40 Days of Community: Why We Need Each Other
This version of the transcript has been reduced in length for your convenience. Saddleback-specific content and extraneous remarks have been removed. The finished length of this message should be approximately 30 minutes. For the complete unedited transcript refer to “Sermon Transcript – Week 1”.
40 Days of Community -
Why We Need Each Other
Thesis: God designed us for community.
Action: We need to come together in Community in order to fulfill God’s purposes for our lives.
Transcript of Message by Rick Warren
October 2-3, 2004
1. Have you thought that we could be in the midst of a revolution?
a) 650 churches all across America, participating in the 40 Days of Community this year
b) About 20 right here in MA:
c) This year alone – from January to now – approximately 1600 churches from all over the US have joined in this 40 Days journey to do the exact same ministry
(1) Connecting people into relationship with God
(2) With one another
(3) With their communities
B. Ever Revolution Needs a Radical Message
1. America’s Radical Message was a Government Run by the People
We love our Independence
a) “I got to be me.”
b) “I did it my way.”
c) “I don’t need anybody to tell me what to do with my life.”
2. We have been taught that happiness is the result of independence
a) If I’m financially independent
b) if I’m relationally independent
c) if I am independent in every way, then I will be the happiest.
3. Yet, we have never had more unhappy people, and suicide rate continues to go up.
Why? Because that’s not the answer.
4. The anecdote to all of those things is the concept of community.
The truth is, happiness does not come from being independent, isolated, living your life with all the barriers up and all the masks and keeping people at an arm’s distance. That’s not the way to be happy.
Happiness comes from interdependence, from community.
We’re going to start with a message today that really is pretty radical. It’s pretty countercultural. It’s the exact opposite of what you’ve been taught your entire life.
5. Radical Message: We need each other.
…so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. (Romans 12:5 NLT)
We just don’t realize how much we need each other because we are taught independence.
6. Purpose Driven Life Series
a) The Big Idea
This summer, when we studied “The Purpose Driven Life”, the big idea was that God put you on this planet for five reasons and we talked about those five purposes that God put you on earth to fulfill. That’s the big idea.
b) Let me give you a bigger idea.
You cannot fulfill any of those five purposes on your own. You can’t do it by yourself. It’s impossible. God wired you and wired all of us in such a way that we can only fulfill his purposes for our lives in community, in his family, in relationship to each other. We need each other. That’s the big idea we’re going to look at for the next 40 days.
C. We’re going to look at relationships throughout this series.
We’re going to look at:
1. Why do relationships go bad?
2. How do you turn a bad relationship into a good one?
3. What does it mean to really love and be loved?
4. What does it mean to really have intimacy with somebody? To have soul-to-soul fellowship
5. What is the purpose of God’s church in all of this?
Now, today I’m going to give you a little introduction. And we’re going to look at why we need each other.
The five reasons why you need a church family, and more than that, five reasons why you need to be in a small group with a few other friends who you get to know on a deeper level than just casual acquaintance.
The five reasons that the Bible gives us
I need relationships because:
I. I Need Others to Walk with Me
A. Number one, I need others to WALK with me. I need others to walk with me. In other words, I need people to help me grow spiritually.
1. Now the Bible often calls your spiritual life, your walk. It calls it “the Christian walk” or “the spiritual walk.”
The Bible says in Colossians 2:6 and 2:7, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him…” (Colossians 2:6 ESV)
Why? Because life is not just a sit-down thing, it’s a journey. You’re always growing. You’re always moving, and your life is a journey. There is a destination to get to. And the Bible says that as you walk through life, God wants you to do certain things.
Now all through scripture, it tells us, particularly through the New Testament, we’re to walk in the light, we’re to walk in love, we’re to walk in obedience, we’re to walk in the Holy Spirit, we’re to walk as Jesus walked, we’re to walk in wisdom. Many, many ways the Bible tells us how to live this kind of life.
