2021 | Year in Review
Hello North Roanoke,
I spent some time today reflecting on this past year that the Lord has given to us. The letter is available by clicking on the link to the .pdf file below. I hope you find it informative, encouraging, and perhaps a bit challenging too. I love you all. Happy New Year!
In Christ's love,
P.S. You may read the letter by clicking here.
Good afternoon North Roanoke,
As you may know, I went with our students to Student Life Camp last week (which was amazing!), and I developed flu-like symptoms very late on Monday (which was not so amazing). As it turns out, some of our students have had similar symptoms. A few have tested positive for COVID. We need to pray for a full and speedy recovery for everyone. Based on what I have heard, their symptoms are mostly mild, and they are already feeling much better. Let’s pray this continues!
Because we had many students just back from camp worshiping with us this past Sunday, and because several of them serve in various volunteer roles (as well as their parents who serve as teachers/etc.), and because it can take up to 14 days for an exposure to turn into a symptomatic case of COVID, we are erring on the side of caution and will *not* gather together this Sunday (August 1).
I do plan to share a message on our YouTube channel at 10:30AM this Sunday.
We will resume 3D groups and worship on Sunday, August 8. Our students will resume their meeting schedule on Sunday evening, August 8. This means they will not meet this Sunday evening (8/1) or next Wednesday evening (8/4).
This also means our business meeting will not be held Sunday. It has been rescheduled for Sunday, August 15. Also, the outdoor worship service planned for (8/7) is cancelled. We will plan for one later in the year.
The church building will have a deep clean performed early next week.
As my family and I quarantine, I am praying for our entire church family, that any existing cases would be mild, and any exposures that may have occurred will not become additional cases.
In times such as these, a natural response is to ask, “What can I do?” Many of you have kindly reached out to me and Stacie offering your assistance. While I’m feeling pretty weak and tired, I am, thus far, by God’s grace, doing okay.
While we (the Palmers) are doing alright, there are four specific ways I want to ask you to respond in this moment for the overall health (physical and spiritual) of our church family and our overall growth in Christ.
Thank you for reading through this notice. If you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to “seeing” you Sunday over the stream.
In Christ’s love,
Updated Mask Policy
Good morning North Roanoke,
I have some exciting news! As you may know, the mask requirement in Virginia has been lifted. As such, masks are no longer required during our times of corporate worship and other gatherings (e.g prayer meeting, 3D Group, student ministry, kids ministry, etc).
A mask is recommended for those who are not vaccinated. If you choose to wear a mask, that is certainly okay! Our volunteers are no longer required to wear masks, but some may still choose to do so. Until we are able to move to the gym (hopefully late June) and enjoy more space, we will continue to have the pews marked for distancing.
As we move forward together, if you have symptoms of sickness and/or a fever, please continue the practice of staying home and joining us for worship by way of the livestream. I think this one simple practice has helped minimize not only the spread of COVID but also of the common cold and flu as well.
Of course, when you recover, please return! The Lord is pleased when we gather together, in person, to worship Him and encourage each other (Heb 10:25).
I look forward to worshiping with you at 6:30PM today (Saturday) or tomorrow (Sunday) at 10:30AM as we witness two more who are following King Jesus in baptism.
In Christ’s love,
P.S. If you do not have a 3D group, please email me, and I will help you find a group. Small groups are such a vital part of finding community and encouragement, and I will be happy to help you!
Taking God Seriously Lecture Notes
The lecture notes for Taking God seriously may be accessed here. If you would like a printed copy (these are large files), please print and bring with you. Thank you!
Letter from pastor daniel
Dear brothers and sisters,
As you may know, I experienced a bit of a scare this past Sunday. I am scheduled for a doctor's visit and think I am going to be just fine. Thank you for you encouraging notes and prayers! While I cannot be certain of why I nearly passed out, it has certainly grabbed my attention. For several weeks now, the Spirit has been impressing upon me very heavily that He is giving us a special opportunity to return stronger, united, and devoted to doing whatever it takes to magnify King Jesus and make disciples by prioritizing His Word in our church and in our daily lives. So, I decided to write down everything that the Lord and I have been discussing in the form of a letter to you. To read the letter, please click the file below. Thank you so much, and I look forward to worshiping with you this weekend!
