Faithlife Sermons

What's the Point of Church?

Individual Sermons  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 5 views
Notes
Transcript
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →

Introduction

MY HISTORY
My Name is Jon Brackett.
I’m a Pastor/Church planter in San Francisco.
Grew up in San Francisco
Pastor at Dolores Park Church
Had to ask myself – what do I want to do as a pastor?
Felt a tug toward church planting
Led me to ask this big question – what’s the point of church?
That’ll be our topic today. 
But man
Cold
Thumb
Chinese New Year Fireworks

Pray

_____________________

What is the mission of the church?

A mission is the thing that you are tasked to do. It’s the main point…
It’s not the only point. But it’s the main point…
Examples
Business – the mission is to make a profit. A business that loses money generally isn’t fulfilling its mission.
Medicine – heal people.
Farming – grow stuff
Baseball – the mission is to score more runs than the other team.
So let’s take baseball as an example. Everything the team does is meant to lead them to their goal.
Pitching and defense – keep the other team from scoring
Hitting – move the line and score runs
Coaching – maximizing player potential
Everything about a team is meant to win games.
There are some teams who aren’t reaching their mission. Like the Giants…ug.
But there are other teams with a different mission. The A’s or the Rays. Those owners don’t care about winning. They care about making money. So you could ask – are the A’s even a baseball team?
The church
So my question as we start is this – what’s the point of church?
Why do believers gather together and form organizations? Why do we buy buildings? Why do we pay staff and collect money? What’s it all for?
Another illustration – think about a baseball bat. What are some uses for a baseball bat?
Hitting a baseball
Hitting a person
Door stop
Hammer a nail (in a pinch)
Overkill flyswatter
Art on a wall
But here’s the deal – the baseball bat is only really fulfilling it’s potential when it’s hitting a baseball.
And the church is really only fulfilling it’s potential when it’s focused on its mission.
I’m afraid too many churches are being used as doorstops or hammers. Some are even being used to hit people.
So my question is – what’s the mission of the church. What’s hitting the baseball?
+++…to answer that, we need to look at God’s word and see his heart. He has had a plan for his people going all the way back to Abraham.
Genesis 22:17–18 ESV
I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”
EXPLANATION
Most of you probably know the story of Abraham. He was this pagan dude living his life when God stepped in.
And he told him – “I’m going to make you the father of a great nation.” But why?
And what was the point of making a certain people group the people of God?
V18 To bless the nations.
God’s plan all along was to redeem us – to bring us back to himself.
And he was going to use Abraham’s people to get the message out there.
Psalm 67 ESV
To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm. A Song. May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Selah Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, shall bless us. God shall bless us; let all the ends of the earth fear him!
EXPLANATION
Even in the OT – God’s plan was to reach the nations.
Israel didn’t really live up to that calling.
They took their status as the people of God to mean they were special – not that they were set apart for a mission
Verse 7 is key. God will bless us (the people of God) so that we may bless the nations.
It’s not – “God will bless us so that we will feel good about ourselves.” or “God will bless us so that we will feel blessed and grow in faith.”
We are to take what he has done for us and spread it around.
That’s the word gospel – good news. Good news is only news if it’s proclaimed.
So we take in from God – and dish out to others. That’s the pattern.
Luke 2:29–32 ESV
29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation 31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
Simeon – picks up this theme at Jesus dedication.
+++ Now – let’s look at the end of all the gospels. What message did Jesus leave his disciples with? The men who were to found his church. What instructions did he leave them with?
Matthew 28:18–20 ESV
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20
All authority…Jesus is the ruling king. His kingdom has broken into this world.
This is important – because it takes the pressure off of us.
What we do as a church is because Jesus is in charge.
Verb 1 – Go (not stand still)
This is important – because it takes the pressure off of us.
What we do as a church is because Jesus is in charge.
Verb 1 – Go (not stand still)
Verb 2 – make disciples
Atheists to Ambassadors
Of all nations
Verb 3 – baptize
An activity of the church. Bring them into the church
Verb 4 – teach
Teach them how to reproduce.
Feed them with the gospel until it bubbles up and flows out of them. – Go (not stand still)
Verb 2 – make disciples
Atheists to Ambassadors
Of all nations
Verb 3 – baptize
An activity of the church. Bring them into the church
Verb 4 – teach
Teach them how to reproduce.
Feed them with the gospel until it bubbles up and flows out of them.
Mark 16:15 ESV
15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.
Go
Move.
Don’t stay still
Into all the world – don’t huddle together.
Proclaim the gospel
To The whole creation
The implication – the gospel will impact everything, including all kinds of people.
Luke 24:44–49 ESV
44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
John 20:21 ESV
21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
Jesus left heaven to fulfil the gospel. He was sent by God
Now – we are sent by him – follow his example – go out.
Acts 1:8 ESV
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Go – into these regions. Jesus is assuming they won’t stay in Jerusalem.
Be witnesses
Greek – Martyrs.
Be willing to share the gospel with people even until the point of death.
The new twist
We won’t be on this mission to go alone.
Jesus has left of with the Holy Spirit to empower us.

