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Breaching The Gap

Acts 2:36-47

or

Give me Five

1 Corinthians 9:19 -23

Section Three of The Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren is about reaching out to our community. It has three main thrusts: 1) Knowing the groups of people in our community, 2) Discovering who we ( as a congregation ) can best reach, 3) and developing a strategy for reaching them.

Defining target: 1) Geographically - 15-20 minute driving area 2) Realtionally - people go to church based on relationships and programs not distance or denomination.

3) Demographically - age, marital status, income, education, occupation ( tells how to communicate the Good News) 4) Culturally ( psychographics ) peoples values, interests, hurts and fears. 5) Spiritually What do they already know and what do the majority understand.

Takes time and serious study for a congregation to do this. While we as a congregation study this issue let me suggest a working plan for individuals.

Charlie Brown - Boy Archer

Charlie is in the back yard shooting arrows into the fence. Wherever he shoots an arrow, he runs over and draws a target around where the arrow hit. Lucy walks over and asks him why he is doing this. His reply, " This way I never miss."

To often, this is how we approach evangelism in the church or in our private lives as well.

A parade was going through town and one of the mules pulling a wagon suddenly up and died in front of one of the houses on the parade route. They didn't know what they were going to do until a lady came out from one of the houses and told them that if they would help her with the dead mule she would take it off their hands. She said, " I want you to carry that mule out in the backyard and put it in our hot tub." Soon a bevy of strong and not so strong people tugged and strained and heaved and finally the deed as done and the mule was ensconced in the tub. As the helpers returned to the front yard, one of them asked, " If you don't mind our asking, we have been wondering why you would want the dead mule in your hot tub? " Her reply, " Every day my husband comes home from work and asks me ' What's new ? '

Sometimes after we have been Christians for a while we like the husband of the story get in a rut. 1) We don't expect anything to change in the church, 2) The older workers get weary of the load and sometimes quit, 3) and sometimes we even develop a fortress mentality.

We need to remember our purpose. Warren has five for the church:

1) Magnify: We celebrate God's presence in worship.

2) Mission: We communicate God's Word in evangelism.

3) Membership: We incorporate God's family into our fellowship.

4) Maturity: We educate God's people through discipleship.

5) Ministry: We demonstrate God's love through service.

We need to remember our purpose as individual members of Christ's Body.

Commitment To Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God - Matthew 16:16

1) Concentrate on conforming to the image of God's Son ( Romans 8:29 )

2) Consecrate your body to His service ( Romans 12:1,2 )

3) Communicate the trust that you have in Jesus to others. ( 1 Corinthians 9:20 )

Question: Who are we trying to reach?

Answer: The whole world. The great commission says so ( Matthew 28:18-20 )

How many people are in the world today ? Five Billion +

Can you conceive of that many people?

How many people in Wisconsin? 4 1/2 Million +

Doing any better?

How many people in La Crosse County ? 198,000 +

That's better isn't it?

These numbers are so large that they are meaningless to us. It's hard to care about an abstract number of people isn't it?

Can you handle the number five? Five is a group you can know. Five people can be remembered by name when you pray. Five is the number of your neighbors. Do you care about five people who may be lost if you don't share the Lord with them?

There is nothing more important than getting people to see that Jesus is their Savior so that they can trust Him with their lives.

Researcher David Barnett reports that the world population grew by 14.4 % in the 80's and that at that same decade church membership grew by 14.8 % That's great but we could do better if every Christian would just concentrate on five. If every professed believer of Jesus would reach five people the entire world could be converted in one year. Data from Give Me Five by Jeffrey Metzger

Acts 2:1-12 suggests that there was a common bond that brought the crowd together ( the Jewish Feast of Pentecost but that they were a diverse crowd.

What was it that drew their interest? Culture (Heard in their own language)

What was it that converted them ? Christ's Atoning work ( Foolishness of preaching )

Let's get busy being purpose driven individuals as we learn to be a purpose driven church.

Here's How!

