There was an occasion in the home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus in Bethany when Jesus was teaching those gathered around Him. Mary was sitting at His feet, eagerly listening to everything He was teaching. Martha, as a conscientious and dutiful host, was busy with her many preparations, trying to make sure that her guests were well fed. Mary left all the serving to her while she listened to Jesus with eager attention. Serving others is a good thing. Romans 12:8d says: “he who shows mercy with cheerfulness.” It would be learning the wrong lesson to think that Jesus was saying that we should only sit at His feet and learn, to the neglect of serving others. Martha’s problem was not that she was busy doing things to serve others. That is necessary. We should all look for opportunities to serve one another. But, we must make sure we serve with cheerfulness. If we serve while grumbling, either openly or under our breath, we lose the reward of service. Martha’s mistake was that she was envious of her sister and more than a little miffed. She came to Jesus in exasperation and blurted out: “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone?” (Luke 10:40). Jesus did not get upset with her, but simply replied: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-2).
The words of Jesus contain lessons which we all need to learn. We should put a reminder on our walls: “Only One Thing is Necessary!” Jesus’ words are a guide to denominations also. Vanguard Presbyterian Church should not make the mistake of forgetting what that one necessary thing is. If you look around at the various denominations in America today, it is not hard to discern that most of them have left their first love. There is a great deal of energy expended doing many things by those who control the engines of power in those denominations, but there is very little being done to do the one necessary thing for every church and every denominations. So, what is that one necessary thing? Well, that is easy. It is preaching the gospel—from the pulpit, in writings, in the streets, from house to house, in the marketplace, etc. Paul would often go to the agora whenever he entered a city. In Athens, he went to the Areopagus (Mars Hill), a rock outcropping just below and slightly northwest of the Acropolis. The Areopagus today is a slippery rock formation that has been visited by tens of thousands of tourists. There are no guard rails to protect people from falling off (which slightly unnerved me). On that site, the ancient Greek philosophers used to teach their students. Down below the Areopagus and to the north of it, the ancient agora of Athens can be seen. Paul was normally preaching Christ in the market places and then in the Jewish synagogues. In Athens, he preached in the local synagogue and also at the Areopagus where the people would spend their time hearing and telling something new. It is an example to us that our main mission is to get the gospel out there in as many ways as we can.
There are two things that have been on my heart concerning the importance of communicating the gospel as fully and widely as possible. First, I have been encouraging certain people in Vanguard to develop us a plan that all our churches can use to engage in Facebook ads for the purpose of attracting new visitors. We need that plan yesterday or last year. There are people in every community that we do not know, but they are looking for a church like the ones in Vanguard. I realize that many people are not enamored about spending any money on advertising with Facebook and I can understand those sentiments. But the church needs to take advantage of every opportunity to communicate the gospel. Paul went to the Areopagus where paganism and false gods were celebrated. He went to the synagogues where Jesus was denied and argued that He was the Messiah. George Whitefield once said that if the Pope asked him to preach at St. Peter’s in Rome, he would accept the invitation and preach Christ from that pulpit. That is my view on using Facebook ads to build up Vanguard churches. My desire is to see every congregation in Vanguard flourish. Facebook ads can be helpful to Vanguard in other ways also. Of course, they have to be geographically targeted ads for the areas where we have existing churches or where we would like to start new churches. There are many people on this email list who live in cities where there is no Vanguard church and a large number of you have expressed your desire to be a part of a Vanguard mission church in your area. Targeted Facebook ads for those geographical areas can be a great means of finding other people who are also wanting to be a part of a church that preaches the gospel and is not Woke. It is imperative that we get this going as soon as possible.
Second, I am convinced that Vanguard needs to focus on starting new churches all across America. There will be congregations that leave other denominations and seek to unite with Vanguard. We have to be careful in vetting those congregations to make sure they are on board with our core principles. I am reminded of John’s words: “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us” (1 John 2:19). By starting new churches on the principles that we hold in Vanguard, we will more readily insure the stability and viability of this denomination. We will be starting new congregations in conformity with our principles. We want to stay true to our founding principles of sound theology coupled with evangelistic fervor. Of course, our goal, in my opinion, should be to start a Vanguard church in every major city that we can. We need to follow the approach of the Apostle Paul who went to the major population centers first and let the gospel filter down to other places from those cities. New churches are the very best way to effectively communicate the gospel. People need to know that there is a place where they can go to hear the gospel being preached. They need to know that there are believers with whom they can have fellowship. Street preaching is doomed to failure and so is door-to-door evangelism and podcasts and every other evangelistic outreach without local churches where people can worship. Starting new churches is the mission of Vanguard. That is where our money and our efforts need to go. I long for the day when there are 100-150 new Vanguard churches started all across America. If we do that, the Lord will bless our efforts and make Vanguard a stable, prospering denomination.
Dewey Roberts, Pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Destin, FL
Visit Vanguard’s website at: www.vanguardpresbytery.com Donations to Vanguard Presbytery can be sent to: Vanguard Presbytery, PO Box 1862, Destin, FL 32540