The following is my notes from David Platt’s message at the Send North America Conference on July 31, 2012.
How do we finish up this great conference? I hope this will be an encouragement to you.
When I was in Cuba my view of ministry was flipped upside down. There is no programs or presentations. There are pockets of Christians who are sharing the gospel like wildfire. They kept it small, kept it simple and quiet. They are planting churches all across the island. One church had planted over 60 other churches. One of their church plants have planted 25 other churches. There is exponential growth.
One of these leaders was brought before the communist council and brought a big rock with him. They asked what the rock was about and he said if you make me stop talking about Jesus this rock will do it. The people thought he was crazy and let him go.
This is what this brother is like. So I asked him how he did it. How has he planted all these churches. I was ready for something great and had my notebook all ready and he said two three words, “We make disciples.”
It just made we wonder, what if we did not have all the money and resources that we have. What would happen? Would we be making disciples like many of our brothers and sisters are doing around the world?
I want to glean from the brothers and sisters in Antioch some lessons for us today. I want us to learn how today we can make this gospel know. I have 10 exhortations:
Listen now as I read from Acts 11 and begin with verse 19.
1. Let’s Raise Up Ordinary People In The Church Who Will Do Extraordinary Things
Look at Acts 8:1 says there was a great persecution and that they were all scattered by this persecution except the apostles. This means who went to Antioch was just some people without any seminary training, without denominational support, etc… Just ordinary people who started one of the greatest churches of all time.
If you want to plant a church today you need a good communicator, good musician, programs and good place. But in Acts we do not see any of this. They just had ordinary people who did extraordinary things.
I think about some brothers and sisters in Asia with a dark hood over my head and sitting on the floor with one little lightbulb and a room crowded by all these people who had bibles open and were so excited to hear God’s word. Nobody came because of who was speaking that night or what band was playing. They were meeting and putting their lives on the line.
We must be careful of exalting the unique gifting of some leaders in the church and neglecting the Holy Spirit gifting of every believer. Our evangelistic strategy is not to get as many people into a building but to get as many people as possible to go out and share the gospel.
2. Let’s embrace suffering as a God ordained means of accomplishing the great commission.
Martyrdom in the church led to the spread of the church. He did not just allow it but he ordained this suffering. We see the gospel spreading not in spite of suffering but because of that suffering.
We were saved from sin by a suffering savior and this news will spread through more suffering servants.
Colossians 1:24 and Philippians 1:29 make this clear.
Jesus suffered to accomplish salvation. We suffer to spread salvation. He suffered for propitiation and we suffer for propagation.
If we are going to be serious about spreading the gospel to the darkest places then it will not be easy. We must sacrifice and expect suffering. Church planters know in ways that I do not that this work is costly for you and your family. It can be discouraging if you forget that this is actually God’s design. God has ordained that through this the world will see Jesus is better than health, wealth, and ease. How will we show the world about a suffering savior if everything always goes well with us?
We just sent out some families in comfortable suburbia and go to the inner city and I get an email from a mom that it is not easy when bullets are flying around their house and she is praying that they will not hit them or their children, but then she tells me that it is worth it.
Satan’s strategy to stop the church serves to advance the church. Take that Satan! This message is unstoppable. By persecuting the church, Saul was starting the church that would one day send him out. You cannot write a script better than that.
You give your life and you give your family to the advancement to the kingdom of God. It will not be easy and it will not be comfortable, but we will succeed.
3. Let’s penetrate lostness through externally focused, intentionally faithful, proclamation of the gospel.
We know that we have all been humbled by the amount of church growth that is just the result of people coming from other churches. On a whole we are not penetrating lostness or pushing back the darkness. We must be careful because so much evangelism is centered around building safe environments for people to come to, but in Acts they went to dangerous places and went to the people.
They were preaching the Lord Jesus and the hand of the Lord was with them and a great number had turned to the Lord.
I can only imagine some of the discouragement some of you are facing because you are struggling to see the fruit. I just want to say to you what God said to Paul, “Do not be afraid, keep on speaking, do not be silent. I have many people in this city.” Maybe this is the single thing you need to hear at this conference.
Let’s penetrate lostness!
4. Let’s not build our ministries on counting decision, but on disciples made.
It is so easy for people to give intellectual assent to Jesus, but we must call people to so much more. Jesus is worthy than so much more than casual association and church attendance. He is worthy of complete abandonment and call people to come to die. Let’s show them what this means and let’s be done with nominal Christianity. Let’s live and die for passionate disciples of Christ.
5. Let’s lead and plant churches that not only go aggressively after spiritual needs, but also gives sacrificially toward physical needs.
The heard about famine and they sent relief. Many were poor but they all gave according to their ability. In the churches we pastor and the churches we plant we need to verbally proclaim the gospel among the spiritually needy and we also need to demonstrate the gospel to the physical needy.
Let’s lead our churches about selling our possessions and giving glory to God.
6. Let’s love the glory of God more than we love our own lives.
It cannot be overestimated. The people in Acts were blessing the Lord in worship and we are about to see in Acts the spread of the gospel across the Roman empire and all of it started with a scene of worship.
Worship drives mission. People who love the glory of God will spread the message of God because our King is worthy. This is why we go. He deserves praise not just in the southern state of North America but all over this country.
Let’s love the glory of God more than we love our pocket books.
7. Let’s fast and pray with desperate dependence upon the Holy Spirit.
They fasted and prayed and then sent them out. Who are we kidding. Do we really have the creativity to reach this country with our foolish message. Go tell the secular people in our cities that they are wicked beyond their wildest imaginations and if they are still listening tell them about a poor Jewish son of a carpenter who died on a cross and that this is their king. Let us not fool ourselves, let us deny ourselves and get spiritual power. We need him more than we need food and physical provisions.
Are you fasting? Are you leading your church to fast? Are you praying?
If God gave you everything you asked for, then what would you have?
Let’s fast and pray with desperate dependance upon God. Let us humble ourselves before God and devote ourselves toward ministry and prayer.
8. Let’s commission brothers and sisters in the context of community.
The local church is God’s chosen means for making disciples and multiplying churches. We ask that everyone in our church would put a blank check on the table and pray to see who God is calling out. Then as pastors and church planters lets affirm who the Spirit calls.
We cannot farm out our responsibility to train up and send them out. Let’s not be afraid to send out our best. If Paul was at our church we would want him staying. Why would you send these guys out? Because the Holy Spirit said so!
Let’s stop measuring our success on how many people can come to our buildings and start seeing how many we can send out of our buildings.
9. Let’s trust that intentionally making disciples inevitably leads to multiplying churches.
So many things we associate with the church we do not see in Acts. The more we complicate disciple making the more we stifle it in our churches.
Every where Paul went he made disciples and multiplied churches. Let’s trust that this will happen in our country. This plan is good and it works.
10. Let’s leave a legacy of disciple makers, church planters, and pastors all across North America for the fame of God’s name.
Do not underestimate what our God will do.