(Acts 2:1-4; John 14:15-17, 25-26; 15:26-27; 16:7-14) – J G White
11 am, Pentecost Sunday, May 20, 2018 – UBC Digby
A major turning point comes in the scripture story of Pentecost Sunday. What Carol read and the choir sang is the fulfilment of all those words Jesus had spoken. The Holy Spirit appeared; Christianity was born! What a turning point.
Are we at a turning point? Is this a defining moment for us? Some of you in this congregation may feel it is. And it may well be, for good reasons.
Did you read the leaflet last week called OASIS 2018: TURNING POINT? We are part of a family of about 450 Baptist Churches in Atlantic Canada. And as this whole group meets in August (we call it Oasis) we will catch a vision of where we see we are. Baptist or not, this may be true for you. The pamphlet says:
We are at a Turning Point.
This is a defining moment in our history as a family of churches. The choices we make now will have ripple effects for generations to come.
A Turning Point is an opportunity to make a change that will impact the future. Will we make the right choice? The right choice is not always the easy or pain-free choice.
We have an opportunity to reshape our future now. We believe in a great future for the church in Atlantic Canada and the part that the CBAC will play.
Oasis 2018 will focus on what is required of us as a family of churches if we’re going to make a difference joining God in our neighbourhoods.
CBAC staff will be the main speakers at Oasis 2018. They will help us zero in on our three priorities where we must focus our resources and energy.
By 2025 we’ll see:
- 300 Mission Edge Churches
- 65 New Congregations
- 75 emerging Pastor Leaders (total of 150 pastor leaders)
We believe that we’ll see a God-dream of 3000 Baptisms in one year by 2025. What an exciting dream! We need 3000 people praying for this. Will you join us?
This lays out the emphasis of our leadership in Atlantic Canada now. For other hints, just look at the seminars being offering at the gathering in August. These tell you what we believe in doing.
The Worn Path: moving your church to hospitality
Belonging Precedes Believing
Refugee Ministry: a global way to join God in your nieghbourhood
Fresh expressions for the Mission Edge Church
Being Real: mission edge and the smaller church
Joining God in Our Neighbourhoods & Networks
All this is responding to the present crisis in local churches. It is about us at the grass-roots. About us.
So, right here, close to home… have you thought that our [your] church is “on the downhill slide?” This may well be true. I don’t say this because our offerings to the end of April were $2,200 less than we budgeted. I don’t say this because our expenditures were $8,000 more than our income so far. I say we may be ‘on the downhill slide’ because of other warning signs. Christian leaders say things like this:
11 Signs Your Church Is Going Extinct (not all eleven…)
- Decline has made you cautious
- Your affection for the past is greater than your excitement for the future
- You mostly listen to the voices of the current members
- Your conflict is about the wrong things
- Any growth you have is transfer growth
That’s from Carey Nieuwhof of Orillia, ON.
Another expert says: When a church is dying, these are [some of] the common responses.
- Blame society: It is the world’s fault that the church is not growing.
- Seek to save/raise money to help keep the church open. Bills must be paid. Buildings must be maintained. Establish an endowment fund.
- Make the members/leaders feel guilty. Obviously it is someone’s fault.
That’s from Stephen McMullin of St. John / ADC. These are the warning signs of ill health in the fellowship of believers, in whatever town or city.
This morning we celebrate the Spirit with us in our lives. We heard from Jesus, in his long talk with the twelve disciple, before He was to leave them. Since He would soon die, and within a month leave them, they were promised they would not be alone. God the Spirit would be with them all. Do ya suppose God is with us still?
In His first phrase about the Spirit, Jesus said the Spirit of Truth would be with them forever. Secondly, Jesus says the Advocate will teach and remind them of everything. Thirdly, the Comforter will tell about Jesus, once Jesus is gone. Fourthly, the Helper will set the record straight about what is wrong in our world, what is right, and how it gets sorted out. And Fifthly, Jesus said the Spirit of Truth will share what comes from God. Speak what He hears.
We are not lacking Jesus, two thousand years after His lifetime here. Jesus died, then came back to life, and then left this earthly life, yes. But God is still with us, Emmanuel. In Spirit. As a wise old pastor, John Bartol, says: the Holy Spirit is like another Jesus. One with us here, always.
I am excited here when I see you being stirred up, stirred up to do good. Stirred up by the Spirit? Yes.
At least three of you – who are seniors – are interested in making some good things happen for seniors. Let’s get together and make things happen.
A group of you are serving and training to help with our children on Sundays. We’re off to a good start.
A couple of you are planning to start a new small group in the fall for care and sharing and support of one another.
A few of you are keen to learn – to learn basics about the Bible, to learn prayer; or to find ways to have deep conversations and be well fed.
A group of you are getting on board to help our newcomer friends from Syria bring some of their family members here.
And a number of you are thinking creatively about how we finance what we do together here.
It is not just our Baptist Convention, CBAC, that is prompting us to be a mission station based in downtown Digby. God the Spirit is in our moves, our motives, our minds, our melting hearts.
A turning point can come when we feel a crisis coming on, and turn to God. When we wait together for the Spirit to fill and fulfill.
And at the turning point, we can join in, and become one of the 300 ‘Mission Edge’ Baptist Churches. A local group that knows we are here and we are together to make a difference among the people of Digby County, and beyond. A group that can consider changes and make hard choices for the sake of our good work with God. A group that joins the 3000 people praying over the next six years for 3000 people to come to faith in Christ.
We are at a turning point. Will we turn?