Sermons

Summary: Using the churches in Revelation as a model an outline is given of the church’ accomplishments and needs for growth.

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Proverbs 29:18a KJV

Where there is no vision, the people perish.

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Bethany’s Vision Statement

We are dedicated to promoting Christ-like love, deepening the Christian faith, and developing harmony among all people through our presence, our programs, and our commitment.

To accomplish this vision, we will:

Provide a church home for all people.

Introduce the unsaved to Jesus Christ.

Nurture and support converts in their Christian growth.

Provide support and organization for our work for the Lord.

Support a missionary effort into the broader worldInsert mission and vision statement

Read with me Bethany’s Mission Statement:

To know, to live , and to share Jesus Christ

I love the movie, October Sky. It is based on the autobiography of former NASA science engineer Homer Hickam, Jr. It is about four boys who embody the hope of a community. It’s 1957 in Coalwood, West Virginia,---I know the community well. It’s in McDowell County WV not far in miles from where I lived and grew up-but it takes an eternity to drive there. I spent a summer during one of my college years in McDowell County doing student missionary work. Will never forget doing VBS at a snake handling church-no snakes attended that week fortunately. My grandfather was a coal miner in McDowell County WV.

In the movie in Coalwood, WV, all the boys grow up to be coal miners and Homer Hickam (Jake Gyllenhaal) has no reason to think he’ll be any different. Even the public school furnishes no other vision beyond the town’s coal mine. Too small to earn a football scholarship, Homer has no way out of his predetermined life -- until the soviet satellite Sputnik flies over the October sky and changes everything. As Homer watches the satellite cross the evening sky he has one of those life changing ’eternal moments’ and Homer’s world got a lot bigger.

Though his father is mine superintendent and has no greater wish than to see his sons follow in his footsteps, Homer embarks on a mission to build and launch his, own, homemade rockets with the help of his loyal band of friends.

(show video clip of launch from “Cape Coalwood”)

I really responded to this film because of it touches so many common feelings and dreams that we all share. Most of us have dreams we would like to see fulfilled. Can they be? This film says yes!

All of us can identify with Homer because we get discouraged if we can’t see that we are making any progress in life..... We are all irritated if we feel we are not making any progress in life. What is true of us as individuals is true of churches.

Each local body of Christ is happier and more energetic and productive...

* ... if they know that their efforts are making an impact...

* ...if they know they are getting somewhere...

On this Sunday I want to help you, Bethany Church lift yourself above the fog of activity that surrounds this place so that we can see how far we have come.... After this annual time of self-evaluation we can then follow Paul’s example and

"Press on....to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of us." -- Phillippians 3:14

The practice of measuring a church’s progress has a biblical basis.

In the book of Revelation Jesus spoke to seven churches, (reference) evaluating their work....

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. Revelation 2:7

These seven letters of evaluation written by Jesus to local churches contained similar elements:

1. Churches were commended for doing a good job in certain areas.

2. They were also warned of condemnation for their shortcomings in other areas.

3. These churches were encouraged to do specific things....

4. And each church was promised a reward for "overcoming"

As I was preparing for this message on the state of the church.... this passage from Revelation kept coming to my mind and I began to wonder.....If Jesus were to write a letter of evaluation to BUMC on January 13, 2001 what would it say?

1. What would He commend us for?

2. What would he warn us about?

3. What would He encourage us to do?

4. What would He promise us if we persevered...if we overcame?

A. One would be the way we have begun to embrace outreach

It seems to me that in the past year our church has realized how important outreach is.

I have observed that more of you are inviting friends, relatives, and associates to church....including personal visits, phone calls, , and personal cards written to new home owners. This outreach mind set has yielded a lot of growth around here: attendance has increased in both worship services, and the increase in particularly noticeable in the early service. When we started this early service 2 ½ years ago in the Fall we started with 35 or 40 in attendance. Now on some Sundays we have a 100 or more in attendance.

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