What we believe about the Church…
The Church. What is it. The word church has become one of the those words that’s taken on a number of uses. Church.
– a building or structure. It’s that CHURCH down the road.
– what we do, it’s a service or worship gathering. We might say, “Are you going to CHURCH tomorrow?”
– a congregation, a group of people, leadership and lay. We could say, “the CHURCH called a new pastor.”
– a denomination; a grouping of church who share certain beliefs and/or doctrine. Something like the Lutheran CHURCH, the Presbyterian CHURCH, or the Methodist CHURCH.
– what we use to describe all the believers in Christ. The church, capital C, universal. It’s all the people who profess to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and thus live for for him.
While all 5 points are true, I believe it’s important that we know what we mean when we call ourselves a church. Our essential that states what we believe the church to be reads like this…
The Church – We believe the church is made up of believers, called by God, united by the Gospel message and the gift of God’s grace, charged with the honor of observing the sacraments, the preaching and teaching of God’s Word, and the mission to share the Gospel message with the world. We recognize that Jesus is the head of the church and we are the body. And within the body we recognize the roles of those in the church. As the church, we seek to worship, serve, disciple, care for and reach the world in a balanced, healthy, and strategic way. (Acts 2:41-42; 1 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:11-12; 5:23-24; Colossians 1:18; 1 Timothy 3:15)
What a great statement of who we are. I think it’s safe to say that we are using the word church in all of it’s contexts, yet, we emphasis what’s most important; that the church is made up of believers, called by God, united by the gospel and his grace.
One of the things I have come to appreciate about the church is that it is God’s and not ours. In the mix of being a church and doing church, we have forgotten what we are actually a part of. We say things like, well I don’t like their music, I don’t like how they run they service, I don’t like that person, or the organ is to loud, they have a drum kit so that’s not really church. And because of those statements, we look to make church what we want it to be like, what we want it to teach, how we want it to worship. And in some of all of this, it might be okay to have variety in area, but it’s not okay when our agendas, our selfish wants, our imperfect wills push through and make the church all about us and not all about God.
You see the church belongs to God. He calls the people together. He passes down what it is we’re to do. He tells us who to be. And in his word, he tells us what to teach.
Harvest is not a church started because we simply want to do things our way. Harvest Church exists because we have a hearts desire to be obedient to God’s call in our lives. We believe the question, “What would it be like if we started a church?” wasn’t a selfish ploy to break away, but a question that God used to help us seek out and learn what it was that God called the church to be.
I am not uprooting my family, leaving the security of a stable church and a regular paycheck, just to be come a pastor of a church. I’m leaving St. Paul’s because I believe God has called this group of people to be something special, to be the bride of Christ, a church in all her radiant glory, prepared to obediently do the work that she has been called to do.
– To worship God with our all that we our.
– To serve the community of believers and the our neighbors outside our doors.
– To disciple each other in ways to that encourage growth and a deepening relationship with our Father.
– To care for those with less and are in need.
– And to reach the world with the gospel message of Jesus Christ and God’s grace.
This book, yeah it may be isn’t just another book. And maybe we should treat it a little differently than other books. But if we’re not reading it, living it out, then is it really special?
The church, this church. We could be great. We might be able to do some fun things in the name of ministry. But if we’re not intentional about being who we are called to be and doing what we’re called to do, then are we really doing anything that makes us more like the church we see in Acts?
The Un-Church Model…
There’s a church growth model out there today that most assuredly guarantees success. It says, if you can help people feel good about themselves, if you create opportunities for parents to drop off their kids somewhere safe and good, if you can entertain and thrill an audience, if you can give them a place that is comfortable, friendly, and serves free coffee, then you can build a successful church. And there are churches doing that; woo-ing people with a nice message and a wonderful show, but they’re not producing the Jesus followers that God wants. Oh they preach the bible, but the do so selectively and avoid making strong statements about God, Jesus, heaven, hell, sin, and end times. They teach that God wants the best for his people; to be successful in this life, to be wealthy and financially secure, to be popular and well liked within their respective communities.
We could choose to adopt that model as well. I could tell you good things each week to make you feel good about yourselves. We could build amazing children’s and youth ministries. We could even adopt a few community outreaches to support and give money to. But that’s not going to happen. You see the apostle Paul warns a very young pastor named Timothy, the importance of being bold in his teachings. He tells Timothy…
1“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage —with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day —and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:1-8)
As your pastor, I intend to live out the words of Paul. My desire is to…
– Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage —with great patience and careful instruction.
– keep [my] head in all situations, endure hardship, [&] do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of [my] ministry
– [to be] poured out like a drink offering
– [to fight] the good fight
– [and to] finish the race.
And my hope is that you, as a follow of Jesus, a member of his Church and disciple of his word, would choose to live in the same manner! To the Glory of God our Father, amen. Amen.
Let us pray.
*This was an excerpt from Jay’s week 2 message at Harvest Church on Saturday, May 26. This is one of four posts that will make the full length message. To learn about Harvest Church, visit our website at; http://www.HarvestChurchToday.org.