Summary: Thoughts about our condition at an Acts 1:8 church
Text: Acts 1:8, Title: To the Ends of the Earth, Date/Place: NRBC, 5/6/07, AM
A. Opening illustration: the woman in Lilburn that gasped at the small number of churches in Maine, USA, after reading scripture and prayer- the evangelism linebacker
B. Background to passage: As I mentioned last week, we are going to linger a while longer on this restatement of the Great Commission. In this verse, we are given a plan, not only for the book of Acts (which follows this pattern), but for the worldwide missions endeavor that the disciples and the church would undertake. And if this is the plan for the church’s evangelistic efforts, then we should be evaluating our success.
C. Main thought: This morning I want to do two things – first, I would like to look at the state of missions and lostness in these four areas; second, I want to look at NRBC and its efforts in these four areas.
A. In Jerusalem
1. Even though Jerusalem was not most of the disciples’ hometown (with the exception of Judas), this was the most obvious place for the gospel to begin. This was the place that they were in. Our Jerusalem is Tifton and Tift Co. Here is what Tift Co. and the area immediately surrounding NRBC looks like. According to a 2006 demographic study done for us, there are 19K people within a 5 mile radius of NRBC. 15,220 (80%) of them are not actively involved in a church. The largest age group in this population is 18-29 year olds. In Tifton/Tift Co. we have according to Pastor Jose’ about 8000 Hispanics, and two Southern Baptist Hispanic Churches. No church in our association has begun a black church in the last 30 years, in which the population of Tift Co. has increased by about 40%.
2. 1 Pet 3:15,
3. Illustration: the deacons have covenanted together to invite at least two unchurched people a month to NRBC, and many are going far beyond that,
4. How are we doing? Are we really making an impact in Tifton? Let me commend the giving spirit that you as a church have exhibited. You have given to Brother Charlie’s, BSU, ESL, Crisis Pregnancy Center, Mell Baptist, and benevolence generously. But writing a check is not the whole of missions in Jerusalem. Worship attendance has dropped from 173 in 2002 to about 75 in 2007. Baptisms have dropped from 11 two years ago and 22 five years before that to 1. Youth and collegiate ministries have dropped significantly? The bulk of prayer requests that I hear are about sick people. Most of this is because we are culturally irrelevant, unbiblical in respect to discipleship, and very comfortable sitting on our tails not doing anything much in the area of evangelism and missions other than writing checks. And we must realize that simply existing is not going to draw all men. And we really need to be painfully honest about the things that we call evangelism that is really not. Living a biblical, attractive life is great, but we must be about telling others. We must begin to go where they are! To minister to the needs that they have. We need to be trained in evangelism. Develop a plan to follow up with visitors and new residents. We need to look for outreach opportunities that God has provided us with here in Tifton like the soccer outreach and ESL, like the New River Flea Market, like ABAC’s campus. We need to plan outreach events that you can invite people to. We need to deepen our present prayer ministry to stand in the gap against lostness, poverty, racism, cultural Christianity, apathy, and self-centeredness.
B. In All Judea
1. This area was regional. It corresponds to those that are not in our hometown, but most like us. Let me remind you that these are the only geo-political terms used in the great commission passages. The normal language used is that of people, tribes, tongues, AKA ethno-linguistic groups. For today, we will liken Judea to the state of Georgia. There are 9 million people in the state of GA, increasing at a rate of about 1 million people every 5 years. The avg. worship attendance statewide is approx 530K (that’s about 6%). The Atlanta area alone contains over 30 different language congregations. God has brought the people of the world into cities, and we have one of the biggest here in GA.
2. Rev 5:9
3. Illustration: talking to Pastor Mike about going to Americus…
4. How are we doing reaching GA? Again, doing well giving to State Missions causes. In the past we have made trips to the Children’s Home, and also to do some rebuilding after the floods of ’94. And those things we need to continue and enhance. Possibly forming a DR team from New River. Possibly helping plant churches in high-population areas that will really reach the community. Praying for a harvest in GA. We must stop talking about missions in the past tense. This also includes our discipleship emphasis, with which we create a strong church in GA that persists in evangelism for generations!