If you would like to send your offering through the mail, our mailing address is:
CrossPointe Community Church
P O Box 126
Chippewa Lake, OH 44215
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”Matthew 16:13-18
“Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”
Then He asked them, “But who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because My Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build My church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.
“So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!”
Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”
Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!”
Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all. All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.Acts 2:36-47
The Church As Evangelist . . . Movement!
Johnny’s mother looked out the window and noticed him “playing church” with their cat. The cat was sitting quietly and he was preaching to it. She smiled and went about her work. A while later she heard loud meowing and hissing and ran back to the open window to see Johnny baptizing the cat in a tub of water.
“Johnny, stop that!” she yelled, “That cat’s afraid of water!”
Johnny looked up at her and said, “He should have thought about that before he joined my church.”
The last couple of Sundays I have been talking about the church. We saw that Jesus was the one who introduced the concept of church when He said to His disciples in that crucial passage in Matthew 16 that it was His intention to build His Church (16:18). We; therefore, are excited to recognize that Jesus is the head of His church; and yet, that He trusts us and invites us to join Him in building it up.
I believe in and love the church because the head of the church, even Jesus, our Lord, invites each and every church member to participate in the most vital aspect of His Church: Reaching people for Christ!
We are talking about evangelism; that is sharing the good news of the gospel of Christ in the hopes that people will get right with God through faith in God’s Son.
Concerning evangelism, I have always appreciated the work of Dr. George Sweazey, who, in his book, The Church As Evangelist writes what I believe is not only true, but vitally important about reaching people for Jesus:
There is just one basic method of evangelism. It is the one to which all the others have to be related. It can be described in just five words: THE CHURCH IS THE EVANGELIST. The evangelist is not a person at all, but a fellowship. God put His Church on Earth as His intended instrument for evangelism. Evangelism is a team accomplishment. The evangelists are not so much the revival preachers, or the zealous “personal workers;” they are the whole congregation. Our need is not for more evangelists, but an evangelizing church. This does not minimize the classical conception of the evangelist as the warm-hearted Christian who lays a loving hand on someone’s shoulder and asks, “Isn’t it time you gave your life to Christ?” That is important. But that is not how most people become Christians. The normal way for adults to be brought to faith is across the growing edge of some congregation. The basic method for evangelism is to draw people into a fellowship and through that fellowship to bring them to a knowledge of Christ and a desire to give their lives to Him. 1
What Sweazey is talking about can readily be seen in The Book of Acts!
As those members of that early church “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.”
Throughout the book, the witness of the church in the community had a dramatic impact that becomes clear as we take a gander at the summary statements scattered through Acts:
Not only here in 4:37: “And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.”
But also in Acts 6:7: “So God’s message continued to spread. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too.”
Acts 9:31: “The church then had peace throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, and it became stronger as the believers lived in the fear of the Lord. And with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it also grew in numbers.”
Acts 12:24: “Meanwhile, the word of God continued to spread, and there were many new believers.”
Acts 16:5: “So the churches were strengthened in their faith and grew larger every day.”
And Acts 19:20: “So the message about the Lord spread widely and had a powerful effect.”
Think about it! In the span of a few hundred years a small band of seemingly insignificant followers of a Galilean Rabbi are successful in turning the world upside down! All around the Mediterranean basin, small groups of Christians quickly grow into larger and larger congregations of Christ worshippers and the church literally explodes throughout the Roman Empire despite the Empires best efforts to extinguish it.
This is not to negate as Sweazey rightly points out the ministry of evangelism
engaged in by individual persons like Peter and Paul, but it is to say that God used the overall witness of the church in a powerful way to reach others for Christ.
As we think about engaging in the ministry of evangelism in Chippewa Lake let’s begin to think about Sweazy’s statement . . . the church as the evangelist.
The church being the evangelist begins simply enough with our presence primarily in this building and the sign out by the road that distinguishes us as the CrossPointe Community Church. Just maintaining and using this building on a regular basis is an important part of making a difference for God in this community. How sad it would be for the community if for any reason we had to shutter this building. That news would spread quickly throughout the community. “Did you hear that CrossPointe closed?”
“Oh no,” people would say, “they were such an asset to the community.”
That would be a grim blow to this community. Maintaining a presence is an important, but oft overlooked aspect of the church being the evangelist.
By the way, it was providential don’t you think that the originators of this church put the word ‘community’ in our name? Gail recalls coming up with three names but we chose this for the 3 C’s. But when we started having worship services at Cloverleaf High School we didn’t even have a community to call our own. In fact that didn’t occur until providence led us to set up shop in this building after 10 years and three different locations. But now we can truly say that we are living up to our namesake of CrossPointe Community Church.
I believe the church is being the evangelist whenever you invite someone to attend worship here. In fact, that is, in my mind, the most vital aspect of the church being the evangelist! Reaching people for Christ is in your hands. It is a fact that the more people we invite to come experience in Sweazy’s words, “our fellowship” the more people we will reach for Christ. Do you desire to see us reach more people for Jesus? You have the control and the power to help make that happen by inviting other people to come here. Will all the people who respond to your invitation come to Christ? No, not everyone is going to feel they fit in here. But many will.
