What is our church in El Sobrante, California doing in the vicinity of Sacramento, California? At the root of this is Acts 1:8, Mark 16:15, and Matthew 28:18-20. We are following the pattern we see with Jesus in Galilee. He preached in every village and town. Right where we are at in El Sobrante, we have been to every door in Pinole, Hercules, San Pablo, and Rodeo. We've been to a big chunk of Richmond and then Crockett. We're still not done with those last two, and Richmond is very big. And then working out, we have El Cerrito, Berkeley, Albany, and then Emeryville too. At the same time we are preaching to our immediate area, we are looking for a base of operations away from where we are already.
Several factors got us looking at Sacramento to start with, and not necessarily in the following order. One, it's the capital of California. Two, my family had been up to Sacramento many times on vacation and there isn't a church like ours in that area. We were not satisfied with what we visited. Three, we are not sure that a true gospel is being preached in a serious way there. I'd be happy to know otherwise, but I wasn't sure yet. Four, we had family of members of our church that lived up there and couldn't find a church with certain distinguishing marks like ours. Five, it's a huge population with Sacramento and the surrounding towns: Roseville, Orangevale, Elk Grove, El Dorado, etc. Six, we have men who are very close to have finished their pastoral training, that is, we think they are about ready. Seven, I had scouted and surveyed the area to a certain degree two years ago but knew that we were not quite ready to make a commitment to going up there. As of October, however, we did start. Eight, we have a home in which to meet.
Our church is evangelizing Sacramento. We do not want to get in the way of anyone who is preaching a true gospel. I have not noticed that we are. We are starting with evangelism in a place that I do not see anyone else doing anything in a systematic way. As we evangelize, if people are saved and baptized, we will have a church. However, we are there to preach.
At the same time, we have some people who are already saved up there that meet with us on Sunday afternoons at 3:00pm. We have fifteen or so that come. We've seen four professions of faith, three door-to-door, who are now in discipleship. We are teaching the group about the assembling of a church---prayer, praise, exhortation, fellowship, preaching, giving, and serving. We are explaining the Scriptures to them. At about 4:15pm, Marlowe Robles is taking a small group through an evangelistic Bible study. While he does that, I go out preaching the gospel alone or with others. We would be glad if a church comes out of this, but we're there to give the gospel to everyone in the area.
About a month before we began our first meeting, we started by canvassing the area with 2,000 flyers announcing the meeting. If a saved person was there without a church, we wanted him to know about it. We didn't find anyone from that. We still let people know about the meeting. In addition to handing out a tract, we pass out a flyer with the time and place on Sunday. We also have a website, so that someone interested can learn more about who we are.
The major cost here is for fuel to drive up. We spent money on the 2,000 flyers. We don't pay for a building because we meet in a care home owned by the Balatbat family, who are in our church. We brought up a piano and spent money to tune it. We bought hymn books. You'll hear that it costs a lot of money to "start a church." You don't see that in the Bible. It isn't happening with us either. We are taking offerings in the meeting and using them for what we need. Mid-Coast Baptist Church in Brunswick, Maine sent us 1000 dollars to use for the new work. This support is going to be very helpful in the next two years.
We don't have to see a church started. We preach the gospel and if people want it and believe it, we will have a church. I think we will, but it isn't the goal. The goal is casting the seed everywhere and seeing if it finds good soil. We shall see.