Matthew 9:35- 10:10: Then Jesus went to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness. When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” Summoning His 12 disciples, He gave them authority over unclean spirits, to drive them out and to heal every disease and sickness. These are the names of the 12 apostles: First, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him. Jesus sent out these 12 after giving them instructions: “Don’t take the road leading to other nations, and don’t enter any Samaritan town. Instead, go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, announce this: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with skin diseases, drive out demons. You have received free of charge; give free of charge. Don’t take along gold, silver, or copper for your money-belts. Don’t take a traveling bag for the road, or an extra shirt, sandals, or a walking stick, for the worker is worthy of his food.
Would you guess that that church was invested in outreach?
“You have nothing to do but to save souls. Therefore spend and be spent in this work. And go always, not only to those that need you, but to those that need you most. Observe: It is not your business to preach so many times, and to take care of this or that society; but to save as many souls as you can; to bring as many sinners as you possibly can to repentance, and with all your power to build them up in that holiness without which they cannot see the Lord.” John Wesley
John Wesley was speaking about outreach. He knew that the ones who need us most will not always be found sitting in the church sanctuary. Did you notice his use of the word “GO”?
I personally sense that Pastor Fritz and God are leading Ridgeland Community Church into an exciting time of church outreach, and I thought we might discuss that a little bit.
How does a church become an outreach church? I submit to you that it flows from the heart transformations of those believers who comprise the church. We are not a building- we are a body of believers.
The only way the corporate Body of Christ will fulfill the mission Christ has given it is for individual Christians to have a vision for fulfilling that mission personally. Author: David Jeremiah
Every Christian a missionary; every non-Christian a mission-field. Author: Winkie Pratney
So what happens in the journey of a believer that brings her to the point of being passionate about outreach?
There are four steps that occur in the spiritual journey most of us navigate:
- It’s about me- I don’t think about God at all, or at least I try not to. I haven’t yet heard or I have rejected the Gospel message. Maybe I haven’t experienced enough pain yet in my life…
- It’s about me and God- God, what can you do for me? When I hear and begin to embrace the salvation message- The Gospel resonates with me.
- It’s about God and me- God, what can I do for you? I am moved to acts of worship of God in appreciation for my salvation. I’m involved in my faith community and begin responding to ministry opportunities.
- It’s not about me- it’s about God and others- God, show me what I can do to serve others. And finally I am moved to fully live out Jesus’s two greatest commandments, in joyful service to others in God’s service.
A church family filled with “It’s not about me people” will be an outreach church.
Outreach, however, doesn’t just happen in the mission field. It can and does happen in our neighborhoods, our work locations, our families, and yes, in our church.
The trick is to remember John Wesley’s words as we go about our daily lives, in all of our interactions: ““You have nothing to do but to save souls. Therefore spend and be spent in this work. And go always, not only to those that need you, but to those that need you most.
We display our love for Christ and demonstrate His love through acts of service. Whether we teach in a children’s program or get involved in a church outreach ministry or just make ourselves available to help a neighbor, there are countless ways to make a difference for Christ in our community. After all, The church that only cares at 10:00 am on Sunday doesn’t really care at all!
“If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” (James 2:16).
I believe that Ridgeland Community Church can become powerful vessel for outreach. But lest we forget, all of us have, every day, opportunities for outreach moments:
- When we explain to co-workers why we won’t be joining them at the Strip bar.
- When we teach a Sunday school student to love Jesus, who tells her unbelieving parent a Bible story, that strikes a cord and brings them to church next week.
- When we greet and welcome a first time visitor on Sunday, showing Christ’s love and giving him a glimmer of hope. What you didn’t know was he is at the end of his rope- a lost job, broken marriage, and contemplating ending his life. Going to church was his last gasp effort, and you reached out to him.
- When we notice someone in our sphere who is hurting, and we reach out, or send a card, or take them for coffee.
- When we notice someone missing from our church fellowship, and reach out to them…
- When we intentionally seek out one of the “unsung heroes” at our church, and we have many- to thank them for their faithful service, and ask if there’s anything we can do for them, and mean it.
- When our church has an outreach event, and we prayerfully consider how we can be a part of it- from volunteering to help with games, or cook, or maybe handing out some flyers to our immediate neighborhood.
These are just a few of the outreach moments that arise during the rhythm of our lives- they are fairly easy to do, but they are also easy not to do. The difference is being intentional.
God is at work in us—transforming us for His purpose. We should be keenly aware of His work. But our gaze shouldn’t be fixed inward. We should be looking to God, amazed by His grace and His concern for people like us. As we are changed into His likeness, we should be caught up in caring for the things that deeply concern Him. We should care about the people He wants to be transformed to His likeness. He is molding and shaping us into His likeness so that we can be His instruments, His agents on earth. The people we meet and the situations we encounter are all opportunities to reflect Christ—not because we want to be holy examples, but because we have a task to do.
Christ has taken our nature into heaven, to represent us; and has left us on earth, with his nature, to represent him. John Newton
Each person has his own “world” which he can evangelize. With each person doing his part, we can soon win the world to Christ. We can witness by a twofold method: by our conduct and by our conversation
The Apostle Paul is a great example of one practicing outreach, and Charles Spurgeon shares some insights as to what powered Paul as he did so:
What did Paul do? He went to Philippi; did he know a soul there? Not one. He had his Master’s truth, and he believed in the power of it. He was unattended and devoid of pomp, or show, or parade; he did not go to a pulpit with a soft cushion in it to address a respectable congregation, but he walked through the streets and began to preach to the people. He went to Corinth, to Athens, alone, single-handed, to tell the people the gospel of the blessed God. Why? Because he had faith in the gospel and believed it would save souls, and hurl down idols from their thrones. He had no doubt about the power of the gospel; but now-a-days, my brethren, we have not faith in the gospel we preach. How many there are who preach a gospel, which they are afraid will not save souls; and, therefore, they add little bits of their own to it in order, as they think, to win men to Christ! We have known men who believed Calvinistic doctrines, but who preached Calvinism in the morning and Arminianism in the evening, because they were afraid God’s gospel would not convert sinners, so they would manufacture one of their own. I hold that a man who does not believe his gospel to be able to save men’s souls, does not believe it at all. If God’s truth will not save men’s souls, man’s lies cannot; if God’s truth will not turn men to repentance, I am sure there is nothing in this world that can Charles Spurgeon
Spurgeon reminds us that in order to be effective in outreach, we must be absolutely convinced of the power of the Gospel. When we are, we can trust the Holy Spirit for the courage and perception of how and when to practice our own outreach.
The most important work of the church is to evangelize the world. Too often the church becomes a “Club for the Saints” instead of a place where sinners are born into the family of God.
Psalm 96:1-3:The Psalmist, in verse three, exhorts the readers to outreach. My encouragement to each of us is to embrace outreach as a key part of the Christian life. And after we have, may God reveal to each of us, what that looks like in our life. May He also give us perception to recognize and seize the seemingly random outreach moments that present themselves each day.
How will you do church this week?