LAWRENCEVILLE — Speaking to Georgia Baptist Convention attendees from Acts 13, Robby Foster referenced those first called “Christians” to paint a picture of what could be accomplished for the gospel today.
“From this place in Antioch, they burst forward throughout the area,” stated Foster, pastor of Northside Baptist Church in Valdosta giving the Missionary Sermon Nov. 13 at North Metro First Baptist Church. “They took the word ‘go’ personally.
“We ought to long for this spirit seen in Antioch. Nothing limited the resources God brought into this church.”
With no computer graphics or YouTube accounts at the time, those resources predominately materialized in the form of the church itself. That’s to say, the people were the resources. After all, he added, this was the church counting Paul and Barnabas among its members.
The Christians at Antioch were considered “Christ-like,” Foster noted. “They were stirred to share the gospel around the world.
“We’re good, Georgia Baptists, when our mindset is this way. We’ve all got to be on board with this. There’s no way with this many churches in Georgia we can’t touch the world like Antioch did.”
Pointing to a hesitancy among Christians, Foster recounted an early mission trip of his own. This endeavor to Russia opened up not only himself when it came to missions, but those closest to him.
“I’d never been anywhere in the world,” he said. “And, I had no idea God would send me and my family to 50 missionary journeys from that point.”
Foster noted how a desire for missions starts with a church’s leadership – “We’re never going be excited about missions if our pulpits aren’t excited.”
The power of obedience
And though missions training and preparation are important, Foster encouraged pastors to never underestimate laity. God, he said, had already been using the Antioch Christians through their natural abilities even before they went out to spread the gospel.
“They were uniquely diversified … and already ministering ‘as unto the Lord.’”
We’re capable of that, he told the crowd, if only we’re willing. Foster recounted how, as chaplain for the Valdosta High Tigers football team, he felt led to offer an invitation before a game. Afterwards, 69 players came forward to pray to receive Christ.
“There are all kinds of spiritual gifts in our churches. But God didn’t give those for us to stand around.
Knowing he’d thrown their pre-game schedule out of whack, he apologized to the head coach. No problem, take all the time you need, was the reply. You see, the coach’s son was among the respondents.
“There are all kinds of spiritual gifts in our churches,” he stated. “But God didn’t give those for us to stand around. If each church got on mission to minister in its community, there’s no telling what we could do for our state.
“It takes all of our churches – every size and setting – to do that.”
Comparing ourselves to the big church down the road is tempting. However, that’s the antithesis of measuring success, Foster emphasized.
“I believe we’re going to be known more in heaven by our sending capacity than our singing capacity. We need to keep our chins up and our knees down. God loves people and wants us to win our state, nation and the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“Don’t give up hope or thing you’re done. Be doers.”