NASHVILLE (BP) – Preaching at Proclamation Church on Sunday (June 13), SBC President J.D. Greear used Acts 6-8 to illustrate how ordinary Christians are “the tip of the Gospel spear,” the primary means of fulfilling the Great Commission.
Greear’s message was delivered to a capacity crowd at the church, which is a plant of The Summit Church in Durham, N.C., where Greear is pastor. Using the story of Stephen’s sermon and stoning, Greear explained it was not the ministry of the apostles that first expanded Christianity outside Jerusalem, but rather the example of Stephen, an ordinary layman.
“I think Stephen’s story is given to us as an example of how the Holy Spirit intends for the Gospel to expand globally,” Greear said. “Stephen is a picture of what the so-called ‘ordinary’ Christian in the Church is supposed to look like and what will then happen in the world as a result. Ordinary Christians have always been the tip of the Gospel spear.”
Greear said four specific convictions were key to the effectiveness of Stephen’s ministry — and are also key to the ministry of modern-day ordinary believers.
- God wants to use me.
- The Holy Spirit fills me.
- As Jesus has been to me, so I will be to others.
- Jesus is worth it.
Greear said the Great Commission is the answer to the deep meaning people in churches are searching for today. Pointing out research that shows a majority of those claiming to be Christians never share their faith, Greear concluded that experiencing Spirit-filled power is the missing piece for believers whether they realize it or not.
“Many believers have this nagging sense that there is something they ought to be doing, some meaning or mission that they are supposed to be a part of, but they can’t quite get their mind around what it is,” he said. “Don’t you want to know that you are a part of something significant and something with meaning that’s actually going to matter?”
This desire to see ordinary Christians fulfill the Great Commission is what inspired Greear and The Summit church to set the goal of planting 1,000 churches in this generation.
Proclamation Church in Nashville is one of 468 active Summit Church plants both domestically and internationally. Lead Pastor Derrick DeLain said Proclamation’s Easter in-person launch was much later than they anticipated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but God has provided for them through difficult circumstances.
“The journey has been awesome, but it’s also been challenging doing this in the middle of a pandemic,” DeLain said. “God loves his Church more than us, and he has provided for us in ways that we’ve just been blown away by.”
Upon moving to Nashville, DeLain and a launch team from The Summit met with Glenwood Baptist Church in Nashville to talk about partnering together in revitalization. Glenwood Baptist was an older congregation that was looking to expand its ministry presence.
Challenges for Proclamation’s launch have been persistent from the beginning. The church planned to launch in Nov. 2020, but changed plans after losing a member of the congregation to COVID-19.
Proclamation then held “preview” services in the 350-seat sanctuary previously occupied by Glenwood Baptist as part of the revitalization process, and finally opened to a full sanctuary on Easter Sunday, April 4.
DeLain expressed gratitude for the consistent support from Greear and The Summit Church along the journey of planting, culminating in Greear’s sermon on Sunday.
“The support means the world to me,” DeLain said. “We knew that at The Summit we were always going to be family, and the fact that the worship team came this Sunday and that J.D. would come speak, it means a lot to me. We haven’t felt disconnected at all. We feel their full support in so many ways.”
Although current controversies in the Southern Baptist Convention are important, proclaiming the Gospel and serving the hurting, broken and abused in the community is the main priority at Proclamation, DeLain said.
“We’re going to try to be about the Father’s business,” he said. “Oftentimes I think in the SBC we’re guilty of sometimes mixing the Father’s business with our own personal business, and unfortunately that has sometimes distracted us as a whole from our mission. When we allow the public square to supersede the Gospel and reaching the lost, we’re on a slippery slope.
“We’re going continue as best as we can to be about the Father’s business.”