In Christ's love,
Sanctity of Life Sunday | Sunday, January 17
Coming up just a few weeks from now, churches across our country will remember the sanctity of life from the womb to the tomb on Sunday, January 17. At North Roanoke, we have been blessed in the past to collect donations for the Blue Ridge Women's Center, to do some work at their facilities, and to pray for our community to see that life is a gift from God -- expectant mothers, reluctant fathers, governing officials at every level -- and to also pray the church would be a place of refuge for those plagued by guilt from their past and a place where the most vulnerable would encounter the love of God.
On Sunday, January 17, I plan to preach on the sanctity of human life, and, immediately following the service, we will have an opportunity to pray silently for our community and our country. We will assemble along Peters Creek Road in front of our church building. When I last checked the statistics, I learned there are close to 1,000 abortions in Roanoke every year -- approximately 75 babies whose lives are taken every month. Imagine if God moved in the hearts of those who offer the abortions to stop their work. Imagine if those who are feeling pressured to abort their child found hope and help in local churches throughout our Valley. Imagine if the people of God would adopt and foster at a much greater rate than we presently do. Imagine if those all around us who do not know the gift of life and life everlasting would encounter the love of God in Christ in 2021 -- imagine... and then join us on Sunday, January 17 to pray accordingly.
This initiative is being coordinated by Tony and Becky Clark.
Giving strategies to end 2020 strong
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It seems to me that 2020 has been the most 2020 year of my life, and yet I am so encouraged by your faithfulness in uncertain times. You, the people of God, have continued to delight in Jesus and to treasure Him more than comfort, financial security, or anything else that would compete with our affections for Jesus. Thank you for how you have continued to give so generously for the glory of God and the good of all nations.
Because of the way taxes and investing work, the month of December is always an important month of giving in the life of our church. For that reason, I like to share some reminders around this time of the year in case this information could be helpful as you plan to give as generously as the Spirit leads and as wisely as you can.
While we know generous giving is a vital to our own spiritual lives and to the health of Christ’s church, some people are unfamiliar with some of the most tax-wise ways to give. Below, I have listed and described some strategic ways to support your church as we pursue Christ’s mission in the world. If you have any questions about these strategies (my personal favorite is #5 – a great plan for some senior adults), contact me at email@example.com or 540.563.5113.
Strategy #1: Appreciated Stock, Mutual Funds, or Real Estate
People often purchase stock (or mutual funds) as a way of building wealth over the long term -- for retirement, for kids and grandkids, and for blessing others. While the annual dividends may be minimal, appreciation in value over the long term may be very substantial. If someone purchased $1,000 of Apple stock on December 12, 1980 and never sold it, it would be worth over $315,000 today. Although gains in a stock’s value are not considered normal income, they are a part of God's blessing that we should consider as we give for the glory of Christ and the progress of the gospel.
If you own significantly-appreciated stocks/mutual funds in non-retirement accounts, you can make a gift by transferring (not selling) your appreciated stock to the church and save tremendously on taxes. Here’s how: a gift of appreciated stock minimizes federal taxes in two ways. First, when someone donates a stock, the appreciation in the value of the stock is not subjected to capital-gains taxes (if the stock has been owned for at least one year and one day). Second, the full, fair-market value of the stock on the date it is transferred to a church may be itemized on the donor’s federal income tax return.
How about an example? Let's say someone wants to donate $10,000. If they write a check and itemize their donations, they will save $3,960 on their federal income taxes (using the top tax bracket rate for our example). However, if they own $10,000 in stock that originally cost them $1,000 and transferred the stock to the church, they would save $1,800 in capital gains taxes (again using the top rate for this example) and $3,960 in itemized deductions. So, the gift of stock would have a net cost of $4,240, and the gift of cash would have a net cost of $6,040. Using appreciated stock in this example, the gift cost the donor nearly 30 percent less. Or, s/he could give 30 percent more than usual without costing any more money. Tax-wise giving can make a huge impact! (**This is an illustration only, please consult your CPA for specific questions related to your particular situation**).
Individuals who own other types of appreciated assets (e.g. real estate, a vacation home, an inherited land/property, etc.) may also transfer the deed to their real estate to the church. The gift and deductions work in a similar way as appreciated stock.
For information on transferring appreciated stock or a home, land, private business, or other real property to North Roanoke, call the church office at 540.563.5113. If you are planning to transfer stock or other property to the church, please notify the church before making your gift to ensure proper processing and accounting for your gift.
