This Sunday is the 146th Anniversary of the founding of Antioch Baptist Church. This anniversary celebration has traditionally been known as “Homecoming.” Why?
A Happy Church
In Acts 13:1 we read of an amazing church, the church at Antioch. They had some amazing Bible teachers, like Barnabas and Saul. They fasted and ministered in love to one another. I don’t know about you, but it would be an amazing thing to have been a part of that church. The church was filled with the Spirit, great leaders, and great teachers. The church was growing both numerically and spiritually.
In the midst of this amazing church God comes and changes their plans. Jesus’ Great Commission was to go into all the world with the Gospel. God now calls some of the best leaders and teachers to leave Antioch and go into other parts of the world with the light of the Gospel. Antioch already had a Gospel light, but many other communities were still in darkness. God calls Paul and Barnabas to go to these places and start other churches.
The Church Sends
Put yourself in the shoes of the average member at Antioch in Asia. You have an amazing church with many capable leaders, preachers, and teachers. Now God has called away literally your best members. What would your response be? What was their response? They set aside a time to pray for them and then they sent them away. The metric of success for a church is not how many people attend. It is how many people are sent out with the Gospel.
Antioch in Gainesville
In 1872 there was no Gospel light in this community. There were a few believers that had to walk many miles to fellowship with other believers. Because of this, the Baptist churches in the surrounding communities sent some of their best members and some of their elders to form a church here. That is how Antioch Baptist Church came to be. If other churches had not been willing to send out their best teachers and leaders this church would not exist. We owe a great debt to churches who willingly sent out their best to form our church.
A Biblical Homecoming
The church at Antioch prayed diligently for those that it sent out. They longed to see them again, fellowship with them, worship with them, and hear how God had answered their prayers. In our text, we see what a biblical homecoming is. It is when all those sent out by the church return to report on the success of the Gospel and worship together once again.
Antioch in Gainesville’s future
We must long for the day when we can have such a homecoming. We must be preparing ourselves to go into all the world with the Gospel. We must be preparing ourselves to part with our best members for the sake of the Kingdom. We must be asking where God would send us next. We must volunteer ourselves for the advancement of the Kingdom. What a day that will be when all those we have sent out return to report of God’s grace and worship with us once again!
Will you surrender to God’s mission where ever that may be? Will you raise your kids to be sent out? Will you live for the advancement of the Kingdom?