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Increasing opportunities

Just a closer walk with thee   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  1:16:31
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Statistics

I know this day where there are statistics about everything. There are some that should grab our attention so we do something with the information collected for the statistics.
The subject matter today is of utmost importance, of eternal importance and commanded and should not be ignored (Mk16:15-16)
Mark 16:15–16 NASB95
15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.
There is world defined as cosmos, the creation
There is world as in the people, the created
(transition) But what makes up your world?
Expand on that for 1-2 minutes
The subject matter is powerful and will change lives when applied (Rom1:16-17)
Romans 1:16–17 NASB95
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”
Statistics by Institute for American Church Growth
There was a survey that was done I read about of over 10,000 active church members. One question but varied answers and this may shock you, and hopefully it will get your attention.
“What was responsible for your coming to Christ and the Church?”
The replies varied and may shock you some.
I had special, urgent need
So, benevolence work - 3%
I just walked in
This is not the age where people just walk in off the streets for the most part - 3%
I liked the minister
Someone heard about the minister and came to check him out and liked what they heard - 6%
I visited there when travelling
A very low 1% here.
I liked the bible classes
OK, OK, this is it, right, it is the teaching? - 5%
I attended a gospel meeting
Where the days of tent meetings has mostly gone away, so has their effectiveness - 0.5%
I liked the different programs offered
Programs, churches have lots of them, but are the effective in people coming to Christ? - 3%
A friend or relative invited me
we have not seen any big numbers yet have we, well that all changes when we get personal, by friend or relative -79%
we have not seen anything as far as big numbers yet have we, well that all changes when we get personal - 79%
Together we can impact our world! together we can be effective for the kingdom of God; together we can learn from statistics like these a few things.
(You are needed picture inserted here)
Things to learn, things to apply
It is the individual members that make up the church and make the church grow
Hey preachers, teachers, evangelist help to maintain and grow the congregation spiritually, they are great, and hey, I hope needed too.
You are needed, congregational involvement will reach people whom we might otherwise not come in contact with.
Our biggest potential is you!
Be it sitting in the pew, chair or on a couch at home because of social distancing, you are needed, you are the biggest potential we have to impact the world, our world, your world.
People plug in because they have contact, connection with someone within the congregation
Each of us have a circle of influence people that we come in contact with on a regular basis
Insert circle of influence what at Amcap 1.2 mil people over 25 years,
Now there are great efforts taken to reach people in masse too, Radio, TV, Facebook, even mailers, we need to utilize the contacts, connections we make with people on a personal, individual manner
Utilizing our personal connections by
Showing concern (Mt9:36-38; Rom9:1-3; Rom10:1)
Matthew 9:36–38 NASB95
36 Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. 38 “Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”
You are the Lord’s workers! it is not just the Evangelist, we are all called to evangelize. Jesus did not direct the words, the teaching just to the apostles, it was directed to the disciples. What is a disciple but a follower of the teacher JESUS!
In Rom9:1-3 Paul, in summary is saying he would give up his own salvation if it would save others. Are we willing to “give up” to save others? (Time, resources) may we demonstrate a heart like Paul
Romans 10:1 NASB95
1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.
Knowledge so we can increase opportunities
Knowledge brings wisdom (application) and that brings opportunities for then you are looking for them, those open doors to share the gospel, or to love and invite so the gospel can be shared.
(Transition): So do the statistics have your attention? Do you see the need for You in the body? Is there concern? that was a rhetorical question, I know you, I know you have concern so lets talk about how we can increase opportunities to share the gospel.

Making way for a caring congregation

Opportunities, increasing opportunities is what we are looking at today. May we take a few minutes and look at things we can do to make a way to make more opportunities.
Love one another will prove who we are (Jn13:34-35; 1Cor13:1)
Our love for one another will prove that we are who we say we are, actions speak louder than words oftentimes.
Correct doctrine is important but without love it is like a clanging cymbal or sounding brass (see 1Cor13:1)
It is our love for one another that will convince the world that we are true disciples of Christ. Check out what Jesus said.
John 13:34–35 NASB95
34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Let love be in action!
Love makes us useful for the kingdom (Rev3:7-8)
The Lord knows the condition of the churches heart. If we want to be a congregation that creates opportunities to reach others with the gospel we need the right heart.
Revelation 3:7 NASB95
7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this:
Revelation 3:8 NASB95
8 ‘I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.
Our heart matters for when we have the right heart, God opens doors of opportunity to reach with the gospel, to help assimilate people into the family of God as well as nurturing them.
Love is an action, a verb, step together (1Pt4:8-9)
Let’s go verbing together!
We are a small congregation and I hope we all know each others names, if not, make a point to learn everyone’s names
Here is a good challenge, pray for one another in your daily prayers, or split it up over the week in prayers for a few people each day.
Verbing by showing hospitality
1 Peter 4:8–9 NASB95
8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Be hospitable to one another without complaint.
Practiced hospitality is love in action, it is verbing. It is inviting one another into each others homes, or meeting in public for a shared meal if more comfortable with that. This is a way to get to know one another, love one another beyond the assembly. Invite different people for we are to be an intimate fellowship as we have discussed in previous series.
Practiced hospitality is visiting our shut-ins, maybe your health is risky and you can’t do that, then call, write a card that is still being hospitable.
Practiced hospitality is inviting new guests or new Christians out for lunch after worship. An opportunity to get to know them and they you. This is part of assimilating people into the family of God.
(Transition) -so you have some suggested verbing there, well I don’t want to stop there. Te opportunities we are looking at, in a closer walk with thee today are opportunities to grow the body of Christ, so here is another simple tool to use.

