Just like I don’t need to be a trained biologist to know what a woman is, I don’t have to be a trained statistician to know that there is deficiency in mission and evangelism in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) congregations. Through our Revive Church Health Assessment offered in partnership with Asbury Seminary, we have assessed roughly 12% of ACNA congregations. In nearly 100% of those completed assessments the lowest score was in mission and evangelism. In contrast, in almost every case the highest scores were in Christ-centeredness, biblical-faithfulness, and authentic worship. Again, even though I’m not a trained statistician, the evidence so far is overwhelming. Our ACNA churches tend to be strong in biblical faithfulness and Sunday worship but weak in effectiveness doing local mission and evangelism.
And our culture has moved like a run-away train away from a Judeo-Christian worldview, has rejected any sense of absolute truth, and has, whether it is aware of it or not, adopted the godless secular worldview of cultural Marxism. It’s a mess, but the good news that Jesus established the Kingdom of God on earth (Mark 1:15) is still the best and only answer. The local church is God’s plan A for establishing God’s Kingdom on earth now until Jesus returns, and there is no plan B.
This week, as we focus our attention again on Pentecost, let us remember the purpose of Pentecost and how that might help you and your local church grow in this vital area of mission and evangelism.
At first glance, Pentecost is the receiving of the Holy Spirit by Jesus’ disciples, but that wasn’t the first time they had received the Holy Spirit. On the evening of Jesus’ resurrection that first Easter Sunday, Jesus met with his disciples by appearing to them in their locked room. He said to them in John 20:21-22, “‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.’ Then he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” According to John’s Gospel, they received the Holy Spirit that night. They were saved, born again, and had entered the Kingdom of God.
Then why, before his Ascension, did Jesus tell them to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit? In Acts 1:4-5, we are told, “Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, ‘Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’” There must have been something more to this “baptism” with the Holy Spirit than just being saved. If so, what is the something more?
Just a few verses later in Acts 1:8, Jesus makes it clear by saying, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” The baptism was for the power of saved people to go and complete the Great Commission!
And that’s exactly what happened on that first Pentecost: “Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers. They were completely amazed. ‘How can this be?’ they exclaimed…Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd, ‘Listen carefully, all of you, fellow Jews and residents of Jerusalem!’” (Acts 2:3-7,14)
The Holy Spirit empowered them with supernatural signs to demonstrate the reality of the Kingdom of God and to boldly give proclamation to the truth of the Kingdom of God. Many in Jerusalem repented and believed that day, mission and evangelism began through that first local church, and it has continued now for nearly two millennia.
What the world and your local community need is a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our time: a fresh Pentecost, not just to help church people go deeper and have healing prayer off to the side during Communion on Sundays but for mission and evangelism to go out from our local congregations and transform the society around us.
Will you ask for that fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirt in your church for the sake of the lost this Sunday? In Luke 11:11-13, Jesus tells us, “You fathers—if your children askfor a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” Will you ask and trust the Lord to answer and empower you to go do the work he’s given you to do?
If you’d like more information about and equipping in the empowerment of the Holy Spirit for the sake of being more missional in your local church, please check out our Anglican Revitalization Ministries Renew and Revive resources at www.churchrevive.org. There you can schedule a call to learn how to bring these resources to your congregation.