2. God never intended for you to walk through life alone.
In this scene, a college basketball coach has told one of his players that he needs to improve his grades. He needs someone to come along side him to make good decisions and grow
Slide 4 Glory Road Movie Clip
B. Spiritual Growth Requires Relationships
1. Look again at one of the most important passages in the bible: The Great Commandment
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31 NIV)
a) The number one goal in life is learning to love God.
b) The number two goal is learning to love other people.
Spiritual Growth Requires Relationships
Why? Because God is love and God wants you to be like him. So he says, “I want you to practice learning to love.”
2. God has given you family in order to learn how to love
a) Physical Family – the one into which you were born and raised
b) Spiritual Family – the one He gave you when you surrendered your life to Christ – the church – look around you, these people are going to heaven with you.
3. God wants you to spend time with your family:
“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another…” (Hebrews 10:24-25 NLT)
God is saying, “We need people to encourage us in our daily walk.”
How: By meeting together.
Now that verse there, he’s not talking about what we’re doing right now. He’s talking about community. Folks, this is not community. This is a crowd. And so, you don’t have community in coming here to worship. Community is what happens when you’re with a smaller group. When the group gets too big, people stop relating. You see, you could be in a crowd, you could come to church every week for years and still be lonely because you never know anybody.
In a crowd of , 100,000 people you can be lonely. You can be in a crowd a few hundred people and feel lonely.
In a group of a few people that we know really well, we can practice relationships and really learn to love.
C. Community is God’s answer to LONELINESS.
1. Smaller Groups Help Us Grow Relationally
Now that’s what we’re going to talk about for the next 40 days: What the world needs now is love and we don’t often even know what love is all about. We don’t know really how to relate to each other. We don’t know how to build great, healthy, strong, lasting relationships.
2. Spiritual Growth Among the First Christians
So here's what I want you to do. When you gather for worship, each one of you be prepared with something that will be useful for all: Sing a hymn, teach a lesson, tell a story, lead a prayer, provide an insight. And no more than two or three speakers at a meeting, with the rest of you listening and taking it to heart. Take your turn, no one person taking over. (1 Co. 14:26-33 MSG)
Now here’s a question, does that sound like something we do hear on Sunday morning? No. No, we don’t do this. I don’t say, “Anybody got a poem?” “What happened at work this week?” “Can I pray for you?” We don’t because this is too big. This is not a community. This is a crowd.
What I just read, there’s only one place that can happen: In a small group. Temple courts for worship, house to house for fellowship, and you need both to be a balanced believer. You need both to be healthy spiritually. He says it can only happen in a small group.
3. When you walk through life, you need a small group of believers walking through life with you.
Now what is the goal here? When you walk through life, you need a small group of believers walking through life with you. And that’s the goal, Ephesians 4:16, the next verse, “As each part does its work,” that’s all of us in the body of Christ, “It helps the other parts grow. So Christ’s whole body,” that’s the church, “is healthy and growing and,” read it with me, “full of love.”
That’s what God wants. He wants us all to grow, and he wants us all to be full of love.
And how do we do it? We get in the situation where everybody can help each other on a personal basis. Now that’s what ‘40 Days of Community’ is all about and during ‘40 Days of Community,’ I want everybody to get in a small group. I’m talking about 100% of our church.
Now I’m not asking you to do this the rest of your life. I’m asking you to just do it for 40 days. That’s six times. Just get in a group and go six times. Why?
4. Well, you’re going to get sSeveral benefits.
a) First, you are going to learn together.
Each week you will watch a 20-25 minute lesson that I prepared especially for this series on community. And, you will have a chance each week to discuss what I will be teaching.
You’ll find support in devotional reading
The second thing that happens is that everybody in a group, is going to get this new book, called “Better Together, What On Earth Are We Here For?” And it is 40 daily readings on how to get better relationships, how to build better relationships. Now, you can’t buy this book in any bookstore. The only way you can get it is by being in a small group. You’re not going to get it any other way because learning about community is worthless unless you’re in a community. You’ve got to experience it. And so, you’ll be reading through this every day.
c) You’ll find accountability in scripture memorization
You have scripture memory packets. On each of the cards is a memory verse that will reinforce what you are learning that week about community.
