This morning is a special morning as it is our annual Back in the Game Sunday. In the next few minutes, we are going to be looking back at the previous 10.5 months and looking forward to the next church year that will begin in October.
In addition to looking back and looking forward, I will also be asking this question, “Why Does EBC Exist?” We will answer that question from Matthew’s Gospel, and I will be encouraging you to get “Back in the Game!”
When we look back, your initial thought might be that you prefer not. I understand. 2020 was a hard year for everyone, and 2021 is turning out to be only slightly better.
However, at EBC, God was still kind. God was still good. God still blessed us, and we need to celebrate that. Specifically, we need to celebrate some individuals and some families.
In today’s bulletin, you will find a Back in the Game Brochure. Please find that and notice on the very back panel. In 2020-2021, God added 23 new members to Emory Baptist Church. Of those 23, 6 were baptized by immersion and after salvation. Praise the Lord!
Not only do we want to look back, but we also want to look forward. In that same brochure from your bulletin, you will find some ministries and events that we hope you will consider joining.
First, our largest and in many ways, our most important ministry is our Sunday School Small Groups.
In this next church year, we will have 22 Sunday School Small Groups. I cannot say enough about the importance of you as an individual and family, as adults and teenagers and children, of being a part of one of these small groups that meet every Sunday morning at 9:15 all over our facility.
Beginning in September, almost all of those adult options will be studying Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about different classes teaching different subjects. You simply decide on which teacher and which class members you like the best.
I have also given you a preview of what I will be preaching and teaching this fall. That includes Sunday mornings and Sunday nights and Wednesday nights.
I am not going to be going over every detail of this brochure. However, please notice some ministries that are beginning today. Both of them are children’s ministries beginning this afternoon. That is Bible Drill for 4-6 graders at 4:30 PM and KidzPraize for K-3 graders at 5:15 PM. Both will take place in the children’s building with Bible Drill upstairs and KidzPraize downstairs.
Also, please notice some immediate ministry needs as these will be a wonderful transition to my encouragement to get back in the game. All of these ministry needs are in our children’s ministry. We cannot say we want to be an alive church with young families if we will not volunteer to minister to children. That is hypocrisy, and God will not honor it. Therefore, consider this as your sign from God to step up and get back in the game.
Why Does EBC Exist and Get Back in the Game
More than informing you about calendars and schedules, I want to answer this question of why we exist and challenge you to get back in the game at Emory Baptist Church. God’s Word tells me that EBC exists for three reasons, and these three reasons could also be considered or called our purposes.
However, they aren’t just the three purposes for our church. They are also the three purposes for every EBC member.
Therefore, we exist and you exist to love God, love people, and make disciples. Summer is over. Vacations are done. School is starting. Sports and band have begun so get back in the game.
- Love God, Matthew 22:36-38
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment.
Our first purpose and expectation is to love God. In Matthew 22, Jesus was asked by a lawyer what is the great commandment in the law. In short, Jesus responded with love God. You are to love Him with everything you are. You are to love Him with your heart and your soul and your mind. Consequently, this is the first and greatest commandment.
How do we love God? The answer is worship. We love God by worship individually and worshipping collectively as a church.
Paul called every follower of Christ to worship God individually in Romans 12:1. The NLT translates it this way.
1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.
Monday through Saturday, my challenge to you is to love God by worshipping Him individually with your daily living. That includes your job and your marriage and your family and your school and your games and your entertainment and your finances and your health. Love God.
We are also to love God by worshipping collectively as a church. Hebrews 10:25 contains a warning for me and you.
25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
This verse contains a command not to forsake the assembling of the saints in worship when they meet. In other words, make sure Sunday worship is a priority for you and your family.
May I also say this? Regular worship attendance today has dropped to twice a month. That’s not how you would play a game. You don’t just play half the game. As a player, you should be ready to play the entire game.
Therefore, don’t settle for twice a month or even three times a month. If you are a member of EBC, I want to challenge you to be here when EBC meets. Don’t forsake the assembly.
Come and worship the Lord with this body of Christ, and don’t just do it on Sunday mornings. This church meets on Sunday nights and Wednesday nights.
I know…you’re busy and tired. Guess what? You’re in good company, and moms and dads, dropping off your kids while you go and run errands or do whatever is sowing seeds that don’t want to reap.
The bottom line is that you need this church and this church needs you. Love God by worshipping Him individually and worshipping Him collectively.
- Love People, Matthew 22:39-40
39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
In answering the lawyer in Matthew 22, Jesus didn’t stop with love God. He added love people too. He said the second is like the first. In addition to loving God, you must love your neighbor as well. In other words, love people.
By the way, if you struggle in loving people, the problem isn’t the people. The problem is your life for God because if you love God, you will naturally love the people that God created in His image the same way He created you.
How can you love people at EBC? You can be a part of those 24 small group Sunday School classes. You can love people through fellowship. You can love people through life experience and discussion and learning of God’s word. I said this previously, but the fact is that we need one another. See 1 Corinthians 12:14-18.
14 For in fact the body is not one member but many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? 18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.
This is the body of Christ. You can love people through your participation in one of our small groups.
You can also love people by serving them through ministry. Did you know that if you have been born-again, God has given you at least one spiritual gift that is to be used in serving this body of believers? You can love people by your service to them.
1 Corinthians 12:7, 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.
God has given each member a gift or manifestation of the Holy Spirit to be used in serving or for the profit or benefit of all, the entire body.
Brothers and sisters, how are you serving? Please consider our children’s ministries again. We have needs, and we need you.
However, you could also serve in the choir. You could serve in our youth ministry. Our women’s ministry needs concession stand workers for the Rains Wildcat Football Games starting in September. You could serve in our Prayer Room or Backpack Buddies or a new ministry called Little Food Pantry.
How are you loving people through service and ministry? Don’t just come and sit. Come and serve.
- Make Disciples, Matthew 28:19-20
Matthew 28:19-20, 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
You can know what Jesus said in Matthew 28 was important because it was the last thing He said to us. Not only do we exist to love God and to love people, but we exist to make disciples.
That starts with sharing the gospel, and that is not just the responsibility or obligation or ministry of some but of all.
If you’ve been saved, the power of the Holy Spirit has come upon you. If that is true, you are to be His witnesses. Every believer is to be a witness.
On Sunday mornings in September and October, I will be preaching on “Every Believer a Witness.” We will also be offering Evangelism Equip once quarter on Saturday mornings.
We also make disciples by small group Bible studies. Again, you need to be, and please hear me, one of the best places this can happen is through a Sunday School Small Group.
Furthermore, you can see we have other small groups that meet throughout the week and throughout the month where you can be a disciple and where you can have the opportunity to disciple others.
So I want you to leave this morning informed and challenged to get back in the game at EBC by loving God, loving people, and making disciples. Not only is this information and a challenge, but this also why we exist as a church and church members.