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Back to the Future: The On Purpose Church

Back to the Future - The Church: What We Are Meant to Be  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Why did God establish the church in the first place, and how should God's intent compel my part and belonging in/to the Body of Christ, i.e, the church?

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Back to The Future: The On Purpose Church

Back to the Future is one of my all-time favorite movies, and my favorite trilogy of movies.
And one thing you’ll quickly learn about me is that I think of everything in terms of movies.
One thing that I like to do is wonder which actors would play which of my friends.
Do you ever do that?
Craig (need picture) = Robin Williams. Not because he is funny, but because his nose and his chin are both the same length.
Paul?
Uly?
Me?
I constantly find analogies and parallels between movies and the Bible. Not that the movie writers are Christians or anything, but there are definitely parallels between character types, story themes, etc., that can be an effective illustration of the Gospel.
In Back to the Future, a couple parallels I see will serve as our ongoing analogies for our message series this month.
While Valley Avon is continuing in the Because You Asked series, we are going to examine God’s vision for us as a church here in Bristol. As we go through this series, I encourage you to also listen to or watch the Because You Asked series online.
We will look at God’s vision for us in 4 steps:
First, what is the purpose of the church in the first place? That’s what we will look at today as we take a 30,000 ft view of why God established the church, and what the church’s primary mission is.
What it means to be an On Purpose Church
Next week, we will look at what our obedience to God’s commands for us as a church should produce in us as we are faithfully obedient.
What it means to be a selfless church.
Our third week will focus on our work as disciple-makers, and our specific philosophy and methods that we will use here at Bristol.
What it means to be a disciple-making church
And finally, our fourth week will examine what our specific role in our city will be, as found in, and founded upon God’s Word.
What it means to be a community church
And, just as a bonus, our Labor Day weekend service is going to be one big party. We are going to thank God profusely for His provision and faithfulness to Bristol over its first three years. We are going to celebrate each and every volunteer among us, and thank God for them. We will have a couple of testimonies about how God grown some of you through being a part of Valley Bristol. And we will officially step into our new future as we praise God for the new chapter into which He is leading us. But first thing’s first.
Today we begin our Back to the Future: What the Church is Meant to Be series, which is all about God’s intention and vision for us as His church. We are looking at the big picture today, the main purpose of the church as a whole, and how that same purpose applies to us as Valley Bristol today. So we are calling today’s message; Back to the Future: The On Purpose Church.
The reason we are using the Back to the Future theme is; a) its an awesome movie and its fun. b) In order to properly discern God’s vision for Valley Bristol in our next chapter, we need to go back to God’s intent for the church in the first place, and that will inform what our future might hold:
The DeLorean (picture): Apart from being a really cool-looking, yet bad running car, the DeLorean was the vessel, empowered by the Flux Capacitor, that brought Doc Brown and Marty McFly all around the space time continuum. For us, the DeLorean represents discipleship.
Now, as I have learned, I don’t see the dichotomy between evangelism and discipleship. I see discipleship as the vessel, the DeLorean if you will, that takes you to everywhere you go in the Christian life. From evangelism and onward, discipleship is the vessel we take. And for us as a church, we need to see discipleship as such, so that we don’t create a false dichotomy between two coexisting aspects of our Christian life. And in that, discipleship is much more than just head knowledge and Bible trivia, discipleship is our mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual transformation into people who are more Christ-like. Yes, knowledge is a part of that, but not the only part. And of course, for discipleship to be possible, it must be empowered by God, or, for our illustration, the Flux Capacitor.
In the clip we just watched, Doc Brown and Marty McFly have just returned from the future to find that their home in 1985 is all messed up. The 1985 that they came back to is not the same 1985 from which they left. They are in an alternate 1985. The things that were actually true about 1985 had been altered, and now 1985 is a bizarro world that bears only a slight resemblance to what it was supposed to be in reality.
I want to suggest to you that the same thing has happened to the western Christian church to a degree. Of course, the church is the Bride of Christ and so I want to be careful not to throw stones at her, because I am a part of her, as are those of you who trust in Jesus alone for salvation. At the same time, we cannot deny that the western church is not in need of a course correction when it comes to the church’s primary purpose and mission on earth.
In modern times, the church has become about so many things, and in the process, we’ve lost sight of the main thing, our God-given purpose, and our reason to be gathered together in the first place.
We read about the early church today, and we look at it and we desire to be a part of that kind of body of believers, and the fact that we do that tells us that we do not live in such a community of Christians.