Strategy #2: Cash/Check/Online Giving
While gifts of appreciated assets make great gifts, most people give by using cash, checks, or online/in-app giving. These remain great ways to give.
Indeed, one of the best gifts you can give to your church is consistency in giving. This helps with cash flow throughout the year. If you want to support your church regularly and generously, pick whatever method is best for you, and stick with it.
Online giving is safe and secure and provides a reliable way to be consistent throughout the year. If you want to be a consistently generous giver in 2020 and beyond, consider establishing a recurring (weekly or monthly) gift using the online giving option, and consider getting started this week.
Strategy #3: Kroger Rewards/Amazon Smile Foundation
While being generous begins with wise spending decisions, living does require eating, and birthdays and Christmas often require a purchase from Amazon. When you buy groceries at Kroger and gifts and other essentials at Amazon (smile.amazon.com), you can register North Roanoke as your non-profit of choice, and a portion of your purchase will help pay down the debt on the gym/community center.
Strategy #4: Required Retirement Distributions
At 70 and 1/2 years of age, seniors are required to take distributions from traditional IRAs even if they do not need to take them. In 2017, Congress recently made permanent (as permanent as anything can be with Congress) a rule allowing payments made to churches and charities to count as a part of the minimum required IRA distribution. If you are taking a retirement distribution that you do not need and, as a result, unnecessarily increasing your income taxes, consider directing an IRA distribution directly to North Roanoke to reduce your overall income and associated taxes.
Strategy #5: Gifts that Pay an Income for Life
Yes, you read that heading correctly. You can make a gift that pays you an income for life!
The vast majority of our nation’s wealth is held by men and women who are 70 and older. However, that wealth is often held in assets that provide very little income for living today.
Stocks typically offer a minimal dividend, and savings accounts currently offer almost no interest income at all. However, with a charitable gift annuity or charitable trust, senior adults can contribute a portion of their accumulated wealth to their church and dramatically increase their income for living. Income can often be increased by three, four, or five times and sometimes even more. Also, when the gift is made, the donor receives an opportunity to deduct the fair-market value of their future gift from their income taxes which can offer savings on income taxes for up to 6 years depending upon the size of the gift. This means it is possible that a gift could both increase your income and reduce your overall income taxes.
Gifts that pay an income can be complicated and should not be considered without consulting with your CPA or legal adviser. If you would like some additional information or a personal gift illustration to share with your tax adviser or need a referral to a Christian adviser, please contact the church office.
Deadline for 2020 Giving
Gifts must be received or postmarked by December 31 to qualify as a tax-deductible gift for 2020. Online gifts must be time-stamped by 11:59PM EST. To be safe, please consider submitting any last-minute, online gifts by 10:00PM.
Checks may be mailed to: North Roanoke Baptist Church, 6402 Peters Creek Rd, Roanoke, VA 24019.
May God bless you and yours with an abundance of His presence as we finish 2020 strong and look forward to, we pray, a not-so-2020 year to come.
In Christ's love,
P.S. These strategies and illustrations are intended as helpful examples but not professional advice for any reader’s particular situation. Before making a special gift, check with your adviser on your particular circumstances.
Last updated: 11/21/2020
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Greetings and blessings in the Name of Jesus Christ our reigning and coming King! I want to share some updates and encourage you during this unusual season. While the global pandemic has stopped the world in its tracks, our God is still working for the glory of His Son in all the earth.
When we suspended our in-person meetings in March, I never imagined the road to “a new normal” would be so long and include so many twists and turns. For now, not much seems normal, but we do not need to fear or fret.
God has given us a sure guide — His holy and perfect Word. In some ways, we have a wonderful opportunity to reflect on why the local church is so vital. We can be reminded of His design for His church and pursue it wholeheartedly as things return to “new normal.”
To do this, it is helpful to remember God desires for us to glorify His Son by making disciples who make disciples who make disciples. To make disciples, we need to know what a disciple is, does, and believes.
A disciple is a new creature in Christ created through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. A disciple must be “born again” — made new through the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. A disciple cannot be made unless the gospel is heard. To make disciples, we must be disciples who share the good news.
If this pandemic has shown us anything, it is that many people do not have the peace and joy that comes by belonging to Jesus who has conquered death. We have a great opportunity to rise above the worry, the confusion, and the various opinions to share the best truth ever -- Jesus conquered sin and death for those who trust in Him!
