Reminder about the congregational assessment going on with regards to the effectiveness of our ministry as a church. The church leaders are eager to get our feedback. If you can’t get online at home, we will be having an internet café after the service this week and the next two.
Reminder from Joanne about the “Secret Sisters”: The drawing of names will take place on February 10.
This morning Chuck, Ken and Darlene led us in worship, then sang It Took A Miracle as the tithes and offerings were received.
Risk: Contemplating Evangelism
Luke 4:14-21 where Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit after being tested in the wilderness.
He then read Acts 4:31... “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken… and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”
Brad began by talking how he and Brooke came up here 9 years ago. They had been in Bloomington, where there were plenty of good churches and pastors. They wanted to move to a place where there were more unbelievers, someplace more abandoned. Much of rural America has seen a decline. They didn’t want to go to the Bible belt where people would show up… They wanted to be in a place where it would take God’s help to change the community. There are many people here who you recognize that it will take a miracle to be saved.
He reminded us that we need to remember who we were…. We were once a wreck ourselves.
Brad was expressing something that weighed on his heart. "I don’t want people to just show up to church and hear another sermon." Paul said, “I don’t want to preach a message based on human wisdom but rather a demonstration of the power of the spirit.”
In the story of Elijah on Mount Carmel we see the power of God demonstrated mightily. But was Brad was quick to point out that Elijah experienced God’s power when he put his neck on the line. The disciples experienced the same.
“I’ve experience God’s presence when I have been living by faith, taking risks and being uncomfortable,” he affirmed. "We all want to experience the Holy Spirit but need to remember why the Holy Spirit was given. (Acts 1:8) When people are living out the Great Commission is when people experience Him."
Luke 12:11 states, “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say." This may be one of our worries, but God will be present when you step out. God will give you the words. The Church started with uneducated common men who had courage and boldness. Many people hold back because they feel they don’t know enough. What’s needed is not more knowledge but boldness.
Francis Chan told a story about a megachurch that spent over a hundred thousand dollars a year on a Christmas program where they spent 15 hours a week rehearsing. Chan asked the pastor, “What if everyone here spent fifteen hours a week getting to know their neighbors.” The pastor replied, “They wouldn’t do that.” Too often people prefer getting in a costume and playing a role in a program, where it is safe.
Brad acknowledged that it can be difficult it to share the Gospel in a world where people don’t want to hear. He then related how lately he’s been knocking on doors and asking people how he can help.
More stories were shared of how God moves in surprising ways and we returned to Acts 4:31.
Brad made his appeal: "I would rather have something substantial come out of our worship than having us experience an earthquake in answer to our prayers. When I act in boldness, and when you act in boldness, this is when we experience God’s power."
Pastor Shannon affirmed that his hope is that some of us would just go for it… do something scary, both corporately and individually, "because this is when we experience the presence of God."