Summary: The purpose of service is to enable the entire church to do God’s work!
I don’t know about you but this year’s World Series was one of the best in years. Whether you rooted for the Diamondbacks or the Yankees, we have to admit that it was a great series.
Now, there are groups of people who statistically follow the game of baseball. They love to find, study, and analyze the numbers related to the game and players. Now, I am not one of those people, but as I thought about this final sermon in our current series, “The Five Purposes of The Church, “ one statistic intrigued me – how many people were left on second base during the World Series.
So, I went surfing the Internet. But, I could not find that particular statistic either because I was not looking in the right place for it or it probably could have been had – for the right price – which I was not going to do.
But, one of things that I heard over and over during the series was runners in scoring position. What this means is that the team that is up to bat has base runners within scoring range. And if my memory serves me correctly a person is in scoring position when they are at third and second bases.
Any baseball manager will tell you that to score runs, you have to get runners in scoring position and hit to get them home to score some runs. Leaving a lot of men on base is not the way to win a game.
As we look at the final of the five purposes of the church this morning, the purpose of service, the image of runners in scoring position ran through my mind because I believe that there is a parallel in the church. Rick Warren puts it this way.
“Most churches do a good job of getting people to first base or maybe even second base. People will receive Christ, be baptized and join the church (that’s getting them to first base). Some churches also do an excellent job of helping believers develop the habits that lead to spiritual maturity (that’s getting to second base). But few churches have a plan to insure that every believer finds an appropriate ministry (third base), and even fewer quip members to win others to Christ and fulfill their life mission (home plate).”
The New Testament has a lot to say about service. Paul, in his letters to the first Christian churches, wrote often about the need for the people to be serving, to be involved. Here two examples from the book of Ephesians.
First, Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Notice what Paul says:
1. We are God’s masterpiece! We are magnificent creatures, we are not junk, and we are not stupid or dumb or incapable. We have been created by God, magnificently created!
2. We have been magnificently created to do good things that God has planned for us to do. In other words, we have a mission, we have a purpose, and there is a wonderful plan for us. God God has something for us to do!
That something is a ministry – a place of service, a “sweet spot” as I have said from time to time, that only we can truly fill. God wants us to get to third base and then to home plate to score a run for the Kingdom!
In Ephesians 4:11 and 12 we read, “He is the one who gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ,”
Who is the minister of this congregation? No, it is not me. You are the ministers of this congregation. I am the pastor.
And what is my role as pastor? To make you look good! Now you have probably never heard a pastor say that before, have you?
I am here to help you minister in this community! I am here to help you be successful in all that God would have you be and do! I am here to help you find your place of service and help you do your best in bringing people to Christ. That is my Biblical authorization!
But, why is the work of the pastor to make the congregation look good? Why am I here to help you minister in this community? Why am I authorized by Biblical mandate to help you find your place of ministry and do it to the best of your ability?
Here are three reasons:
1. God has called each personally committed follower to a place of service. There are no verses in scripture that place limitations on who is eligible to serve or not. When Paul wrote in I Corinthians 12:10, It is the one and only Holy Spirit who distributes these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have. He was not talking to Pastors or missionaries; he was talking to you and me.