5. Thank HOST homes
Like I said earlier, we want every one of you in a group during the next 40 days. We have many people in our church have stepped forward and volunteered to host a group. I want to ask all of you who have volunteered to host a group to stand right now. Go ahead, stand up right where you are. THANKS for your willingness to serve.
These hosts will grow the most. The host will grow the most. Why? Because God’s economy is that when we give out, he gives more to us. And those who bless others are actually more blessed themselves. The fact is you could be a host, everybody here. All you need to do is sign up and we will get in touch with you.
Now these people want you in their home. So if you’re not in a group yet, you need to go to the Community Center in the Lobby – right in front of the map/puzzle and sign up today. You’ve got special permission to still jump in.
The Bible says this in First Peter 4:9, “Open your homes to each other,” read it with me, “without complaining.” Yeah, okay, complaining. Question: What’s your complaint? What excuse have you been using for not opening up your home? “Well, it’s too dirty.” Well, I’ll come help you clean it. Just invite me over. I’ll help you clean it. You say, “Well, it’s not big enough.” Well, is it big enough to hold three people, maybe four? That’s all you need for a group. Just get some friends… get some people who owe you money. Invite them over. Use that leverage. You say, “Well I don’t know if I want to do it… I don’t like my neighbors.” Well, don’t invite them. I’m not telling you you have to invite people you don’t like. No, no, find people you like. People you work with, you go to school with, people who are friends, relatives or neighbors or something like that. Some of you say, “Well Rick, nobody would want to come.” Are you kidding? Oh really? Do you realize that in every human being’s heart there is a longing for belonging? Inside, everybody wants relationships. Nobody wants to be lonely. That’s why solitary confinement is the worst form of punishment. We were made to belong.
We’ve provided some invitation cards that you can use to invite people to join you in this study. I want you to give this to somebody this week, and take them to a group with you.
[REPLACE THIS WITH EXPLANATION OF HOW TO SIGN UP FOR A GROUP AT YOUR CHURCH.]
Do you realize that in every human being’s heart there is a longing for belonging? Inside, everybody wants relationships. Nobody wants to be lonely. That’s why solitary confinement is the worst form of punishment. We were made to belong. And that’s why people join all sorts of stupid causes, just to belong to something. And they’re looking for an opportunity to get to know other people.
All right, that’s the first reason why we need each other because I need people to walk through life with me.
II. I need others to WORK with me
A. God has designed you with talents to help others
Number two, I need people, I need others to not just walk with me but to WORK with me… to work with me. Do you know that the Bible says God put you on earth to do some certain things? And you need other people to help you do those certain things? The Bible says in Ephesians 2:10, “God made us to do good works, which he planned in advance for us to live our lives doing.” (NCV)
Before you were even born, God decided what talents you were going to get, what natural abilities, what gifts, what background. He decided what country you would be born in. He decided all of these things because he has a certain thing that he wants you to do with your life, “your good works.” And that is called your ministry.
Anytime you use the talents God has given you to help other people, that’s called ministry or service. It’s helping other people. But God doesn’t want you to do it by yourself or you’ll get worn out, he says you need other people to work with you.
B. God has designed us to help others together
And remember, I’ve told you this many times that life on earth is practice for heaven, for eternity. And in heaven, you’re going to do four things, and one of them is serve God. When you’re in heaven, one of the things you’re going to do is serve God. What do you want to do here? God says, “I want you to practice serving while you’re on earth.” When you get to heaven and you didn’t practice, well what kind of job are you going to get there?
Now see in heaven, nobody’s ever going to get tired doing their work because we will all share it together. And everybody just has a little part, you don’t have a whole lot. You’ve just got a little part to do in heaven and so, you’re never going to get tired.
Now on earth, you’re tired all the time. In fact, you were tired probably coming to church this morning. And the reason you’re tired is two things: 1) You try to do it all, and 2) You try to do it all by yourself. God never meant for you to do that. He meant for you to have other people in your life. So you’re not trying to do it all, and you’re not trying to do it all yourself. No wonder you’re exhausted all the time. You’re not in community. You don’t have other people helping you. Now on earth, you’re tired all the time. Maybe its because You’re not in community. You don’t have other people helping you.