In modern times, the church has become about so many things, and in the process, we’ve lost sight of the main thing, our God-given purpose, and our reason to be gathered together in the first place.
As we go through this month of August, we are looking at God’s purpose for us as a church as we prepare to reach the city of Bristol in Jesus’ Name. And to do this, we need to first look at the why the church was established in the first place.
The Reason God Established the Church was to proclaim the Gospel to the nations
The Result of the Church’s Existence is a Community of People who love God and each other sacrificially
It is important to note right at the start, that there is a difference between the spiritual and practical purpose of the church, and the relational benefits of the church.
In other words, there is a difference between the reason the church was established, and the results of the church’s existence.
And the problem that has stifled the church’s mission in recent decades and maybe even over the past century or so, is that we’ve mixed up the results of the church for the reason for the church.
Its time now to get in our DeLoreans and go Back to the Future as we discover what it means to be an On Purpose Church.
Lets pray.
Romans 10:11–15 ESV
11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
Ok, as we seek mission clarity from this passage, let’s break it down into bite size sections, and from there, we can draw very logical conclusions as to God’s primary purpose for establishing the church on earth.
Scripture is clear that faith in Christ is what transforms one’s life, replacing fear and anxiety with bold confidence that rests on the sure promises of God.
Paul is clear in these verses, even referencing that the salvation of Jesus Christ is available to anyone and everyone who will believe on the Lord Jesus Christ alone. That’s why Paul writes that the blessing of faith in Christ is open to both the Jew and Gentile, and their respective differences between them are no longer so when the source of their lives is found in Jesus Christ.
“Calling on the Lord...”
According to the Apostle Paul, calling on the Lord and trusting in Him are very much the same thing. Paul acknowledges that we call on the Lord for salvation, but he also indicates that we call on the Lord throughout our lives as we grow and mature in Christ Jesus.
And so, what we learn from these verses is that it is essential for new life, and for maturing life, that all people call on the name of the Lord.
In other words, evangelism, that is, the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is what the world needs.
Now, Paul continues this line of argument and teaching with the next logical step.
Romans 10:14 ESV
14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
Romans 11:14 ESV
14 in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them.
Here, Paul uses three rhetorical questions to make his point.
First, no one can call on someone they don’t believe in.
This underlines his previous point that evangelism is absolutely necessary for the world that is lost in sin.
Second, no one can believe in someone they’ve never heard of.
A person needs to hear the gospel before they can receive or reject it. Now, the verb “hear” is figurative and literal. In Paul’s day, there weren’t printing presses. In fact, this book of Romans that we are reading from right now did not exist yet. And, while they did have the Septuagint (an early OT), the predominant way to spread any kind of news or information was word of mouth. It is literal in that the believers are now being charged to literally, orally, tell people about the gospel of Jesus Christ, which they profess to believe themselves.
For us today, “hear” is both literal and figurative, in that, there are tons of non-oral ways to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. Think about the fact that it would blow the Apostle Paul’s mind that I can write this message that I’m preaching today, and in a matter of seconds, it can be available on the other side of the world.
What do you think Paul would think about how we use our unlimited and unfettered access to worldwide media and information distribution?
Third, the need for hearing requires someone to share the news, i.e., an evangelist.
In these short verses, Paul teaches us that
We are saved to serve, and the most important element of that service is to bear witness to the saving power of Christ.
No one can call on someone they don’t believe in.
No one can believe in someone they’ve never heard of.
Someone needs to tell them about the hope and life in Jesus Christ.
Now, Paul is writing to a church, the church at Rome, that is, a community of Roman believers. So the next line indicates the mission of that community, i.e., the church.
Romans 10:15 ESV
15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
Paul says that those who proclaim the gospel are sent to do so.
That those who are sent are intended to proclaim the Gospel, that’s why they are sent.
Well,
Who has God sent in this age?
The Church.
The primary mission of the church is to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ wherever God has placed them.
The reason the church exists is to proclaim salvation in Jesus Christ alone to the lost wherever God has sent them.
Paul states this clearly in .
2 Corinthians 5:11–21 ESV
11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Paul starts this passage by acknowledging his reverence for the Lord (i.e., fear). Paul realizes that he is personally accountable to carry out the mission that God has given him as a part of belonging to the church.
Do we realize that we are accountable to God in the same way?
