Summary: This stewardship message challenges the listener to consider their need to move from viewing the church as a place to be served to embracing God’s call to be in service through the church.
From Serve-Us to Service
“Count On Me” Stewardship Series
January 5, 2003
Rev. Gary A. Shockley, Senior Pastor
How many of you remember the old full-service gas stations? My grandfather owned an Arco station in Milton, Delaware. My brother and I spent nearly every Saturday morning following him around while he worked. We’d pick up around the place and he’d reward us with chocolate milk and chocolate donuts.
I remember Pop Pop John and his crew of about four men wearing their navy blue pants and blue pin strip shirts with the Arco logo on the pocket. Each one had a pocket protector with pens and a tire gauge protruding from it. When someone pulled up we’d hear the familiar “ding ding” and watch the crew go to work. Those kinds of stations are mostly a memory these days.
There was a time, for many of us, when church was a place we went to be served. We went to hear an inspiring message. We looked forward to our favorite hymns, to listen to a well-trained choir, to have the pastor pray over us, to have our children taught and our faith encouraged and then, having been “well served” we went home. That’s how I remember it anyway. Little has changed in this regard. If we were honest we’d have to admit that when we were “church shopping” we had our mental list of things we needed the church to be for us. I know when I meet a new family they are probably making a circuit of the area churches. I know we’re being evaluated in terms of what we offer to their household.
In our earlier days I had many people tell me straight out that they wouldn’t be coming back because we didn’t have a “traditional” Sunday School; or cushioned seats; or stained glass windows; or a large enough youth group…and so off they went with their list. There are enough churches around us that eventually people can find what they’re looking for.
But, you know, somewhere in the journey of faith a transition has to happen. I don’t know exactly when it happened for me. You might not be able to point to a date or an event when it happened for you. But somewhere, somehow as Christians we need to find ourselves moving away from “serve-us” to “service”. Where the church is no longer a place we go “to be served” but “to serve”. You know what I mean? James writes in 2:14, “What’s the use of saying you have faith if you don’t prove it by your actions?” And in 2:17, “Faith that doesn’t show itself by good deeds is no faith at all---it is dead and useless.”
I suspect that at this stage of our church’s development it’s more difficult for us to keep some people because it’s obvious when you come to a new church start meeting in a school cafeteria that this thing has a whole lot more to do with “serving” than being “served”. A church like ours requires a lot of helping hands and faithful hearts! And according to Jesus that’s a very good thing!
You see the Lord intends for us to be a full-service station equipped and committed to serving the needs of our community. What a beautiful metaphor for us! A full-service station for Cranberry and beyond! Right now God is looking for churches like that. The Bible says in 2 Chronicles 16:9, “The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” Do God’s eyes land on us? Does he find us fully committed to him?