There is a wide-open door for a great work here, although many oppose me.
– 1 Corinthians 16:9 (NLT)
The verse quoted above was written by the apostle Paul and referred to his decision to remain in the city of Ephesus. But it could accurately apply to his entire life of ministry and service to the Lord. It reminds us that in every generation there are always opportunities for gospel ministry, and there is always opposition to gospel ministry.
The challenges of serving God in today’s world are significant. According to the Barna Research Group, “The Bay Area has the least church-going population of any place in America.” That is a sobering statement. There is much resistance to the gospel where we live, but also much apathy to the gospel.
We live in the least churched part of America!
This is the greatest mission field in the United States!
To make matters worse, of those who have a spiritual inclination, the Bay Area is number two in the nation in terms of religiously unaffiliated people!
On top of that, the Kiplinger report recently issued the most expensive places to live in the USA. Manhattan, NY, is number one, followed by… are you ready for this?
Sunnyvale, CA is number two!
The Bay Area is one of the most expensive places to live on God’s green earth. This means we have a high turnover of people, those who work here often have to relocate after they retire, and many simply choose to work here but live elsewhere.
Yet God in His ineffable wisdom has seen fit to allow us to serve in this portion of His Vineyard.
May we embrace our calling with a sense of humility, joy, and most of all, absolute dependence on the Lord and his Word.
This Sunday is our Annual Meeting. This is an all-church lunch we provide to celebrate another year of God’s faithfulness to us. At the lunch you will all receive our Annual Report which will show how effective we have been with the opportunities the Lord has given us during 2017; it will also highlight some of our hopes and dreams for 2018.
It is always sobering for me to review our Annual Report.
A part of me is sincerely grateful for the privilege of serving the Lord in this time and place and with people like you. I am deeply touched by your generosity and commitment to serve and honor the Lord Jesus with your life.
Another part of me is overwhelmed by the challenges of serving in this environment. When asked for anything in the world, Solomon chose to receive wisdom from the Lord. It’s always a good choice. We all need an extra dose of the Lord’s wisdom to live effectively and faithfully as followers of Jesus in this time and place.
But then lastly, I am driven back to the fundamental need to prayerfully and absolutely depend on the grace of God for our effectiveness. The Lord Jesus told us, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 NIV).
Here is the promise of effectiveness (“bear much fruit”), but it comes with the condition of our remaining in union by faith with our Lord, so that his presence and power can energize us.
The challenge in before us. May we embrace it together!
Love in the Lord,