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Revitalization  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Intro

Good morning church! We are continuing our REVITALIZATION series.
Revitalize - permeate with new life and vitality
The church is to permeate with new life and vitality. Jesus came to bring life and it is through the church that we can continue to bring life to not only our church family, but to our community as well.
There are FIVE FUNCTIONS of the church that we are going to look at during the course of this series that if we put into practice, we will revitalize our church.
Connect
Grow
Serve
Go
Worship
In Acts chapter two we are given a model of how the church is to function.
Acts 2:42–47 NASB95
42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
When the church functions as it was originally designed to function, lives will be changed and the kingdom of God will begin to grow.
Matthew 9:37 (NASB95)
37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.
When the church functions the way it was designed to function, we will have no issues with being co-laborers going out and gathering the harvest.
Let’s dive into the first function of the church.

A Loving Connection

The church was designed as a place to CONNECT. We are called to connect with one another. But this connection goes far beyond just simply having fellowship with one another. It is also about connecting with those who walk through the doors and welcoming people from all walks of life.
I was one of those who walked away from the church. The church I grew up in wanted to change me from the outside. It was more about dressing a certain way than it was about Jesus changing my heart.
When I finally came back to the church I stood out like a sore thumb. When I was 19 I moved back in with my mom in Northern Indiana. Her rule has always been, “You live in my house, you go to church.” So that’s what I did. I went to church.
I showed up to church on a Sunday morning wearing all black, shot bead necklace, piercings, and a Marilyn Manson t-shirt with a huge anti-Christ symbol on it.
And wouldn’t you know, not one person said a word about the way I looked. Not one person walked up to me and said, “You can’t dress that way in a church!” No. What they did was love me where I was. I received nothing more than the love of God from those men and women of God.
That loving church welcomed me as I was and loved me where I was in life and because of that love, the love of Christ, I am where I am today.
That love was the key. They loved me because they loved one another.
Write this down:
Love among believers is not optional
Love is the necessary and central part of God’s calling for the church.
One of Jesus’ last commandments he gave to the disciples concerned the nature of their relationship with one another.
John 13:34–35 (NASB95)
34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
35 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
People in this world will not know we follow Jesus from the amount of time we spend at the church, read our bibles, or the Christian t-shirts we wear. No. They will know we belong to Christ because of the love we have for one another. They will know we belong to Christ by how we treat one another.
The church model God designed for us to follow in Acts chapter two is believers loving one another. They didn’t just say they loved one another, but you can see it in their actions.
“He wants us to love others so much that we go to extremes to help them. We need to stop giving people excuses not to believe in God.” - Francis Chan
By this all men will know you are My disciples…if you have love for one another.
Here is the key.
You can’t give what you don’t have.
In order to love one another the way we are called to love, we have to fist receive it.
1 John 4:9–11 (NASB95)
9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.
10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
If we recieved Christ, the epitome of God’s love, then we will show love towards others.
This love is the glue that holds everything together.
“Growing churches possess a measurably higher love quotient than stagnant, declining ones. Healthy growing churches practice hospitality as believers invite others into their homes as a normal part of their Christian lives. People don’t want to hear us talk about love, they want to experience how Christian love really works.” Christian Scwartz (National Church Development)
God desires to include us in the process of revealing who He is to those around us.
How many of you know the story of Lazarus? How many of you never heard of the story of Lazarus?
Just a brief synopsis of what is taking place. Jesus had a friend named Lazarus. This friend became sick and died. Jesus showed up.
How many of you know that when Jesus shows up things change?
Listen to the Word.
John 11:38–39 (NASB95)
38 So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it.
39 Jesus said, “Remove the stone.” Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.”
Who did Jesus ask to remove the stone? The people.
John 11:40–43 (NASB95)
40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
41 So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.
42 “I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.”
43 When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.”
Who cried out with a loud voice? Jesus.
Who called Lazarus forth? Jesus.
John 11:44 (NASB95)
44 The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
Who unbound Lazarus? The people.
Who had to hop out of the cave? Lazarus.
They recieved the Word from Jesus, now they had to put it to action.
Jesus already gave the Word, “by your love they will know”, now we have to put it to action!
God desires to include us in the process of revealing who He is to those around us. We reveal who God is when we show love towards one another!
Loving one another is more than just Sunday morning. The first church in Acts did more than just fellowship or share a meal, they shared life together.
Loving one another is sharing life together like a family.

