Better together

Covid 19  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  56:01
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Better together

You’ve probably hear the phrase “we’re all in this together”.
it become the catch phrase of many business and politicians
frankly I’ve even said it myself a few times.
I was recently challenged by this statement.
Are we really all this together?
isn’t isolation the opposite of being together?
Now I know what is trying to be said We are all facing the same challenges during this time?
But really are we?
Can you even compare the struggles of a family of 4 living in a 5000 sq ft house with acres of yard space
with multi-family living in a single apartment with no yard?
Or the family that can order skip the dishes every night, with the family that has no paycheck.
Yes each one of us has been affected by covid in some way. But lets not pretend its all the same severity.
Just because it not so bad for you, doesn’t mean its not terrible for your neighbour.
let’s keep that in mind.
The Church is needed more by our society than ever before.
Even governments are starting to recognize that.
Our own provincial government has put out the request to churches to aid in the mental health crisis
we must seize the opportunity to help wherever we are able!
So needless to say I’m not saying we’re all in this together anymore.
Instead I’m going to use a more accurate phrase.
We are Better together!
this comes directly from scripture
Ecclesiastes 4:7–12 NASB95
Then I looked again at vanity under the sun. There was a certain man without a dependent, having neither a son nor a brother, yet there was no end to all his labor. Indeed, his eyes were not satisfied with riches and he never asked, “And for whom am I laboring and depriving myself of pleasure?” This too is vanity and it is a grievous task. Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.
Last week we celebrated the birthday of the Church Pentecost Sunday.
Today I want to explore why God created such a thing as a the church in the 1st place
Why didn’t God just spread the Gospel message from person to person and forgo all the problems that come with being part of a group of people.
Simply put. Its because from our conception humans were created to be in relationship.
Both with God, and each other.
Its in our DNA to want to get together.
And that’s why the devil spends so much effort in preventing that from happening.
whether its convincing a believer to sleep in on Sunday morning,
or getting them to reject going to church altogether because of a disagreement they have with another believer
or the grand daddy of all strategies
getting every Church to close its doors for a virus.
Let’s not be naive. God’s plan is for His people to be together in unity.
There is power and strength in unity
The enemy know this and will try anything to keep God’s people isolated from one another.
We must not allow that to happen
I have to admit I was totally surprised how easily Churches closed their doors for this pandemic
Government: there’s a virus coming that is going to kill a lot of people, you have to close your doors as you are the ones who will spread the disease
Churches: OK well meet in our homes
Government: No your not allowed to meet in your homes
Churches: Ok we’ll move our services online
Government: OK as long as you don’t gather together
Then I realized the enemy exploited a weakness in the modern Church.
and its my fault, and the fault of every other preacher out there.
We have neglected to inform our people of the reason why we meet together
And when we have we gave them the wrong reasons.
we have done a poor job educated our people as to why we do what we do.
Our motivation is often,
I want you to come because it stokes my ego to have a full house
when lot’s of people come I feel validated in all the work I’m doing.
I’m just being brutally honest into many Pastors motivation
If we as Pastors are honest with ourselves we would see this is often our motivation
No-one likes to preach to an empty building
Its not a very satisfying feeling
In the same way
many people in the congregation come together to church for a variety of reasons.
Some may like the singing
Some may come for the fellowship
some may use the church to share the gospel with a friend
some may come so theirs kids can attend Sunday school
some may come out of tradition or expectation
it may be an obligation for some
believe it or not some may even come for the preaching. Please someone say Amen!
If these are the things that motivate us to come to church, its very easy to see how these things can be done online.
Pastor’s can be affirmed by how many people watch the stream
People can sing along at home
We have the Online foyer for people to fellowship
Its much easier to share a streamed service to a friend than it is to get them to come to church
Facebook kids group so parents can lead their kids
no more expectation or obligation to be there
Preaching, now I can here many different preachers every week , and fast forward the long winded ones.
Looks like we have all the basis covered.
Do we really need to even have Church together anymore.
Maybe this is the new normal!
maybe online Church is just the better way to go.
After all we getting more people watching now than used to attend in person.
although over 70% of Churches can’t say that
Let’s look at some others stats from Barna
96% of churches streaming online
48% of Churched adults have not watched an online service in the last month
32% of practicing Christians have not watched an online service in the last month
40% of Churched adults watch their regular home church online
The majority of pastors (96%) reports their churches have been streaming their worship services online during the pandemic.
But that may not matter for nearly half of churched adults—that is, those who say they have attended church in the past six months; 48 percent of this group report they have not streamed an online service in the last month.
Even looking at a more consistent segment—practicing Christians, who are typically characterized by at least monthly attendance—one in three (32%) admits they have not streamed an online service during this time.
Churched adults logging in for services usually opt for their regular church home (40%),
Statically. Online church is not working for many churches
It definitely works as an add on, but not a replacment
Why is that?
If we can fulfill the needs of people during a time where they are locked in their homes, why isn’t it working better.
Simply put?
We are not fulfilling the purpose of Why the Church was created in the first place!
Allow me to explain.
For years there has been 2 opposing thoughts for the purpose of the church

1) The first is that the local church exists for evangelism.

