Be the Church
[streaming video PowerPoint sermon]
Is this thing on? Click ‘Like’ for yes. Or comment amen. Nice pajamas there! Does your device have anti-virus protection?
The Bible says to greet one another with a holy kiss. But I think the Lord will understand if we get creative during handshake time today.
Are the greeters in place?
Many of you are gathered together in small groups. Thanks for opening your home to others not online.
We are the children of God. We have much to be thankful for. We are on the winning side! We aren’t of the darkness, but of the light!
Read Psalm 91
Our world is down, people are down, the stock market is down. I heard even Charmin hit a new bottom!
Our world may be down, but Christians have every reason to hope!
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build MY church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
There's a play on words here, because Peter's name [Petros] means little stone. He wasn't the founder of the church, and he certainly wasn't the first pope. He was a Christian...a little Christ...a follower of Jesus...a little stone cut from the Rock [Petra]. A chip off the old block!
1 Peter 2:5-6
5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
Jesus is the Cornerstone…we are built upon Him…little stones. We are the church. Be the church! The bride! His body on earth. We say church isn’t a building, and that is evident this week. But actually WE are His building. “Your body is the temple of God! [built up]
We are the church. The time is now. The fields are white unto harvest. We need to be checking on everyone and reminding them that far worse will happen after the rapture…they need to get in on that rapture!
This is not the time to hide away like a hermit. There’s a frightened world and they need a fearless church! We may have to keep some distance but we can talk to them. We can call them. You can ‘Share’ this video!
Be the church. Jesus said ye are the light of the world. Ye are the salt of the earth. It’s time we get the salt out of the shaker!
Now is the time for the church to shine. We may not be in the building, but we can be the church in our community.
But, who owns the church? [I will build MY church...]
...Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it [love Jesus…love what HE loves!]
Jesus bought the church, built it, and owns it. He purchased the church at a very high price and He is the foundation and cornerstone...the absolute owner!
Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
Jesus went on to say that He can remove a candlestick if it doesn't do its job. He is the owner, He brought us into the world, and He can take us out. He holds the stars 'messengers/pastors' in His hand as well, so who are any of us to think we hold ownership of anything ourselves?
It's a joke when at times someone calls the church I pastor 'Shirley Temple.' My kids know this isn't 'daddy's church,' as they used to call it. Pastors have fellowship meetings together and ask one another, 'How's your church doing?' We know what we mean, but technically, it's not accurate!
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
And the church is a body, and Christ owns it! He owns you and me in the sense of a master owning a slave/servant. But we are bondslaves in that we WANT to follow our Master who bought us and is so good to us!
But who owns the church? This is actually debated in some circles - especially in churches that are a part of associations or denominations. As far as the building is concerned, some churches are owned by an organization on a national or at least regional level. Not so in an independent church such as ours. Technically, our church used to be owned by the bank, but once that was paid off, the church became owned by, well, the church! Again, as far as a building is concerned, it's not for sale! But the church is not a building. We are the church! Even if our buildings burned to the ground, we could still have church!
Now, here's today's message: [family talk]
Our Master has gone away into a far country, and has left us servants in charge. He is our cornerstone but He asks us little stones to build something to His glory, not ours. Jesus owns the church, but He has given us an option to join Him in ownership. We are managers in a sense, as 'joint heirs' with Him. We have a stake in this...and we should take stock in this! So own your church! It's not about leadership, it's about responsibility.
Take personal responsibility for the success of your church. Do all you can to be a key to the success of our future. Play your role, do your part, but in a way that insists on success. [We each should have a support ministry and a 'soul' ministry which affects eternity!] None of us should be content and satisfied with the status quo. We cannot be pleased with putting it on 'cruise control' and just remaining the same. We must claim higher ground and go forward or we are going backward. We are not called to be 'keepers of the aquarium' but 'fishers of men.' This isn't just about us...it has always been about others. For over 200 years this church has been famous for the gospel...and may we ever be!
Take personal responsibility to step up and be the church and own your church. I'm not asking you to make things happen. We must 'let' things happen in God's way, but God's way is by everyone doing your part. I'm not called to bring results. I cannot produce fruit, only God can do that. But I want to purpose to work as if it all depended on me, and pray as if it all depended on God. In actuality, both are true. Will you do the same? If we do it correctly, big things will happen and it will be clear who gets the glory. We will know God did it thru our obedience, but that's to His glory as well. And the biggest things He'll do will be in spite of us and our weakness!
Let's do a little exercise...
"What kind of church would my church be if every member were just like me?"
