Recently, I was asked why I am passionate about Roanoke. Specifically, why am I committed to praying for a tidal wave of gospel impact to overtake the Roanoke Valley, and why do I want to see our church make a positive and even measurable impact in the Roanoke Valley for the glory of Christ? Below, I do my best to try and answer these questions. I trust you will agree that it is a blessing to live in the Roanoke Valley and to have the opportunity to magnify Jesus here!
Roanoke is Home
We are dedicated to making a positive impact in the greater Roanoke Valley because that is where God has placed us. Our campus is conveniently-situated within a 15ish-minute drive from just about anywhere in our community --
Cloverdale, Daleville, Downtown, Hollins, Glenvar, Grandin, Melrose, Salem, Southeast, Southwest, Westwood, and all the places in between. Our church family lives and works in nearly all of these communities. What unites us is our new and everlasting life in Jesus who compels us to share this good news with others throughout the Roanoke Valley.
Roanoke is Special
While we want to make an impact in Roanoke because it is our home, we also believe Roanoke is a special place, and it is a special time to have a part in what is happening here.
Not only is our community often rated a top-place to retire; we have also seen a rapid increase in the numbers of young professionals moving to Roanoke in connection with the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and other recent economic-development initiatives. In the last 5 years, the growth of young professionals living and working here has outpaced the 15 years prior. For young, old, and in-between it is an exciting time to call Roanoke home. The greater Roanoke Valley is about a 40-minute drive from two state universities (Radford University and Virginia Tech) and is home to Hollins University, Jefferson College of Health Sciences, Roanoke College, and Virginia Western Community College.
As a church, we desire to get the gospel to all sorts of people living and working in the Valley. Consider just a few examples.
Roanoke Needs Jesus
The Roanoke Valley has so much to offer — beautiful mountains, wonderful outdoor activities, a revitalized downtown, great local, high-school sports, a rapidly-changing economy with new opportunities for growth, and flourishing towns throughout the Valley. Yet, there is one thing the people of Roanoke need today as much as ever — to discover the joy and transformation that comes to those who find true life in Jesus.
Roanoke is such a beautiful place. When Stacie and I moved away to Raleigh, I immediately missed the mountains and the incredible sunrises and sunsets that can be enjoyed here. Of all the places God has allowed me to see, Roanoke remains among the most beautiful places I have ever seen on this earth.
When we lived in Raleigh, God began to place a burden and dream in my heart for our hometown to be filled up to overflowing with the gospel - to see lives and entire families changed by Jesus. On trips back "home" to see our parents, there is a particular point in the drive where I would look out and see the Valley and its surrounding mountains on the horizon, and I would think, "what would it look like for the gospel to go forth in power in this beautiful place?"
You see, below the surface of the natural beauty in the Roanoke Valley, there are things that are not as beautiful.
These are just some examples of how much the Roanoke Valley needs Jesus. In every neighborhood, in every workplace, in every school, and in every community, there is gospel opportunity in this Valley. At North Roanoke, we we want to love Jesus and one another so well that the world must see that there is a better way -- the way of Jesus. We also want to equip you to be an ambassador for King Jesus in this Valley, boldly announcing to others by what you share and how you live, love, and serve them that Jesus saves sinners and gives them a new life, a new purpose, and a new power to live on mission with Him and His people. If you would like to join us on our King's mission as we endeavor to impact the Roanoke Valley, we would love to meet you soon!
For Christ and the gospel,
Our missions strategy is to support and participate in the work of planting healthy churches among peoples and in places where few (or none) exist.
Below, we explain why.
The Bible gives us a model for the work of getting the gospel of Jesus Christ to people from all nations. To the best of our ability, we have built our missions strategy on the biblical model.
The Apostle Paul was, very likely, the greatest Christian missionary in history. He covered thousands of miles by foot and by boat all while enduring tremendous persecution. At the end of his letter to the Romans, he gives us God’s strategy for reaching all nations with the good news that God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, has come to rescue sinners.
In chapter 15, he writes, “from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. And thus I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, so that I would not build on another man’s foundation; but as it is written, ‘They who had no news of Him shall see, And they who have not heard shall understand.’”(Rom 15:19-21, NASB).
There are three key implications for a biblically-faithful missions strategy that we can see in the life of Paul and in this text (don’t miss point 3).
First, disciples are made in healthy local churches.
Paul planted churches and trained pastors to lead the churches he planted. God saves people into His church, and local churches are the place where people are baptized and taught to observe all that Christ commands (Matt 28:18-20). In the New Testament, Christians are always part of a local church or part of the work of establishing a new church. Christians and churches go together.
Second, the gospel is preached by healthy local churches.
When Paul says he has “fully preached” the gospel, he does not mean he has preached the gospel to every person. Rather, every person in that region (Jerusalem to Illyricum) had the opportunity to hear the gospel proclaimed in a language they could understand. Why? Because Paul had established enough churches in the region to live out and proclaim the gospel to everyone living in that region.
In the world of modern technology, it is easy to forget the centrality of the local church to fulfilling the Great Commission. Preaching on the radio can be good. Preaching on TV can be good. Preaching through a crusade or evangelistic ministry can be good, but it is local churches planted among a local people that establish a reliable and sustainable witness to the gospel for the long term.
What the people of the world, in every place and every generation, need more than anything else is to hear the gospel which is the power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16). This happens by the establishment of health local churches who can “fully preach” the gospel where they are.
Third, we must plant churches among people who do not yet know the Name of Jesus Christ.
When Paul had fully preached the gospel in one region, he desired to take the gospel to a new region where Christ was not yet known. This way, more could “hear” and “understand” and be rescued by Christ. There are approximately 3 billion people in 6,700 people groups (people with a distinct language/culture) who have little to no access to the gospel, and they need to hear of Jesus!
This is why our missions strategy is to support, assist, and send out missionaries to do the work of planting healthy churches among peoples and in places where few (or none) exist. We aim to encourage, establish, and strengthen local churches who will share the gospel among the people around them until Christ returns.
Acts 4:12 says, "There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” The peoples of the world desperately need to hear of Jesus.
To pursue this great work of getting the gospel to all the peoples of the world, we partner with more than 47,000 like-minded churches in the U.S. to support, train, and send missionaries through the International Mission Board. Currently, we support more than 3,500 missionaries around the globe. These missionaries are planting churches among the least-reached peoples of the world and often in some of the most dangerous places in the world.
In addition, we are praying that God would raise up more missionaries from North Roanoke to go with the International Mission Board and plant churches where people so desperately still need to hear His beautiful, marvelous, powerful Name.
The book of Hebrews is written to a church facing intensifying pressure for following Jesus. Some are tempted to retreat to Judaism and abandon Christ as a way of trying to please God while avoiding the costs and challenges that often come in this world to those who remain faithful to Christ. The book of Hebrews reminds us that without faith in Jesus, it is impossible to please God because Jesus is better than anything else that would try to compete for our attention or our affections. Today, even in our own country, the pressures that come to those who live for Jesus are growing, and we can learn much from Hebrews about how we can live for God by enjoying the blessings and benefits that are available to us only through Jesus. Comes join us as we see the various way that Jesus is better!