Becoming a Healthier Church: Ministry-June 5, 2013

Becoming a Healthier Church:  Ministry-June 5, 2013

Romans 12:1-8

Ministry is not just the work of a “Minister” or one who makes it their vocation to do the work of Christ but rather ministry is the work of Christ done through His body the church which includes every member.  Imagine if we could if each member sought to do ministry either in groups with others or looked to use their gifts in a ministry that didn’t presently exist in the life of the church.

The real center of the early church was the Lord’s Supper not a temple practice or synagogue service.  Elton Trueblood once said the name for the church is “The Company of the Committed.”  So then ministry has as its context primarily the body of Christ and the local community and is much more practical in function and service.  In other words it can be a number of different things but general is accomplished through the local church as a more practical help to its own and the community it is a part of.

One of the words in Greek used for service is Diakonia “service” (especially of a place at a table), it was understood that whenever somebody was serving Christ it was exactly what a slave would do for his lord, i.e., a simple, worldly service, not a domination of others.  It is also where we get our word deacon or one who is in the service of the Lord.

 

Every Christian is created for ministry (see Eph. 2:10), saved for ministry (see 2 Tim. 1:9), called into ministry (see 1 Peter 2:9-10), gifted for ministry (1 Peter 4:10), authorized for ministry (see Matt. 28:18-20), commanded to minister (see Matt. 20:26-28), to be prepared for ministry (see Eph. 4:12-12), needed for ministry (see 1 Cor. 12:27), accountable for ministry, and we be rewarded according to his or her ministry (see Col. 3:23-24).~Purpose Driven Church pg. 368

Spiritual Gifts-the Bible clearly teaches that God gives each believer certain spiritual gifts to be used in ministry (see 1 Cor. 12, Rom. 8, Eph. 4).  However, I think it is important to note that often times we think that we may only have one gift and perhaps we should begin at the point of serving in a ministry to discover our giftedness rather than just taking a spiritual gift inventory.  Although these can be helpful they may not be the best way to discover our giftedness.

“Different kinds of service, but the same Lord.”  1 Corinthians 12:5

It is in this type of service locally and within the body that helps better prepare us for the larger work of mission.  Mission often involves moving beyond your normal level of comfort to reach those with the gospel that may not be reached otherwise.

 

Pleasing to God-Graduate Sunday-June 2, 2013

Pleasing to God-Graduate Sunday-June 2, 2013

Scripture:  Galatians 1:10

We are here today to honor our graduates.  When we think of them, we think of young men and women getting ready to transition to a new part of their lives.  They have been students for the majority of their lives and they will go on to the workforce, military, trade school, or college.  It can be an exciting time and difficult time, as these young people feel the hope and weight of their futures ahead.

You may think back to the time when you graduated from high school or college.  In most cases there was at least on main speaker which would give advice to these excited and terrified young minds.  Some of the advice may have been helpful and some advice was not so helpful.  Then there are things that we wish others had told us then, things we knew that knew, that would have been very helpful to know.

Often these sermons/speeches include things about happiness, pursuit of goals, not being afraid to take chances, or even change careers.  Depending upon the agenda of the speaker our young people may be encouraged to be better citizens, philanthropists, or to make this world a better place.

While I am sure that the advice give is intended to be helpful and useful it is not what I have personally found to be the most helpful.  Most of the advice offered centers around the happiness, fulfillment, and careers of the individuals.  There is a sense of communal pride for these graduates as our church and families have invested ourselves into them.  One thing I wish had been told to me is that none of these achievements will answers the most unsettling and desperate questions of our hearts.

The view of world and many in it is that life is about doing and so we run around trying to find worth and fulfillment in what we do, accomplish, or achieve.  From the time of Adam and Eve  reaching for their own way by reaching for the fruit, they have been trying to define and find their worth in their ability to work.  In working so hard they are seeking the empty breathy words of man for approval and lying awake at night knowing something is not quite right.  Our days are filled with working accomplishments and our hearts remain empty.

Let me say to you graduates and to you congregation to set yourselves free from the idea that your worth is dependent  upon your accomplishments.  You are worth more than you know because you are made in the image of God and loved so much by God that His Son died for us.  Take a moment to think about how God loves you so much that He traded His Son’s life for yours.

When a life is changed by the grace of God, it is for a purpose-to participate in God’s ongoing mission in the world.  I have a strong hunch that  God is not nearly as worried about how we earn an income as what we do with the name of the Lord along the way.  Calling begins with identity, not task.  The doing has to flow out of the being, because if we aren’t clear about who we are, we’ll never know what to do with our lives.  ~M. Craig Barnes from The Pastor as Minor Poet

These are some great words for our congregations and our graduates.  Most of us have at some point in time have felt discontented with our lives or will likely in the future.  In almost every case the deeper issue is not what to do next but who am I?  It is the answer to this question that the Apostle Paul is able to say, “I have learned to be content.”  It is not because the circumstances were always great, he earned an income making tents but that was not who he was or what allowed Paul to be so content.

Paul knew his identity and destiny where in the hands of God and with that he could say with confidence I have learned to be content.  Most graduation talks deal with dreams of the future and helpful advice about seeking happiness and being willing to take risks, fail if necessary.  Switch jobs or even careers if need be but none of these things will ever meet the burning questions deep within.  There is no person, job, risk, or achievement that will make us feel better until we answer the question of who are we?  Because my friends a calling is not achieved but received.  Has Christ called you His, called you out, and given you contentment in all of life?  Today could be that day.