You and I live in a world that is full of pain. Lots of hurts. Lots of struggles. Lots of disappointments. I want to read for you how it impacted Jesus.
35 Then Jesus made a circuit of all the towns and villages. He taught in their meeting places, reported kingdom news, and healed their diseased bodies, healed their bruised and hurt lives. 36 When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd. 37 “What a huge harvest!” he said to his disciples. “How few workers! 38 On your knees and pray for harvest hands!”
Did you know that? God enters this earth in the form of Jesus and walks with us. He sees the pain of people and His heart broke. Let’s keep reading to see what happens.
The prayer was no sooner prayed than it was answered. Jesus called twelve of his followers and sent them into the ripe fields. He gave them power to kick out the evil spirits and to tenderly care for the bruised and hurt lives.
…5 Jesus sent his twelve harvest hands out with this charge: “Don’t begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don’t try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. 6 Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. 7 Tell them that the kingdom is here. 8 Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.
9 “Don’t think you have to put on a fund-raising campaign before you start. 10 You don’t need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment, and all you need to keep that going is three meals a day. Travel light.
11 “When you enter a town or village, don’t insist on staying in a luxury inn. Get a modest place with some modest people, and be content there until you leave.
12 “When you knock on a door, be courteous in your greeting. 13 If they welcome you, be gentle in your conversation. 14 If they don’t welcome you, quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way. 15 You can be sure that on Judgment Day they’ll be mighty sorry – but it’s no concern of yours now.
16 “Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove.
17 “Don’t be naive. Some people will impugn your motives, others will smear your reputation – just because you believe in me. 18 Don’t be upset when they haul you before the civil authorities. Without knowing it, they’ve done you – and me – a favor, given you a platform for preaching the kingdom news! 19 And don’t worry about what you’ll say or how you’ll say it. The right words will be there; 20 the Spirit of your Father will supply the words.
21 “When people realize it is the living God you are presenting and not some idol that makes them feel good, they are going to turn on you, even people in your own family. 22 There is a great irony here: proclaiming so much love, experiencing so much hate! But don’t quit. Don’t cave in. It is all well worth it in the end. 23 It is not success you are after in such times but survival. Be survivors! Before you’ve run out of options, the Son of Man will have arrived.
24 “A student doesn’t get a better desk than her teacher. A laborer doesn’t make more money than his boss. 25 Be content – pleased, even – when you, my students, my harvest hands, get the same treatment I get. If they call me, the Master, ‘Dungface,’ what can the workers expect?
26 “Don’t be intimidated. Eventually everything is going to be out in the open, and everyone will know how things really are. 27 So don’t hesitate to go public now. 28 “Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life – body and soul – in his hands. MSG Matthew 9:35 – 10:28
There was a problem. People are bruised, broken, confused and aimless. What does Jesus do? He finds twelve guys. By the way, they were not the elite. He gives them power. He gives them authority. He sends them out.
Real quickly. Have you ever asked, what is God doing about the pain in this world? Here is the answer. God personally entered this earth in the form of Jesus to hit the spiritual reset button. He died and was resurrected so that if you believe in Him, you are saved. AND, God gives power and authority to His disciples to go and make a difference, today, right now.
Secondly, notice what Jesus did not do. He didn’t set up a small group structure. He didn’t send them to school to get a degree. He didn’t send them to find deeper teaching in another temple somewhere. He didn’t send them to learn about all the ins and outs of spiritual warfare, they learned that on the job. He didn’t send them to get training on how to evangelize, they learned that on the job. He didn’t empower them to go home to ignore the needs of people while building a successful life.
Jesus prays for disciples. Jesus gives them power and authority. Jesus sends them out. By today’s church standards, it was the most reckless thing you could do. Take jacked up bunch of guys, give them the power of the Holy Spirit and release them to represent God. That just doesn’t happen today.
I want you to understand something. If we did church like Jesus did, it would be the most life changing experience. We go to church, receive the power of the Holy Spirit, go into work, school, our homes and pray, love people and live generously.
What do we do in church, in North America today? The exact opposite don’t we? We come, we sing the songs, read the words and conclude, I can’t take God out of here into my world. What happens? Our Christianity is what Sam said, tired and stuck. We binge watch TV, play endless video games to check out and try to survive.
Let’s read again what Jesus said to His disciples. These are words for us.
Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. You are the equipment. Stay alert. Don’t be naïve. When people turn on you, and they will, don’t quit. Don’t be intimidated.
That’s what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. People around you are bruised, broken, confused and aimless. To step into that problem, and help solve it, means you are a disciple of Christ. All you need to do is start right in your neighborhood.
There is a problem today. Our community is loaded with bruised, broken, confused and aimless people. Today, the local church, when it gets it right, is the greatest way God will redeem a local community. We need to talk about 4 things today. The role of church. The role of the pastors. The role of people and the Holy Spirit. Please understand, the foundation of our understanding in all these subjects we find in scripture.
The role of the local church.
25 The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, 26 the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance. 27 You are Christ’s body – that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything. MSG 1 Corinthians12:25-28
When people visit MRC, they are visiting Christ’s body. We must be prepared to give to people what God has given to us. So we commit to love people when they come. Maybe all their lives they have been hurt and wounded and have never known, heard of, or experienced pure love. That means when you love them, they will be unable to love you back perfectly. Guess what, as the of body Christ, we don’t apologize, we will love you when you visit.
