Summary: Unity, Service, The Body of Christ, Growth
AN “I” EXAM: Restoring Our Vision for Christ’s Mission – Every Member a Minister
Ephesians 4:1-16 (p. 815) May 22, 2016
So the other day I get a call from the Church Research Group of America and one of their first questions is “How many ministers do you have?” And I said, “Around 300.” There was a significant pause and the lady said, “Your payroll must be massive!” I laughed and said, “You didn’t ask me how many staff members we had, you asked me how many ministers we had at Gardenside.” And since the word minister simply means “servant” I believe that every active member at our church is a minister…a servant.
I didn’t give her nearly as hard of a time with the other questions, but that first question was absolutely vital if we are to have revival through an “I” exam where we refocus our vision on Christ’s mission.
We gave everyone here last week a new member’s packet. We have more available today if you’d like one…and I wrote something about membership that came from my heart and my understanding of scripturally how the church functions.
One of the most debated issues in modern Christianity: Why should I be a member of any local church? Where does Scripture talk about Church membership? Well, let me share with you that according to Scripture, Acts 2:47 that God adds us to the church..."And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." When you repent of your sins, turn to God in obedience, and are baptized into Christ Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38)...God adds you to His family....you don't join...it's automatic. When you are born again and God becomes your "Father," you instantly have brothers and sisters...the family of God...His Church. So in one sense, saying you don't need the church is like saying, I'm part of a family, but I really don't want to have anything to do with the people who make it up. God designed His family so we need each other, and even if we disagree or get our feelings hurt sometimes...we're still brothers and sisters.
The scriptures compare Church membership with parts that make up the human body:
"Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all it's many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body..." (1 Corinthians 12:12...He goes on to say, "The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" (1 Corinthians 12:21) God put His body together... and you might ask, why? His answer, "So that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, so every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part
rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ and each one of you is a part of it."
You see, every single one of us have a rebellious and independent nature (a sinful nature). It's something we inherited from Adam and Eve's fall in the Garden. And we don't want to be dependent on anyone. When we become Christians it's that nature that’s crucified in Christ (Galatians 2:20). Church membership places me in the position where Christ is my head, and I am part of His body. That means I'm dependent upon Jesus and my brothers and sisters...as my brothers and sisters are dependent upon me. If we've never crucified that independent spirit we will never understand God's design for His body, the Church, and why being a member of it is so essential to fulfilling His mission. Can you go to heaven and not be part of God's family? I don't know, can you be a student and not go to any school or have any teachers? Can you be a soldier, but not part of any army? Can you be an arm amputated from the body and still function? Can you be part of a family, but have no relationship with your brothers and sisters?
So, If you are one of God's children who have been obedient to His call to repentance, If you've been baptized into Christ and received forgiveness for your sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit, congratulations on being added to the Church....we pray that Gardenside Christian will be a family you want to join and share your life and ministry with as a member of His body. You can do this at anytime, but during invitation time on Sunday mornings is very appropriate.
Being added to the Church…Big “C,” is something God does when we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior and when we are baptized into Him for the forgiveness of our sin and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit…It’s what happened in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost…and it then continued daily in the early church as family, friends and neighbors were impacted by these 3,000 plus.