Would there be any service going on behind the scenes? Could there be a nursery or children's program? Would there be a visitation night? Would we need evening services or Sunday school? Would there be offerings? Would they be true tithes or just tips? Could we afford missionaries? [online giving soon, or mail to 432 Park Ave, New London, OH 44851]
Would it be a church that daily reads its Bible or just occasionally? Would it be a praying church? Would there ever be anyone come to the altar? Would visitors ever be invited? Would anyone listen or would they just look at their phone? Would anyone say amen, or would it be a very quiet church? Would we carry our Bibles? Would any gospel tracts ever be taken and distributed?
Would we have to cancel services even for the slightest weather excuse or headache? If every member were just like you, could we cut back to a service every other week, or a monthly service? What if every member made sports/hobbies/activities have the same priority as you do? Would we even have a church? Are you willing to sacrifice sleep for your God and His church? Or at least do your sleeping IN church!
How often do you see a job and just do it? How often do you step over trash or walk by weeds in the parking lot?
Question: We just baptized some people. Who will be their discipler? Shouldn't it be all of us? Who is supposed to train our youth? Their youth pastor? Their parents? How about all of us!
Seriously now, what would our church be like if everyone were a cookie cutter copy of you?
Would your church drink alcohol or be addicted to nicotine or porn? What kind of movies could we watch with our new 4k projector if everyone had your tastes and habits? Would it be embarrassing? What kind of online posts would be all over the internet?
How many praises would ever be shared publicly? How many of our kids would be taught to sit in big church, even in an evening service?
What if everyone were just like you? Would the spirit be uplifting or depressed? Would it be an encouraging place, or full of jabs and insults? What kind of music would our church like? What would be the message in that music? What secret hypocrisies would be hidden away from view? What bitter feeling might be held toward others? What kind of gossip might be rampant? Would kids be cursed at and abused?
What kind of doubt might be prevalent? Or would there be rich faith?
Men, what if every home were led the way yours is? Ladies, what if every woman followed and supported as you do?
Would the whole church like the pastor and staff and have them over for dinner? Or would you have roast preacher after the service...without him!
Would everyone want the others' positions in the church, or would we delight in service behind the scenes?
Would any hospital visits ever happen? Would any meals ever be delivered? Would any notes of encouragement ever be mailed?
Would we ever make decisions to change, to improve, or to make commitments for God?
What kind of church would this church be, if every member were just like me?
The solution to all the above scenarios can be summed up in 3 simple words: OWN YOUR CHURCH! 3 more: BE THE CHURCH!
Let's take on a new attitude at this new season: "It's not up to someone else, it's up to me! It's not someone else's job...the reason I notice a need is because God is calling ME to fill it! The reason I see that it's broken is because I'm supposed to fix it!"
Now, don't take this to the extreme. We're not talking about who is in charge if God is in charge! I could tell you horror stories about individuals coming to feel like they owned the church, or were called of God to run the church. Some churches have a big powerful family or a big giver who tends to take over. Some churches have a deacon who feels called of God to keep the preacher under his thumb.
This message is primarily about not minimizing your importance...but also, don't maximize your importance in a twisted way.
Today, the ground is level here. There's no cliques, no respect of persons, no caste system. Let's keep it that way! Everybody is somebody and nobody is anybody. But together, we are the church. Together, let's own our church! Let’s be the church!
My wife doesn't own the piano, I don't own the spotlight! What we each DO have is a privilege. We are privileged to be a part of a great church, and if we want to continue to have this great privilege we're gonna have to go forward by each owning our responsibilities, because our enemy the devil is moving forward his kingdom, and the gates of hell WILL prevail if we don't answer the call God gave to Peter to own the church. We have no reason to believe that ANY souls will ever get saved again here in this place if YOU don't bring them and lead them to the Lord! The baptistery will be dry. The kids will grow up, leave the home, and leave the church. If you don't take ownership, eventually, the gold of FBC will be gone...our senior saints will die, no new folks will be discipled and take their place, attendance will decrease, offerings will vanish, and there won't be a pastor or staff. Even if we remain at the same level, the carpet is gonna wear out, and the parking lot will never be paved. The water of life flows freely here, but the plumbing costs money! If our church were to go under, we would EACH be responsible, and on that day, finally, we would OWN IT!
This is not a doomsday message of bad news. God sent me today with a message of good news: You have the privilege of ensuring our future success. Own your church! Be the church. This virus is God’s wake up call!
God has promised the gates of hell will not prevail against the church where each one, like Peter, is a little stone [petros], a chip off the old block, the Rock of Christ! We are joint heirs, and should take joint responsibility! We all have a stake, so let's all take stock! We're a team, a body.
How many will take responsibility and say, Lord, I pledge to do my best to do my part. I will work like it's all up to me, I will carry that cross on my shoulders, and I'll get back on my knees and pray as if it's all up to you, Lord, for it is! Thine be the glory, O Lord!
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