And because Paul recognizes his accountability to God, he goes to say that our mission is that of the ministry of reconciliation, in other words, the proclaiming of the Gospel to the lost in our cities so that they, too, might be reconciled to God.
Paul says clearly that we Christ’s ambassadors as though God were making his appeal through us.
What kind of appeal do you think people see through you?
Do you think Bristol recognizes our congregation, Valley Bristol, as Christ’s ambassadors? Does our city see God’s appeal to them through us?
I am new here, so I really don’t know yet. But you do.
And it is my charge from God to equip all of us so that that is true going forward, whether or not is true right now.
The Reason that God Established the Church Was and Is to Proclaim the Gospel
This is the point of today’s message. We could go home now. And I know that that point is not new to many of you. But here’s the challenge.
Just like in Back to the Future, the church, at least is the modern west, has slipped into an alternate dimension wherein the church is centered on anything and everything EXCEPT its God-given primary mission and reason for existing.
Now, yo
Examples...
The Reason God Established the Church was to proclaim the Gospel to the nations
The Results: Love for Each Other, Healing, Restoration, Reconciliation, Freedom, Peace.
The Result of the Church’s Existence is a Community of People who love God and each other sacrificially
The Alternate Reality
The alternate reality that the church has slipped into is this:
The Mission of the Church is to Meet My Needs First
In other words, the church exists to accomplish my agenda first and foremost.
You all have a booklet that was in your chair when you arrived this morning. This booklet outlines the majority of the verses in Scripture that detail both the reason for the church’s existence, and the results of the church’s existence.
We all have good ideas, and there are those who try to accomplish those ideas through the church. Some become pastors, and they lead their congregations according to their own opinions. Some assume lay leadership in the church to try and acquire power or status. Some politicize the church and try to paint Jesus as sympathetic to their own cause. And when we come to church in postures like these,
As you can see, the results are awesome, but the reason is critical. And God has designed the church to function in such a way that obedience to the primary mission must be at the forefront of the church’s priorities, and such mission fidelity must inform everything we do as a body. From here, the results of being the church are possible.
Let me put it this way. If we are all motivated by the same Christ-centered goal, which is our God-given mission, then just like spokes on a wheel, we can all be coming from different places in life and still be going in the same direction.
BUT, if we are seeking for our own needs to be met first, and if we are choosing our church families based on whether or not they meet our needs first, then there is no way that we, the church, can be united because we all can’t unite around everyone’s individual felt needs.
Why?
This really gets at what I call the Sovereignty Principle.
The Sovereignty Principle is the concept that there can only be one sovereign power in any given space. Two sovereignties cannot co-exist because only one power can be sovereign at a time.
At first, this seems reasonable, even biblical. Around church lately,
Its very popular to base our ministries around .
Acts 2:42–47 ESV
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 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.
Acts 2:40–44 ESV
40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common.
And God has given us a team, the church, with whom to carry out that mission.
Acts 2:4
Here again, I want to be clear that
A very real function of the church is meeting each other’s needs, but that is not our mission, that is a result of our obedience to God.
But if we attempt to exert our sovereignty over Christ’s in the context of the church, then we will disintegrate into a battle over our own preferences, because we believer that if the church affirms our preferences, then our needs will be met. And that kind of thinking and approach also demonstrates that we believe that the church’s first mission is to acknowledge my sovereignty.
If we obey God, we will love each other like the early church did.
But this passage comes after Jesus restates His command to the church in .
Acts 1:6–8 ESV
6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 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.”
That can’t be true, because how can a church submit to multiple sovereignties at the same time?
What came first was the mission of the church, THEN the fellowship of the believers.
Every time we read about the church, if we are careful to see the full context, we will see that our mission is our first purpose, and that our love for each other is a result of our obedience to God, both obedience to our mission, and to the Greatest Commandment.
Consider a sports team. Their primary goal is to win the championship. As a result of being obedient to that mission, they get in great physical shape. But I can tell you, that no one has ever made it on a pro sports team just to get in shape. As Christians, sometimes we treat the church like that, and we’ve got to be careful. Its as if the church were a sports team and we want to join, not because we want to help them carry out their mission, but because we want to personally benefit from their state of the art fitness program.
The Greatest Commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love our neighbor as ourselves. (Matthew 22:36-40)
But isn’t it a sly and subtle shift in emphasis that we change our outpouring of love to our receiving of said love?
