The Church and Us-Week 1

A Clear Vision  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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A series on God's calling for our church - what it means for us, and our focus on the new (making new disciples) and the next (raising up and getting out of the way for the next generation)

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Gathering is good. Connecting is better.
Shamelessly stole this from Carey Niewhof
We do more to be the church in how we connect over 6 days than how we gather over 1 hour.

Everything has changed.

This has a starting question:

What is a church?

Is a church a place to get together with other christians once a week to have a worship service? Is it even a building to begin with?
A lot of times people will say, ‘the church is the people’. It doesn’t matter where they gather - it’s about the people in the place, not the place. And that’s true. But we have a vision for a a greater purpose than that.
So, in light of how drastically it seems like life has changed over the last 1,2,3,5,10 years, we want to challenge some of our notions of why we’re here, and what we’re supposed to do. And we’re gonna look at it through 3 different levels:
What should us being a church look like to US?
what should us being a church look like to the WORLD?
and what should us being the church NOW look like for the NEXT GENERATION?
I have a bit of a definition for ‘a church’ that I’d like to offer up, before we start. And it’s important for us to recenter ourselves on the bible, and what God is even doing here in our church and with our lives.

People in unity under Christ in order to preach the Gospel to the world.

And one thing to notice - this isn’t specifically focused on sunday service.
One of the core beliefs we have as a church, is that we do more in the 167 hours between sunday services to be the church than we do in the one hour in this building.
That’s not to minimize what we do here - what we do here is extremely important. But this is the starting place - it’s not the end goal. Church is the launching point, we are the training grounds to send us out into the world to do God’s work.
We gather together in order to be able to go out into the world for Christ.
There’s a few essential components to what a church IS. When all the world changes - these are our foundation points.

Being the Church is about Submission

Church is supposed to be an upside-down kingdom. It’s not about vying for the top, or the best seat.
Or a simpler way of saying it - church isn’t about what we get, it’s about what we give.
And in this story, Jesus says - i’m the greatest here. And he’s not even the greatest ‘at the table’. It’s his table. In his house. On his planet. In his universe. He’s the top of every list. The highest person we will ever meet, ever, has come to earth, and made it his job to serve the people around Him.
Being the church is about adopting that radical position. Being a church means we define ourselves by our radical submission.

True submission is both unity and surrender

Biblical submission involves our relationships - both with each other, between ourselves and leadership, and between everyone and Christ.
This involves unity - being willing to look past faults and failures in order to maintain bonds of love - AND surrender - understanding that it’s not our will, it’s Christ’s be done.
John 13:35 NIV
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Unity and submission is so important, that Jesus says the world won’t be able to see the Gospel if it can’t see love in us.
And here’s a secret. Every church has disagreements. every church has problems that need to be resolved. You can’t put any number of people in a room for any length of time without problems arising.
But maybe they aren’t speedbumps towards the gospel - maybe they are ramps. They are opportunities for us to show the world the supernatural power of God that hangs above every single thing we do.
We’ve all seen it go the other way. Reading political news seems to be like watching a giant cage match. The world excels at ‘might makes right’. But the church shows the real power of God when it encounters the same kinds of problems, the same kinds of struggles - and stays together. Stays united, compassionate towards each other, caring for each other.
The first aspect of church is submission. the second is


Getting together every week is not the goal. We do not exist to put on sunday services. That’s a tool in our belt towards our goal.
This is often the ‘why’. Why do we exist? Why do we do what we do? What on earth are we on earth for?

The most important item on the table is reaching the lost with the Gospel. Period.

Matthew 28:18–20 NIV
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
We call this the great comission. Jesus standing in all authority that’s ever been created, and telling us to go out and make disciples.
So everything we do needs to bend towards this option. And everything else in terms of our focus for action is second. Whenever a church ‘goes’, it has to think style, structure, what the programs look like. What will our church look like and sound like. and there’s a million answers to those kinds of questions.
But that’s all secondary. There’s a world out there dying. We have friends and family who don’t know Christ.
When we look at it that way, all of our differences and disagreements don’t seem quite as big.
STORY - One day, Jesus’ disciples were arguing about something. And it was, ‘which one of us is the best’.
Mark 9:35 NIV
Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
Jesus says - if you think you’re the best, you should be the lowest. You should be the servant.
So who’s the ‘top’? Apart from Jesus.

The person who doesn’t know Jesus is the most important person in the room

This is a radical idea. But Jesus himself said - he came to earth to reach the sick people that needed Him.
And our mission as a church is to do whatever needs to be done, to be whatever we need to be, so that more people can hear the gospel.
Paul says, 1 Corinthians 9:22-23 “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”
The first two parts of being a church are submission and mission. The last one is


The people in this room, the people watching online - we’re absolutely an essential part of what being the church church, obviously. If the church is the people and not the building, that means it IS the people, right?
But church doesn’t REALLY exist for us. At least, it’s primary focus isn’t to please us.
we exist for Christ. And we are here to do God’s will.

The body of Christ is just that - Jesus’ body on earth

A church exists to be the hands and feet of jesus in the world. Like, literally.
Our goals need to be His goals. Our actions need to be His actions. If Jesus suddenly walked into this room, and started doing what He does - would it look like what we do?
Have you ever actually pictured that? The Jesus that we worship, the one that we read about in the gospels - would he spend his time doing the same things we do week in and week out?
That’s not a criticism or a judgment piece - it’s an honest question. We use this phrase ‘the body of Christ’ to talk about unity - but being the body of Christ is also about action.
And these three things - how the church is about submission, mission and action - there’s one last thing we need to understand:

Nobody here can do this for you

This is a big shift. Being a church isn’t about what others do for us - it’s about what we can do for others.
And for sure, there’s spots where we make our requests known. Where we bring up our needs or our desires.
But our primary unit of success NEEDS to be, what am *I* doing.
We see ‘winning’ in a scenario as getting our own way. Well, in church, the victory condition is if we’ve done more for the other person than they’ve done for us.
There’s a competition for you!
These are 3 fundamental assumptions that we need to hold to be healthy:
I need to serve others and submit to Christ
The lost are the most important people in the room
I need to do something for the health of my church
Being a church is a radical thing. And we want to just open our eyes for a moment, and take in the holy calling that we’ve all been invited to.
It’s our vision as a church to be more than just a place that performs a service. We are more than just programs, and music, and seating. We are the hands and feet of Christ, and the world needs us.
Our vision as a church is this:

Seeing transformed lives in our community and church

Whatever we need to do, whatever we need to change, whatever we need to be - we’re here to see transformation. We’re here to see lives changed.
Next week we’re talking about what US being a church means for the lost. What our impact as a church should be, and what the world should be able to see in us.

You’re invited to join us

John 1:12–13 NIV
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
In God, we have a second chance in life.
And all we need to do is receive him. To believe in his name. And he makes us his sons and daughters.
And it’s important to recognize - this is not a natural thing. This is not defined by someone else’s choice, or someone else’s will. Wherever you came from, whatever brought you here to this moment - in Christ we are completely new.
Jesus brings freedom from everything that held us down. Everything that crushed us and broke us.
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