‘You will be My Witnesses’

14 Apr

I have been on the Riverside Go-team twice, 2009 and 2010,  in just that one year between the two teams I saw real personal spiritual growth in the congregation. One of the most amazing evidences of that growth was the witnessing of the congregation. The first year we had an ‘evangelistic’ meeting in the church which we invited much of Newry to during the week – no visitors came. The next year the format of the meeting was changed, we instead had a BBQ outside the church, we had some games in the hall and Pastor Sweeney finished it off with a simple 10 minute gospel presentation from a Psalm which we then sang.

The real difference on the previous year however, was that visitors actually came! And I’m not just talking about the kind of visitors that are elders at the local Presbyterian Church; I mean the ones that don’t go to church. That’s right we found those elusive non-Christians that always seem to be absent from the meetings we design for them!

Now, some of this success im sure was -humanly speaking- down to the change in form of the meeting, and perhaps too often we design evangelistic meetings that only appeal to those like ourselves? However, none of these people came because the Go-Team invited them, how do I know? We didn’t invite anyone; we just gave out 4U magazines! The visitors that came, came because they had been invited by people in the congregation. Those people heard the gospel and it was almost nothing to do with the work of  the mighty Go-team!

I got the feeling on that Go-team that, really we weren’t needed. That encouraged me.  We were just there to do the physical work of handing out literature and helping with HBC that this small congregation couldn’t do all themselves. We were there just to facilitate and encourage the congregation in THEIR work of witnessing, It would have gone on without us. The go team was NOT seen as THE evangelism for the year. I unfortunately cannot say I have seen this attitude in many the congregations I have visited, I think mission/go teams are often looked on as  ‘getting some young people over to do us some of that evangelism’ and if God doesn’t chose to bring people in then so be it. This is such an easy mind-set to slip into but yet absolutely deadly to the work of the church.

We almost expect no one to come to our outreach meetings, and is it any wonder God isn’t bringing people in when we aren’t actively and continually seeking to witness. Do we honestly struggle to understand why many of our congregations are in decline if we only share the gospel for one week a year and even then we don’t pursue those we can have a real impact on i.e. unsaved friends, family and loved ones, those who know us. Rather we are content to let Christians we have never met tell non-Christians we have never met about a church neither of them has ever been to except on a Go-team.

I am proGo-teams but in the correct perspective. It is not a team of people to come to your church and do your witnessing for you. It is not the week in the year where you go to someone else’s church and fulfil your active witnessing requirements for another annum. It is just one week of 52 in which me must be witness for Christ.

“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” – Acts 1:8

This issue has been on my mind since I heard this sermon by David McCullough back in August (Specific bit @ 23min 20s onwards):

You Will Be My Witnesses (Acts 1v8) from Dromore RPC on Vimeo.

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