Notice that it doesn’t say to love ourselves as ourselves. Jesus knows we love ourselves. Jesus knows that we will go out of our way to love ourselves and to meet our own needs. And He is telling us that we need to do this for each other.
The Greatest Commandment is for us to pour ourselves out for God and into others. The Greatest Commandment is not for others to pour into us.
The Greatest Commandment is also not directing us to demonstrate to others how we want to be loved, by preserving ourselves at their expense.
That sounds like circular logic, I know, but it makes all the difference.
How can I demand love and support from you when I myself am unwilling to give it in the first place?
How can I require the church to love me, if I am holding myself hostage behind my demands, and am, likewise, unwilling to pour into others?
How can a church each other if everyone is in their own corners waiting to be loved?
How can a church each other if everyone is in their own corners waiting to be loved?
God is brilliant. He’s just unfathomably brilliant.
When He commanded us to love Him with all of ourselves, and then to love our neighbors as ourselves, He was setting up the ideal and conducive conditions in which His purpose for us on earth could be accomplished.
If we are going to have a shot at proclaiming the Gospel, we need to be in an earthly family that is right there with us, and who are commited to the mission. As a result of our church family’s commitment to accomplishing the mission, they will meet each other’s needs so that we are able to continue the work of evangelism on earth.
If we are going to be a church that loves each other, we need to show up for each other and pour in to each other.
We cannot be a church that sits on the sidelines waiting for the pastor, or the overworked few to chase us around while we play a passive-aggressive game of catch the cranky Christian.
And when we pour into each other, it means we are pouring out of ourselves. But this is a good thing.
Because
if we are all pouring out of ourselves,
what else is happening,
we are all pouring into each other.
Do you see how that works?
We are commanded to pour ourselves empty. We are commanded to proclaim the Gospel. And we are commanded to be a part of a body of believers.
Why?
Because if the body of believers is obedient to the Greatest Commandment and the Great Commission, personal needs are met as a natural result of our God-given purpose.
You see, we cannot unite around one another’s unmet needs, because all our needs are different, and need to be met differently.
Bristol, we can’t unite around pastor andrew’s sovereignty. In fact, when pastors use the church like that, we don’t think to fondly of them, do we?
If I were to use Bristol for my own agenda, do you think that I would be safe for the church to be around, let alone be led by?
Well, the same is true for you. Why are you here? Are you safe for other Christians to be around?
Well what about when we as congregants and believers try to use the church like that?
But you may say, “but pastor, aren’t we supposed to want to mature in our faith, and heal our wounds, and care for each other, and so on?”
We absolutely are to love and care for each other, but not at the expense of the Gospel.
Matthew 6:24 ESV
24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
When we treat the church as if her purpose is to meet our individual needs, we set up a sovereignty standoff.
Church splits have come from things like this. Church hoppers routinely go from one church to the next looking for their agendas to be met. Alot of church hurt has resulted from people using the church to meet their needs first at the expense of our mission to proclaim the Gospel.
Wagon Wheel (picture) Illustration
When we respond to God and surrender to Him, we surrender our sovereignty to Him as well, and we trust that He will care for those needs accordingly.
But you may say, “but pastor, aren’t we supposed to want to mature in our faith, and heal our wounds, and care for each other, and so on?”
And the answer is an emphatic yes. But not at the expense of the Gospel.
The Church’s Primary Responsibility is to Meet My Felt Needs
At first, this can seem logical.
But isn’t it a sly and subtle shift in emphasis that we change our outpouring of love to our receiving of said love?
The Greatest Commandment is for us to pour ourselves out for God and into others. The Greatest Commandment is not for others to pour into us.
The Greatest Commandment is also not directing us to demonstrate to others how we want to be loved, by preserving ourselves at their expense.
That sounds like circular logic, I know, but it makes all the difference.
How can I demand love and support from you when I myself am unwilling to give it in the first place?
How can I require the church to love me, if I am holding myself hostage behind my demands, and am, likewise, unwilling to pour into others?
How can a church each other if everyone is in their own corners waiting to be loved?
God is brilliant. He’s just unfathomably brilliant.
When He commanded us to love Him with all of ourselves, and then to love our neighbors as ourselves, He was setting up the ideal and conducive conditions in which His purpose for us on earth could be accomplished.
If we are going to be a church that loves each other, we need to show up for each other and pour in to each other.
We cannot be a church that sits on the sidelines waiting for the pastor, or the overworked few to chase us around while we play a passive-aggressive game of catch the cranky Christian.