Now God tells us why we need others to work with us.
Look at the next verse, Ecclesiastes 4 says, “Two people are better than one because they get more done by working together.” You know that’s true. You always get more done by working with other people.
C. Service Requires Partnership
You know, I recently did a tour on the East Coast. And I spoke in 11 cities in 12 days. It was amazing. Now, I would’ve been a basket case if I had tried to do that all by myself. But I took Tom and I took Forrest and I took David and those three guys all were a part of the team. And every time the plane hit the ground, we each knew our assignments. Nobody’s good at everything. We need each other. And the key is you need people in your life who are strong at things you’re weak at.
1. And so, we did this together as a team. When I got home, I wasn’t tired, I got up the next morning at 6 a.m. and went right back to work. Why? Because we had a team. I wasn’t carrying the load myself. You know, it was amazing, while we were at West Point,
Has a system where they feed 4,000 people in 15 minutes and they do it three times a day. Imagine feeding 4,000 people in 15 minutes. I said, “How in the world did they do that?” They give everybody a roll…with butter. Everybody has a role to play. Everybody has a position, and they do it all together.
You’ve heard Rick Warren say before, “Snowflakes are frail but if enough of them stick together, they can stop traffic.”
Don’t we know about that. We seen this whole town and at times, this whole state shut down by little snow flakes.
Now I can’t do a whole lot on my own, and you can’t make a very big impact on the world on your own either. But you know, you get enough snowflakes together, they can do something. And in this church, we’ve got a whole bunch of flakes. That’ll stop something. Better yet, it’ll start something.
3. Tackling AIDS together in Malawi
Look at what we’re doing in Malawi. Changing one child’s life may not have a big impact on a community but when you change over 100 children, it sure does.
Working alone we become tired, discouraged and overwhelmed. Working together we do more that we thought possible.
D. Community is God’s answer to FATIGUE.
1. Working Together Overcomes Fatigue
The reason why you’re so exhausted is you don’t have anybody helping you. Community is God’s answer to FATIGUE. Community is God’s answer to fatigue. Have you ever seen on TV or maybe you saw the movie Witness where the Amish build a barn together in one day? The whole community turns out. Everybody does a little bit and the thing’s done like that.
2. Local Community Service Project – Checking in
During ‘40 Days of Community,’ we’re going to take on a big project as a church called “Checking in with Hopkinton. We’re asking everyone in all the small groups to give up one four hour block of time the weekend of Oct. 14-15 or 21-22. We’re going to visit every house (over 4200 homes) in two weekends on behalf of the Police and Fire Departments.
One person doing that would be impossible. All of use doing that together makes it possible.
Working together side by side, we can do tremendous things. Let me illustrate: invite the Barkers up
Brent Barker Testimony
All right. I need people to walk with me and I need people to work with me. The third thing is:
III. I need others to WATCH OUT for me.
A. In life, I need others to WATCH OUT for me. I need people who will
1. defend me
2. protect me
3. stand up for me
4. help me stay on track
5. warn me
B. We need to watch out for one another’s needs
1. Philippians 2:4
“Look out for one another’s interests, not just for your own.”
2. Now that’s a countercultural statement
In America, everybody says, “It’s all about me. It’s all about my needs, my interests, my hurts, and the rest of you, forget you because really it’s all about me.” And yet the Bible says, “Look out for one another’s interests.”
When I go on vacation, I say to my neighbor, “I’m going to be gone for a while. Would you look out for my stuff?” We all want our stuff looked out for. So we ask our neighbor, “Would you mind just keeping an eye open and watch out for my stuff?”
3. We all have blind spots that only someone else can notice
a) I have a fashion blind spot that the women in my family notice
b) Talking and someone makes the (picking your teeth sign) because you have lettuce stuck there – you can’t see it, you need someone’s help
We need people for better spiritual protection
So we need people who watch out for us, who love us, who go, “Hey you know, you’ve got a little booger right here. Get rid of that thing.” That’s why we need each other. Get it? Good.
a) We have an enemy. His name is Satan.
