Summary: Casting the vision for a member-run church, promoting the identity of every believer as a priest and minister of our God

The Catalytic Church:

The Member-Run Church

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 61:1-6a

Maybe you’ve heard

about the two women who stood side by side

on the sidewalk

in the middle of the night

watching the only church in the neighborhood

burn to the ground.

And as they stood there,

one woman finally turned to the other

and said,

“Humph! This is the first time I’ve seen YOU at


to which the second woman replied,

without missing a beat,

“This is the first time I’ve seen the church on fire!”

Well, she’s not alone.

There are a lot of people in our neighborhoods,

in our communities,

in our schools,

in our workplaces,

who might be interested in learning more about Jesus Christ

and the things of God

if they could just see a church on fire . . .

And that is exactly what we want,

what we intend,

here at Cobblestone Community Church;

we are praying and working to make this church,

this group of Christ-followers,

a catalytic church,

a church that is not only on fire itself,

burning with enthusiasm and exuberance,

but also one that sets on fire everything around it,

a church that has a catalytic effect

on individuals,

on schools,

on the community all around.

Good morning. My name is Bob Hostetler, and

this morning at Cobblestone Community Church we’re concluding a five-week series of messages from the Bible, entitled “The Catalytic Church.”

You see, we here at Cobblestone Community Church are preparing to launch

a new, distinct, and dynamic church

here in Oxford

on Palm Sunday, April 8, 2001.

And we have only eight Sundays--after today--to build the community and structure and resources we’ll need to be in place on that day.

So, we’re not only meeting together for worship and fellowship and prayer that benefits us and our spiritual growth . . . We’re also trying to teach and do the things that will best prepare us to be a distinctly community-oriented,



outward-focused group of people

in the months and years to come.

So in the past 5 weeks we’ve talked about 5 things about Cobblestone Community Church that we believe will make this a catalytic church, and those are making sure we’re:

a purpose-driven church,

a culturally-relevant church,

an outward-focused church,

a seeker-aware church,

and, today, a member-run church.

Next week, we start a five-week series called “Crucial Questions, Candid Answers,” in which we’ll take yet another approach to defining ourselves as a church, answering questions like, “What Do We Believe?” and “How Will We Worship?”

And then our final series before Launch Sunday will be called “Growing a Winning Personality,” in which we’ll present our vision for helping those of us who are Christ-followers to reach out to skeptics and seekers in ways

that are low-risk for us

and nonthreatening to them. . .

But today we’re talking about what it takes for a church to be not only on fire itself,

but also one that sets on fire everything around it,

and I believe that one of the keys to being that kind of church is in being a member-run church.

Let me explain. If you have your Bibles handy, would you please turn to the book of Isaiah, the 61st chapter . . .

If you’re using one of the Bibles we’ve provided for you in the center of each table, you’ll find it on page ____.

If you’re using your own Bible, you can usually find Isaiah by opening to the middle and taking a right turn! It’s between Song of Solomon and Jeremiah, if that helps.

As you’re turning to Isaiah’s 61st chapter, let me just mention that most churches are not member run churches, at least not in the sense that I’m talking about today.

In most churches, some combination of denominational bureaucrats, professional ministers, and paid staff make the decisions and accomplish the ministry of the church.

When someone’s hospitalized, a pastor goes to visit.

When someone needs prayer, a minister’s available.

Whether it’s a sermon, a class, a decision, or a task, the professionals are the ones who are expected to do the job.

But my friends, I don’t believe that’s how it’s supposed to work. And to show you what I mean, let me direct your attention to Isaiah 61, starting at the first verse.

You may remember that this passage formed the text for Jesus’ commencement address, his “mission statement” at the beginning of his public ministry. It was a prophecy given by God to Isaiah, a prediction of what would happen sometime after God delivered his people from their captivity and exile in Babylon, a prediction that found its fulfillment in the ministry of Jesus Christ and the launching of the church.

So keep that in mind as you consult your own Bible and I read aloud from mine, beginning at Isaiah 61:1:

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