Summary: A CHURCH OF THE NAZARENE pastor preaches about the Apostle Paul’s "team" of helpers.
"A Wide Door for
Let the Church ’Move Up’"
Author: Dr. Neal Gray
Passage: Colossians 4:7-18, KJV
Purpose: Examine the Apostle Paul’s "team" of helpers. They give us hope that everyone can join in the ministry to proclaim and promote Jesus Christ--even you.
This Sermon Series
This message is the 3rd of a 4-part sermon series titled, "A Wide Door for Effective Service." The key verse for this series is:
"I will tarry...until Pentecost; for a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries." (1 Corinthians 16:9)
The emphasis for the series is this: each Christian member of this church is, in fact, a minister. The time has come for you to find a suitable and enjoyable service in your church; for you to contribute in ways more than you have practiced until now.
==> I believe strongly--very strongly--that there are many ways YOU can be in effective service in Christ’s church; and at the same time, YOU CAN BE MORE FULFILLED by doing the thing that you enjoy, but doing it for God and His people.
Several years ago I read the paragraph I want to share with you this morning as we think about the church and what the church really is. The paragraph reads like this:
Between 1787 and 1795, Baptists became the largest group of Christians in America. They did it without a home mission board or society, a national convention, a state convention, nor a seminary. They did it WITH SMALL MISSIONARY ASSOCIATIONS and WITH LAY PREACHERS, most of them not paid a salary. They were without formal theological training, most of them had been licensed to exercise their gifts by little Baptist churches. The Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and the Congregationalists insisted that they were not clergy at all; but undisciplined, untrained laymen who should be at home working and not preaching. Between 1795 and 1820 the Methodists overtook and surpassed the Baptists in total numbers. They did it with lay preachers going everywhere, sharing their faith, forming disciplined small groups and gathering those small groups into churches.
==> Now isn’t that interesting? Ordinary Christians--not the "professional clergy"--from different backgrounds, having different gifts, spreading the Good News! The fact is that God uses all of us together--not separately. AND, there never has been, nor will there ever be, multiplication of disciples and churches apart from the mobilization of laity to do the ministry.
Church Addition or Multiplication
In your bulletin I’ve given you a sermon notes section about "The Apostle Paul’s Team." We have two ways we can go in growing Christ’s Church.
We can have CHURCH ADDITION: that’s where the Pastor or the pastoral staff are the only ministers in the body. Or, we can have CHURCH MULTIPLICATION: that’s where everyone ministers.
Church history makes it very clear that when the church has grown--I mean, really grown--it has grown because EVERYBODY FOUND THEIR GIFT AND UTILIZED THAT GIFT for the glory of God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ!!! Now, isn’t that interesting?
The story I’m going to read to you now, which is found in Colossians chapter 4:7-18, is a passage that I’ve never preached on.
In some ways, it seems quite insignificant, with just a list of names. And yet today I trust that, as I read it and you follow along in your Bible, the Holy Spirit will impress upon you the importance for any leader to have a large group of working people around them. Success depends on it!
==> Notice while I read the names of the people, some of which appear only here in the New Testament, that these are some of the KEY PLAYERS on the Apostle Paul’s team.
OBSERVATIONS ABOUT PAUL’S TEAM
From this passage of Scripture, and from what I know about the Apostle Paul’s life, I want to give you six observations.
#1: Paul was Surrounded by Helpful People
FIRST, Paul was SURROUNDED BY HELPFUL PEOPLE. Paul had around him people--not well-known people, not people that we would call household names--but PEOPLE THAT WERE WILLING TO HELP.
Do you remember when I preached about equipping the saints for the work of the ministry? And I taught you that the Greek word used for "equip" is the same word used for "mend." I told you that the fishermen mended their nets, and those nets were an extension of the fishermen’s work; by letting down the nets, the fishermen could go further into their work than without the fishing nets.
==> Paul had all kinds of people, just ordinary people, who made his ministry a success because they were extending his ministry, helping him be more effective. And at the same time, they brought glory to God!
#2: Mutual Love and Commitment
SECOND, they, i.e., the people around Paul possessed MUTUAL LOVE AND COMMITMENT. They gave their love to Paul, and Paul gave love to them.