Family

The moment you were born, you became a part of a family. When you are reborn spiritually, you are born into God’s family.
1 Peter 1:3 (The Living Bible)
3 All honor to God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; for it is his boundless mercy that has given us the privilege of being born again so that we are now members of God’s own family. Now we live in the hope of eternal life because Christ rose again from the dead.
The name of this family is called the CHURCH.
The church is not an institution. It is not a business. It is not a social club. It is to be a FAMILY.
A family that Paul calls “the pillar and support of the truth”!
1 Timothy 3:15 (NASB95)
15 but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.
I have been seeing a lot of Christians as of late saying things like “I don’t need the church.”
Not only is this an unbiblical ideology, it is not healthy spiritually. Rev. Alton Garrison said this:
“A Christian without a church family is an orphan. Orphans lack the support and foundation necessary to make it through rough times, and they grow up disassociating with society, feeling burdened by trust issues, and missing out on the power and support of family.” - Rev. Alton Garrison
Yet so many tragically choose to orphan themselves.
It is a proven through studies of orphans, that those orphaned are susceptible to long-term psychological problems including depression, anger, anxiety, and feelings of sadness, and are inclined to withdraw and self-isolate. These psychological problems are brought about by their failure to deal with their sense of loss.
Those that I have seen walk away from the church personally, their lives do not reflect that of Christ. They seem to be more angry, depressed, and full of anxiety.
I believe the church has gotten to this point because we have looked at church not through a biblical lens, but through the lens of our world.
What if we changed the way we look at church, do church, and provide in church?
Our church culture in America has a consumerist mindest when it comes to the church. It is no wonder this mindset has crept into our churches because that is all we do outside of the church.
Our culture is full of consumers. We spend all day consuming content on TikTok and Instagram. If we see something we like hit hit the follow button so we can consume more of it.
The stuff people watch is really ridiculous. I was scrolling through TikTok the other day and I came across this guys feed where you literally watch him try to sleep. I say try because if you send certain emoticons he receives money. Each emoticon would do something different.
One would cause an alarm to blare really loud while another one would cause the lights in their room to flash on and off. Another would sound a train horn. I had to turn it off. It was really ridiculous. But people consume it because they are entertained by it.
The church was never designed to be place for entertainment. It was designed to be a place for encouragement! It was designed to be a place of transformation!
The consumer mindest when it comes to the church is the exact opposite of the church that God has designed.
What if instead of focusing on what we can get out of church, we focus on how we can participate in it like a family as a means of changing someone’s life?