So what do we learn - what is the mission of the church?

What is the mission of the church? What’s the point of church?
We saw 3 themes
Kevin DeYoung in What is the mission of the church? – “The mission of the church is to go into the world and make disciples by declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit and gathering these disciples into churches, that they might worship the Lord and obey his commands now and in eternity to the glory of God the Father.”
#1 Go out to all nations…
Tim Keller “God does not merely send the church in mission. God already is in mission, and the church must join him. This also means, then, that the church does not simply have a missions department; it should wholly exist to be a mission.”
The point of church is not…To put on a great showTo feed the flock great sermonsTo have great musicTo put together committeesTo host weddings and funeralsTo take care of one anotherThe main thing churches should be doing – the main point…Go into the worldSpread the good newsIn order to make disciples who make new disciples
Just like Jesus went out – he left heaven – we are to go out.
#2 Spread the gospel/be witnesses
We are the holders of the greatest story in history – the gospel. We are the ones God has entrusted to tell that story to the perishing world around you.
#3 Don’t do it alone – the spirit will empower you
Kevin DeYoung in What is the mission of the church? –
“The mission of the church is to go into the world and make disciples by declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit and gathering these disciples into churches, that they might worship the Lord and obey his commands now and in eternity to the glory of God the Father.”
“The mission of the church is to go into the world and make disciples by declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit and gathering these disciples into churches, that they might worship the Lord and obey his commands now and in eternity to the glory of God the Father.”
Tim Keller “God does not merely send the church in mission. God already is in mission, and the church must join him. This also means, then, that the church does not simply have a missions department; it should wholly exist to be a mission.”
The point of church is not…
To put on a great show
To feed the flock great sermons
To have great music
To put together committees
To host weddings and funerals
To take care of one another
The main thing churches should be doing – the main point…
Go into the world
Spread the good news
In order to make disciples who make new disciples

The Book of Acts Should Play this out...

Status Updates in the book of Acts

Luke gives us a bunch of status updates covering the first 30 or so years of the church.
This’ll take a sec – but let’s look at em…

Pentecost

Acts 2:41 ESV
41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Jerusalem Church Described

Acts 2:46–47 ESV
46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Peter and John Arrested

Acts 4:4 ESV
4 But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.

Annanias and Sapphira aftermath

Acts 5:14 ESV
14 And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women,

First Deacons

Acts 6:1 ESV
1 Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.

After Saul/Paul is converted

Acts 9:31 ESV
31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.

Second Missionary Journey

Acts 16:5 ESV
5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.

Third Missionary Journey

Acts 28:30–31 ESV
30 He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, 31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

End of the book of Acts

Acts 28:30–31 ESV
30 He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, 31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

Flow of the Book of Acts...

It’s not – these church people grew in faith. They learned more theology. The built a building with a cool sound system.
The flow is – the gospel starts in Jerusalem. And it moves to Rome.
Every one of Lukes updates is about the word going out and the number of people hearing and receiving the gospel increasing.
It’s about how Jesus is fulfilling the great commission through his church.
+++ I love the book of Acts. But it’s easy to read the book and this – well, those were super Christians. But they were regular people who were full in on God’s Mission.

Antioch Church

Acts 13:1–4 ESV
1 Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. 4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.
First – because the gospel was spreading – this list includes a pretty diverse group of people.
Second – they were guided by the Holy Spirit
Third – the spirit told this church to sacrifice it’s two best leaders and go out. It was all outward facing.
+++…so the church in the book of acts seems to take the mission of the church seriously. What about us?

