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Summary: More servants and less spectators....What does it take to have the church "up and running"? Spiritual Maturity!

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THE WINDOW

Bible-Teaching Ministry of

CEDAR LODGE BAPTIST CHURCH

Thomasville, NC

a fellowship of faith, family and friendships

Dr. Russell Brownworth, pastor

September 26, 2004

41So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. 42They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:41-47 (KJV)

Rick Warren, author of The Purpose-Driven Life, is pastor of Saddleback Community Church in California. It is one of the largest churches in the Southern Baptist Convention, with some 20,000 members attending multiple weekend services. Fewer than half of their membership comes from people transferring from other churches. They win and baptize over 50% of new attendees.

But numbers alone is not the only thing for which Saddleback is known. They are also a pacesetting example of high expectation. Members are expected to do more than attend; they are expected to grow as disciples and use their spiritual gifts in service. That is stated in the covenant new members sign when they join that fellowship. Saddleback also starts new churches.

So, what does the pastor of a vibrant, growing, discipling and church-starting church have to say about growing strong as believers? This:

"The truth is that it takes a variety of experiences with God to produce true spiritual maturity. In addition to Bible study it takes worship experiences, ministry experiences, fellowship experiences, and evangelism experiences. In other words, spiritual growth occurs by participating in all five purposes of the church." [1]

Where did Rick Warren get such an idea? The Bible!

This morning I want to take Pastor Warren’s statement, and our text, from which he draws the five purposes of the church, and invest our time looking at the process of becoming a mature disciple of Jesus Christ.

Incidentally, I want you to know [up front] that I agree with Rick Warren about these five purposes for all members of the church. I also want you to know I have a goal for this message. That goal is your heart. The goal is to have God’s Word and purposes clearly capture our hearts this morning so that we will turn to following Him more closely than ever. The goal is for us to become "purpose-driven" people for Christ.

Study with me the five purposes of the church - five experiences that can make us strong disciples, able to serve our Master.

1. Worship Experiences

Worship was pretty exciting for the first church, especially the first service they had. Three thousand got saved and baptized that day! There was a sense of awe and reverence that gripped the whole group. I’ll bet they just couldn’t wait to get to church each Sunday. In fact, I know they didn’t wait til Sunday; Scripture tells us they had church every day.

I have to admit that it seems like going to church service every day may sound a bit "over-the-top". But, perhaps it is just that consistency in the word and worship that made the church so strong then. They were so full of Jesus that people were getting saved every day. We could use a little of that "over-the-top"!

I’ve been a pastor a long time, and I’ve encouraged a multitude of folks to get regular about worshipping. But I’ve also been told a similar multitude of times, Preacher, you don’t have to go to church to worship.

Now, I would say that that is true; I am also certain that if you say you believe that, you really need to say the whole sentence, which is:

You don’t have to go to church to worship,

but if you don’t you probably won’t.

Can we talk? I really enjoy gathering with my family for birthdays and other outings, or just spending time with Elizabeth (except at the mall).

Aside from that, golf is my major hobby (if you can call something you do twice a year a bone-fide hobby). I will tell you this, I cannot recall the last time I recited the Lord’s Prayer or the Shorter Westminster catechism before the first tee.

I have prayed to make a good shot; at least to not embarrass myself in front of a good golfer - but mostly I am not worshipping! I am thinking about back-swing, follow-through and putting. I have never sung a hymn of praise to Jesus on the golf course, and I know the only offering I ever gave was required - they called it "greens fees" - and they didn’t use it for missions!

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