Summary: Part 4 in 4 part series on the purpose of the church. This deals with taking Christ to lost people.
A STRONGER CHURCH
Part 4, “Meals on Wheels”
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Pastor Brian Matherlee
As we have gone through this series we have used the table to illustrate 3 disciplines that lend themselves to a stronger church:
• Serving (drop leaf table) means that we have a greater number of souls supporting together an exponentially greater effort.
• Worship is engaging our expressions of gratitude and humbleness towards our Host that we have a place at the table.
• Intercession is talking with our Host about the needs represented in our world. We find our power from the infusion of the Holy Spirit’s presence and gain wisdom and insight necessary for the tasks ahead. Intercession is touching heaven in order to change earth.
A by product of these practices is that we become more and more engaged with our Lord and in so doing we reflect Him more and more. Especially through prayer and worship we find ourselves molded into the image of Christ. True prayer and true worship bind us to God. When these take place our lives cannot help to be transformed so that when we are at the table we realize something very important…there are too many empty chairs.
When we know God deeper than we have ever known Him we find that He desires us to reflect His Spirit when it comes to the gathering around the table...we have to go out. It’s “meals on wheels”-reaching people where they are.
Today, I want the message to dispel some myths and see what we can do to get people to the table.
1. Evangelism is personal not corporate
a. One of the Greek words we translate as church in English is “ekklesia”. It means “called out ones”. In the passages of the New Testament that talk about reaching people this is the one that is used. But we operate more from the point of view of “koinonia” which is translated fellowship. Our gatherings are not the end God had in mine for the people His Son redeemed. The point was for us to go out and bring them in. We can’t throw big events and expect that to be the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
b. We can’t have the mindset of “If you build it they will come”. Throwing open the doors of the church and putting service times and sermon titles on the church sign doesn’t attract very many.
c. Evangelism in this passage was a personal invitation. It’s the “each one, reach one” approach.
2. Excuses are plentiful but so are people
a. The excuses of these three are lame.
i. It was the custom of the culture to send out more than one invitation. The first would have been to notify the recipient that a banquet was going to be held and they should set the day aside. What we read here is the second invitation that informs the individuals that the day has arrived.
ii. Each of these individuals uses an excuse that simply doesn’t add up:
1. Why would someone need to go see a field they just bought? Wouldn’t they have already seen the property before?
2. Why would someone need to try out oxen they just bought? Wouldn’t they have made sure the oxen were capable before they paid the money?
3. Marriage wasn’t a fly by night affair in first century Palestine. The thought that marriage would have interfered with a banquet is crazy! He would have know the date of his marriage when he accepted the first invitation.
b. We will encounter many excuses from people about not coming to church or not wanting to talk about spiritual things. We cannot let that hinder us. Jesus told His disciples to “shake the dust off their feet” when they encountered a town that didn’t want to receive the Gospel.
c. There are more people that want to hear if someone would tell them. Not everybody is so resistant.
i. I’ve led many people to the Lord through the years. One day I was in the office in Terre Haute and one of the teens asked to come by and speak to me. He brought his best friend and his mom and God had been working. They asked a lot of questions and I’m slow to catch on. Finally I just blurted out, “Do you want to get saved?” They all said yes and three people prayed to receive Christ that day.
d. Thom Rainer, in his book, “The Unchurched Next Door” shares some surprises his team of researchers discovered when interviewing unchurched people. Here is one of those surprises:
i. Eight out of ten people said they would come to church if they were invited (pg. 25)—That’s 160 million people in America. He adds that if only half of those 82% came there would be 80 million people coming. On average that would be 16,000 people in each of North Carolina’s 100 counties.