Stats on the US Church

Ed Stetzer, Planting Missional Churches
In 1900, there were 28 churches for every 10,000 Americans.
In 1950, there were 17 churches for every 10,000 Americans.
In 2000, there were 12 churches for every 10,000 Americans.
In 2011, the latest year available, there were 11 churches for every 10,000 Americans.
Evaluation
As the population grows – at a minimum the church should at least grow with it.
But not only are we not growing or even staying steady, we are losing ground in the US.
Think about that – our mission is to expand the kingdom of God as we go out. And we are literally doing the opposite of that – we are shrinking.
Church going in America stats
There are a million studies all with different numbers
But they all tell the same story
Church attendance is down. Every year, less and less Americans go to church.
Side note – I don’t want you to get the wrong impression. Christianity is not dying. In India, China and Africa, Christianity is spreading like nuts.
But while we should be extremely grateful for the gospel spreading all over the world – we should also think hard about what’s happening in our backyard.
Narrower stats
That’s all nationwide stuff.
Let’s just talk about your church. Is your church bigger or smaller than it was 20 years ago? 10 years ago? 5 years ago?
The church where I was a pastor fits this mold. It wasn’t growing at all.
+++…why?

Church Models as Boats

JD Grear - "Gaining By Losing - Why the future belongs to churches that send"
How are our churches set up? What are we trying to do? What are people expecting from our churches?
Grear uses boats as an illustration to explain the types of churches that we see…
A small fishing vessel
I don’t care how many people are here – as long as I get to be the captain
This is the church where everyone is fighting to control the day to day operation of the church.
When people’s main mission in a church is to be in control – how much of God’s mission will they get done? Very little.
These sorts of churches prefer less people.
It’s like my friend Gordon’s Church. He actually got fired because he was bringing “the wrong sorts of people to church…”
A cruise ship
What’s the point of a cruise? To satisfy the passengers
Modern cruise ships…
Pools
Buffets to stuff your face
Plays, bands, and musicals
All sorts of activities
It’s all there for you…
Churches as cruise ships
Kids programs aimed at entertainment
Elaborate worship that’s really well put together.
Coffee shop and bookstore
All the energy of the church is focused on pleasing the people.
And the people in the church think like people on a cruise ship – how can this church serve me?
This is the kind of church where complaining is fairly normal – because you have 200 people all looking to get what they want…
In this model – the pastor is the cruise director. It’s his job to make sure that you are happy and satisfied.
in this model – people church hop all the time.
“If this cruise ship isn’t meeting my needs, I’ll find one that will.”
People rarely think about “How can I meet other people’s needs?”
How do these churches grow? By advertising how great the pool is.
Why is this the most popular model of church in the US? Why have we abandoned our main purpose to make and grow disciples?
First, It’s easier.
+++ but even deeper than that…
Original Sin
How did humanity fall?
The first sin was facing inward and rejecting the Lordship of God. Adam and Eve decided to let God take a back seat.
That sin pride is still around. And Satan loves to exploit it. He loves to trick church people into thinking that the point of church is to meet their needs.
Battleship
JD Grear – Other Christians believe their church is more like a battleship. The church is made for mission, and its success should be seen in how loudly and dramatically it fights the mission. This is certainly better than the “cruise liner”; however, it implies that it is the church institution that does most of the fighting. The role of church members is to pay the pastors to find the targets and fire the guns each week as they gather to watch. They see the programs, services, and ministries of the church as the primary instruments of mission.
The actual ship fights the battle
Nobody leaves the boat
Ministry in this model
Happens in the church.
Aircraft Carrier – you win by sending.
JD Grear – Churches that want to “prevail against the gates of hell” must learn to see themselves like aircraft carriers, not like battleships and certainly not like cruise liners.
Members need to learn to share the gospel, without the help of the pastor, in the community, and start ministries and Bible studies — even churches — in places without them.
Churches must become discipleship factories, “sending” agencies that equip their members to take the battle to the enemy. (x2)
The mission doesn’t happen on the ship
The captain is about sending people out
The people aren’t huddled together

How can we get back to the mission?

Step 1 - Understand the way that the gospel shapes the life of the church.

