…by Jeff Sanford
If you would have asked me about church planting 15 years ago, I think I would have probably rolled my eyes or muttered under my breath. I probably would have told you that the last thing the world needs is more churches. At the time, I was living in Brownsburg, Indiana, and it seemed like my town had plenty of churches…maybe even a few too many. Fast forward a few years and a number of poor and sinful decisions later, and my perspective had changed a bit. I was disappointed with life and looking for a place to process the path I had taken. Because I had grown up in the church, it was the only place I could think to turn. I still wasn’t excited about church; however, I was thankful for a gracious group of people that met at a high school in St. John, Indiana. They called themselves Suncrest Christian Church, and they were different from most of the people I knew. They listened to my story, and they loved me anyway. They allowed me to ask questions and were patient with me and my struggles. And God used that gracious group of people to shape me, encourage me in my relationship with Jesus, and show me the impact that a body of believers can have on the world.
If you walked around Suncrest on a Sunday morning and simply asked people to tell you about their journey and how they got connected with Suncrest, I’m confident you’d hear hundreds of similar stories. The circumstances of the stories may differ, but changed lives are the common thread throughout each of those stories. All of the life change that I’ve seen and experienced at Suncrest makes me grateful for the generous folks at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, who had the faith and the courage to take Jesus at His word.
In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus tells His disciples to “…go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.” And again in Acts 1:8, Jesus explains to His people, “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” In other words, Jesus was telling His followers to go and tell people the good news about what God has done in their lives.
As I mentioned, the faithful folks at East 91st Street Christian Church took Jesus at His word and planted a church in Northwest Indiana…as you might have imagined, that church is Suncrest. And I appreciate that the leadership at Suncrest has taken Jesus’ mission of sharing the good news seriously by maintaining an outward focus. Whether by giving a portion of each offering to missions or by planting churches, Suncrest has worked hard to ensure that we continue to focus on the mission that Jesus put before us. So what about you? Have you taken Jesus’ words seriously? Have you invested your time, your money, your prayers, or your conversations in those who don’t yet know Jesus? If you weren’t prepared for the special offering on Sunday, I encourage you to reconsider being generous (you can give here: http://www.suncrest.org/give. I also encourage you to pick one of the 20 churches from the program on Sunday, and make a commitment to spend the next week/month/year consistently lifting that church up in prayer. And finally, if you simply feel indifferent towards those that don’t yet know Jesus, I encourage you to pray that God would work in your heart so that lost people would matter as much to you as they matter to God.