Do I Really Need the Church?

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·         Vance Packard calls America “a nation of strangers.”

·         Today: an epidemic of loneliness in our society. (4 out of 10 experience intense loneliness)

·         “Everywhere you look, there are signs that people are hungering for fellowship, community, and a sense of family. Beer commercials don’t sale beer, they sale fellowship. No one is ever portrayed drinking alone. Always in the context of enjoying each other’s company…“It doesn’t get any better than this.” People long to be connected.

·         There are many analogies for a Christian disconnected from a church: a football player without a team; a soldier without a platoon; a tuba player without an orchestra; a sheep without a flock.  But the most understandable and biblical picture is that of a child without a family. That family is the church.  God does not want his children growing up in isolation from each other, so he created a spiritual family on earth for us.  A Christian without a church family is an orphan.  Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church, p 314-315

Do I Really Need the Church?

Date: 11-25-07 – PPHC – A.M. Service

Theme: “The church provides people with things they cannot find anywhere else in the world.”

Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church, p. 117

I.  The Church Provides: WORSHIP - Helps You Focus On God

·         Matt. 2:1-2 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

 A. Worship Prepares You (Spiritually & Emotionally) for What Lies Ahead

  1. Sometimes in our trials we focus so intently on our experience that we forget to focus on God.

   a. Clemson vs. Boston College…11 seconds to go in the ball game, Will Harper fires the ball to his favorite receiver, an outstretched Aaron Kelly…sailing across the goal line for the go-ahead touchdown….the only problem….he lost his focus at the last second and the ball ricocheted off his hands to the ground…Clemson lost the game.

  • When you lose focus, you lose games.

·         Lesson: Ps. 71:5 “You are my hope; O Lord God; You are my trust from my youth.”

1) Over and over in this psalm he calls to mind the character and attributes of God: His glory, His power and strength, and His faithfulness.

a. When you are in the middle of trials, everyone will have an opinion or a suggestion or a remedy…

1. But after all is said and done, there is only one thing that you can put all your trust in, and that is the character of God. Dr. David Jeremiah, Sanctuary

II. The Church Provides: FELLOWSHIP - Helps You Face Life’s Problems

 A. By Providing the Support and Encouragement of Other Christians

  1. Acts 2:42a “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship…”

·     Koinoniasomething in common; koine’ Greek – language of the common people

  2. Jonathan’s Armor-bearer – 1 Sam. 14:7 And his armor-bearer said unto him, Do all that is in your heart: turn thee; behold, I am with thee according to thy heart. (support / encouraging)

  • Four Lessons Learned from Geese (Brotherly Love / Fellowship)

This fall when you see geese heading South for the winter, flying along in V formation, you might be interested in knowing what science has discovered about why they fly that way. It has been learned that as each bird flaps its wings, it creates uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in a V formation, the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own. (Christians who share a common direction and a sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier, because they are traveling on the thrust on one another.)

1) Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone, and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front. (If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those who are headed the same way we are going.)

2) When the lead goose gets tired, he rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point. (It pays to take turns doing hard jobs - with people at church or with geese flying south.)

3) The geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. (What do we say when we honk from behind?) (“Don’t Tell Me You’re a Christian, Show Me”)

A man was being tailgated by a stressed out woman on a busy boulevard. Suddenly, the light turned yellow, just in front of him. He did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection.

The tailgating woman was furious and honked her horn, screaming in frustration as she missed her chance to get through the intersection, dropping her cell phone and makeup.

As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer. The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up. He took her to the police station where she was searched, finger printed, photographed, and placed in a holding cell.

After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects. He said, "I'm very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you, and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the 'What Would Jesus Do' bumper sticker, the 'Choose Life' license plate holder and the ‘Honk If You Love Jesus’ bumper sticker. Naturally.....I assumed you had stolen the car."

4) Finally, when a goose gets sick, or is wounded by a shot and falls out, two geese fall out of formation and follow him down to help and protect him. They stay with him until he is either able to fly, or until he is dead, and then they launch out on their own or with another formation to catch up with their original group. (If people know we would stand by them like that in church, they would push down these walls to get in.) You see, all we have to do in order to attract those who are missing back to church is to demonstrate to the world that we have as much sense as geese here in church. That seems little enough price to pay to win the lost and minister to one another. Even geese have sense enough to know it works every time.

- James S Hewett, E.D., Illustrations Unlimited, p 125-126

·         Fellowship Helps You Face Life’s Problems

III. The Church provides: DISCIPLESHIP -  Helps Fortify Your Faith

 A. By Learning the Truth of God’s Word

  • “You cannot BEWARE of something of which you are not first AWARE of!

  1. I will let “my conscience be my guide.” (Not a good rule altogether)

   a. While the conscience is good and given by God, it alone, cannot be your guide…

    1. Because by and large, your conscience has been shaped by your environment.

·         i.e. - The Cannibals of India, Africa, New Guinea…a “way of life” as compared with us…it’s despicable…unheard of and nauseating to Americans. 

·         “The conscience, then, is the seat of moral testimony. It is that portion of our humanness that receives and reflects values that represent what the mind perceives as morally right and wrong, good and evil. Most importantly the conscience is not something you stir up in a child, rather something you shape in him-carefully and with purpose. There are some hard facts about the developing human conscience that every parent should know. It starts with the single fact that parents are the primary architects of the family conscience and of each child within the family. In the beginning, a child has no functioning conscience, no preset scale of values. Before he can behave morally, he must learn general concepts of right and wrong and then advance to specific concepts of right and wrong. The home environment is the primary classroom, and parents are the first teachers.”    Gary Ezzo / Anne Marie Ezzo, The Conscience of a Child

 B. After Learning the Truth, You Can Apply Biblical Principles To Your Lifestyle

  1. The Truth of the Word was never meant to stay on tablets or on pages but within the heart.

IV. The Church Provides: MINISTRY - Helps You Find Your Talents

 A. Using Your Talents in Serving Others

  1. Matt. 20:28a “…the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister…”

·         Given by God…to serve others: David’s playing dispelled the evil spirits oppressing King Saul; Talented hands, minds - given by God (embroiderers / engravers) (Ex. 28; I Kings 7); pens of skillful writers (Ps. 45:1); Song writers (1 Kings 4);

  2. The Gifts are from God

   a. Paul’s instruction to Timothy: 1) Do not neglect the gift; 2) Stir up the gift (keep it alive)

·         1 Pet. 4:10 - As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

V. The Church Provides: EVANGELISM - Helps You Fulfill Your Mission

·         “If our mission in life alone is to reach heaven, why doesn’t God just take us on to heaven at the moment of our salvation?”

 A. Reaching Your Family and Friends for Christ is Your Mission

·         Ps. 96:2 Sing unto the LORD, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day.

·         Ps. 107:2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy.

·         Is. 52:7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!

·         Dan. 12:3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever.

Outline adapted from material found in The Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren

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