Thursday, February 15, 2018

Why 400?

By Matt Evans

In Part 5 of our message series, Thrivin', I shared with you our heart for Rock Bridge to be a thrivin’ church. We desire to be a community of people who passionately pursue those who don’t know Jesus and see them connect to life in Christ. It’s that heart that led us to plant a new church over 15 years ago AND to carry the mission into 5 communities in NW Georgia and the TN Valley. And as I shared in the message, that same passion has led us to set just one church-wide goal for 2018:
To increase our evangelistic culture by seeing 400 people baptized.
In this blog, I want to share the foundations and dynamics of this goal...
God’s Aim for Humankind
First, we understand this goal to be connected to the ambitions God has shared with us in Scripture. God aims for disciples to be made of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20), to receive praise from every ethnic group and language on earth (Revelation 7:9-10), and for His Church to be His vessel for preaching the message of salvation (Romans 10:13-17; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21) and for doing good deeds (Titus 2:14). At Rock Bridge, we have summarized these aims into our mission statement: To glorify God by connecting people from all walks of life to life in Christ.
Therefore, setting a goal of 400 baptisms is a way of saying we are not playing games with our mission statement or God’s aims for humankind. We are serious about seeing life change, helping people walk in obedience to Christ, and sharing the gospel with more people. Additionally, we are being specific and definite in our prayers for God’s power and grace.
The Impact of Goals
Notice how many times in the book of Acts that Luke records a specific number and notes the numerical growth of the church (Acts 1:15, 2:47, 4:4, 5:14, 6:1, 6:7, 9:31, 11:21, 11:24, 14:1, 16:5, 17:4, and 17:12). Why was Luke so intentional about the numbers? Because every number represents a person who matters to God!
When we set a numerical goal, the specificity of the goal can make us uncomfortable, but it also makes it personal. We need to take personal our biblical responsibility to live sent and be Kingdom-seekers. In Romans 9:1-5, we see the personal burden Paul felt for Jews who lived apart from Christ. In Romans 15:20-28, Paul has the personal and specific ambition to preach Christ in Spain. So with a God-sized goal of 400 baptisms, every Rock Bridger can personally ask, “Who will I specifically pray for? Seek to share Christ with? Bring to a church service with me?” 
This goal is larger than Rock Bridge and is not merely about our particular church getting bigger. It is ultimately about asking the bigger questions in Hixson, Ringgold, Chatsworth, Dalton, Calhoun and even to the ends of the earth: are people hearing the gospel? Are they escaping the wrath of God? Are they being born again? Are they getting full of the Holy Spirit? Are they following Jesus? Are they experiencing life in Christ?
Why Baptisms?
These questions also help us understand why baptism is so crucial. Baptism is one of the few public and unique acts Christ commanded that represents salvation, is part of discipleship and obedience, involves joining the fellowship of a church, and testifies to others that Christ is a person’s new Lord and leader. Therefore, we believe that 400 people being baptized over the next year will require a move of the Holy Spirit and the corresponding responsiveness of His people striving to keep in step with Him (see Acts 4:29-31). 
So we understand that 400 baptisms will necessarily stretch us in our example, in our witness, in our prayers, and in our intentionality. But it will also remind us, that we are personally and collectively called to participate in the glorious and eternally significant plan of God Who “wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:4, CSB).
Let’s Live Sent
Finally, I never want us to stop dreaming big. We serve a God Who does more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20-21). I want it to be said of our church that we prayed and labored and risked in ways that show we believe God’s audacious promises to open doors for the gospel (Colossians 4:2-4) and to cause His word to run and be honored (2 Thess. 3:1). And He dares His people to ask Him to “make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession” (Psalm 2:8, CSB). 
Let’s ask Him, and let’s live sent!