Being a disciple does not end with the new birth. Genuine new birth leads to a new life in a new community — a local church. As we have seen in Hebrews, our target is not decisions for Christ that fizzle but disciples of Christ who finish the race. The local church has been given the responsibility of baptizing new believers and teaching them to observe all that King Jesus has commanded us to do as His people.
This is an important truth. Being and becoming a disciple happens within the context of a strong commitment to a local church. God has made us new to experience and to share in His new life together as His church.
According to the New Testament, virtually every aspect of being a disciple happens in/through/with a local church. The local church is an ever-growing family on mission together. It is in a local church that we love, serve, pray for, encourage, challenge, and forgive one another.
We maintain the confession of our hope within a local church. We are accountable to Christ by being accountable to one another in a local church. We identify and train up a new generation of God-called men to serve as pastors in a local church. Disciples identify, support, and send out church planters and missionaries from a local church. We encourage one another to love and good deeds in a local church. We bear one another’s burdens in a local church. We help young men become godly husbands and fathers and young women become godly wives and mothers in a local church.
This is not an exhaustive list, but we know these things are true of disciples because God’s Word reveals both our need for life in Jesus and how to live for Him. Among the many things a disciple does, gathering together to worship King Jesus is central and vital.
I have heard from many how much you miss worshiping together. This is a great sign! A hunger for God’s Word and a desire to worship Jesus comes from the indwelling Spirit. We are compelled to serve together in the mission of making disciples when we hear and sing God’s truth and encounter our King in worship. A real disciple longs to gather with his/her local church to worship King Jesus. In worship, we hear God’s Word, read God’s Word, encourage one another by singing the truths of the gospel to God and to one another, support the mission through our generous giving, and more!
For this reason, if you are not in an at-risk category, I want to encourage you to consider that now may be the time to return to the worship gathering. If you are unsettled by worshiping indoors, consider the outdoor service — a service where we have seen a wide range of ages lifting their voices to Jesus in a socially-distanced fashion.
Below, I will say some more about worship and some other upcoming opportunities to come together and be Christ’s church.
Gathering for Worship
Because gathering for worship with our local church family is such a vital part of being a disciple (Heb 10:25), we should view the livestream (available on the church YouTube channel, the website, and through the app) as a last resort and not as our “new normal.” A livestream is helpful in a pandemic, when you are sick, or when you are out of town, but it is no substitute for being physically present with your church family to worship Jesus.
God has made us to be encouraged through our assembling together. Indeed, the New Testament shows the Spirit dwells in a special way among the church when we are gathered. For that reason, I want to be sure you know about the two opportunities to worship each weekend (weather permitting on Saturdays, moved indoors if necessary).
Sundays at 10:30AM | Preschool/Kids Ministries Return August 9
First, we have worship in the sanctuary (and as needed projected on the screens in the gym) on Sundays at 10:30AM. Beginning Sunday, August 9, we will have nursery, preschool, and kids' worship available during the 10:30AM service. We will check children’s temperatures as they arrive, and volunteers will wear masks. Children over 10 must also wear a mask unless they have a medical reason they cannot. You will need to register your household for the worship service (by Saturday afternoon would be a huge help!), and we will be ready to receive your child at 10:10AM for the 10:30AM service.
Saturdays at 7PM
If you prefer to not have to sign up or wear a mask, we also have an opportunity to worship on Saturdays in the field behind the church at 7PM. The wonderful thing about this service is the freedom. People are relaxed and receptive. The attire is comfortable/weather appropriate. We’ve had quite a few guests attend. At this service, you may sit as far away from others as you would like to feel that you are at a safe distance, and you may sing to the Lord without a mask. It is a wonderful time!
I truly believe God provided the field for us to be able to gather and worship safely and to magnify Jesus in our community during this season. We did not know it at the time, but He did. We have a place to worship given to us by God for this time. As the days get shorter, we will adjust the time of this service to continue worshiping during daylight. For now, this is the safest way to worship and accommodate a larger gathering.
At this service, we have seen people from various ages and stages of life — singles, couples, widows, young, young at heart, and families with kids of all ages. The diversity of ages and life stages reminds me of the crowds to whom Jesus preached, and I hope you will consider joining us for this service if worshiping inside is too great a risk. We simply ask you to bring a lawn chair or a blanket and your Bible. There is plenty of room to practice social-distancing; we keep the service to an hour, and the bathroom is available if needed.
