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The Vision of SGC (Part 8 – We Evangelize the Lost)

Posted in Church Plant, Evangelism, Life in the Church, Vision

Over the last couple of weeks we've been looking at SGC's vision, answering the question, What is SGC to be about? I hope the answer to that question has been made a bit clearer through these blog posts. But there is one last piece of the puzzle to consider. Here we go from looking only at 401 Upchurch St. and the property that we occupy there—and the ministry that happens through the members who gather there—to the cities around us. Our vision is not only to be a healthy and fruitful church here in Apex, but to be a church that plants more churches as God enables us to do it.

Once again, here is the vision of SGC:

We are a community of believers in Jesus Christ that seeks to be gospel-centered, Bible-saturated, and Spirit-empowered as we worship God, love one another, grow as disciples, serve the needy, and evangelize the lost.

We seek to...evangelize the lost.

This proclamation has to do with our individual and corporate evangelism, and also with our commitment to church planting.

God's design is that he saves sinners who then become the means for other sinners to be saved. We know this from the Great Commission where Jesus commanded us to "go therefore and make disciples of all the nations" (Matt. 28:18-19a). In other words, we are to be disciples who are making disciples.

The primary place we want evangelism to happen is in the lives of our members. As they share the gospel in their families, neighborhoods, workplaces, and more, souls will be saved and disciples will be made. Evangelism also happens on Sunday mornings in our preaching—and as believers are baptized and we take the Lord's Supper. We also hold occasional events specially dedicated to sharing the gospel with the lost.

We desire to be evangelize the lost also through church planting. A first question to ask here is, Why? Why would a church want to plant more churches instead of growing bigger? Why not consolidate our ministry here in Apex with the property we have and the leaders now in place?

One answer is that we are committed to the Great Commission. Jesus commanded us to "go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them…, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:19, 20). The call of God is not simply to evangelize to people who don't know the gospel, but to "make disciples." That is a process that requires significant time, especially since it involves "teaching them to observe all that I have commanded." This cannot happen overnight or even in a year. That tells us that Jesus intends the Great Commission to happen by planting churches. Within a local church this extended teaching and discipleship can happen.

A second answer to this question is what we find in the New Testament. As the gospel goes out from Jerusalem into the Mediterranean world disciples are indeed made. And yet these disciples are not left to float around as Christian Lone Rangers. Instead, the apostles plant churches that are led by elders (e.g., Acts 14:23). By the end of the book of Acts there are local churches in cities all around the Mediterranean Sea. They were different in size and maturity and relative health, but they all represented a work of God in a given city and region. We see this example as God's direction to us to do the same.

We have already had the joy of planting one church: Redeeming Grace Church in Durham, NC. We have had the joy of being a church plant ourselves. Many of our members look back fondly on the day when Community Life Church (what is now called Sovereign Grace Church) opened its doors to establish a new work of God here in Raleigh, NC.

Our desire now is to see other churches planted in our region and as far outward as God would allow. You might ask how we will accomplish this. The truth is, we don't have all the answers to the how questions. Yet we believe it should have an impact on the kind of elders we ordain, on our church budget, on our long-term planning, on how we structure our home groups, and how we pray. On these matters we have far more questions than we have answers, but we are committed to this endeavor nonetheless.

So God help us to grow strong as a church. But God help us to do this in such a way that other churches are planted, that many unbelievers are transformed by the gospel, and that the name of God is worshiped by thousands of people who are not worshiping him now.

That is our vision for SGC. We hope it stirs your hearts like it does ours.

Amen.

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We are a church built on the Bible, guided and empowered by the Spirit, striving to make disciples, and pursuing holiness in the context of robust biblical relationships.

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