2021 is in full stride which means we as a church are right into our passionate vision for the year - making gospel connections for the glory of the Lord. The way we are asking the Lord to do this is this;
Empowered by the Holy Spirit we will strive to build;
Connections with our God through the preaching and teaching of his Word.
Connections with our Family by developing authentic, biblical fellowship.
Connections with our Community by clearly sharing the gospel in deed and word.
Connections with our World by investing in intentionally gospel efforts”.
Take note of point 3. A singularly challenging aspect of ministry this past year has been the ability of the church to meet the needs of the community in which it resides, for obvious reasons. The fact that we have been ordered to isolate, lock down down, and avoid gathering in any fashion means that a direct way of connecting with our neighbours has been taken away. And this is one of the reasons that connecting with our community by “clearly sharing the gospel in deed and word” is a pillar of this vision.
But just what does this look like? Well much of that remains to be seen but let me suggest a couple of things I notice here. The first thing that comes to mind is how the altered state in which we have been living has exposed some of our notions that we were all great evangelists before. In other words, are any of our outreach efforts to our neighbours now any different than what they were before the pandemic? Sadly they might have been rather pathetic then as well. A bit harsh, sure, but I love it when the Holy Spirit begins to expose some of the holes in my Christian life. And maybe he is doing that in yours as well.
Having said that, the even more beautiful reality is that the same Holy Spirit who exposes the holes is the one who fills them as well. As Paul states in 1 Corinthians 9:10 in regard to the true wisdom of God, “these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” The gaping hole that he exposes and fills is the need to be sharing the gospel both in deed and word - actions and truth. The Spirit of God will show us where we have erred and fill us with the capacity to be both burdened for the lost and active is coming to their rescue with the gospel.
There is a second part of this that comes to my mind and is rather a corollary point to the first. Yes, the task is much greater and our errors need to be brought to light, and yet God has given us a myriad of ways to accomplish the task at hand. The most important component of reaching the lost in our community is what? Prayer, of course. Always has been. Always will be. Calling on the name of the Lord is the means God uses to accomplish his purposes in all things. So how’s your prayer life, particularly in the concern of your community? Beyond prayer you have every kind of technological marvel at your disposal. More could be said but hopefully you see the point. What it takes is some Spirit-directed imagination and ingenuity to do what God has called us to do.
In our goal this year to build these gospel connections with our communities, what is needed most is simply believers with a passion for Christ and willingness to do whatever it takes to evangelize the lost. And who knows, maybe all that we learn in these days of insanity, will compel us to be consistent gospel servants when it’s all over.