Summary: If we were to close our church doors today, would the community even know we were gone?
Can the Community Depend on Shipps Baptist?
Not too long ago, I read a statement I have not been able to get off my mind ever since. You may recall it and then again maybe it didn’t sink in to your mind.
Here’s the statement:
If Shipps Baptist Church were to close its doors tonight, would this community feel that they had lost a great asset or would they never even notice that we were gone?
§ Have we been such an influence in this community they would miss having us here?
§ Has your neighbors been affected by our church because of the ministries we have in serving their needs?
If you were to poll this community what do you think would be said about Shipps Baptist Church?
§ What would be said about you as a member here?
§ What would be said about you as a Christian?
My heart hurts for this community. When you view the people on the streets and you see the fast pace traffic as it goes by – what are these people thinking?
Who can they count on more?
The city council
The Youth league sports coaches
…Or Shipps Baptist Church?
I am afraid to say that the only thing tying us to this community is the fact that our building sits on property that just so happens to be in the community.
Because when it comes to serving this community –
I am afraid that we have a failing grade.
But the encouraging word is that all that can change tonight! We can leave this service with a mindset of doing whatever it takes to reach this community for Christ.
My prayer is that before long, this community will see Shipps Baptist Church as a blessing to their families and businesses rather than just a church building where people gather for a weekly service.
The Story of Jonah
The scriptures we will read from tonight will be very familiar to you. Not only is this a popular story but I have already preached several messages in and around the life of Jonah.
Tonight a different thought from a familiar bible character.
Read Jonah 1:4-6
In 2003, a Gallup poll indicated that almost half of U.S. adults do not have "a great deal" of confidence in organized religion.
Moreover, the same year, a Barna Research Group study reported that a sample of non-Christian adults ranked evangelicals tenth out of 11 groups evaluated, rating them one place above prostitutes.
Clearly, the Church has an image problem.
People in the community are tired of hearing about church – they are ready to see church.
Don’t tell me you care about me – show me!
Don’t say you are a church – be a church!
Don’t look at me like you care – show me you care
I see in this scripture a picture of the current day church in the life of Jonah. There are attributes that he carries in this first chapter that describes many churches today.
Your job tonight is to determine if Shipps Baptist Church is no way like Jonah or are we just like him?
Before we look at Jonah – let’s setup the story by looking at the other characters.
Those poor, poor sailors. All they were trying to do was their job when they got caught in the middle of a storm.
Not just a wind blowing, raining “fear for your life” storm but a raging storm between God and a man running from his responsibility.
Jonah was told by God to go to Nineveh and preach against their sin. He did the exact opposite and went to Tarshish.
He has boarded a boat full of sailors and is on his way right out of God’s will.
We pick up in our reading where God has caused a great storm to hit right where the boat is sailing. The boat that is carrying several lost sailors and one backslidden preacher.
There is nothing else worse that will cause a raging storm in your life that that of housing a man that is currently out of God’s will.
§ His home life will be miserable
§ He will be hard to get along with
§ He will want one thing while God wants another
It is a very serious matter when you find yourself out of God’s will.
But let’s look at these sailors in what they did when they found themselves in the middle of a storm. I will also prove to you from scripture we are talking about sailors who are NOT followers of God.
1. They begin to pray – verse 5
The bible says, “Every man began to cry unto his own god”
There is nothing like a good storm in your life to cause you to fall to your knees and begin to pray.