Pastor's Corner: Send North AmericaBy DANIEL AUSBUN
First Baptist Church, Moreland
On Tuesday I attended a conference in Woodstock, called Send North America.
This was a conference sponsored by the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. The purpose was to promote church planting as a way to penetrate lostness in North America.
Over 99 percent of Montreal is unchurched, the most unchurched city in North America. After China and India, North America – the United States and Canada –is the third largest non-Christian country in the world.
North America is moving to cities. A total of 83 percent of the United States’ population lives in metropolitan areas. It’s easy to say we’re going to reach Newnan or Atlanta for Christ.
What does it mean to embrace a city? You cannot love a city, if you don’t know a city.
Ed Stetzer planted a church in Buffalo, N.Y. in the early 1990s, the fastest declining city is America. He shared the importance of embracing the likes and interests of the people you’re trying to reach.
Stetzer became a Buffalo Bills fan and used every opportunity he had to brag about or talk about his new team.
After Buffalo, he planted a church in Erie, Pa. He researched the city and discovered it had more bowling alleys per person than any other city in the U.S. He became a bowler and hasn’t bowled since.
Paul said we need to contextualize the Gospel. I Corinthians 9:22 states, “I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some.” If I move to Atlanta from Philadelphia and I continue to cheer for the Phillies in Georgia, I’ve created an “us, them” barrier.
While Paul was in Athens waiting for Silas and Timothy to arrive, he got to know Athens. Acts 17:16 says, “While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, his spirit was troubled within him when he saw that the city was full of idols.”
You can’t get to know a city until you get to know its idols. Every city has idols. Whatever is most important, what’s worshipped and what the people give their time to is their idol. Paul was “troubled within him” over the lostness of the city.
If you’re troubled over the idols – sins – of your city, here are three practical steps to take the Gospel to any city:
First, meet needs. Offer financial counseling, job search assistance, food for the hungry and work on houses. If you know someone looking for a job, and you begin helping them find one, the door is open for them to hear the Gospel.
Begin to view needs as opportunities to share Christ. Mark 6:34 says Jesus saw a huge crowd and He had compassion for them.
Second, respond to crisis. If someone goes to jail, their home burns down, they experience a traumatic car accident or a serious illness or a tornado or their teenager runs away – don’t ignore their crisis. Christians need to be prepared to respond and offer hope in God when times are desperate.
Third, be prepared to defend your beliefs. If God is good, why did He allow 12 people to die in an Aurora, Colo. theater? If God is good, why is there so much evil?
The Bible tells us we must be ready to answer these kinds of questions. “Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” I Peter 3:15.
North America is in desperate need of the Gospel. If you’re going to make an impact on your city – look for needs, respond to crisis, and be prepared to answer the “why” questions about God and evil.