In this view, the primary purpose of the local church is to draw unchurched people to the Christian faith.
Church, then, is primarily evangelistic in its purpose. This is the heart of the “seeker-sensitive church”
Because reaching the lost is the ultimate purpose of the church, everything the church does—from preaching to worship to the design of the building—should be determined by the perceived needs or desires of the unchurched.
We must do anything and everything we can to make church a place where they feel welcome and comfortable
This view insists that the more we learn to think like unbelievers, the better we will do in drawing them to the church and, from the church, to Jesus Christ.

2) A second common view is that the local church exists for discipleship

According to this view, the purpose of the church is to serve the needs of Christians.
Many people push back against the seeker-sensitive church movement and declare,
“The church exists for discipleship! It exists to serve and strengthen Christians!”
They claim that instead of putting all its energy into evangelism, the church should put all its energy into discipleship.
Instead of making decisions based on the preferences of unbelievers, the church should make decisions based on the preferences of Christians.
In this way, building up the body of Christ becomes the ultimate purpose of the local church.
The simple argument is that both of these focuses are wrong
I know this will get me into alot of trouble, but hear me out!
Both of these strategies have massive opportunity to lead to erroneous actions

The first view, that the local church exists for seekers, assumes that unbelievers know what they need the most.

It assumes that their spiritual desires are genuine and that by following them they will arrive at truth and salvation.
And while Jesus did pay attention to the needs of the crowds of unbelievers, he was also sure to point out that they were unable to recognize their greatest need—namely, eternal life in him
John 6:26–27 NASB95
Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.”
Their seeking was ultimately self-centered and led only to greater condemnation.
Seeker sensitive church create an enviroment where people are trained to believe everything is focused around them.
The conflict comes in when they are told to change and meet the needs of the next person coming in.
Because this view emphasizes the needs and desires of unbelievers, it inevitably and unsurprisingly causes the church to become like the world.
Because the church adapts to the world in order to win the world, it ends up looking like the world.
Charles Spurgeon said, “I believe that one reason why the church of God at this present moment has so little influence over the world is because the world has so much influence over the church.”
“The very church which the world likes best is sure to be that which God abhors.”

The second view, that the local church exists for the needs of Christians, is closer to the priorities of the Bible, but still misses them in significant ways.

In many ways your end up doing the same thing just focusing on the Christian’s wants and desires instead of the unbeleiver
this can lead a church to neglect the Great Commission and sap her of zeal for reaching the lost.
Churches that hold this view aim make their focus “faithfulness” or “discipleship,”
J.D. Greear says, “Without the mission, a church is not a church. It’s just a group of disobedient Christians hanging out.”
We do not need to look far to find many examples of churches that are full of well-taught Christians who have not seen someone saved in far too long.
So if the 2 primary views are wrong, what is God actually wanting the Church to do?
Allow me to illustrate with a true story
Last February I was attending a conference, during a breakout session on Audio Video and lighting the speaker as this question
Is worship for the unbeliever or for the Christian?
I realized what he was looking for because the seeker sensitive agenda was being pushed hard at this conference
He wanted us to say the unbeliever, we need to focus our efforts on satisfying the new comer to our church services
He was taken back by the 3rd option I presented.
Don’t we gather together to worship God! Shouldn’t our focus be on God!
The Bible does not leave us uninformed when it comes to the purpose and the centrality of the local church.
The local church exists for God and for His glory.
When we understand that the local church exists by God and for God, we see that God’s glory, not the needs of saved or unsaved people, is meant to be the ultimate determining factor for all the church does.
The church does emphasize reaching the lost and it does emphasize disciplining the saved, but it does so in ways that are honoring to God and consistent with his will.
It ensures that both the method and the message of the church bring glory to his name.
Acts 2:42–47 NASB95
They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 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, 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.
So what is the purpose of the Church?
We in this Church phrase it this way.
The Kingdom Way is to Love God, Love People, Make Disciples
or if you want to phrase it a little differently
The Kingdom Way is to Love God and to Love People so they can Love God and love people
The local church exists to glorify God through worshiping him, edifying his people, and evangelizing the world.
Its not simply about making outsiders comfortable
or insiders feel its ok to hide out and keep to themselves

The local church exists to glorify God through worshiping Him.

We gather together to worship God in the ways He has revealed in the Bible.
and we do it together!
There is something special when God’s people come together in a united purpose of worshiping Him
Jeremiah 20:13 NASB95
Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord! For He has delivered the soul of the needy one From the hand of evildoers.
Psalm 75:1 NASB95
We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks, For Your name is near; Men declare Your wondrous works.
Deuteronomy 29:18 NASB95
so that there will not be among you a man or woman, or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the Lord our God, to go and serve the gods of those nations; that there will not be among you a root bearing poisonous fruit and wormwood.

The local church exists to glorify God by edifying his people.

Ephesians 5:19 NASB95
speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;
1 Thessalonians 5:11 NASB95
Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.
Hebrews 3:13 NASB95
But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
Ephesians 4:12 NASB95
for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;
Romans 14:19 NASB95
So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.

The local church exists to glorify God by evangelizing the world.

2 Corinthians 5:20 NASB95
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
2 Timothy 4:5 NASB95
But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
Acts 2:38 NASB95
Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
1 Peter 3:15 NASB95
but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;
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