Summary: Why fellowship is a part of God’s purpose for the believer in Christ.
Putting the “You” in Church
Eph 4:11-16; Heb 10:24-26
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
Introduction: I remember the words like they were spoken yesterday. I can remember exactly where I was sitting in my eighth grade social studies class as I watched the events unfold on television. One line in particular seared itself into my memory. I wasn’t the only one. The young president’s words of challenge in his inaugural address stirred the nation. Those of you who are old enough will never forget those lines from John F. Kennedy’s famous speech. “Ask not what your country can do for you, rather ask what you can do for your country.”
I would that I were eloquent enough today to stir each of you with similar words. I would say to you, “Ask not what your church can do for you; rather ask what you can do for your church.”
Every one of you is here on purpose today. You chose to come. You didn’t have to come. You are not here by accident. Something about this place, this church, this people drew you here today. Most of you came because you knew you needed something that this place has to offer. That’s OK. In fact, that’s quite good. We ought to come to church because of what it can do for us. But for just a few minutes today, I would like to ask you to turn that around. Just for today, I am asking you to forget what the church can do for you and instead ask what you can do for the church. Can we do that just this one time?
Today we begin the third week of our 40 Days of Purpose. We are exploring God’s answer to the question, “What On Earth Am I Here For?” Our source for this journey is God’s Word. Surely we should settle for nothing less! But we are using Rick Warren’s bestseller The Purpose Driven Life as our roadmap. I encourage you to keep reading the PDL. Warren wrote the book to be read a chapter at a time for forty days. Even if you have charged on ahead in the reading, I hope you will go back and read the daily reading again for each of the 40 days.
I want to say it again so you don’t miss the point. We are using Rick Warren’s book as our roadmap but our search is really about God’s Word. No matter how helpful this (PDL) or any other book may be; it must never become a substitute for this book (Bible)! We must never lose sight of that principle in this place!
Using Rick Warren’s terminology for what the Bible says, God put each of us here for five purposes. Walk through them with me again. 1) We were planned for God’s pleasure—that’s worship. 2) We were formed for God’s family—that’s fellowship. 3) We were created for Christ-likeness—that’s what the Bible calls discipleship. 4) We were shaped for God’s service—that’s ministry. 5) We were made for God’s mission—that’s evangelism or spreading the Good News about Jesus.
Today I want to explore that second purpose—we are formed for God’s family—as simply and straightforwardly as I can. I don’t want to tell you why you need the church. You all have your own answers for that. Instead I want to outline what you can do for the church. If we had our big screen available today, I would put these letters up there—CH__CH. I would then ask, what’s needed in this church? The answer—UR! Because you are! What can you do for the church? I can list them on one hand.
First, the church needs you to STAND UP. This church is not, first of all, a community service agency. Though hopefully we do serve our community. We are not a family help organization or a place primarily designed to rescue vulnerable youth. Though I hope we do both. We are not in the entertainment business, the financial business, or the counseling business. Though this church is involved in all of that to one degree or another. We are in the gospel preaching, soul-rescuing business. So before you can do anything for this church, you must let Jesus Christ do something for you. We cannot talk about anything else until we talk about your personal decision to follow Jesus Christ.
Ideally no one becomes a member of this church without first becoming a fully devoted follower of Jesus. That is not to say that somebody may not have fallen through the cracks, gone through the motions, but never really taken a stand for Jesus from the heart. I say to all of you who are members and those who are not yet. Jesus first! Until you stand up for him, claim what he did on the cross as your own, you are not ready to ask, “what you can do for the church.”