Summary: A healthy church is one that grows warmer in fellowship, deeper through discipleship, broader through ministry, and larger through evangelism.
Opening Statement: I made a decision several years ago about the kind of church that I wanted to pastor. I did not ask for a small church. I did not ask for a large church. I asked God for a healthy church. A healthy church is one that grows warmer in fellowship, deeper through discipleship, broader through ministry, and larger through evangelism. One author has noted: “You don’t judge an army’s strength by how many people sit in the mess hall. You judge an army on the basis of how many people are trained, equipped, and active on the front line.” You don’t judge a churches success by how many people attend a worship service on Sunday morning, though many times that is a good indicator of what’s happening. You judge a church by how healthy and prepared it is when it comes to equipping people to take back enemy-held territory in people’s lives.
The previous five years that I’ve been here has been driving toward this essential, equipping purpose. It’s always been at the forefront of my thinking. And now, the time is right to establish the processes that will grow healthy, well-balanced believers.
What does this mean for SCC? Our goal is not to get bigger? Our goal is not to get smaller? Our goal is to get healthy and help other people get healthy. Healthy, growing, maturing believers often times results in a larger attendance.
Transition: I want us to look at part of a letter that Paul wrote to one of his young pastors.
Text: Titus 2:1-10
Background: The apostle left Titus on the island of Crete to ’’set in order what remains, and appoint elders in every city (Titus 1:5).’’ They have need for spiritual maturity in the congregation. And so Titus has been given the assignment to work to that end. To establish order in the church Paul gave Titus instructions concerning the behavior of various groups of Christians. Titus was instructed to approach every group in the church and challenge them to a holy lifestyle. “I want them to be godly men and women so that they will be salt and light on that island.” He did not only want them to live holy lives but to preserve a powerful Christian testimony in their community. He wanted them to be a healthy, well-balanced group of believers that clearly and attractively presented the gospel in their island community.
Notation: As we get into this, I think you will find that the ancient island of Crete has a lot of similarities with the relatively new town of Sunman, Indiana USA.
Title: Striving for Church Health
Miniseries Theme: Equipping Them In All Stages of Life! We’re going to be breaking this passage down into several messages.
Target: Every adult man aged 60 or above, please stand. These are the focus this morning, with applications for everyone.
Opening Statement: It’s interesting how we view the aging process. Early in life, we’re 4 and ½. Then, we’re going on 16. Then, we finally become 21. We simply turn 30. We’re pushing 40. We reach 50 and hit 60!
Illustration: One pastor has observed: America is now the oldest society in the history of the world. There has never been a society with this percentage of older people. Material comfort, medical care and a low birth rate have led America to what is called the graying of America and an older population. In our country, for example, the number of people over 65 passed the number of teen-agers. There are about 23 million teenagers in America, I know sometimes it seems like there are about 250 million of them, but there are 23 or so million teenagers in America and there are approaching 35 million people over 65. They tell us in 25 years one out of every five people will be over 65 and one out of every ten will be over 80. The graying of America. We know it’s here. We see it all around us. I suppose in some ways we laugh at it. Bob Hope said, "You know you’re old when the candles cost more than the cake." And Agatha Christy wrote on one occasion that she married an archaeologist. And someone asked why would you marry an archaeologist...to which she replied, "Because the older I get the more he’ll appreciate me." You know, they say there are only three stages in life...youth, adulthood and "my, you’re looking well." And when they start saying that to you, you know where you are. Getting older should be enjoyed as much as possible. We should grow older gracefully. But unfortunately, there’s a certain sadness in getting older. We become creatures of somewhat formidable and unbreakable habits. And the longer we do them the harder they are to deal with. Sometimes even our besetting sins become so much a part of the fabric of our lives that even recognition of them becomes difficult. Sometimes we get a little bit obstinate and a little bit stubborn and sometimes we think we know more than we do know, and sometimes we think age equals wisdom, and it doesn’t.