This morning I want to share with you the vision I am sharing with my own congregation at the Vineyard Church of Pine Haven. We are a small town church in a community of 500 in rural Wyoming. Our building will seat 100 people. Yet I believe that God is calling even us, a small church in a sparsely populated area to be a church without borders.
A little over 2000 years ago, a small gathering of believers was given a commission to be the church without borders. In the book of Acts chapter 1 we see this commission.
8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Now when we look at this passage we view it from the eyes of history. We see that they did actually become the church without borders but what we don’t always see is what that commission must have looked like from their perspective. So this morning I just want to encourage all of you that are trying to get beyond the status quo and become something truly unique in our world and expand out beyond what you can think or imagine.
Size Does Not Define Your Borders
The first myth I want to dispel is that any church is too small to become a church without borders. When this commission was given by Jesus, it was not given to a mega church or a large group of people. In fact it was given to a group of people that most would consider today to be a small church. It was given to 120 people.
15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty),
Many people when looking at expanding their borders look at their capability. They look at their size, budget, and physical talents and giftings. Then they look at what it is going to take in order to fulfill the goal of reaching beyond where they are and say it is impossible. Well, don’t you think that the 120 people that were given this commission by Jesus also did the same thing? Of course they did! They knew that with men it was impossible but they had already seen God do the impossible and raise Jesus from the dead! So instead of saying “we can’t”, they said we are willing to be empowered to do what you ask. They said “whatever it takes Lord.” Size did not limit their borders.
Culture And Ethnicity Is Not A Border
There are two examples of where the early church was faced with a border of culture and ethnicity. The first one was where the Greek speaking Jews felt they were being discriminated against in the distribution of food. There was a border of language and bias against people who spoke a different language.
Acts 6:1 Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.
Here we have a cultural border. The Hellenistic Jews were culturally influenced by the Greek culture to the point they spoke Greek rather than Hebrew. The church overcame this border by including in positions of leadership, people who were part of this culture. They did not allow culture to be a border. They continued to be a church without borders.
Later in Acts chapter 10 we see Peter confronted by God concerning race. Up until this time the church had spread primarily amongst the Jews but God called Peter to go beyond the racial border and preach the gospel to non-Jews.
Acts 10:15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.”
This word from God was given to Peter at the same time that God spoke to a Roman centurion who was a gentile and not of the same ethnicity as Peter. This laid the foundation for Paul who God called to be an Apostle to the gentiles.
How Can Your Church Be The Church Without Borders?
Recently I had the Lord reveal to me that I had a border in my mind and heart that was not from Him. It had to do with geography. I assumed that only people in the immediate vicinity would come to our church. We were being the church without borders with some types of technology like this website that sees over 1/2 million people from 136 countries and territories of the world. However we were limiting how many people we would reach out to in our area.
It all happened when I was talking with a young mother in a community that is a 45 minute drive away. She made the statement that she did not want to drive 45 minutes to go to church. Now I am not picking on her or her statement but the Lord used that statement to speak to me. You see, my community is located next to a popular recreation area in our region. People will drive every weekend to our community to fish and water ski. They do not think anything about that drive to come and enjoy the recreation that our area has to offer.
I realized that people put that border on how far they will drive to church but don’t use that same criteria for other things. It was a false border. In large metropolitan areas, it is nothing for people to drive 45 minutes to work, go out to eat, visit a doctor, and go to church. Why is it that we believe in our area that people won’t drive 45 minutes to go to a good church?
In order for your church to become a church without borders is to take a good look at the borders you have established in your mind and consider if they are real borders or false borders. Things like size, ethnicity, culture, and distance are false borders.
Because of this realization, we have eliminated this border of distance. We are now targeting our outreach and advertising to include any community that is within 50 miles of the church. We have also expanded our vision to include training up leaders to send to communities that are farther than 50 miles to plant churches. We have started podcasts of our services. We are going on the radio. We are doing what we can to be the church without borders.