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Changing Our View of the Church -- Lifesaving Station or Country Club

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“Changing Our View of the Church”

Colossians 1:21-29; Luke 7:22

10/11-12/08

 

Opening:

 

Focus Story:  A Crude Life Saving Station (Theodore Wedel)

 


TS: This may sound like an Absurd Story, but how many Churches today have Lost Sight of their Original Purpose, and have instead become little more than Country Clubs?  They have forgotten their Leader (Head) came, “to Seek & to Save the Lost,” and consequently they have taken on a Life of their Own. (As they say in Kentucky) They’re “Inbred!” Inwardly Focused vs. Outwardly Concerned.

__________________________________________________________

Last Week: We Read [Colossians 1:18-20] Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body… For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself.

In this Week’s Passage, let’s take a look at what this means for us, the Church.

Colossians 1:21-29 [Read from Bible]

 

The Church’s Mission (acc. to passage): 2 Things: Ministry & Maturity

1.      Ministry – Seek out/Care For the Least, Last, Lost!

2.      Maturity – Growing (Perfect) in Our Relationship with Christ

The Church’s Mission = Ministry to Those Out There being Shipwrecked.

 

Jesus Christ summed it up (to John the Baptist in Luke 7:22 NIV):

“Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.”    

IOW: Transformed Lives/Transformation!

            Our Mission = “Seek & Save the Lost” – “Go & Make Disciples…”

 

Then, once Hurting People find Life in Christ because of the Work of God’s People, Our Mission = Maturity – to Grow them Up in the Lord

è “Make Disciples…Teaching Them all that I Taught You”

____________________________________________________

Illustration/Testimony: Samantha Ford (Patrick Moran – Sat. PM)

_____________________________________________________

“ You … were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ” Colossians 1:21-22 NLT

 

“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight” Colossians 1:21-22 NIV

We’re Called, as the Church, to Reach Out to those who are Alienated

            To Help Them be Reconciled with God in Christ!

   Our Mission/Mandate – Our Reason for Being.  What We Do!

How do We View Ourselves? the Church?

 

 

Country Club

·         Membership in the Club is Stressed!

o   Membership Has its Privileges (American Express)

o   Members get Preferential Treatment

      (Pastor Gets Parking Spot! Parents Drop off Kids to Go Do Own Thing!)

·         Personal Comfort is Paramount

·         Appearance is Important:

à Museum of the Saints

·         Museums Glorify the Past! (Heyday of our Church)

·         Think of Church as Place Where We’ve All Got it Together!

·         Inward-Focus: All About Us—the Insiders!

Country Club churches often see themselves as Last Bastion against the Ugly Reality of the Big, Bad World Out There!

Is GRACE at Ft. Clarke a Country Club Church?

 Or: Life Saving Station

·         Partnership in Mission (Not Membership)

·         Finding Our Fit to Serve Others

·         Function is Important:

à Hospital for Sinners

·         Outward-Focus: Selfless Spirit!  

 

(Illustration: “Titanic”)

The blockbuster film, Titanic, depicts the tragedy of the sinking of the Titanic. More than 1,500 of the 2,200 passengers died when it sank April 15, 1912.

Catering to the rich/famous, this luxury liner was advertised as unsinkable. On its fateful night, many were actually offended by officers who told them to climb into a cramped lifeboat when they had paid enormous sums for luxurious accommodations.

In one Scene, people in the lifeboats are listening to the haunting cries of dying people in the water. They are crying out, “For God’s sake, Help us!”  “Please help us!”

A sailor in charge of a raft defends himself, “You don’t understand. If we go back, they’ll swamp the boat. They’ll pull us right down. I’m telling you.”

The “Unsinkable” Molly Brown comes to the dying people’s defense, “Knock it off. You’re scaring me. Come on girls. Let’s grab a rope. Let’s go.”

The sailor says, “Are you out of your mind? We’re in the middle of the North Atlantic. Now do you people want to live or do you want to die?”

Exasperated, Molly says, “I don’t understand a one of ya. What’s the matter with ya? It’s your men out there. There is plenty of room for more.”

The sailor shouts, “And there will be one less on this boat if you don’t shut that hole in your face.” Molly sits down in the raft, defeated.

