In Hebrews 12:1-2, we were instructed to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus…” (Heb 12:1-2). This command applies to every Christian and it also applies to Churches. Churches can become hindered by unnecessary weight and ensnared by sin. Therefore it is necessary for a local Church to have a time of prayerful evaluation and reflection. First Baptist Scott City is at such a time. We are at a “hinge moment” in the life of our Church. According to Dr. Michael Lindsay, president of Gordon College, “hinge moments [are] opportunities to open (or close) doors to various pathways of our lives.” We are at a hinge moment in the life of our Church in which we must prayerfully discern our mission, vision, and strategy with a hope that we may most faithfully and effectively make disciples and glorify God. As a Church, we need to prayerfully discern if we have any weights and any sin that is hindering our endurance in the race set before us by Jesus. We will spend time over the next few months asking and answering relevant questions such as:
- Needs: What’s Going On?
- Identity: Who Are We?
- Mission: What Are We Supposed To Be Doing?
- Vision: Where Are We Going?
- Strategy: How Do We Get There?
- Goals: Are We Making A Difference?
- Endurance: Are We Willing to Move Forward?
Needs: What’s Going On?
In the United States, we are seeing a fundamental shift in religious identification. This shift is the result of the various generations in our nation and how they identify (or don’t identify) in terms of religion. According to Pew Research from a few years ago:
- Baby Boomer (born 1946-1964) – 28% Evangelical and 9% Atheist or Agnostic.
- Generation X (born 1965-1980) – 25% Evangelical and 13% Atheist or Agnostic.
- Millennials (born 1981-1995) – 22% Evangelical and 15% Atheist or Agnostic.
- Generation Z (Born after 1996) – 19% Evangelical and 21% Atheist or Agnostic.
Our Community Has Physical Needs
Our nation has many great things happening, but we also need to address certain issues. More than 70,000 Americans died from drug-involved overdose in 2019, including illicit drugs and prescription opioids. Deaths from Fentynal (synthetic opioid) rose from 9,580 in 2015 to 57,550 in 2020. That is a 500% increase! It’s not just drugs, it is alcohol, poverty, and dysfunctional families. It is heartbreaking to hear a young child speak of one parent in jail and another in prison. Our community needs food for those who are hungry. We need to provide supplies to those who are in need. We are involved with Careportal and here are a few of the most recent requests that have come through Careportal for our area: bunk beds, couch, utility bill assistance, outlet wall plates, fire extinguisher, smoke detectors, and car repair. Our community has physical needs that we can meet.
Our Community Has Spiritual Needs
Our community has physical needs but we cannot forget that it has spiritual needs. Our community needs Jesus. Our neighbors need to know that Jesus is the Son of God. They need to hear the Gospel: God designed a good world but our rebellion brought sin and brokenness. Jesus lived a sinless life and offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice in order to take away our sin and grant us His righteousness. Only by repenting and believing in Jesus can we be saved and reconciled to God. Sin is the cause for our brokenness and only through the forgiveness of sin can we be healed. Our community has spiritual problems and Jesus is the solution.
Our Community Needs the Church to be the Church
First Baptist Church exists because Jesus loves the people of Scott City, MO (and the surrounding area). Jesus intends to save our neighbors and He has established our church (along with others) as a witness to them so that by grace they may be saved through faith (Eph 2:8-9). Our community is hurting and Jesus placed us here to help.
Please pay very close attention to this next sentence because this is something that we all need to hear and reflect on: the people in our community do not need more stuff, they need redemptive relationships. It is good that we provide food and other items to help those in our community in need. It is good that we reach out through Careportal and provide specific needs to help families in Child Services. It is good that we open our doors and invite all to enter. As good as all these things are, what our community desperately needs is for First Baptist to reach out to them and befriend them in order to build relationships that result in lives transformed by Christ. Leonard Ravenhill once said, “The world is not waiting for a new definition of Christianity, but a new demonstration of Christianity.” If we wish to be fully faithful to all that Christ commands our Church, we will not wait for the world to come to us.
God is always calling His followers to the next steps of obedience. One aspect of this is that we should show people the love of Christ while telling them Christ loves them. As a Church placed in this place at such a time as this, it is vital for us to become aware of the needs and potential of our community. As we do so, we bring a faithful witness of Jesus and call them to faith and obedience.
This week during your prayer time, ask Jesus to open your eyes to see those around you. Ask Him to show you their needs, but more importantly ask Jesus to reveal to you those whom you need to help. Ask God to provide opportunities to show them the love of Christ and share with them your testimony and how they may be saved.