October 25, 2013 FBC
God Loves Cities
Acts 8:4-8

“Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city.” (Acts 8:4–8, ESV)

God Loves cities. Because God loves people.

Our focus has been on the CHURCH. But today I want to focus on the CITY.

From “Revival” by Brian Edwards
“When revival began in 1907 in Pyongyang, now the capital of North Korea, students from the theological seminary ..set themselves the task of spreading the gospel through the whole of Korea within a year. They determined to penetrate areas where no missionary had ever been. 1,000,000 copies of Mark were printed and 700,000 were sold in the first year. Many went abroad as missionaries. Some whet to Siberia, some to remote islands and others to China. The evangelism of China’s vast population, was born in the Korean revival.” (157)

Public records from Cardiff, Wales, reveal that arrests for public drunkenness dropped in half in the years following the Welsh revival “ (183)

In that same revival, “some mines in Wales in 1904 came to a standstill because the pit ponies could no longer understand the orders that were given to them: the haulers, classed as the worst group of men in the pits, proverbial for their profanity and cruelty, were no longer cursing their commands and the ponies were confused!” (187)

There was a great revival in Malawi in 1910!
The revival began when… “An Elder began to pray, confessing before all the sin of having cherished a spirit of revenge to an evil done to him. Then another and another, till two or three were praying together in a quiet voice, weeping and confessing.” (13)
I started thinking about CITIES.

I. Christianity Started One City at a Time
A. Jerusalem
1. Acts 2 – Pentecost
2. Acts 6 – Greek speaking widows, first Deacons.
3. Acts 12 – Prayer meeting for Peter

B. SAMARIA. Acts 8:4-8
1. The religious outcasts
2. Second class citizens
3. Acts 8:8 “Great joy”

C. Antioch
1. Acts 11 – church begins and grows
2. Acts 13 – church sends out Barnabas and Saul
3. Acts 15 – Jerusalem counsel

D. First Missionary Journey
1. Cyprus (Salamis Acts 13:5; and Paphos Acts 13:6)
2. Perga
3. Iconium
4. Derbe

E. Key Churches
1. Ephesus
2. Corinth
3. Philippi
4. Thesslonica

F. 9 of Paul’s 13 Epistles are named after a city!
1. 1 and 2 Timothy are addressed to Timothy, pastor of EPHESUS
2. Titus is addressed to Titus, pastor in CRETE

So, Christianity grew as the gospel was introduced to CITIES.
The story of the spread of Christianity differs from the Old Testament which is centered in the PATRIARCHS. The CHURCH grows as the message is proclaimed in a CITY.

II. God Establishes a Unique Church to Reach a Unique City
Example – the Churches in Revelation
A. EPHESUS (Revelation 2:1-7)
1. The CHURCH: (good works, toil and endurance, cannot bear with those who are evil… bearing up for my name’s sake…. have not grown weary)
2. The CITY:
a. False apostles (2:2)
b. Persecuted the church (2:3)
c. Nicolaitans (2:6)

B. SMYRNA (2:8-11)
1. The CHURCH:
a. Suffering
b. Tribulation
2. The CITY: “Synagogue of Satan” (2:9)

C. PERGAMUM (2:12-17)
1. The CHURCH:
a. Antipas was a faithful witness (2:13)
b. Some hold the teaching of Balaam
2. The CITY “Where Satan’s throne is” (2:13)

Jesus had a DIFFERENT message to each of these churches! What about FBC?
How is OUR CHURCH supposed to function at this point in time?

III. The Local Church – A CALLED PEOPLE reaching a NEEDY City at a SPECIFIC TIME
A. A Called People
1. UNITY. We are all part of what God wants to do!
2. IDENTITY. We must know who we are!
a. Our heritage
b. The things we are best at
c. The things we are passionate about
3. Our VALUES

B. A NEEDY CITY
1. “Renewing our vision” is not about how to make a better church!
2. We must re-focus our attention to the needs around us!
3. We must not engage in group narcicism.
4. COMPLAINING and DIVISION occur when we are too focused on ourselves and not focused on the task before us!
Illus –
1999 article by Bill Hybels
When they started in 1975 all their effort was in evangelism
20 years later, and with 8,000 people they decided they needed to be a more balanced church
Discovered 5 “G’s” Grace (evangelism), Growth (edification or teaching), Groups, Gifts, Good stewardship. Decided to invest equally.
3 years in they discovered that this was imbalanced because what good does it do to have ministries for growth, when there are not new people that need those ministries?
“Over the long haul, if we continue falling short of our redemptive potential, the other 4 G’s will become un-achievable…. [on the other hand] If we have all kinds of freshly redeemed people in the pool, then we can connect them and encourage them.”
“Reaching Lost People Requires a Disproportionate Investment” (Will Creek Association, Reprinted with permission by Howard Bixby).

What would Faith Bible Church look like?
CURRENT
Evangelism 10%
Teaching 30%
Fellowship 30%
Worship 20%
Prayer 10% FUTURE
Evangelism 40%
Teaching 15%
Fellowship 15%
Worship 15%
Prayer 15%
The continual presence of new believers will naturally result in establishing new ministries to strengthen them in the Lord.

C. A Specific Time
1. What EVANGELISM METHODS do we employ?
2. How should we do DISCIPLESHIP?
3. How do we handle MEMBERSHIP

4. TRUTH stands, METHODS change

5. How can we find FREEDOM to function as God intended us to be?

6. FUNCTION (the things that God commands us to do.  We have identified these from Acts 2:41-42:  Evangelism, Teaching, Fellowship, Worship and Prayer)
7. FORM  The WAY that you you carry out these functions.  Forms change.  This allows the gospel to flourish in various cultures, languages and periods of time.
8. FREEDOM  When we understand that the FORM can change, it provides great freedom to conduct ministry in creative and vibrant ways.

APPLICATION
Take a look at our city. Calling us to consider a adjustment in understanding the reason we exist as a church.
Take a walk in a part of Vineland or Millville you ordinarily don’t walk through.
PRAY as you walk
Ask God to give you a heart for your city. God loves cities, do you?