And when we pour into each other, it means we are pouring out of ourselves. But this is a good thing.
Because if we are all together pouring out of ourselves,
what else is happening,
we are all pouring into each other.
Do you see how that works?
We are commanded to pour ourselves empty. We are commanded to proclaim the Gospel. And we are commanded to be a part of a body of believers.
Why?
Because if the body of believers is obedient to the Greatest Commandment and the Great Commission, personal needs are met as a natural result of our God-given purpose.
The Gospel message is
Philippians 2:12–18 ESV
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.
Philippians 2
Here is Paul, encouraging the church to continue to obey God’s commands, and encouraging them to obey without grumbling or complaining so and that their countenance is what will distinguish them from an unbelieving world.
And then Paul says a phrase that he would repeat just before his death (he was beheaded by Nero, in case you didn’t know), “Even if I am poured out like a drink offering.”
There it is.
The obedience to the Greatest Commandment.
To be poured out like a drink offering is direct reference to Jesus’ symbolic cup in the Garden of Gethsemane when the disciples shared the last supper.
Next week, we will be celebrating that communion here at Bristol, but for now, as Paul likens obedience to the Greatest Commandment with the Communion Cup of Christ, we can see that our lives, if we are obedient to God, will be lives of continued sacrifice for each other.
How many of us look at preachers who preach feel-good, emotionally squishy messages and know that they are missing substance in their preaching.
Its a nice and encouraging message, but that does not accomplish anything spiritually.
The Gospel message is
2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV
21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
The Gospel message is not, “…he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might satisfy our damaged emotions.”
Part of what makes this truth so hard is that the proclamation of the Gospel does not make the difficult things in my life any easier, or any better.
I never had a dad. Will never have a good dad. Proclaiming the Gospel does not meet that need.
I have made awful sinful mistakes and they’ve hurt the people I love the most. And proclaiming the Gospel doesn’t fix that.
But you know what, God is able to use those things as I proclaim the Gospel. Both in my deficiencies and my failures I am able to relate to lost people, and they can see the joy and hope in me that could come only from Christ. It baffles people.
Cindi Avezzie Retirement: How do you be happy?
Now,
Does this mean that God is just using us to accomplish His mission and that He doesn’t really care about what’s going on in our lives?
Of course not.
God knows that we need healing, and that we need to mature, but we can’t put the cart before the horse.
Our obedience of the Greatest Commandment will compel us to obey the Great Commission.
The way God has designed the church to function, is that we are on mission first, and as we are obedient to God’s mission, we also benefit from being together and being to help one another grow and heal in Christ.
Part of the problem with the alternate reality church is that we are trying to make the church function in a way that it wasn’t designed to function.
When we seek the results of the church first, we inevitably hold ourselves at ransom until and unless the church agrees to continually meet our emotional, relational, and preferential needs to our satisfaction. And when, also inevitably, the church fails to meet our needs, we get mad, we gossip among others, and we look for another church that will meet our needs, because we really aren’t a part of the church in order to obey God’s Great Commission, we are looking for a church that will support and accomplish our own agenda, whatever that may be.
There was recent study this year that said that 52% of Christians do not know what the Great Commission is. That means that more than half of us in this room are unclear. So let’s get clear.
Matthew 28:19 ESV
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,
Matthew 28:19–20 ESV
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.”
In this passage Jesus Himself lays out the ordered design of the church that we just talked about. Here again, this is at least the third example from Scripture today showing us the progression of purpose and result when it comes to the mission of the church. Do you see it?
The primary part of the mission: make disciples of all nations. Proclaim the Gospel to the lost wherever He sends us.
The Secondary part of the mission: Teaching them to obey God.
Healing, restoration, and meeting our emotional and relational needs are all results of learning to obey God in the context of true biblical community.
I will admit, church leadership is partly culpable in that we have also partially created the “my needs first” church environment.
Why we don’t feed the bears at Yosemite.
Delorean Example:
(Building has become too comfortable. We took people out of their discipleship Deloreans and told them to relax in our awesome buildings).
Picture of St Peters house church in Capernaum.
I like this church. This is the place where, in Matthew, they tore a hole in the roof to bring a person to Jesus for healing .
But look, this is the entire building. Where do you think kids ministry met?
Where do you think the hospitality table was?
I think it says something that they didn’t put near as much money and effort and time into their church building, and instead, devoted their time to the lost in their towns, and to each other.
