Summary: God has one desire for us: to go and share the good news!
THE SCATTERED CHURCH
ACTS 8: 1-8, 26-40
AUGUST 11, 2002
INTRODUCTION: Who knew it was so simple. Asking children in my Sunday school class, “If I sold my house and my car, had a big garage sale and gave all my money to the church, would I get to heaven?” “NO”! The children answered. “If I cleaned the church everyday, mowed the yard, and kept everything neat and tidy, would I get into heaven?” Again, the answer was “NO”! “Well,” I continued, “then how can I get into heaven?” In the back of the room, a 5-year-old boy shouted out, “You gotta be dead!”
A few years ago it was estimated to require one thousand laypersons and six ministers one year to lead one person to Christ. It was also estimated that 95 percent of the Christians today never lead a soul to Christ. This is the reversal of Jesus’ strategy of New Testament evangelism. These trends must change if our world is to be reached, and evidences are that they are changing.
Regarding Lack of Passion for the Great Commission:
A Christian Research Group in a nationwide survey conducted in the first quarter of 2001 asked this question: “Please describe your goals in life.”
The survey found that almost 9 out of 10 adults classified themselves as a “Christian,” by the following definition, “I am personally committed to Jesus Christ and have confessed my sins and I believe that I will go to heaven when I die because of God’s love and grace through Christ.” STRONG DEFINITION! Yet not one of those who said they were Christians declared that their life goal was to be a “fully committed follower of Jesus Christ and to participate in making Christian disciples.”
Thom Rainer told a small group of us Wesleyans at our annual Sunday School workshop; “It takes 85 lay people one year to lead one person to Christ!”
TRANSITION THOUGHT: Here we go again! What does it mean to be a church and to really serve the Lord? Have we relegated our faith to out running sin and avoiding all contact with the “outside world?” Can we hear the call to reach out to our moms and dads, brothers and sisters, and friends and co-workers? Can we receive the call to be a scattered church or will we just remain a church that is scattered? As I read these verses over and over again, I came to one conclusion; we have become a scattered church. Webster defines “Scatter” as to “Throw loosely about.” I believe this is the problem of the church. We are not focused; we are thrown loosely about and have lost the reality of what we have been called to do and who we have been called to be. I want to reintroduce the idea of being “The Scattered Church.” And what I mean by this is exemplified in the text that Tony read for us. We must Get Out and tell somebody what Jesus has done for us and for them. Instead of huddling together, let’s scatter!!
THESIS SENTENCE: God has one desire for us: to go and share the good news!
SO WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE “THE SCATTERED CHURCH?”
I. SCATTERED IS SCATTERED
A. LEAVING YOUR COMFORT ZONE
1. Philip had become very successful in his endeavor to serve the Lord. Back in chapter 6 verse 2, Philip had been called to “wait on tables.”
2. And, because of his faithfulness and that of the Apostles and others called to this ministry, “The word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith (verse 7).
3. This would have been enough for me, but God wanted more!
THE SCATTERED CHURCH!!
4. In chapter 8 verse 4, Philip heads to Samaria (HOME OF THE UNCLEAN HALFBREEDS WHO MINGLED WITH OTHER NATIONALITIES) and preaches the word and “evil spirits came out of many, and many paralytics and cripples were healed. So there was great joy in that city (verse 7).”
TALK ABOUT LEAVING YOUR COMFORT ZONE!!
5. Not only could this guy wait tables, he could do it all! God Blessed his service! This is not the end of the story!
B. HEADING INTO THE DESERT
THE SCATTERED CHURCH/ LEAVING YOUR COMFORT ZONES BEHIND!!
1. When all is going well, can’t God leave well enough alone?
2. NO!! An Angel appears to Philip and says go!
3. And this wasn’t just any go, it was leave the plush region of Samaria and go to “The Desert Road”!
4. DOES THIS SOUND LIKE THE PLACE YOU WOULD LIKE TO GO?
ILLUSTRATION: About everyone here has probably seen the film Titanic. More than 1,500 of the 2,200 passengers died when it sank on April 15, 1912. Perhaps the greatest tragedy is that many of those people didn’t have to die. A lot of people climbed into the twenty lifeboats, but many were only half full. Hundreds of people were in the cold water with life preservers. Most of them did not die from drowning; they froze to death. The people in the lifeboats heard the cries of those dying people, but they chose not to go back for fear of capsizing. Only one lifeboat returned—after it was too late. Of the hundreds who were in the water, only six people were rescued. Those who were already saved didn’t go after those who were dying. When we pray for God to extend our territory we must ask God to break our hearts so that those of us who are already saved will go after those who are dying.