Summary: Tired of the church being more like a Country Club than the Body of Christ. Here is a 1st century conflict that parallels a 21st Century conflict. This sermon will help the congregation break the mold of this false vision for a Church.
COUNTRY CLUB TO CHURCH: THE MISSION
THEME: FUNCTIONING AS A CHURCH WITH THE OUTSIDER IN MIND.
TEXT: ACTS 15:1-11
While I was at Hartsville Pike church of Christ, one of the church members invited me along on a weekday morning to pay golf at the private Gaylord Springs Country club. Rick worked for J.C. Penney, and one of the executives from the company was also going to join us. Both of these men had memberships to this excusive golf course. So when I was invited I was honored and excited to attend this golf outing. I knew I was in for a special treat as we pulled up to the antebellum club house. It held all of the southern charm for years past. We did not go park the SUV, because we pulled up to the club house and stepped out of the vehicle. There to meet us was two attendants who quick when around back to unload our golf clubs. As they pulled the golf bag out of the SUV they placed the cub on the back of a golf cart and begin cleaning the clubs up to a nice shine. Then one of the attendants jumped in the SUV and drove off. As we were waiting for our clubs to be cleaned a nice younger lady asked us what refreshments we would enjoy. I selected an orange Gatorade. In a matter of moments the bottle was placed in the cup holder on the cart. We drove over to the driving range and hit an unlimited amount of practice balls on the range. We should hit the links on a perfectly tended course. The round flowed smoothly without any long waits or inconveniences. After a respectable 92, with a few extra shots allowed, I was playing with gentlemen; we finished the round on a nice sunny day. We went into the club house where an attendant met us who cleaned our golf shoes and nicely passed them back to us. We waited for the attendant to pull out the SUV as the kind attendant placed our clubs back of the vehicle. The executive friend handed over a tip and we were off.
This was a great country club experience. It was totally all about me. It was about my happy, my comfort, my preferences, and my desires. The country club is there to service my needs, wants, and ideas. Unfortunately, this attitude is how some think about the church. I want to be nicely greeted, I want a nice sermon, I want good parking, some good classes for the children, and some positive singing. We sometimes think of the church through our own eyes. We think of the church in ways that should please us. We want to turn the church into a well run country club. In fact, if you look across the Christian world today, many congregations are functioning in this way. The church is predominately given to service the member’s needs want wants. This is where the major of the money is spent. This is where the most of the time is given. Most churches prefer to be church country clubs. But we want to address this mistake in the next two weeks. We want to go back to a church of the first century. We want to deny the current church culture, and be first century Christians.
This was not just a 21 First Century problem; it started in the 1st century. In the early church there was a group of people who wanted to make the church serve their particular likes and dislikes. It was a group that wanted certain qualifications for membership. It was the classic controversy between the insider’s mindset verses the outsider’s mindset. In fact this was the major controversy in the early church. The church was made up of predominately Jewish Converts. The gospel has only recently opened up to the Gentiles. And there is conflict between over the direction of the church. Was this church going to service the needs and wishes of the insiders, the Jews or was this church going to be concerned with the outsiders, the gentiles. Acts 15:1-11 gives the details of this boiling controversy. “And some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved. And when Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and debate with them, the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue. Therefore, being sent on their way by the church, they were passing through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and were bringing great joy to all the brethren. And when they arrived at Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. But certain ones of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed, stood up, saying, "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses. And the apostles and the elders came together to look into this matter. And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, "Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. "And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. "Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are."