Creates an Environment for Growth and Discipleship

When we connect with each other, we begin to create and ENVIRONMENT for GROWTH and DISCIPLESHIP.
My wife and I sat around the dinner table with some of our church family this past week and discussing how when we connect with others in the church beyond Sundays that it creates opportunities for discipleship.
Here is what we need to understand:
The purpose of the church is not to help people have a good time, even though we do, but to help people mature and grow in their faith.
The purpose of the church is to disciple and in turn send those disciples to disciple others.
God’s desire for His church, is not to remain spiritual infants, but to grow into the maturity of Christ.
Paul dealt with a church that wasn’t growing as disciples. Listen to what he says.
1 Corinthians 3:1–5 (The Living Bible)
1 Dear brothers, I have been talking to you as though you were still just babies in the Christian life who are not following the Lord but your own desires; I cannot talk to you as I would to healthy Christians who are filled with the Spirit.
2 I have had to feed you with milk and not with solid food because you couldn’t digest anything stronger. And even now you still have to be fed on milk.
3 For you are still only baby Christians, controlled by your own desires, not God’s. When you are jealous of one another and divide up into quarreling groups, doesn’t that prove you are still babies, wanting your own way? In fact, you are acting like people who don’t belong to the Lord at all.
4 There you are, quarreling about whether I am greater than Apollos, and dividing the church. Doesn’t this show how little you have grown in the Lord?
5 Who am I, and who is Apollos, that we should be the cause of a quarrel? Why, we’re just God’s servants, each of us with certain special abilities, and with our help you believed.
The church not only helps us feel God, but also to help us face the problems in life. All of us go through things. All of us have issues that we are dealing with.
When we build connections with one another and we share those problems with one another, there may be someone who went through the exact same thing that you are going through and they can help you walk out your faith in the midst of the storm.
Hebrews 10:23–25 (NASB95)
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;
24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,
25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
This word STIMULATE means to encourage or stir up. As we connect with one another we can stir up or encourage one another towards love, not just towards love, but also to encourage to take action.
How many here today can use some encouragement? Raise your hand.
Take a look around. God wants to use you to give a word of encouragement to those who need it.
Paul tells us:
Colossians 3:16 (NASB95)
16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Not only when we connect it breeds encouragement, but it will also help MEET PEOPLE’s NEEDS.

Connecting Helps Meet Needs

When we are encouraged by others it causes us to develop a heart for giving. Notice how the church reacted to connecting.
Acts 2:44–45 (NASB95)
44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common;
45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.
In the early church no one went without in the faith family. But if that need isn’t made known through connecting with one another, we cannot meet those needs.
When we pastored our first church it was a small congregation of about 30 or so. My pay wasn’t very much. My family was in need. Not for extra things, but just basic things like food, diapers, clothes for my kids.
God met those needs through people. Not just people in our own church, but from other churches as well whom God spoke to.
Meeting people‘s needs isn’t just about physical. It goes beyond just physical needs.
Just basic needs can be met - should be met within the faith family. The need for friendship, purpose in life, significance, the basic need to know that someone matters in this world.
I would say the biggest need for people right now, not just in the church, but in the world is stability. With such a big turn around in the corporate world with employees, not knowing if our grocery stores will be stocked again with foods, not knowing if gas will go down, not knowing if we will have a job tomorrow, not knowing if there will be another pandemic…i could go on an on.
People should be able to find stability in the church.
I can only tell you of my experience in the church. When life had me down and my shoulders were carrying what seemed like the weight of the world, the church was one place I could go and feel grounded.
It wasn’t the building that made me feel this way. It was the people. The church isn’t a building, it is the people of God. I made those connections with other believers and as we gathered together, I felt this sense of being grounded and everything was going to be ok.
Can I tell you that it always has. God has always provided. God has never let me down. And He used people to accomplish this.

Closing

As the praise team comes up here is how I want to close out today.
As much as my wife and I would love to connect with every single person in this room and online, it is an impossible task. There just isn’t enough hours in the week for us to do this.
This is why you need to connect those that are around you. Here is the easiest way to do that.
Being the creatures of habit that we are, we all usually sit in the same place week after week. Take a look at the row you are in, the one in front and the one behind you. We are going to call this YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD.
Turn to the people in your row and say “HELLO NEIGHBOR”.
If no one is around you, maybe you need to move into a better neighborhood.
I want to challenge you to put into practice what we have learned today.
Connect with those in your neighborhood today. Introduce yourself, even if you know them already. Exchange numbers. Go out for coffee or lunch. We were created not only for relationship with the Father, but also with one another.
Ask God who can I encourage today.
Look around at who is missing and connect with them this week. Reach out to them and ask if they need anything. Even if you have nothing to offer, you can still pray for them and petition the Father in Heaven who owns it all.
Here is the result of the church being the church as God designed.
Acts 2:46–47 (NASB95)
46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,
47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Put it into practice - Closing Prayer for Needs

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