Do you want the church to grow?
Andrew wasn’t the popular kid in class. His name is only mentioned in twelve verses in the Bible, and eight of those describe him as "Peter's little brother." Even though he was one of the first two or three followers of Jesus, Peter was still the popular kid in school.
But, Andrew was in the top 100 boy’s name in 2019. Peter didn’t make the list. It took him 2000 years, but he finally finished ahead of his brother in something.
He’s a man of few words, but he has a lot to say. He’s not center stage, but he plays a vital role for us, and our congregation. Andrew is our patron saint, this is St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. Andrew brought people to Jesus.
I wonder where we can be in a year – five years – if we do what Bishop Curry said of evangelism, “It’s sharing our lives and our stories with another person.” Let me ask a question – it’s actually my sermon title too – but hold your answer until the end. “Do you want to see St. Andrew’s grow?” Don’t answer it yet, we’ll come back to it later, I promise.
Before we engage the question, there are two observations in this passage that will help us form our reply:
Andrew was willing to grow personally.
Bp. Kendrick said that evangelism is as much about us as it is about others. Andrew shows us our bishop’s message… he was ready for things to be different in his life, and in Judea.
People value authenticity! Andrew was honest that he needed time before he committed to be a disciple. The text seems to say that it was a delicate process. He was even standoffish at first so he could discern Jesus.
He knew there were dozens of people who claimed to be the Christ. But every day, another crucifixion of a would-be Messiah was on the front page of the Jerusalem Post. He was cautious, he didn’t jump in immediately and join the Jesus entourage.
The writer said he followed behind Jesus as if he was carefully watching and discerning if he was indeed the Christ.
One of my favorite pastimes is people observing. Let’s just say that clergy conference was interesting. I’ve also noticed that a lot of preteen girls do not walk directly beside their parents. The walk at a safe distance behind them. To be seen with them is to risk a social meltdown to rival Chiranobble. They keep their distance, just in case someone sees them who would not approve of their parent’s wardrobe portfolio.
Andrew kept his distance. He didn't want to risk too much, too early.
Then the writer said, “Jesus noticed that Andrew was following behind him, so he asked him ‘What are you looking for?’” The word "looking" is complex. Most of the time it’s translated "seeking.” In essence, it is seeking deeper spiritual meaning. There's a difference in wanting and seeking. One who searches for something is known as a seeker, not as a “wanter.”
With that, Andrew took another step closer to Jesus. He asked him, “Lord, where exactly are you staying?” He wanted more than a roadside chat with him. “Just a little talk with Jesus to tell him all about his trouble” wasn’t enough. He wanted a more in-depth conversation.
Let me pause here and say, I’m so proud of our EFM students for their desire to know more about Jesus.
Jesus said, “Why not come and see where I’m staying.” The word “see” means to discern or experience. In other words, Jesus said, “You’re hungry, come have a chat with me, you’ll experience the work of God firsthand.”
Now let's step away from the story and look at the Gospel of John as a whole. It is full of “I am” statements. Jesus says I am the bread, I am the living water, I am the good shepherd, or I am the light of the world. However, he didn’t tell Andrew, “I’m the Messiah, I am the Christ, join up and follow me.” He gave Andrew time to process his journey to discipleship.
Remember our Bishop’s quote, “Evangelism is as much about us as others.” Before evangelism occurred, Andrew evangelized himself.
Remember my question? Do you want to see our church grow? Hold it for a couple more minutes before you give me the answer. I want to give you the second thing in the passage that can help you engage that question.
Andrew was willing to grow; personally, he was also willing to personally grow the church.
He went to Peter and said, “We’ve found the Christ.” Then he brought him to Jesus.
Will you allow me to admit I use to cringe at the word evangelism. It brought to mind people on street corners. Yelling. Yelling at other people. Their signs always had quotes. One is from the first song I learned to play on my Gibson Les Paul and Marshall amp; Everyone is on the classic AC/DC song, A Highway to Hell. (This is the only parish in the country where ACDC's highway to hell was quoted today... tell your friends that!)
I refuse to let angry people steal a word like evangelism. It’s not about signs, megaphones, or cherry-picked isolated bible verses. Most of the time, those are so far out of context; it's like looking for a beach in Nebraska.
It’s actually the opposite. Andrew shows us exactly what evangelism looks like; he went to someone he knew and told them some good news; Jesus was the Christ.
We've been called "The frozen chosen." But when someone visits St. Andrew's Church, it's different. We are exuberant about our faith. I had even had an "Amen" a few weeks ago – We’re getting ready for Bp. Curry’s revival in December.
When evangelism is done with love and respect, most people never know it’s even happening. Andrew wasn’t cold calling, he wasn’t going door to door selling Kirbys… oh my god, I remember that as a kid. That man would.never.leave… or peddling a water filtration system. He simply shared his news with his brother.
Here’s the bottom line of the sermon: Andrew needed to grow spiritually before he would be ready to grow the church numerically.
So let’s look at that question, “Do you want to see St. Andrew’s grow?” If the answer is yes, I’m going to follow it with a second question: “Why?”
Think about that, and may God guide you, Andrew, as you talk with Jesus in this house.