And he hates your guts and he wants to defeat you, he wants to mess up your life, he wants to hurt you, harm you and make you totally ineffective. He wants you to miss God’s will. He wants you to waste your time. And every morning before you wake up, he’s planning how to get you to waste your day, to get angry, to get impatient, to get lustful, to get worried, to get fearful and all these other things, to get depressed. And he’s going to pull whatever works on you, on you.
b) Spiritual attacks we’ve been wrestling with:
(1) Kick-Off Sunday: Wild Turkey in the building, wild wedding party threatening to tear down decorations
(2) Children’s Start: Each member of Vickie’s CM team is assaulted
(3) This past week: everything breaking down from a car on Monday to a copier on Friday – poor Jim Gassett is laid up at home just before the weekend start
c) Satan attacks you in your own life
(1) Habits, you can’t break.
(2) Hurts, you can’t forgive and let go of.
(3) Hang-ups you can’t change.
(4) Problems, circumstances, relationships that mess up your life; it’s all indirect, and he’s always trying to mess you up that way.
d) And most of the time, we’re defeated. Why?
Because we try to fight it on our own, by ourselves. And you’re never going to beat the devil on your own. Never. You need other people in your life who are watching out for you.
Ecclesiastes 4:12, “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back to back and conquer, and three are even better for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” That’s why you need a small group.
C. Success Requires Companionship
Tiger Woods caddy – makes a million dollars a year carrying his clubs – giving advice, encouragement, telling him where pin placement is, helping determine distance, club pick – he helps Tiger Woods overcome the opposition and succeed.
a) Who’s watching your back right now, spiritually?
Is there anybody in your life who is so close that they are helping you and making sure you don’t fall into the typical traps that mess us up? Anybody like that? If you don’t have that person, I pity you because you’ve got a big bull’s eye on your back for the devil.
Who’s back are you watching out for?
You can’t expect anybody to watch out for you if you’re not watching out for anybody else? You care enough about anybody else, you’ll say, “You know what? I’m going to be with you through thick and thin.”
D. Community is God’s answer to DEFEAT.
Song: Listen to this song to see what I mean
I need people to walk with me through life and I need others to work with me and I need others to watch out for me.
IV. I need others to WAIT AND WEEP with me
A. I need people who are going to be there in the inevitable crises of life.
When I’m waiting for the bad news or when I’m weeping, when I got the bad news, I need people in my life.
Now as your pastor, I feel this one really deeply because I see it every day in our church.
1. There are many situations in life that nobody should ever have to go through alone.
a) Nobody should ever have to sit alone in a hospital, waiting during a life or death surgery.
b) No woman should have to wait alone while she’s waiting back for a lab test from a problem pregnancy.
c) No one should ever have to wait for the news from the battlefield alone.
d) No one should ever have to sit in the home, waiting for the coroner to identify the body of a loved one who just had a heart attack in your home.
e) No one should ever have to stand at an open grave alone.
f) No man or woman should ever have to spend the first night alone when his wife dies or her husband dies.
g) No man or woman should have to spend the night alone when the wife walks out, or the husband has walked out.
I could go on and on and on.
2. We were not meant to face the crises of life alone.
Now the fact is some of these things are going to happen in your life. They are going to happen, some of them will in that we’re all going to lose loved ones. And only a fool would go through life unprepared for what they know is inevitably going to happen. You need the support network in your life now because you don’t know when the crisis is going to come, when the earthquake’s going to happen… you need that support group, those three or four… you don’t need a lot, you don’t need a hundred but you do need five or six people in your life who are going to be there when you need them. And the time to prepare is now.
B. Solace Requires Company
1Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you should be of one mind, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds. (NLT)
Now when you get in the hospital, you don’t want the whole church to visit you. In fact, that would not be a good idea. But it would be nice to have five or six people visit you, and to say, “We’re praying for you. We’re going to be here.”
How many have faced death, disease, destruction, divorce and all the other ‘d’ tragedies alone, feeling like it’s crushing us. How many have faced it with Christian companionship and found the hope, the comfort, the strength to get up and continue?
