Summary: A message on Outreach and the Great Commission
INTRO: The church more than any other institution in the world does not exist solely for the sake of its membership. Do we want to be a comfortable church or a Great Commission church? The church exists to be the salt of the earth, the light of the world, the redeeming factor in a dying society. Everything we do must be for the purpose of reaching others for Jesus Christ. George Barna wrote about growing churches:
“These were people who were passionate about outreach...They saw every event in their lives as having a hand in better enabling them to reach others for Christ. They looked upon life as a opportunity to serve God.”
God has brought together those of us who love Him and love lost souls in order to reach our world for Christ. To reach our world for Jesus, we must have a passion, an overwhelming desire to see persons come to a saving knowledge of the Lord.
I. PASSIONATE OUTREACH MEANS PUBLIC PROCLAMATION.
The gospel must be the first priority in all we do to reach people for Jesus Christ. The gospel is to be studied in Bible study, proclaimed in regular worship services, and shared outside the church. Peter and the other apostles were committed to the public proclamation of the gospel. They seized every opportunity they could. Acts 5:25 tells us that even after they were arrested and jailed, they went forth and spoke boldly in the temple in the Lord’s name. Proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ must be our passionate aim if we seek to grow as a church.
II. PASSIONATE OUTREACH MEANS VITAL VISITATION.
The apostles were committed to reaching people in their homes as well as by public proclamation (Acts 5:42). Visitation is vital to the growth of the church. It is important for pastors, deacons, and church members to engage in outreach visitation.
Good visitation means finding good prospects (through new residents, prospect forms, telephone and door-to-door surveys, and special events). A church that wants to grow will give priority to visitation.
III. PASSIONATE OUTREACH MEANS ENTHUSIASTIC EVANGELISM.
Our commitment to evangelize the lost is nonnegotiable. The apostles let nothing stand in their way of witnessing to the lost. We now have a generation of Americans referred to as the “new pagans.” These are people who are biblically illiterate. One poll showed that 93 percent of Americans have a Bible in their home, but only 12 percent read it daily. Less than one third knew the expression “God helps those who help themselves” is not in the Bible. Less than half knew Jonah is a book in the Bible.
The church that seeks to be effectve in evangelism must come to grips with the mentality of the new pagans. We need to make every effort to reach them (it may call for drastic changes in some of our methods). It will take evangelistic training. It will take many different approaches, such as door-to-door, life-style, and hospitality evangelism (having things in our homes and our church that are not threatening). A church seeking to grow must have an enthusiastic commitment to ongoing evangelism. Above all we must have patience with people.
IV. PASSIONATE OUTREACH MEANS MEANINGFUL MINISTRY AND MISSIONS.
The early church did its outreach within the framework of meaningful ministry and missions (Acts 2:45; 4:32). One reason the apostles were so flexible in their ministry is because they knew that their overall mission was to preach Christ and make disciples. They accepted suffering as a part of that ministry (Acts 5:41-42). Like the disciples, our commitment to ministry and missions will impact our community for Christ. Through meaningful ministries, we communicate that we care. A close correlation exists between our growth and our commitment to a needy world.
Our primary concern should not be growth. It should be missions and ministry for Christ. When we take care of ministering God’s Word, He takes care of our growth. The growth of a plant depends on three things—the seed, the soil, and the seasons. Missions and ministry create a climate in the church that makes growth possible. If we are to be passionate in our outreach, we must be involved in life-changing ministries that will touch lives and make a difference.
CONC: May God give us a passion that will not die, a desire that will be fueled by our zeal for serving the Lord.