Hello Project Ezra! As we attempt to re-launch Project Ezra, there could not be a more appropriate date. The original project, called Mission Good Friday, was organized by Tony Miano in 2009. Now, nearly nine years later, and after a couple years off, I’ll be giving it another go. Rather than doing an event every week, as we did for a number of years, I’ll be posting just for major holidays where there are likely to be people out in public, so there should be more opportunities to share the Gospel. Many people were encouraged in the past through the project, and a number of people open-air preached for the first time after being encouraged by Project Ezra. I hope it will be as much of an encouragement now as it was then.
Some of you are probably hearing about this for the first time and are wondering what Project Ezra about. The idea is simple. We suggest a passage of scripture, along with some ideas on how you can use that passage to transition into the message of the gospel. You can choose to use that passage or pick your own. Then you invite your friends and church family to join you. People around the country (and often several other countries) do the same. Then you pick a spot in a public area with good foot traffic, climb up onto a bench, box, ladder or stool, and read the passage aloud. If there are several in your group, you can split the passage up and each read a section. If you have people on your team with experience in sharing the gospel, they can do so, either one-on-one with those who stop to listen, or aloud from the box. And then we see what God does. Sometimes people will stop and listen. Sometimes they will hear as they walk by. And sometimes they will stop and talk. Regardless of which happens, God’s name will be lifted up and glorified, and people will hear the good news. By His grace, it will encourage you and other believers, and you will be planting and watering seeds that God may use to bring people to Himself. So be sure to pray that God’s Spirit will fill you and empower you as you share, and that He will convict and change the hearts of those listening.
The suggested reading will be Matthew 26 through 28, and I will post some suggestions for springboarding into a Gospel presentation soon. You can use this passage or choose your own. However, there are a few important guidelines:
- Stick to the essentials. The GOSPEL is the power of God unto salvation, and that is what we want to preach. There are many other good, important subjects (end times, Arminianism vs. Calvinism, spiritual gifts, politics/conspiracy theories, etc.) that should be discussed, but should not be center stage. They are great for discussions between believers but should NOT distract from the basic Gospel message.
- When you pick a passage, look for essential truths, which relate to the Gospel to focus on. Things like the nature of God, the nature of man (created, sinful, prideful, etc.), the person and work of Jesus Christ, and the means of salvation are excellent. Be careful how you use a text. Don’t twist it into saying something it doesn’t. It might be wise to check your study Bible notes, or a respected commentary or two, to make sure you are on the right track.
- Don’t use language and expressions only Christians will understand. Part of the goal is to reach unbelievers, so use words and expressions that are common. If you have to use theological language, explain your terms, simply.
- Don’t try to sound eloquent, or preachy. Don’t try to use big words to impress people. This is NOT about you! It’s about glorifying God through His Gospel. He needs to be central, not you.
- Remember gentleness and respect, both in your prepared words, and in your responses if anyone comments or stops to talk. Don't get angry of frustrated if someone tries to shout you down or shame you into stopping. Keep going, and trust God for the details.
- PRAY!! This is spiritual warfare, so go in with your armor on. I can not emphasize this enough. Without the presence of the Spirit, this will not work. Give it to God before, during, and after.
I will be posting more ideas and encouragement as we get closer. If you have any questions, feel free to send me a private message. Thanks