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Spare Change - May 2021

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I don’t know if you can tell but I love VBS!  In fact, there are a lot of us at Oakhill that love VBS!  Vacation Bible School (VBS) is this crazy week-long evangelistic outreach to children in the summer.  We are hosting our VBS on June 21st-25th for kids 4yr-5th grade.  Even though it takes place in the summer we are right in the middle of VBS Season.  We just had our training rally for our volunteers and participant sign-ups start the first week of May.  It takes a lot of planning and preparing to make VBS work.

While VBS has become a huge event that most churches participate in; it has a very humble beginning.  In 1894, a Sunday School teacher, D.T. Miles, started a summer Bible school for kids. Initially it lasted four weeks; over time it was narrowed down to one week.  Other churches picked it up until thousands of churches participated every summer. Recently the question has been asked if VBS is worth it. Is it worth the volunteer hours and church resources?

Lifeway, the publishing arm of the Southern Baptists, did some research and found that of the 60% of adults who attended VBS, 9 out of 10 have positive memories.  On top of that VBS is one of the only intentional ways our churches evangelize. We are in an evangelism crisis right now– 48% of church goers are not inviting unchurched people to visit and 61% are not sharing Christ with anyone.  VBS helps with both of those problems. It is a huge opportunity to invite families in our community to participate in something the church is doing.  It is also a way that we can share Christ with those children and their families. We take seriously the call to share the good news with everyone we can.  Our VBS teachers intentionally weave the gospel through all their lessons.  In addition, I get the opportunity on the Wednesday of VBS to share the gospel with the entire group of kids.  We have seen many kids respond to the gospel through the years. It is an amazing privilege to be a part of something so gospel focused and God honoring.

2019 was our largest VBS ever at Oakhill.  We had over 200 kids.  In 2020 we were gearing up for another great VBS, then Covid hit.  We had to move the date twice, however, VBS is so important that we wanted to make it happen anyway we could.  So, we did it in September on four separate Sunday nights.  God blessed our faithfulness, and several kids were saved.  Over the past few months many of these kids have been baptized!  VBS is most definitely worth it!  That is why we invest the man hours and resources to make it happen every year.

You might be asking yourself, “What can I do to help?”  The answer is simple: Pray and Invite!

  1. Pray about who you can invite to VBS, then invite them!
  2. Pray that kids would be saved and families impacted with the gospel.

We need prayer warriors that will surround this important event, all our volunteers, and the children attending in prayer.  Please join us in praying for opportunities to plant and harvest gospel seeds.  To register kids or for more info visit oakhillbc.org/vbs2021.

Posted by Bryan Gotcher with

Spare Change - April 2021

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“The Great Commission” or “The Great Suggestion”

Why does it feel like we treat Jesus’ commission to the church in Matthew 28:16-20 as optional? Recently Pastor Brian Van Doren and I have been discussing evangelism and discipleship on the Families for Life Podcast (oakhillbc.org/f4l). We have been looking at these topics in light of how Jesus did them during His earthly ministry. We have been using The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman as an outline for these discussions. It could really be called the “Master’s” plan of evangelism because Coleman looks at the life of Jesus and extrapolates principles that we can incorporate in our own lives to share our faith and make disciples. Check out the podcast for a more in depth look at those topics.

Today, I simply want to share that I am burdened by modern Christianity’s lack of emphasis on discipleship. We simply do not make disciples as Jesus called us to in the Great Commission. This is something that must change for the Kingdom of God to grow and to secure the future of the church for generations to come. Let us take a look at Matthew 28 and discover why it is such an important text:

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:16-20

I am sure you have read this passage or heard it preached before, perhaps many times. I know that when I read something repeatedly it can lose its significance; however, we need to read this passage with fresh eyes. Do me a favor, read it again, this time slowly and think about what Jesus is saying. Remember this is one of the last things that Jesus said to His followers before He ascended to the right hand of God the Father. These words should be taken very seriously.

Notice in this that the commission is given by the authority of Jesus but not just that, at the end He says He will be with us to accomplish the work. The whole process of reproducing our faith in others in contingent on the Lord Jesus. That should fill us with much hope and confidence. It does not depend on you or me, it depends fully on Jesus! This should give us excitement for the task of making disciples.

Now notice the actual command that Jesus gives us, it is not to make converts but rather to make disciples, or followers of Jesus. They are to be people that are saved, baptized and in the process of becoming like Jesus. That is what a disciple is! But a disciple is not fully mature until they themselves are making disciples. Followers of Jesus are commanded to carry on this mission, passing it on to the next person then the next and so forth. This is how the kingdom of God is built. This is how we are instructed to multiply our faith.

I have been convicted of this truth over the past few years which has caused me to commit to being in at least one discipleship relationship in one form or another once a year. Sometimes it is a one-on-one relationship and sometimes it is in a D-group format. I think that this goal is a good, manageable goal that all Christians should have. We need to be pouring our lives into someone else for the kingdom of God.

So, ask yourself if there is someone you need to be discipling right now? Maybe it is someone you can or have led to Christ recently. Maybe it’s someone that has been a Christian for a while, but they have never been discipled. There are a ton of people in that situation. Simply find a good resource, like Growing Up by Robby Gallaty or The Walk by Stephen Smallman, and meet once a week with them. These books will lead you through the process of discipleship.

I am making it sound easy because it really is easy. It does take time and energy, but it is so worth that investment for the Kingdom. From the outside looking in you might be fearful to start, or you might feel like you do not know enough to disciple someone. Here is the thing, Jesus will give the strength, the wisdom, and the help to carry out this mission. He is not looking for perfect followers, He simply wants faithful ones. Will you take seriously the task of making disciples? Will you commit to enter into a discipleship relationship as either the discipler or disciplee in 2021? Remember, we need disciples that will make disciples, that is the mark of a truly mature believer and that is taking the Great Commission seriously!

Posted by Bryan Gotcher with

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