I. Set Goals - " And it shall come to pass in the last days saith God. I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh and your sons and daughters will prophesy and your young men shall see visions and your old men shall dream dreams. " Acts 2:17

Foghorn Leghorn called all the girls together when he discovered an ostrich egg in the hen-yard. He said, " I'm not complaining girls. I just want you to see what they are doing elsewhere. "

If we want to grow as a church, we will have to set personal goals. We will not grow if we do not think that we can and we won't think that we can if we are not all committed to the cause.

If we want to grow as a church, we will have to work at attaining our goals. It will take self-discipline and sacrifice. Plan your work, work your plan.

If we want to grow as a church, we will have to work at it one day at a time. " Take no thought for tomorrow ... sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. " Each day is a brand new day to fulfill our vow to serve the Lord.

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

If you set goals for yourself and work to achieve them our church will grow. Churches don't just happen. Churches don't grow without the involvement with everyone. If you believe and are certain enough that what we do here is vitally important than you will invite people to become part of us and encourage each other. " Forsake not the assembly of yourselves together as is the habit of some but provoke one another to love and good works especially since you know that the day of the Lord is getting closer and closer. " Hebrews 10:24,25

II. Be Enthusiastic - " Looking for that blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every good deed and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. " Titus 2:13,14

I am enthusiastic about fishing. I pursue it with zeal. What are you zealous about?

Pat McManus in his book, The Night The Bear Ate Goombah relates this story. Mr. Muldoon was running from what he believed to be a bear. He was running so fast that the flap on his long underwear was trailing out behind him. He spied a tree in the nick of time but the nearest limb appeared to be about 20 feet off the ground. He made one great leap of desperation to reach it but he missed. Fortunately he got it on the way down. That's enthusiasm.

What this church needs is for everybody to get enthused about reaching out to people in love and good works.

We need to take quit and can't out of our vocabulary.

It's easier for a preacher to do his job if the people are enthusiastic.

III. Be Selfless - " Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests but also for the interests of others. " Philippians 2:3,4

Think about this. What would happen if every Christian just followed this advice?

Would everybody's needs be met? Absolutely.

Less of me, more of you. Less of me, more of others.

We are a dependent people. The American myth is that we are independent of anyone.

Most of us depend on a banker ... a grocer .... a farmer ... an insurance man ... who else?

Some Christians are like two year olds, Can't go to the toilet by themselves, can't dress themselves but they want to be their own boss.

Some Christians are like teenagers. Want their space and independence but depend on folks for roof, food, protection ( insurance ) and many other things.

Some Christians are like immature adults. Want to make all that they can, for as long as they can and sit on the lid.

God wants us to work together for the common good of the church and the society that we live in. The gifts, talents, and resources that He gives to each of us are to be used for the common good and the common purpose of bringing people back into His family and out of the devil's pawnshop.

We need to lose ourselves in the service of Christ using who we are with what we have been given to bring life and dignity to others.

God doesn't need supervisors, He has called forth for laborers.

If you aspire to be a leader, you must learn to be a servant.

If you want to serve God don't worry about what the other servants are doing or receiving. We are in the service department, God runs the accounting department.

 

Conclusion:

Out of the five billion souls on earth, I want you to concentrate on five. Five that you are culturally akin to. Here's what you can do.

1) Identify five people around you who need to know Jesus or know Him better than they do now. Write down their names. Picture them in your mind.

2) Pray for these five people. You have prayed for God to reach those in the far reaches of our world. It's time to get specific about your part of it. Mention these people often by name and by need.

3) Cultivate special friendships with your five people. Don't picture them as statistics for the church or scalps to claim credit for. Have them over for a meal just for the fellowship and don't try to cook them with the Gospel. Get to know them as interesting, precious people worth knowing for themselves.

4) Love them. Love them with tangible deeds. Shovel their snow. Mow their lawns, rake their leaves. Take them a meal when they are ill. Be creative in expressing the love of Christ.

5) Then, when they inquire into the hope that is in you and they will; share what Christ means to you with them. Simply share what He has done for you and how He can help them. Trust Him for the results.

Lift up your eyes and see the white fields ripe unto harvest.

Put some faces in those fields - five faces that God wants to reach through you.

Do you see them? Now get to work. Your personal relationship with Jesus shared in personal evangelism will result in personal growth for you and a personal salvation for those you reach.

Gimme five, will ya?

" It is in the shelter of each other that people live. " - Irish Proverb