This Sunday at Grace Community Church we will continue with the theme of congregational ministry, from Romans 15. This week, the focus will be on our ministry beyond ourselves.
I sense that this focus on our ministry beyond ourselves is especially important in these days. So much of our mental and emotional energy has been used this past year to figure out how to do life with altered schedules and guidelines related to COVID-19. There is goodness in being reminded that our congregational ministry is still for global gospel proclamation.
In Romans 15 we hear the Apostle Paul’s plans to make his first visit to the church at Rome. Consistent with how Paul always wrote, we find in his travel plans some visionary and instructive words about partnering for ministry.
Grace Community Church let’s lift our eyes to the world. Let’s think beyond ourselves. Romans 15 can help us.
First, as you read the second half of this chapter (verses 17-33), look for the expansive vision of global evangelism in Paul’s plans. He said he aspires to take the gospel where Christ has never been named (verse 20). Do you know there are places like that in the world today?
Several years ago, I trekked into the mountains of a South Asian country with a team of people. We sat in a small house in a village with several people sitting on the floor. As we shared the gospel, I realized that this may have been the first time these people had heard the name of Jesus and the good news of his death and resurrection for them.
People who have never heard the gospel are alive today. The gospel agenda of God remains. We need this vision.
Second, from Romans 15 hear the invitation to partnership in Paul’s request. Paul plans to go on to Spain (where the gospel had not been preached) after he leaves Rome (where the church was already established). He asks that they help him along the way (verse 24). It’s a simple request that included help with basic needs like food, clothes, travel accommodations, and maybe a bit of money for his team.
Do you know we still help cross cultural evangelists and church planters around the world today? We do this with our Grace Missions Fund, our service to our members who serve in other countries, and by working with others in our city who are reaching into the places where Christ is not known. We can still help others along the way, even as we go ourselves.
Third, Paul closes his travel plans with an appeal for prayer (verse 30). Actually, he calls the church to strive, struggle and wrestle against the darkness with him in prayer.
Do we understand the nature of the gospel agenda for global evangelism- that it is spiritual in nature, and that spiritual forces are at work attempting to stop it? Do we see that the Spirit’s power is needed for this work, and that prayer is the God ordained way for us to receive that power?
Still today, the devil and his forces are allied against Christ. Theirs is a losing battle (Romans 16:20), but they fight on with a fierceness that requires the church to be armed for war and much in prayer.
Congregation, let’s expand our vision, commit to our partnerships, and strive in prayer for the gospel to go to all the world.
When you enter the Worship Hall on Sunday, remember to look at the video screens for the names of unreached people groups. A booklet containing these groups is in the Gathering Hall. Take one home and pray for our ministry beyond ourselves.