You have to start here…with the gospel…
What is the gospel?
It’s the story of the rescue of humanity.
We fell in Adam and Eve. We rebelled against God.
But he didn’t leave us in our fallen state.
Christ entered the world. He lived the life we could never live. Died in our place. And we get credit for his righteousness.
And how are we saved? By faith. That’s it. Not by works.
Everything we have is thanks to him.
And when he saves us – he again becomes the Lord of our lives. He becomes the center.
So you see – the only way that a church can be an aircraft carrier church is the freedom from self that the gospel brings.
Matt Chandler – Creature of the Word – The more a church is tapped into the gospel, the more transformative power will be present by the Holy Spirit in that church. But the more that church gets away from the centrality of the gospel, the more a church will run on fumes, seeing people conformed to a pattern of religion rather than transformed by the Spirit of God.
This aircraft carrier mentality where the church is obsessed with the great commission isn’t something that can be forced. It only happens as an overflow of the gospel.
It’s only when you are wowed by the story of what God has done – only then – will you take that message out.
It’s like seeing a really good movie and you have to tell people about it…
/// It’s like seeing a really good movie and you have to tell people about it…
+++…when that happens – your church will see a few things…
A renewed focus on church planting and world missions (church planting really far away);
a sending focus in your leadership;
and a going focus among everyone here.

2 - A focus on church planting and world missions

Lyle Schaller – “Church planting is the nearest thing to a guaranteed method of evangelism that we have.”
Steve Timmis – “Church planting is not simply starting a new congregation. Church planting is not beginning a new meeting. Church planting is not opening up a new building. Church planting is the work of filling and subduing. It is the work of pushing back the thorns and thistles of Satan’s tyranny. It is a glorious task to which God has called us. God in the gospel is inviting us to participate with Him to fill the earth and subdue it. As we go out to make disciples of every nation we are extending Eden, creating Edens all over the world. We are establishing places where God rules and where God walks in mercy. It is for this that we were made. This is what the first Adam forfeited. This is what the Second Adam has gloriously secured. And this is how it has always been in the kingdom of God.”
Every church should be involved in church planting.
Acts 29 – Churches Planting Churches.
Shameless plug for my church plant (porchsf.com)
How does a cruise ship church see church planting? Competition.
How does an aircraft carrier see church planting? As part of the same mission.

A sending focus in your leadership

In the cruise ship model – leaders are glorified butlers. Give the people what they want. They are constantly thinking – do these people like me? Are they going to fire me? Am I meeting their needs?
In an aircraft carrier church, it’s a whole different story. It’s not about meeting needs but equipping for sending.
So what does that look like?
Ask – Does “x” lead our church toward the mission of God? Or away from it?
Church leaders in the US waste so much time in programs that have nothing to do with the mission.
It’s ok to kill off one ministry to open the door for a more mission focused one.
Remove stumbling blocks
Ed Stetzer – “The most biblical church is the one in which the cross is the only stumbling block for the unchurched.”
New Pastor – Search Team
Don’t look for a pastor that will just take care of you.
Look for a pastor that will overwhelm you with the gospel every Sunday from this pulpit.
And look for a pastor that will equip you to fly off the deck and take the gospel out there.

A going focus among regular church folk

Are you looking for a cruise ship church?
How much do you complain about the church not meeting your needs?
What would it take to cause you to leave this church?
Give up on the cruise ship and jump on the aircraft carrier
Look for opportunities to serve the unreached around you
Look for ways to support your pastors and leaders as they lead you towards this
Become the kind of person your leaders would want to send out of here to the unreached world around you. Be obsessed with the gospel. Be open to the Spirit. Let God lead you on his mission.

Wrap Up

I don’t know you all that well. I don’t know the details of your church.
I took over my last church after the congregation voted to fire a pastor. It was a transition time.
I’ll tell you what I told them.
This is a pivotal moment in the life of your church.
Where are you going to head? What kind of church are you going to be?
A cruise ship church that meets all of your personal wants?
Or an aircraft carrier? A sending church. A kingdom church.
I love the bay area. I was born here. And I love churches here – just like you guys.
But man – we could use a lot more sending/kingdom churches.
1 Peter 2:9 ESV
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Related Media
Related Sermons