But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” Acts1:8.
It is extremely important, to understand that God gives us power not for our personal edification or aggrandizement, but specifically for the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. God does not just give us a loaded shotgun to sit on the front porches of our hillbilly homes and watch the world go by for entertainment, he tells us where to aim.
I want to specifically look at the intentional force of the target, because in the intentional force, you see the strategy that God had for the early church. The phrase starts at home, which is obvious, but there is a strategy in the next two parts, where he says in all Judea and Samaria. So we are responsible to win our homes and to saturate fully and completely the regions in which we live, and from there we are to launch out to the very ends of the earth. Within that process, there is no room to leave out anyone. There is not room for a selective strategy that works around problematic people groups. The strategy that God has is all-inclusive and thorough.
Subtly hidden behind the call, is the demand that transcends racial prejudice. It is not an unknown fact that there was tremendous animosity and prejudice between those of Jerusalem and those of Samaria. Jesus chose his words carefully to make sure that the disciples understood that within the context of the command, there would be no room for racial exclusion. All means all, and nothing less. This means that the first part of our mission strategy must include saturation of the local vicinity or of the start point of each church. God is not willing that any be left behind. You may say that we are too small of a church to have such a great impact. Just think about where that comment comes from. It arises from a sheer lack of faith and understanding of how big our God is. You may say, that if we do this were going to have to make ourselves available to types of people that we are uncomfortable with. You may say that this is inconvenient and difficult. To people who pose such dilemmas, I humbly suggest that they take a hard look at the cross of Jesus Christ. Christ died for people he was uncomfortable with; for people who pulled his beard, persecuted him and whipped him half to death. He went to a cross for all peoples everywhere and it was not easy. If you want an easy religion, don’t pick one whose leader died on a cross for the world, and who makes personal cross bearing, a condition of following him.
In order to revitalize your church, your first intentional obstacle to overcome is your own heart as a pastor. Perhaps you feel beat up and depressed. If that’s the case, take a brief vacation; spend time in prayer (fill up the gas tank). Come back with a new attitude and a plan. If you can’t come up with a plan from God, then log into one of the church revitalization webinars with Dr. Tom Cheney and he will throw some gas on your fire!
Know this, you can’t effectively lead as a tired man. After getting some intentional rest, and developing a plan, get very intentional about implementing your plan. Accountability is really good in this part. Find a peer you can share with and tell them what you are going to do and ask them to check on you and hold you to it. Next recruit your leadership team. If you try to implement change without your leadership team, you are either going to go for a long lonely walk to your pastoral grave, or your going to your physical grave. By the way, revitalization is not a retirement plan, it is a revival plan! I know this, I have never seen a church so bad that it cannot be revitalized. If you can’t handle this “hard” work then get out a pair of scissors and cut,” I can do all things through Christ Jesus my Lord who strengthens me” out of your Bible, or better yet quit… resign… make way for someone who believes in God!
Wow, that’s tough stuff! So stop looking for someone to rescue you, and believe in the God who has placed you in the honorable position you are in. Now, go and look in the mirror and say to the guy looking back with your finger pointed at him, ”you are God’s man for this job!”
Rob Myers is the lead pastor of Miami Baptist Church, national radio host and frequent speaker at the Renovate Conference.