Time Not to Panic but to Pray
The church at Ephesus was a strong church. It had been founded by The Apostle Paul, led by Paul’s protégé Timothy, and eventually pastored by none other than John, the beloved disciple. They were known for their hard work, high standards, and faithful endurance. However, Jesus said to them in Revelation 2, 5Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches, NLT. If they did not turn around, the church at Ephesus would close its doors.
I told our folks on Sunday the 17th that Southgate Baptist Church, just around corner from HHBC, has closed their doors. I then reminded them that our numbers have been shrinking for some time. In 2015, our worship attendance averaged 73, in 2016 it was 66, and this year so far it is 59. As of this writing, two Sundays ago, we had 40 in worship! What happened since 2015? 10 to 12 van children and teens have quit coming because they got older, and their parents would not make sure they came. 11 adults have quit coming because we did not have enough young adults. We lost attenders and members, not from a conflict but from a failure to reach new members.
It is not time to panic; it is time to pray. In Spring of 2016, we united in prayer, asking God to help our offerings, and today our church is thousands of dollars over budget! Now it is time for us to pray for God to help us reach our neighbors. Here is the prayer strategy I shared with our folks on the 17th:
We need God’s help, so please pray every day:
- That God will send us “workers for the harvest,” Matthew 9:37-38.
- That God will draw into our church the persons on your Impact List, John 6:44, and that He’ll use you to do it.
- That God will send us people looking to serve and looking to come to faith in Jesus.
Each month during the week before Car Care, please fast and pray:
- That God will draw to Car Care people who will come to faith in Jesus and to HHBC for discipleship.
- That God will draw to Car Care believers who are looking for a place to serve and to grow.
- For the outreach of your church.
Jesus said, Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock, and the door will be opened to you, Matthew 7:7. People of God, if you love HHBC, then it is time to join together to ask, to seek, and to knock.
To Our Warriors in the Sunday School, and Those They Are Called to Teach
16“Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do. . . . 17But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face 18so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you, Matthew 6.
In this and other texts, Jesus assumed two things: first, that we will fast, and second, that God will reward us when we do. In August, I asked our folks to fast and pray for our leaders as we met to seek God’s dream for our church. As a result, we had an amazing meeting, and God has shared His dream with us. I am asking you again to pray and fast, but this time to pray and fast for the outreach of our church (see my earlier article). I believe our church is at a crossroads, and if we take the wrong turn, we may not like where we end up. So I need everyone to embrace the prayer strategy mentioned earlier. Part of that strategy is to fast.
There are numerous ways to fast:
- Give up a meal or meals to pray for Car Care and our church’s outreach. I will not eat for 36 hours prior to Car Care weekend.
- Give up your favorite TV show to pray. Maybe set aside 30 minutes each night to turn off the TV to pray for Car Care and our church’s outreach.
- Give up a hobby night, a work out, Facebook, or some other regular event to pray for Car Care and our church’s outreach.
- Give up cokes or any other “fun” beverage or dessert. Then, when you drink water or skip that piece of pie, remember to pray for Car Care and our church’s outreach.
People with diabetes or other health issues need to be wary of going without food, but as you see, there are other ways to fast. I do not know why fasting was so important to Jesus, but clearly it was, for He even had a 40 day fast in the wilds of Judea.
Let us pray and fast for the outreach of our church, and let’s see what God will do.