“In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” (Romans 4:18-21 ESV)
I was reminded the other night, as my wife and I were talking about what changes in how we approach outreach and evangelism might look like in our home. In light of some reading we’re both doing, we noticed how much opening our lives up to the unsaved would do to change our structured lives. The time and money invested in building relationships with friends, co-workers, neighbors and family, is rather overwhelming. We said to our selves, “this is a process that will take years to see visible fruit.”
Yet, this is the kind of investment our churches need to be making in the unsaved world around us. Over 85 million Americans have absolutely no desire to step foot into a church on Sunday. And frankly, they won’t with how things are progressing. The younger crowd is even worse. And trying to change what we do to draw people in won’t work either. To the unsaved, our “product” is unappealing in contrast to what the world has to offer. The vast majority of “church growth” that we are seeing in the West, is not people actually getting saved and being added to churches, but church folks just moving from church to church, often from smaller to larger ones where there are more “programs” to meet their felt needs. The problem is, all the programs in the world won’t meet the needs of the unsaved. Only the Gospel as authentically transmitted by Christians will do that.
That’s why this passage from Romans was so encouraging to me this week. I know that the task is not mine alone. The hard work of outreach will indeed be hard, but I am not alone. I have a church that supports and backs me up as they are doing the same as me, and I have the power of the Gospel and the Holy Spirit to bring men to Christ for repentance and faith.
So, in hope I believe against hope, that CBFC can have a huge impact in our corner of the Hudson Valley. I believe and trust and have faith that God will use us as we seek to creatively reach out to the world around us, getting where they are, meeting them on their own turfs, and building relationships and showing love and mercy and grace, and prayerfully sharing the Gospel and seeing people come to faith. That’s exciting to think about. And all that outweighs any fear and trepidation on my part about the costs to reaching out in this way. This is the hard work of outreach and evangelism before us. Are we up to the task? Abraham’s task was harder than ours and in faith, he trusted God for the fruition of the promise. We too can trust that God will fulfill His promise to us. Let us trust in Christ for the power and be faithful to our responsibility to make disciples!