Summary: Second in a series on the four vital functions of the church, focusing on the need for Bible-based teaching, training and discipleship in the church.
Four things our church needs to do 2007 - #2 Nurture
By James Galbraith
First Baptist Church, Port Alberni.
May 13, 2007
2Ti 3:10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
We have begun a series of message in which I will be presenting you with four vital functions to any church’s ministry.
These vital functions are worship, nurture, fellowship and outreach.
Last week we focused on worship, which is the direct praise and affirmation of the God who loves us.
Simply put, it is us loving God back with our voices, bodies and actions. Prayer is an essential element in all our worship, because it is in prayer that we communicate directly with God.
Worship is so much more than the songs we sing,
it is the heart in which we sing and dance and prayer and create.
When we worship God, we are telling him we love him because he first loved us. The words are secondary to the spirit in which they are given.
We’re going to take a look at the second vital function of a church today, which I call nurture, but before I do I just want to explain something about these four vital functions.
Many of the activities we engage in as a church fit under more than just one of the four vital functions.
There is considerable and desirable overlap within these vital functions. One can be worshipping God while in fellowship with other Christians and one can be nurtured during an outreach project.
This overlap is natural and healthy, for none of the functions are meant to stand alone. Of course, one of the four can be a primary focus for a given period of time but not to the neglect of the others.
The overall goal is to build a church which enjoys and implements a balance of all four functions.
Take, for example, this worship service.
There are elements of worship in our prayer and singing,
elements of nurture with preaching, children’s story and Sunday School,
elements of fellowship with our coming together to do this,
and hopefully, elements of outreach in our desire to bring what we learn here to those who really need to hear about God’s love.
Now let’s take a look at what the second vital function, nurture, is all about.
NURTURE is the teaching and edification of God’s children.
There are many different aspects to nurturing, so many that I can’t really give them full treatment in one sermon, but here’s an essential list:
Nurture includes preaching from the pulpit, teaching in smaller group settings and the encouragement of personal study.
When we gather together to hear the word of God taught, we are participating in a form of nurture. We are as a group affirming what is important to us, and presenting our beliefs in a public setting.
When we come together in smaller groups to take a closer look at a specific passage, and discuss it in detail, we are taking part in a more intimate form of nurture, in which we dialogue and debate our way to mutual understanding.
And when we open the word of God for ourselves, or enjoy a book or video series on important Christian teachings, we are in essence “self-nurturing”.
Nurture also includes training in Christian ministry leadership development and the discipleship process.
When we build up leaders, and train them to do the work we call them to do, we are nurturing them so that they may in turn nurture us. It is very easy for leaders to become dried up and burnt out, so a church needs to persistently nurture it’s leaders.
Discipleship, in brief, is the deliberate and thorough training of Christians in the important beliefs and doctrines of the faith. It is also includes mentoring new believers in prayer and Christian service, so that they to may become mature, fruit bearing Christians.