Faith-based ministry is critical for Yazoo County's futureBy REV. ROYCE LOTT,
I love the words of Tony Morgan in his book, The Unstuck Church – “I’m convinced we should be doing everything possible short of sin to see lives changed forever.”
This book and Jefferson Bethke’s, Jesus & Religion are two of the books I’m on right now. I keep several books working all the time. (Jeff is author of Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus – a YouTube video viewed by over twenty-five-million people – a raw look at the battle. . .)
As school begins and people get back into routines it is my hope that we will take a sobering look at where we are in building God’s Kingdom in Yazoo County. As a pastor in the area, I’d be ashamed if I said we had it all together at Satartia. Any pastor who can say his church is “doing great” when somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 percent of our county is unchurched, is deceiving himself. . Sure, there may be guys succeeding at building their kingdom in this county, but God’s Kingdom has a great deal of room for expansion.
My church is like many others, small and seeing little growth – in a transitioning and dying (population) community. Yet, we somehow can’t all seem to walk in God’s stride and build together without worrying about who gets credit, or where folks ministered to are going to attend. I was stunned, and I still don’t believe it’s true. Recently I had a man tell me that a black family was rejected by a particular congregation in this county when they attempted to become involved and worship at that church. REALLY!!!??? Surely we are not that narrow-minded in the twenty-first century; and how could this congregation even claim to love God or serve Christ if they reject people based on skin color.
IF this mindset does exist, then I understand my “popularity” a little better now. Lol! Heck! I’m senior pastor of a Southern Baptist church, seated at the Gateway to the Mississippi Delta, and my worship leader is black!! Black, Hispanic, Chinese, WHATEVER! Let me just tell ya, ALL are welcome in Satartia!
Then again, I’m the guy who took the king’s throne chairs off the stage and replaced a three-hundred pound pulpit with a lectern and a stool when I got to Satartia . . . HA! I thought this was all about Jesus, not our personal, petty preferences. We’re either playing church or seeking Jesus!
Well, again, I’m with Tony Morgan, we need a no-holds-barred approach to KINGDOM work in this county. It’s time Christ’s Church gets serious about HIS Fame, Glory and Renown. . . So, I want to ask you to do one of two things during the month of August.
1) Bring the following list of questions and come join us at Satartia every Sunday at 11 a.m.! We need folks willing to work, people who want to help us find answers to these questions, and who want to see JESUS become more famous in this county.
2) OR – take this list of questions to your pastor, find out the KINGDOM-OF-GOD VISION your church has for this county, and determine with your pastor how you can more faithfully serve Jesus as a part of your current fellowship.
HERE ARE THE QUESTIONS:
A) Who is welcome in our church?
If the answer is “everyone”, then HOW can we as a fellowship more effectively reach out to people who might feel disenfranchised by “church people”? (If the answer is not “everyone” – may I suggest you find another church where Jesus is Lord!) – II Peter 3:1-9/Luke 10:25-37
B) How are we serving Yazoo County in a Matthew 25 (VS 31-46) manner so people see that JESUS is their One True Hope, not our denomination or the personal petty preferences in how we practice our rituals of religion?
C) Are we giving (money, time, and energy) to this county as greatly (equally) as we have given to ministry outside of this county in the past twelve months? (Mission work stateside and foreign) Matthew 28:18-20/Acts 1:6-8
D) What churches in the area have we OFFERED to partner with to reach a common goal of sharing the gospel?
How did those churches respond? What was the specific outreach we attempted to complete in this partnership? - BOTTOM LINE – are we as a fellowship working to build our church or build God’s Kingdom? (Acts 2)
I’m not the guy with all the answers, but I do know this; if we claim to be of Christ, we have to be burdened by the condition of so many in this county who don’t know Him. WE know truth! We know the Hope that is Christ alone! How can we fill pews, claiming to love Christ and worship God on Sunday morning, and not be burdened for those who are dying because they’ve never met Him? Then, is that burden deep enough that we will choose God’s commands over our comfort zones?