Last year, we launched a two-year goal to address two fundamental needs and commands of Christ: discipleship and evangelism (Matt 28:19-20). Based off the verses above, I believe God has challenged us at Erlanger Baptist to both personally grow in our faith and reach out to our community, effectively sharing the Gospel through word and deed. This isn’t an easy task. It will take a movement of God’s Spirit, a dependence on His power, and a willingness by us to join in a work that may become messy and uncomfortable… but eternally worth it! Paul faced adversaries and setbacks; but he persevered and saw God move in mighty ways. I believe God can do the same things here through us!
Looking back over this past year, we have worked through a Discipleship Team and our LifeGroup Ministries to address some of the discipleship needs of our church. I was very excited as every LifeGroup embraced a church-wide Gospel Project journey through Scripture and I look forward to continuing to connect lessons learned there with sermons and illustrations during our worship times on Sundays. With our Discipleship Team, we have been looking at the needs of EBC and how best to address them. It is clear that we still have a ways to go in this, but I’m excited to see discipleship relationships popping up in small group contexts around our church. I look forward to more of these as we continue into next year.
Moving forward, 2019 will be a year where we look outside the doors, to a community that desperately needs us to live out and speak forth the Gospel as the city on a hill and light on the lampstand. In April, we are preparing to launch a two-month emphasis on equipping followers of Christ to follow Christ into the mission field of Erlanger, KY. We are planning to incorporate prayer, prayer-walking, a Spring revival, Wednesday night evangelism training, and sermon topics to build toward a summer of focused missions mobilization. Summer of 2019, we are going on mission! Right here, and everywhere your summer plans may take your family, you will be challenged to consider yourself as God does… on mission as His ambassador! We will be connecting with local officials and schools to see how we can serve this community through service projects. We will be going door to door throughout our community, praying for needs and offering the hope of Christ. We will be using special events like VBS, a block party, the Farmer’s Market, Fall Family Night, a mission trip to North Dakota, and others to stretch us and minister to our neighborhoods in Erlanger.
This will require everyone to be involved. It is no small task and it is not for a few to complete. I want to challenge you in 2019, along with every member of Erlanger Baptist, to step out, grow in your faith, and share with others this glorious message of love, forgiveness, redemption, and grace provided through our Savior Jesus!
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us;
we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:20
From Last Year:
Throughout the book of Acts, many faithful believers were used by God to spread the Gospel throughout the known world. In Acts 19, Paul has been led to the city of Ephesus. There he did as he always had, he went to the synagogues and preached. As he preached, some believed, but others rejected. But then Scripture doesn’t say that afterwards he left Ephesus. Instead, Paul continues sharing with the Gentiles there and does so for two whole years with the effect that “all who lived in Asia heard the Word of the Lord.” What an amazing thought! That through his consistent and maintained ministry in that area, the Gospel went forth somehow to everyone!
So, how did that happen? Did Paul himself meet personally with everyone in Asia over the course of those two years? Obviously not, since he was also regularly teaching. Some, to be sure came to hear him, but what about the rest? Here’s where I believe the power of the Gospel lies… those disciples whom he was teaching must have been the very ones reaching out with the Gospel even as they were receiving it! Discipleship and Evangelism were working hand in hand! So powerfully was this affect that all Asia was reached over the course of just two years!
How does that tie into today? What about Erlanger Baptist Church? Through His Word, God has given us a model of ministry. It isn’t a prescribed method that we must meet and teach daily to see these results, but it does show us this: For everyone to hear about Jesus, EBC need to be growing disciples.
Over the course of the next two years, it is my prayer that “ALL 2 JESUS” become our motivating drive. Over that time, this idea will be unpacked and details will be filled in. “ALL 2 JESUS” will have two parts: EBC working intentionally to make disciples in the church and EBC working intentionally to reach everyone in the Erlanger community, with the goal that by 2020 (over the next two years) we engage every member of our community with the Gospel even as we are intentionally engaging in it ourselves.
Interestingly, in Acts 20:20 Paul is looking back on those two years in Ephesus and states this, “You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house…”
Over the next two years, with God’s leading and power, we are going to be developing a discipleship model in which we will ask every member of EBC to participate, and we are going to be developing an evangelism and outreach strategy so that every door in Erlanger is reached. By 2020, it is our prayer that every member of Erlanger Baptist has come closer to Jesus in their walk and that everyone in our community has been offered the opportunity to come to Jesus too. Over the next two years, we want ALL, those inside and outside our church, to come to Jesus! Discipleship and Evangelism, through these two. It doesn’t matter who you are, we want to bring ALL 2 JESUS!
I am so excited to be here at Erlanger Baptist, to come along this church at this unique moment to help us fall in love with our Savior and reach out with the hope we have found in Him alone!