CrossPointe was the evangelist, when in conjunction with the funding of the local Lions Club we offered the free monthly meal this past Friday.
CrossPointe is the evangelist every time we have Gathered to worship and then Scattered into the community to do our best to Share God’s Grace with Our Community.
CrossPointe will be the evangelist next Saturday when we block streets and walk and/or run or jump in the lake as part of the Polar Bear Event.
CrossPointe is being the evangelist whenever Bridging the Gap plays at either The Village Inn or the Point park end of summer party.
I believe the same dynamic is true when we enter a float in the 4th of July parade.
And CrossPointe will be the evangelist in a new way when we launch our new after-school program for children and youth.
How is CrossPointe being the evangelist in these ways? We are bringing fulfillment to the words Jesus spoke when He said, “Let your light so shine BEFORE MEN, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Every time we do something in this community and people realize that the CrossPointe name is behind it it increases our, and therefore God’s stature, in this community.
Again I refer to George Sweazey:
To see the whole church as the evangelist can correct the ruinous old misconception as evangelism as a special activity for special people at special times and make us recognize that it is a normal activity for all the church people all the time. 2
Last Wednesday, as I was doing a google search of Sweazey’s book The Church As Evangelist, and discovered across a book entitled, The Church As Movement, Starting and Maintaining Missional; Incarnational Communities. As I perused the book, I found it to be a 2016 update of Sweazey’s 1986 book.
In it they write,
The church as movement is not a Platonic ideal. It’s real people with dirt under their fingernails serving their neighborhoods. The movement church must have a vision for the micro spaces of a neighborhood where marginalized people, forgotten people, people not interested in a slick worship service fall through the cracks. Movements do not stay bottled up in buildings; they move into the streets. The church as movement is an incarnational movement.” 3
To grasp the significance of both Sweazey’s The Church As Evangelist or Woodward and White’s, The Church As Movement, is to understand that the church is not, then, something we go to, but something that WE ARE!
To that end, what can we do?
- Continue to attend worship faithfully. When that parking lot is full, people who drive by and notice know that something good and exciting must be happening here.
- Invite others to come with you.
- Right along with attending, as we all keep faithfully giving, we enable the church to maintain its presence in this community.
- Participate as best you can in the outreach opportunities we offer throughout the year.
- Last but not least, in fact I saved the best for last: pray, pray and pray some more. Prayer is the key that unlocks the door to effective evangelism! In I Timothy 2:1-6, Paul writes: “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. … This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For, there is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave His life to purchase freedom for everyone.”
Do you have in mind someone you would like to see come to the Lord? If you don’t, I encourage you to make a list of one or two people and begin to pray for them. Ask God to use the circumstances of their life to turn their hearts toward Him. Pray that God will open an opportunity for you to have an impact in their life. And in keeping with today’s emphasis, pray that everything we do as a church will be used by God to help reach others for Him.
Because that is what Jesus created the church for and that’s what churches are to be about!
To close, may I remind you that as we engage in The Church as Evangelist or Movement, we must see the lost and the hurt through the eyes of the Father.
Pastor David Erickson tells the following story:
My little brother once had a rather traumatic event take place in his life. He was playing a basketball game in which he took an extremely freakish fall. He went up in the air, and he came down with his feet over his head, and landed on the back of his head and neck. Immediately he went into convulsions. His toes turned inward and his arms and hands pulled in toward his chest. He lay lifeless and silent on the court. His breathing stopped, his heart ceased to function. Some medical personnel in the crowd immediately rushed down and began to administer CPR to him. A number of minutes later, they got him going again. To make a long story short, he is doing fine today. Other than the fact that he is still the ugliest member of the Erickson clan, he’s fine; he’s absolutely fine. I wasn’t there when that event happened and by the time I arrived in Minneapolis, he had been released from the hospital and was home. But as with most ball games these days, the event was videotaped, so I had an opportunity to see for myself what took place.
When I watched the replay, two things were indelibly etched in my memory.
Number one is the fall itself; how his body reacted to the severity of that blow. But the other thing that I can never forget is the look on my father’s face as he peered over the shoulders of those attempting to resuscitate his son. I want you to know that there’s something extremely powerful about the way a father looks at his child in distress. 4
As we consider our high calling to be a truly community minded church we must always be motivated and moved to see people through the eyes of our Heavenly Father whose desperate face announces that, even should one of His precious little children should perish, that’s far too many.
C. S. Lewis said it best: “The Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose.” 5
1 Dr. George Sweazey, The Church As Evangelist, [San Francisco: Harper, © 1984], Pages 47-48
2 Ibid, page 48.
3 J. R. Woodward and Dan White, Jr., The Church As Movement, Starting and Sustaining Missional-Incarnational Communities, [Downer’s Grove, Illinois, IVP © 2016], Page 191.
4 Pastor David Erickson in a sermon titled Encounter: The Vision of Witnessing
5 C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, [New York, New York: Simon and Schuster, Touchstone Books Edition, © 1996] Page 171.