Jorge Acevedo

When “If You Build It” Isn’t For You

Most mornings, my rhythms include a freshly brewed cup of coffee (because Jesus said I was too mean without it) as well as a time of reading the Bible and writing in my journal.

I use a simple system I learned from Wayne Cordeiro in his book, The Divine Mentor. He taught me to ask the Holy Spirit to “highlight” a verse or two of the morning’s readings that typically comes from the Old and New Testaments. Then using the S.O.A.P method, I write or type out the Spirit-led highlighted scripture (S) then jot down a few observations (O) and a couple of applications (A) and end by writing a short prayer (P). This journaling exercises has simplified and frankly revolutionized my daily time with God.

This week, I was surprised by the “word” I got from the Holy Spirit.

I don’t usually get very excited about the chapters in the book of Isaiah that describe God’s judgments on the multitude of nations that were the enemies of Israel. But there embedded in Isaiah 19, I got a word from God about fresh expressions of church. I hope this word encourages you.

Scripture

In that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the heart of Egypt, and there will be a monument to the Lord at its border. It will be a sign and a witness that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is worshiped in the land of Egypt. When the people cry to the Lord for help against those who oppress them, he will send them a savior who will rescue them. The Lord will make himself known to the Egyptians. Yes, they will know the Lord and will give their sacrifices and offerings to him. They will make a vow to the Lord and will keep it. The Lord will strike Egypt, and then he will bring healing. For the Egyptians will turn to the Lord, and he will listen to their pleas and heal them. Isaiah 19:19-22 (NLT)

Observation

Isaiah is communicating God’s judgment on Egypt. This is the land and the people that welcomed Joseph but when a Pharaoh ascended who did not know Joseph, he enslaved the Hebrews. Egypt had already experienced the judgment of God when Moses emancipated the people of God and drove them into the wilderness. Later, Egypt would be the land where our Savior was taken by his parents when they feared for Jesus’ life. Now Egypt is in the crosshairs of a holy God. But these four verses intrigue me this morning. Embedded in God’s judgment is a promise. A witness to God will be found within the boundaries of Egypt. How cool is that! God will be

Now Egypt is in the crosshairs of a holy God. But these four verses intrigue me this morning. Embedded in God’s judgment is a promise. A witness to God will be found within the boundaries of Egypt. How cool is that! God will be worshiped within the land of the pagans.

God will make sure there is a witness to Him in the land that will cause Egyptians to turn to the Lord. This is an Egyptian fresh expression!

Application

Recently, God has really been challenging my attractional-only ministry models. I was spoon fed a kind of ministry model that was a kissing cousin to “build it and they will come.” Create a safe, healthy, Christ-centered church with good preaching and worship, exciting children’s and youth ministry, life-changing small groups and effective outreach and your church will grow. And it did. Now I still believe this is a model but it is not the only model. Joining Jesus in his mission means we not only pray, “Lord, send us the people nobody else wants or sees,” but it also means we add to our prayer, “Lord send us to the people nobody else wants or sees.” This is

Create a safe, healthy, Christ-centered church with good preaching and worship, exciting children’s and youth ministry, life-changing small groups and effective outreach and your church will grow. And it did!

Now I still believe this is a model—but it is not the only model!

Joining Jesus in his mission means we not only pray, “Lord, send us the people nobody else wants or sees,” but it also means we add to our prayer, “Lord send us to the people nobody else wants or sees.” This is shift in my ministry thinking.

Our outreach in the past has solely been about attracting people to our front door. Created spaces and places outside of our church for our people to disciple people in their culture is a newer concept for me. I am so excited about how our people at Grace Church are embracing fresh expressions. It really isn’t a big leap for our people. It’s the important next step for us to be a church with a healthy and holy mixed economy of inherited, “come to us” church and a fresh expressions “go to you” church.

Prayer

Continue to guide us Lord into our Egypt’s where we can establish places for your name to be honored and for people who are far from you to make vows to you. Amen.

Jorge Acevedo is Lead Pastor of Grace Church
A multi-site, United Methodist congregation in

Cape Coral, Fort Myers and Sarasota, Florida.

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Jorge Acevedo

Jorge Acevedo

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