We commit to accept people when they come. The one thing I know is that I was a mess when I first came back to church. What I didn’t need was someone pointing out my sin, I already knew I blew it. What I needed was people to accept me, sin and all. That gave me hope. Listen, we don’t apologize, we will accept you when you visit.
We commit to forgive people when they come. People will do and say hurtful things. Not everyone is has emotional health or spiritual health. So when people come, they will hurt you. They will come and expect the world from you and then leave with no discussion. So what do we do? Jesus told us, forgive them seventy times seven times. In other words, forgive them endlessly, they may not be healthy. We don’t apologize, we will forgive you when you hurt us.
So do you see what scripture teaches about Church? We are Christ body. It’s our role to love, accept and forgive people. Who is the judge? God is, not us.
The role of the pastors.
11 He is the one who gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. NLT Ephesians 4:11-13
Notice, Jesus gave pastors leadership roles to do what? Are pastors supposed to wait around for people to bring them every problem and every challenge to fix? Are they supposed to be involved in every possible activity in the community? The church phone number is 1-800-ken-and-same-go-do-everything. No, scripture says, pastors are supposed equip God’s people to do the work, to enable people to build the church.
What do we ask of you here at MRC? Love God. Why? Because Jesus said that is the greatest thing you could do so we spent ten weeks teaching on that. Love others. Why? Because God said that is the second greatest thing you could ever do and that starts at home. You can have coffee with someone, be a volunteer coach, and genuinely care for people. Love growing. Why? Only when you take risks will you grow your faith. Love giving. Why? Because the number one thing that will pull you away from your love of God is your love of money. Giving is the only way to break up that affair. Love serving. Why? We are to take our ability and use it to solve a problem or invest into someone’s lives. Serve at MRC. Serve at New Hope. Serve at Youth Impact Project. Why do we challenge you with these five things? Because we are living out our leadership responsibility given by God.
The role of the people.
Jesus said, Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. You are the equipment. Stay alert. Don’t be naïve. When people turn on you, and they will, don’t quit. Don’t be intimidated.
You live in the real world and God has you where He wants you. You are the salt, the light of this world. Understand where you live, where you work, God needs you. Your family, the board room, your client meetings, the construction site, the sports field, the class room, changing diapers, that’s real life. All of us are to understand; we are the equipment.
The role of the Holy Spirit.
When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force – no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. 3 Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, 4 and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them. MSG Acts 2:1-4
The Holy Spirit is God. The church is dead without the Holy Spirit. Pastors are dead without the Holy Spirit. People are dead without the Holy Spirit. We need to join together as a church, pastors and people and pray and pray and pray. We desperately need God to be released into our lives like a wildfire. It’s God doing his work through the church, the pastors and the people. He is leading us all together to help find and restore the lost.
Hear me today. There is a problem. People around you are bruised, broken, confused and aimless. To step into that problem, and help solve it, means you are a disciple of Christ. That’s why at MRC our vision is simple: Imagine a church that wasn’t built around people’s likes or dislikes but instead was unapologetic, passionate and relentless in pursuing the lost.
I want to share with you our vison for 2017.
After reading the words of Jesus, “Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. You are the equipment. Stay alert. Don’t be naïve. When people turn on you, and they will, don’t quit. Don’t be intimidated.”
After creating MRC Dillsburg, a place that is not built on the likes or dislikes of people but instead is passionate, unapologetic and relentless in pursuing the lost.
After much prayer.
After the affirmation of our Bishop, our conference and our denomination.
After the affirmation of our leadership team.
I want to announce that it is time we plant a new church in Gettysburg called MRC Gettysburg.
We want to see around forty plus people leave MRC Dillsburg and commit to starting MRC Gettysburg. Maybe committing to 5 years [60 months/ 260 Sundays] of regular attendance and support. That’s at least 40 people serving as the launch team: giving, serving, praying and creating a new community of grace. Maybe they commute or move to Gettysburg. Maybe we begin October 2017.
Goal: Keep it simple. Over time, hopefully it grows to 100 or 150 and becomes a self-sustaining church.
Why? There is a problem. People are broken, hurt, dazed and confused. We need to step into that problem and share the grace, the good news, that was shared with us. That’s what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. And, solving that problem brings you meaning and passion.
Here in MRC Dillsburg, we have work to do. We need to meet with all leaders and volunteers to continue to establish our culture. We are creating a team that connects with a visitors and provides care and support. We want to support folks about the bigger life moments like hospital visits, weddings, babies or serious illness. We are creating a team that focuses on continuing to attract our community to MRC. We are creating a team that removes the work around the building off of our pastors so they can focus on what God called them to. We continue to challenge people to pray.
Sam and I met a pastor in Gettysburg to learn from him. He asked what we were up to. We told him about our vision. He began to cry and said, please come, we need you, we are losing the battle in Gettysburg, there are thousands of people who don’t go to church.
Ultimately, we want to take the lessons of MRC Gettysburg to someday create; MRC Abbottstown, MRC New Salem, MRC Dover, MRC Littlestown, MRC New Salem MRC Shrewsbury. Etc.
Why? There is a problem. Question for you? Will you help solve it?