Yesterday there were 6 SMALL gatherings of people that participated in the RoofTop Prayer Experience throughout TRBA of which we are aware. HOPEFULLY, as some emails and FaceBook posts indicate - there were others praying with us that could not be in those gatherings. As NC Baptists are praying over the next 30 - 45 days, take some extra time to "look out" over your community and sense what God is leading you/your church to do to minister in His name to hurting and LOST people all around us!
Maybe start with the following questions as you pray (and I am the church where I am a member (Ephesus Baptist Church of Spring Hope) to answer these questions:
1. How many people live within 5 miles of the church I attend?
7005 people live within a five-mile ring around Ephesus Baptist Church. If NC statistics are correct, then AT LEAST 5500 of them are NOT affiliated with a local church. Truly, the fields are "white unto harvest."
57% of those people are Anglo, 33% are African-American, and 8% are Hispanic. If my church does not reflect the racial make-up of its community, could God be calling us to do more towards that end?
2. Is my community going to grow over the next 5 years?
Between now and 2017, the projection is that the community will grow by 4.8% (337 NEW people within the next 5 years). In other words, there will be almost 3 times MORE people coming into our community over the next 5 years than were in my church this past Sunday.
In looking at the member churches of TRBA yesterday, I discovered ALL communities around our churches were growing SOME in the next 5 years and some were growing 15%. Truly, the fields are "white unto harvest."
3. What are the most prominent age groups in my community?
What I saw AMAZED me------>
- 980 people UNDER 22
- 1680 people between 22 - 30
- 1960 people between 31 - 51
- The above groups represent the people that are pretty sparse in our church (and neighboring churches within that 5-mile circle)
- 1540 people are in MY age group in the community (52 - 69)
- 840 people are over the age of 70 in my community
- The average age in my community is 40.4 years of age
TRULY, "the fields are white unto harvest." Pray with me that God will awaken our people to at least pray for the segments of people that are NOT in our churches. Pray that we will be willing to sacrifice our convenience, personal preferences, and traditions for the sake of reaching the lost of our community.
4. What are some of the obvious needs in my community?
- 44% of the homes with children in my community are led by single parents (8% by single dads)
- More than 1 out of every 5 adults did NOT graduate from high school
- More than 1900 adults have NEVER married and more than 1300 are divorced or widowed
5. What are some of the most common household concerns in my community?
This is an area God has convicted me to pray about - we seem to be pretty content on programs and events that serve us well. I do not think we are unique in that respect. I pray I am willing to be flexible/fluid/moldable and willing to give up self to accomplish God’s purpose. I think this answer comes in a two-fold “view” of my community:
1. Among the people that are looking for a church in my community, what are THEY looking for in a church:
a. Bible study and prayer groups
b. Personal/Family counseling
c. Spiritual retreats
d. Divorce Recovery
e. Spiritual development
2. Among the TOP concerns (higher than the national average) in the households of my community are:
a. Finding a good church/spiritual teaching
b. Problems in school
c. Teen/child problems
d. Divorce and abusive relationships
e. High level of concern about the “basics” of life – food, housing, jobs, “getting by.”
Truly, we are to be beacons of light to our communities. That means we must be sensitive to the real needs of the people in the shadow of our steeples (and their greatest need is Jesus). To ignore their need is to NOT be a reflection of the Loving Christ we profess to serve.
6. What is my church doing to more effectively minister to the needs of the people that live in my community/do not have a personal relationship with Christ Jesus?
I guess I answered that question above. But it is a real question worthy of our answering. What are we doing right now to reach people for Christ? What will we do in the days ahead?
7. What is God saying to ME personally as a next step in obedience to the call of God to be a good and faithful witness?
As I shared with the people in the 2 prayer services I attended yesterday, it needs to begin in ME. I can cast blame on everyone else, but God is revealing these realities to ME. Therefore, God expects ME to respond to these needs. To NOT be obedient to the revelation and command of God is sin!
If you do not have the answers to these questions for your community/church, then contact me. With 3 or 4 clicks on my computer, I can supply you the answers. PRAY FERVENTLY that God will lead you to minister in His name to the hurting and lost people around you.
In one of the services yesterday, someone mentioned that they were not comfortable in making "cold calls," reaching out to complete strangers. True - many people do not know the names of their neighbors. The person said she and her husband have determined they were going to begin to call people - beginning with the people in their church that are not currently attending. Though that is great, let me throw out another idea (as I did to her). Why not consider calling all your "neighbors?"
If you do not know their names, perhaps I can help you with that as well. Through the Mapping Center, we have access to a database that is supposed to be current within 90 days with the names, address (street by street), along with many phone numbers. As a beginning point, you could invite your neighbors - even though you do not know them - BY NAME to your church/events. MOST IMPORTANTLY, you can begin to pray for your neighbors by name and begin to take note of the needs that exist in their lives as you drive by their homes. I propose you pray for them as if they were lost people in need of Christ Jesus as Savior until you know different. And when you know different, commit to work with them to reach your community for Christ.
If you are interested in reaching your communities and are not aware of the association's resources available to you, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office at 919-496-7172. Yes - praise the Lord - our email server is back in operation!!!