Big Worship Weekend (weather permitting)| August 15-16
Because worship is so vital, I want to specifically ask you to make plans to join us on Aug 15 or 16 for a Big Worship Weekend (most of the "big" is on Saturday, but if you cannot attend Saturday, it will still be a BIG deal to be able to worship with you on Sunday).
August is typically one of my favorite months of the year! The weather is still warm, but fall and college football are on the way. Families are returning from vacations, and students are anticipating another school year.
While all of these things are wonderful, what I enjoy the most is that the worship services are filled with you. People are back in town and back to worshiping Jesus and inviting others to consider the gospel.
This year, many things in our lives are quite different, but August remains a great time to get back to worship. For many of us, the time to return is now. We need to see one another and worship our risen King together. For that reason, I want to invite you to participate in the Big Worship Weekend on Saturday (8/15) or Sunday (8/16).
On this weekend, weather permitting, we will celebrate some baptisms during the Saturday evening service. We will also have an opportunity to meet a missionary couple that our church helps to support every week. They are serving Jesus in a very dark and dangerous place and will be available to fellowship and answer any questions you may have following the service. We are also hoping to have an ice-cream truck or other sweet treat following the service (more details on this as soon as possible - we are awaiting an answer).
**If weather prevents us from worshiping, we will still worship inside on both Saturday and Sunday, but we will move the baptisms and other special opportunities to the following weekend.**
Small Groups | Sunday School
While worshiping together is the engine that fuels our life together as disciples, small groups provide a place to live out many of the “one anothers” of the Christian life. For as long as social distancing is required indoors, it is difficult to hold individual Sunday School classes inside at the same time. Most of our classrooms will not allow us to meet the regulations for social distancing.
For this reason, classes and small groups are encouraged to meet over Zoom and/or to schedule a time to use the field or the sanctuary during the week. The sanctuary is already marked off in socially-distanced zones and may be used by classes during the week on a first-come, first-served basis. We simply ask that you wear a mask, maintain social distancing, and sanitize the space as you leave.
Currently, we have one class meeting outside on Sunday mornings before worship and another small group meeting on Tuesday evenings in the field. The students are utilizing the field on Wednesday evenings. If you would like to schedule the field or the sanctuary to have your class meet during the week, please contact the church office, and we will get your class on the schedule.
For those who are not a part of a class that is meeting during the week, we also are providing a Sunday School lesson on Facebook live at 9AM on Sunday mornings. We have a great rotation of teachers helping with this!
Later this fall, we hope to bring more people into the building at a common time and with opportunities for children at the same time. Tentatively, we are considering having a few combined adult classes in the larger spaces for social distancing. We are still working on some of the logistics and will share more as we can.
In the meantime, please feel free to use the field or the sanctuary as a place for your class to meet. The first time you schedule the sanctuary, Cindy will tell you about the how to sanitize the space as you leave.
Business Meeting | Saturday, August 8 | 8PM
Under normal circumstances, we would have had a regular business meeting in July, but limited opportunities for interaction have meant that our nominating committee has needed a bit more time to prepare a list of nominees for service on the various committees of the church.
For that reason, we will hold the regular business meeting on Saturday, August 8 in the field immediately following the worship service at approximately 8PM. Holding the meeting in the field will allow the greatest number of members to participate. We will place the documents with the information needed to be considered by the church in the church app (search North Roanoke in your app store to download the free app).
Throughout the pandemic, many of you have asked about the church’s financial picture. For much of the year, our financial position has been remarkably strong.
Remarkably, earlier this summer, receipts were ahead of the budgeted need for the year. This is no longer the case, but we are still in a pretty good place for this point in the year (approximately $17,000 behind budget). Your generosity has been an overwhelming encouragement and testimony to your love for Christ and His mission. You may continue to support the advance of the gospel through North Roanoke by giving online, through the app, through the mail, or by placing your gift in the offering box at worship or in the white mailbox outside the church office.
As you may know, the long-range planning committee was poised to bring a motion to our regular business meeting in March regarding a relocation/renovation of the preschool. This is something we still hope to do. In one way, now would be a great time for the renovation because the building is empty. However, many unknowns remain due to COVID-19. For that reason, we are monitoring our overall financial picture and hope to bring the motion for the work to be done as soon as things are heading toward “new normal.”
Thank you for bearing with me through this lengthy update. It has been pure joy to see many of you returning to worship, and I hope to see many, many more of you in the weeks to come.
In Christ’s love,
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.