C. Community is God’s answer to DESPAIR
1. Here’s God’s plan, First Corinthians 12, “If one member suffers, all suffer together.”
You know, I just read recently about a guy who died at home in bed and nobody discovered him for two years. I thought, “How tragic that he had no relationships in life who missed him.” That the guy died… imagine the despair, nobody should ever have to die alone.
The Bible says, “Be happy with those who are happy and weep with those who weep.”
You party when people have a celebration and you weep when they have a tough time.
2. What to do for people
a) Stop and Pray
By the way, people often don’t know what to do with tears in a small group. And they’ll be sitting in a small group and then somebody starts crying for one reason or another. Let me give you a little tip: Tears are always the tip that it’s time to stop and pray.
When tears come, it means it’s time to stop and pray for that person. “Let’s just stop right now and pray for Mary. She just got bad news from her sister. Let’s pray for her right now,” and you stop and you pray. “Let’s just stop and pray for Bob right now. He just got laid off from a company he’s given 22 years of his life to and they gave him one week’s notice.” That’s a shock. “Let’s just stop and pray for Tom right now…” Tears are time to pray.
b) Just Be There
You don’t have to fix people’s problems. When they’re going through a crisis, they don’t want advice anyway. They just want somebody to be there. You just sit there and be quiet with them. You don’t have to say anything profound, usually we get in trouble when we start talking. Just be there with them. They don’t need a lot of advice. Just be there with them.
Bob Monroe Testimony
V. I need others to WITNESS with me.
A. I need people to help me fulfill the mission that God put me on earth to fulfill.
and it is: I need others to WITNESS with me. What does that mean? Well, God has a plan for your life and he has a purpose and he has a mission. And you have a life message that God wants you to say to the world and your life message, if you don’t share it, it won’t get shared.
Now that’s kind of scary sometimes, sharing your life message with the world. That’s why you need other people in your life. I need people to help me fulfill the mission that God put me on earth to fulfill. Now there’s great power in a group witness. When people come in here and they look around and they go, “Whoa, look at all these people! Something must be going on here.”
B. Speaking Requires Devotion
1. Love Supports Our Witness
What’s the best way to witness to people who don’t know the love of Jesus Christ yet? It’s by loving other believers. That’s what Jesus said.
Look at the Bible. Jesus said in John 13, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
Notice he said, “Your love,” not for me, not for God, he said, “Your love for one another,” for other people in the family of God, is the proof that you’re in the family of God.
You see, the thing that proves to the world that we’re Christ’s followers is not our buildings, not our music, not our sermons, it’s our love for each other. And during the next 40 days, we’re going to start a revolution of love right here that is going to reach out to the community around us.
2. Fear Undermines It
a) We’re so afraid to share our faith:
(1) We might get rejected
(2) We might be asked questions I can’t answer
(3) We might be harassed
b) Sharing our faith is hard when we do it alone.
C. Community is God’s answer to FEAR.
Would you write this down: God’s answer to fear is COMMUNITY. God’s answer to fear is community. The Bible says, “You’re working together and struggling side by side to get others to believe the good news,”
That verse has the two goals of ‘40 Days of Community’ in it.
1. “Working together side by side,” we want to deepen the community in our church,
Open up your small group to someone who needs to hear the Gospel. Love people together.
a) Let them experience the kindness.
b) Let them find answers to questions from those around you.
c) Let them be drawn to the Gospel by the fellowship they experience
2. “To get others to believe the good news,” to reach out to the community around our church
Illustration: Distributing Christian literature in Spain, 2001
We all need each other. We all need each other. We need other believers to walk with us, to work with us, to watch out for us. We need other believers to wait for us and wait with us and weep with us, and we need them to witness with us.
a) Call for God Moments
Note that the last point didn’t have a testimony. We’re looking for God moments – working together in community, doing the spiritual disciplines – how are you experiencing God – this is your witness – God at work in your life and through your life, making a difference.
b) Jump into the 40 Days: Devotions, Scripture Memory, Small Group
b) Small Group Prayer: Our Experience of God, Growing in our Community with One Another, Impacting our Community around us