. Much of the research presented in Garrison’s book is from Dr. Haney.
Do not miss other presentations by Fouad Masri, Founder of Crescent Project, Tom and Elizabeth Doyle of E3 Partners, and Iranian Church Mobilizer Keivan Tehrani. There will be over two dozen workshops by experts in the field of Muslim studies like Dr. Pat Cate of Christar, Dr. David Cashin from CIU and more! You also will not want to miss the many testimonies of former Muslims who have turned to Christ!
Your people can register using my personal discount code (TMESSICK) and save $25!
- Lead a Bridges Study at your church
The Bridges Study is a dynamic, six-session study that equips believers to share their Christian beliefs with their Muslim neighbors with compassion and understanding. Participants will learn to bridge the gospel, understand the New Testament’s credibility, explain Jesus’ sacrifice and more. Through real-life stories, interviews, and practical teaching, the study clears up the confusion surrounding Islam and helps you see Muslims as Jesus sees them. Order your church the Bridges Study at CrescentProject.org. We have 55 staff across the country and would be glad to help you get a Bridges Study started at your church!
- Host a Bridges Seminar at your church
The Bridges Seminar presents the Bridges Study material in one day in a seminar format. I would be happy to equip your people regarding the history of Islam, Muslim rituals and beliefs, our responsibility to be ambassadors of Christ, how to bridge the Gospel using similarities while recognizing the differences, how to respond to common objections like: the Injeel (Bible) has been corrupted, and how to share the Gospel with Muslims. Please email me at Tmessick@CrescentProject.org or request a Bridges Seminar on our website.
While our people are receiving a wide variety of information about Muslims from the news and other sources, it is imperative that we as leaders shepherd our people to understand Islam and love Muslims. Islam and its influence continues to grow in the US, and as far as I can see, it is not going anywhere. If we do not respond to Islam, who will? If we do not love Muslims and share the Gospel with them, who will? Let us lead our people to join Christ as he pursues Muslims around the world! How will you begin shepherding your people to reach Muslims with the Gospel?