Joshua instructs the children of Israel to build a monument. For many years to come people will pass by the monument, and it is to stand as a reminder of all that God had done. It was also to serve as a conversation starter for parents to instruct their children concerning the history of God’s dealings with His people. This Sunday is the 144th anniversary of Antioch. We want to use this Anniversary Celebration/Homecoming to remind ourselves and the next generation of all that God has done.
Antioch was founded by Missionary Baptists
Antioch was founded by Missionary Baptists as a new church plant. There was a desperate need for a church in the LaCrosse community, and these Christians followed the teachings of Christ and went into the neighboring community to start a church. They sent some of their best members, and one church even sent one of their elders to start the church. We must be willing to do the same. We must be willing to send out our best members, elders, deacons, and families to propagate the Gospel. This is where the idea of “Homecoming” comes from. It is to be a time that all those we have sent out return to worship with us and recount the wonderful things God has done.
Antioch was founded by elders
Antioch was founded by four elders. These elders helped to organize the church and get it started. One of the elders, Abraham Crosby, stayed as the first elder/pastor at Antioch. These four men were very instrumental and helping the church get off the ground. We must follow the example of our founders, and more importantly the Word of God, by having many qualified elders.
Antioch’s founders understood membership
One of the first actions of the church was to covenant the members together. They joined themselves together promising to help each other follow Christ. They were seeking to establish a true Christian community, not a building or organization. The church for many years had a larger attendance than membership. This was because they held membership in high regards. If you missed two of their monthly conferences they would send a delegation from the church to help restore you to the fold. We must follow the founding of Antioch in our understanding of membership as believers covenanting together to follow Christ.
Antioch practiced restorative church discipline
Before the church was even six months old, Antioch was already confronting wolves and restoring wayward sheep. The minutes record a member confessing his falling away and asking for the church’s forgiveness and help that he might not fall again. We also have several members being expelled from the church for unrepentant sin. The minutes also tell of the church sending brothers after fallen sheep. They did not sit around and gossip about other’s sins, they followed Matthew 18 and went to restore those who had fallen. All of this took place before the church was even six months old. We must remember that the devil is still seeking to steal sheep and infiltrate the church with wolves.
Antioch preached the Gospel
The first message preached at Antioch was from Acts 2:38, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” The church preached a Gospel of repentance and faith in Christ. The church did not receive people for baptism because of their profession of faith. Rather, they were received based upon their “experience.” This means that they wanted to know if the person had actually experienced the life-changing power of Jesus Christ. They knew that words can be empty; they wanted to know if the person showed the fruit of a changed life. We must continue preaching the Gospel as recorded in the Bible.
We must pray about starting other churches in neighboring communities. We must seek the Lord for more elders. We need to follow Christ’s teachings in Matthew 18. Most of all, we need to believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and be born again.