Soul Saving List

So you want to be a soul winner for Jesus? You want people to know and share the hope that is in you and have the blessings of being a Christian? Then here is another step to take.
Make a soul saving list
Do any of you have a “to do” list?
Who do we want to reach with the gospel message? Put them on the list, be specific
Be deliberate, who is in your circle of influence?
OK, so you are going to do a list. Who is in your circle of influence?
Family, friends
Co-workers; Neighbors
Guests, return guests
Acquaintances
Keep the soul saving list before you so not forgotten.
so you are deliberate on your circle of influence, you have written the list, but now, don’t make it so long that you cannot focus daily in prayer on the list.
Prioritize your list, the unsaved (unchurched) and then the wayward Christian who needs to return to the Lord.
(Transition: Keep the list before you daily so you can pray daily. and that is our next point to look at.

Soul Saving Prayers

The fervent prayer of the righteous avails much, right? We want to be soul winners, right? So prayer is a vital part of being a soul winner, here are some suggestions and things to consider.
Pray for God appointed opportunities (open doors) through godly service (Col4:2-5)
Colossians 4:2–3 NASB95
2 Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; 3 praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned;
Colossians 4:4–5 NASB95
4 that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak. 5 Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.
Pray for open eyes and ears to see and hear the truth (Isa35:5)
Isaiah 35:5 NASB95
5 Then the eyes of the blind will be opened And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.
We want people to have eyes an ears to hear and see the truth of the gospel.
(transition) - not only eyes and ears to hear and see, but . . .
Pray for open eyes and heart to receive the truth (Eph1:18)
Ephesians 1:18 NASB95
18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
Pray for God’s will for God makes the increase (1Cor3:5-7)
1 Corinthians 3:5–6 NASB95
5 What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.
1 Corinthians 3:7 NASB95
7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.
Look again at v.6 and v.7, who causes the growth? God does!
May we remember we are God’s servants for God’s purpose and for God’s glory!
(Transition) - - - so made a list, praying over the list, praying specifically over the list now how about some more application?

Verbing: Demonstrating your love

People do not care how much you know until them know how much you care. Remember actions speak loudly, how you demonstrate your love for people and their very souls are important.
Demonstrate your love through your acts of service
Expand on that for 2-3 minutes only
Demonstrate your love by your lifestyle (1Pt2:11-12)
1 Peter 2:11–12 NASB95
11 Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. 12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.
Good deeds, good works that lead to bringing glory to God in heaven, deeds done with that purpose are vital, be sure you do them with right heart it is not about you it is about others!
Live a Christian lifestyle in plain sight as a disciple of Jesus Christ in actions, then you can back actions up with words from the increased opportunities you have because of your lifestyle.
Demonstrating your love through invitations
Invite to services
Let them see what “simply Christians” look like and do, let them experience the love we have for one another and for the lost or stumbling. So, from the personal love to church love, the body of believers loving one another.
Invitations lead to hearing the invitation of the gospel
Invitations through preparatory prior to invitation
Ask for wisdom to when to invite
Ask for boldness to invite
(Transition) Demonstrating, verbing, personally leads to the invitations to the assembly, then what?
Invitations to love
Whether invited by you or someone else, love on the guests in person when them come. Make them feel welcome and important, for they are!
Practice hospitality with the guests as mentioned before
Demonstrating love as a congregation makes for better doors of opportunities for them to hear, believe and obey the gospel.
(Transition) - speaking of the gospel let me press on

Opportunities for the gospel

God’s desire is for all men to come to repentance and obey the gospel, and if that is God’s desire it should be ours too.
Love (verb) opens doors of opportunity to share the gospel
Receptive because of your love for God and others makes opportunities for people to want to hear the gospel message
Sharing the gospel does not need to be in the assembly
Maybe hearing the gospel needs be one on one or in a small group. Remember many churches started in homes, in small groups
In fact most people are not converted in the assembly it is in homes, coffee shops, parks, etc.
Be equipped to share the gospel
we have resources available (i.e. book studies, directional studies, informative studies)
Be honest, be humble, be willing
If you do not feel qualified to share the gospel get with someone else to help do it, but be willing to sit in on a study, for support and for learning yourself.
(transition to conclusion) - - We have lots of opportunities to increase opportunities to grow the body and in turn grow closer in our walk with thee at the same time. May we stop and look at the survey again just for a moment.
Spiritual need (3%)
Walked in (3%)
Liked minister (6%)
Visited (1%)
Liked bible class (5%)
Went to gospel meeting (0.5%)
Liked programs (3%)
Invited by friend/relative (79%)
You do not need to be an evangelist, preacher or teacher to lead someone to Christ, you just need to be willing to be a servant and then serve and remember the Lord adds to the numbers daily those being saved.
(Together we can picture inserted here)
Give encouragement to the believers
(invitation slide)
Invitation
(invitation slide 2) - when say let’s pray (stop recording here)
(Exit slide)
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