Being a good steward of your role in the church.
Something you never forget!
The Church is both an organization and an organism!
One of the great things that happen when you go to school is that you hear things that stick with you the rest of your life. They can be part of a lecture or an off-hand comment by a professor or administrator, but it impacts you for a lifetime. This happened to me in the fall of 1973 and Wayland Baptist University.
When I was going to college I had a ministerial scholarship. I had it because I was majoring in religion and had “surrendered to the ministry” and was licensed by a local Baptist church to “The Gospel Ministry”. In other words, I was what we called back then a “preacher boy”! Part of the requirements for the scholarship was taking a class called “Church and Denominational Activities”. In this class I was introduced to the dynamics of local church operation and the functions of the Southern Baptist denomination. I sat in the opening session of the class and Dr. J. Ivyloy Bishop was teaching. He said something in the opening moments that I have never forgotten. He simply stated that “The Church is both an organization and an organism. It must be both in order to be successful!”
How does this affect us?
What is my role in the church? How do I fit in the organization? What is my part in this living organism we call Restoration Fellowship?
The average church member today…
1. Attends church less that 2 Sundays per month.
2. Attends 2-3 churches at the same time.
3. Average stay in a church is less than 3 years.
The main problem is expectation! Mark Rutland recently quoted quality control expert Phillip Crosby who said that “quality is meeting expectations”. Not external expectations, but the expectations that are peculiar to a particular church at a particular time and space.
The Bible says it this way…
Proverbs 13:12 (NASB) Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
1. We are not communicating our expectations of church members.
2. We are not meeting the expectations of the average church member. In other words, we are “spending time writing songs that answer questions that nobody’s even asking anymore”!
"The difference between expectation and performance is frustration!"
Here are some social changes that have also occurred…
1. The competition for time on Sunday has increased over the years.
2. Sunday is the only day families have for themselves.
3. Technology has made a it possible for people to attend church online.
I am somewhat hesitant to mention this last one because it appears self serving…
4. For many, church has become a ‘spectator sport’.
What does the Bible consider good stewardship of our church expectations?
Psalms 62:5 (NKJV) My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him.
Three pictures of the church from the Bible…
Ephesians 5:30–33 (NKJV) For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Context: husbands love your wives as Christ loves the church…
1 Corinthians 12:27 (NKJV) Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.
Ephesians 1:22–23 (NKJV) And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
Colossians 1:18 (NKJV) And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
Colossians 1:24 (NKJV) I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church,
Ephesians 4:11–16 (NKJV) And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
1 Peter 2:4–5 (NKJV) Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious; you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
What should you do about this?
Illustration: Stained glass windows…
How can we all live this out together?
Acts 5:42 (NKJV) And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
Attend a weekly service.
Be part of a small group.
Be involved in ministry.
- I love
Thy Kingdom, Lord,
The place of Thine abode,
The church our blest Redeemer saved
With His own precious blood.
- I love
Thy church, O God;
Her walls before Thee stand,
Dear as the apple of Thine eye,
And graven on Thy hand.
her my tears shall fall;
For her my prayers ascend;
To her my cares and toils be giv’n,
Till toils and cares shall end.
my highest joy
I prize her heav’nly ways,
Her sweet communion, solemn vows,
Her hymns of love and praise.
as Thy truth shall last,
To Zion shall be giv’n
The brightest glories earth can yield,
And brighter bliss of Heav’n.
Timothy Dwight, I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord
Excerpt(s) from COMMUNICATING FOR A CHANGE: SEVEN KEYS TO IRRESISTIBLE COMMUNICATION by Andy Stanley and Ronald Lane Jones, copyright © 2006 by Andy Stanley and Ronald Lane Jones. Used by permission of WaterBrook Multnomah, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.