Its almost like they knew that it wouldn’t be good for them to become too comfortable within the walls of their community church gathering place.
And as a leader in the church I will always be honest and a straight-shooter with you, and we, that is pastors and church leaders, have relied on the comfort of our buildings and the convenience of our programs to do the evangelism that God actually wants you to do, and for that, I sincerely apologize. Because, while that worked for a while, it had the unintended consequence of not equipping you to be able to self-feed from the Bible, and to confidently share your faith in Christ with the lost around you. For my part as a church leader in stunting your maturity, I am truly and deeply sorry.
But today is a new day. And we are going to be the church that God wants us to be.
Do you want that?
The early church were Christians who loved God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and that love for God compelled them to obey Him, both in loving their neighbor as themselves, and in accomplishing the Great Commission, that is, the proclaiming of the Gospel to the lost among them.
The thirsted to worship Jesus together as a body, and they showed up for one another because they understood that in battle, the only people who have your back are your fellow soldiers. And if your soldiers won’t have your back, no one will.
Let’s not be soldiers who refuse to support each other, or who stay on the sidelines and hold ourselves ransom.
Why am I telling you all this today?
I will be honest with you, these are the harder messages for pastors to preach because we know that we run the risk of turning you off. Calling people to repentance is the opposite of fun. But its necessary.
tells us that church leaders will give an account to the Lord regarding their time as undershepherds of God’s people. That means that God will hold me accountable for your spiritual well-being during the time that I am your pastor.
And I take that very seriously.
That doesn’t mean that your responsibility of obedience is mine, but it means that I am accountable how faithfully and boldly I lead you.
God will hold me accountable in whether or not I taught you the truth, no matter how much it may offend or upset you.
I love you, I really do. And my family and I are prepared to be poured out like a drink offering for you, and we hope that you will obey God to and be willing to be poured out for each other as well.
And because I love you, I want to be clear with you that we are on a mission on foreign soil and the territory is endlessly hostile.
says that my job is to prepare you, to equip you for battle, and to lead you onto the battle field of the lost to proclaim the Gospel to them.
And I would not be preparing or equipping you well if I avoided the teachings of Scripture that might upset you.
The Reason God Established the Church was to proclaim the Gospel to the nations
The Result of the Church’s Existence is a Community of People who love God and each other sacrificially
The Result: As we learn to obey God, our needs are met in Christ through our church family.
The Gospel message is
2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV
21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
The Gospel message is not, “…he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might satisfy our damaged emotions.”
Part of what makes this truth so hard is that the proclamation of the Gospel does not make the difficult things in my life any easier, or any better.
I never had a dad. Will never have a good dad. Proclaiming the Gospel does not meet that need.
I have made awful sinful mistakes and they’ve hurt the people I love the most. And proclaiming the Gospel doesn’t fix that.
But you know what, God is able to use those things as I proclaim the Gospel. Both in my deficiencies and my failures I am able to relate to lost people, and they can see the joy and hope in me that could come only from Christ. It baffles people.
Cindi Avezzie Retirement: How do you be happy?
At the end of the day...
Our military has specific missions, and they equip our brave men and women to carry out those missions. But the mission has got to be the first priority. The mission will not come out of the results, rather, the results come out of the mission.
We are God’s search and rescue team
analogy
I know that there are many needs among us that we need each other to help meet. And I know that there are hurts among us about which we need each other’s support.
And if we are going to be effective in reaching Bristol with the Gospel, we want to be healthy spiritually, mentally, relationally, and emotionally.
As such, this fall, we are kicking off a new mid-week meeting time that open to all Valley Bristol members, as well as guests and Bristol in general.
We will have student ministry as well as childcare for nursery through 5th grade.
We will have a meal there each week, and some time to eat and talk together, and then we will share a whole group devotional teaching, which will set the table for our breaking into small groups and digging into God’s Word in that setting.
Our topic this fall is Spiritual Transformation. And this is a group designed to help us get through some of the junk that we might be struggling with right now.
At the same time, some of you may be in a good place right now, but I still encourage you to participate if you can, because its a good checkup for your soul.
The Bristol Wednesday curriculum is called, Spiritual Transformation, and it is a 10 week study that
takes us on a journey of spiritual health and healing through renewed intimacy with Jesus Christ in the context of true biblical community. Each of the ten sessions contains different foundational truths that serve to open the spiritual eyes of the participants' hearts. With each session building upon the truths of the previous one, the participants are offered the opportunity to apply these truth to their relationship with God, and in so doing, experience healing and restoration in their own lives, support through community with other believers, and lasting peace and freedom in Jesus.