As one of the lifeboats is returning towards the people to try to rescue some, the beam of a flashlight shines across the water and illuminates various personal possessions. Then it shines on frozen bodies floating on the surface of the sea.

A sailor calls out, “Do you see any movement?” “No sir. None moving sir.” “Check them. Bring an oar up here. Check them. Make sure.”

“These are dead, sir.” “Is there anyone alive out there?”

“We waited too long.”

Perhaps the greatest tragedy surrounding the Titanic is that many of those people in the water didn’t have to die. Many of the lifeboats were only half full. Hundreds of people were in the cold water with life preservers. Most of them did not die from drowning; they froze to death.

I don’t know about you, but I’m asking God to break our hearts so those of us who are already saved will go after those who are dying!

___________________________________________________

Couple of Weeks Ago I asked Staff How People View Grace

Drew 2 Images on Board…

Life Saving Churches are churches that remain faithful to their mission of spreading the gospel which saves lives. They know Jesus’ Great Commission of going out into the World to spread the Gospel message and Make Disciples is their Marching Orders.  And they are not content when that is not happening.

No matter How Many People are in attendance Sunday mornings;

            No matter How Vibrant the Music;

            …How Impressive Looking the Facilities & how Up-to-Date the technology;

If people’s lives are Not being Transformed through an Active Relationship with

Jesus Christ, Life Saving Churches are not happy with themselves!

Because they know when the Church is Being the Church Jesus gave his life for, there’s nothing like it!  When the Church is carrying out its God-given mission, it is Reaching its Community with a Message that gives Power/Hope &

a Person who gives Life.

            It’s not Incidental that people are being saved in these churches –

                        It’s their #1 Priority!

            And they Fight to keep from losing sight of that Focus!

Listen, the Churches that are making a Meaningful & Significant Impact in this world for the kingdom of God (eternally) are those which refuse to allow Personal Comforts & the Stress of Constant Adaptation to a Changing Culture Detract them from their Primary Mission of Saving Lives.

They are the Churches out in the Community, Serving the Needs of the Poor, Reaching out to Hurting People they Work With, Helping People Find Help, Leading People in Prayer to Connect with God.

Instead of Huddling Together in the Safety of their Life Boats, Rowing Away from the Dying, the people in LSS Churches are out There Searching for those Adrift in Tumultuous Waters/Freezing in the Dark, Lonely Seas.

Notes on “A Crude Life Saving Station” [excerpts]

What Can We Do Now?

·         What Do You Enjoy Doing? à Go Do that with other People. Let Jesus be All Over it and Watch how He Ministers through You and Matures Others for Himself!

 

·         Take Up your Towel and Serve where there is a Need

 

o   Children’s Ministry…

o   College Adopt-a-Student

o   Youth Mentoring

o   Sports Ministry

 

·         Faith Stories on Web… (How? BC – X – Now!)

 

·         Go on a Mission Trip (Haiti, DR, Mexico, Lesotho, Cuba, Gulf Coast)

 

 

I don’t know What God is calling each of us to do, BUT

When we stay true to our purpose & refuse to give in to the tendency to become Comfortable, Inwardly-Focused, Exclusive & Excited about the Wrong Things,

·         That’s when All Heaven Cheers and Makes Available its Resources for carrying out our mandate to Reach People for Christ.

When we stay focused on actively going after the people we know, live with, work for & attend school with,

·         That’s when we see Marriages Salvaged, Lonely People make meaningful connections with a Family larger than themselves, people beginning to come out from under the burden of Debt-Ridden Lifestyles, Guilty men and women finding Forgiveness and a New Start in Life.

The Question we must pose to ourselves in order to ensure we are being faithful to God’s Great Commission = Will Grace resolve itself to be a Life Saving Station Church for those drowning at sea around us?  Or will we be Content being a Country Club Church for those who already been saved?

100 years from now, will people in Gainesville, Florida, admire Grace as a Museum exhibiting all the wonderful things it did in its heyday?  Or will they come be part of an on-going Life Saving Effort to reach lost & dying people adrift in the dark?

As long as people are drowning around us in the shipwrecks of life, we will not throw rocks at those sinking in the waves.  We will do everything we can to give them hope and find their way to safety.

 

 

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