If you would like to be a part of that group, would you sign up at the welcome desk on your way out?
Next week, we will have sign ups for our other groups, as well as the topics that they will be covering, and its ok to be in more than one group if you feel you might need to.
God really does want you to be healthy, but being a part of the church means that we must recognize that our mission is not about us, its about rescuing God’s lost children where He has planted us. and God has placed this body of believers in Bristol.
Bring music team up
Practical App
If you are truly genuine in wanting to follow Jesus, you’re going to have to move your feet even if they hurt.
Luke 9:57-62
Luke 9:57–62 ESV
57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
I know that it can be a hard truth, but the truth is
2 Timothy 4:1–18 ESV
1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up 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 loved his appearing. 9 Do your best to come to me soon. 10 For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. 12 Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. 13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. 14 Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. 15 Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. 16 At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! 17 But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Here is the Apostle Paul, knowing that his death was approaching and that his death was brought about by his faithfulness to obey God’s commands and mission.
Too many Christians take themselves out of service because they have a big day ahead of them and they want to rest up. What about if you knew you were about to be beheaded for your ministry? Would you show up then?
The bottom line is this, we must decide whether we are going to simply occupy a church building that happens to be run by Christians, or if we are going to be Christians who are the church, and who will be faithful to commands and mission that God has given us.
Jesus said, “Follow Me,” not, “Have a Seat.
Church its time to get back into our discipleship Deloreans because God has lost children right here in Bristol that He wants us to find. And if we all do this together, that means we will all have each other’s backs in the process, and our needs will be met.
I know that there are many needs among us that we need each other to help meet. And I know that there are hurts among us about which we need each other’s support.
And if we are going to be effective in reaching Bristol with the Gospel, we want to be healthy spiritually, mentally, relationally, and emotionally.
As such, this fall, we are kicking off a new mid-week meeting time that open to all Valley Bristol members, as well as guests and Bristol in general.
We will have student ministry as well as childcare for nursery through 5th grade.
We will have a meal there each week, and some time to eat and talk together, and then we will share a whole group devotional teaching, which will set the table for our breaking into small groups and digging into God’s Word in that setting.
Our topic this fall is Spiritual Transformation. And this is a group designed to help us get through some of the junk that we might be struggling with right now.
At the same time, some of you may be in a good place right now, but I still encourage you to participate if you can, because its a good checkup for your soul.
The Bristol Wednesday curriculum is called, Spiritual Transformation, and it is a 10 week study that
takes us on a journey of spiritual health and healing through renewed intimacy with Jesus Christ in the context of true biblical community. Each of the ten sessions contains different foundational truths that serve to open the spiritual eyes of your hearts. With each session building upon the truths of the previous one, you are offered the opportunity to apply these truth to your relationship with God, and in so doing, experience healing and restoration in your own lives, support through community with other believers, and lasting peace and freedom in Jesus.
If you would like to be a part of that group, you can sign up at the welcome desk on your way out today.
Next week, we will have sign ups for our other small groups, as well as the topics that they will be covering, and its ok to be in more than one group if you feel you might need to.
God really does want you to be healthy, but being a part of the church means that we must recognize that our mission is not about us, its about rescuing God’s lost children where He has planted us. and God has placed this body of believers in Bristol.
God really does want you to be healthy, but being a part of the church means that we must recognize that our mission is not about us, its about rescuing God’s lost children where He has planted us. and God has placed this body of believers in Bristol.
We must be obedient to God’s commands and mission first.
Will you join together on God’s mission?
And right now, to our culture, we don’t look any different from those other churches to them.
Why?
Let’s stand and sing
Maybe its because we’ve gotten too used to making our buildings a monument of discipleship to ourselves instead of getting in our discipleship Deloreans and making disciples of Christ from the lost in our city.
You know, if you read the book of Acts, you’ll see that the early church constantly prayed for boldness. Do you think that has anything to do with the fact that they understood their primary purpose and how the church was designed to work?
Do we pray for boldness in proclaiming the Gospel?
Or do we settle for brief periods of temporal relief from the pressures of our circumstances?
I know that for me, what impressed me was how my best friend could be joyful when everything around him sucked. To see that Jesus made that kind of difference in his life, made all the difference for me, and I think it will make that kind of difference in the lives of the lost in Bristol too.
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