Summary: This sermon takes a look at how God can use even the smallest of churches because God uses ordinary and imperfect people within His church.
Recently there was a study put out that claimed that Americans say yes to Christianity but no to Church-anity. And it stated how many baby boomers are leaving the church today. The reasons given were that they thought the church was a) boring b) irrelevant but most striking was c) not necessary. One couple was quoted as saying, “We work so hard all week and the weekends are our only sense of family time. Our God is flexible and understands our priorities.” I’m sure He does.
Did Jesus really intend for His followers to be organized into a church? The answer in the bible says with a resounding yes! Jesus said in Matt 16:18, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
Now Jesus obviously meant to establish a permanent church. Now some people piously suggest that they follow Christ but they don’t want anything to do with organized religion. (Quote from Jesse Ventura). Don Williams had a song many years ago that had a phrase in it that said, “I don’t believe that Heaven waits, for only those who congregate.”
Now this is true in the sense that just by attending church you will not gain entrance into Heaven, and also there are those who are unable to gather with a body of believers who will still be in glory. But Jesus said, “I will build my church and it will stand forever.” And now 2,000 years later that church still stands today and provides a wonderful testimony to the power of Jesus Christ.
But who exactly is the church? Is the church limited to those of a certain denomination or sect? Is the church supposed to meet in large buildings and gatherings or is the church supposed to be the intimate church in the wildwood? And can God use that little church in the wildwood?
A pastor in a drought-stricken part of the south implored his people to begin praying for rain. In fact he asked each member of the church to join in a prayer vigil that would continue day and night until God granted their request. Never had there been a greater sense of urgency in that church than was revealed over the next few days. At any hour one might pass that small rural church and find the lights on and someone at the altar praying.
Finally late Wednesday evening some dark clouds began to roll in. Soon rain began falling in sheets. Four straight days and nights it rained without ceasing. The creeks began overflowing their banks. It became necessary to evacuate persons from their homes. Still the water kept rising. The entire community was now under water.
As rescue workers made their way in a boat through the perilous floodwater evacuating the last reluctant stragglers one of the boats passed that little country church now almost completely submerged.
There sat the pastor on the roof of the church with a look of grand satisfaction on his face. As he surveyed the floodwaters he said to himself, “Not bad for a church our size. Not bad at all!”
God can work wonders through His church no matter whether it’s the mega church in a large city or the tiny church in the wildwood. And the church provides so many needs, but who exactly should we expect to find in the church? What kind of people make up the nucleus of the church.
This morning I want us to take a look at the early make up of the church and by doing so be inspired to do great things for God just as the early disciples did. To do this I want us to go way back to the last commands that Jesus gave to His disciples right before He ascended into Heaven. It’s found in Matthew 28 and it’s known as the Great Commission. Mt 28:16, “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.”
These 11 men serve as kind of a microcosm of the people who comprise the church today. Now the first thing about them I want you to see is that they were Ordinary people. Jesus’ closest disciples were not very impressive. The group was made up of fishermen, tax collectors and mainly blue collar workers from Galilee, an unimpressive territory. Much like we may think of Alabama today. Just not that impressive. Now none of them were rich or influential. There were no “movers and Shakers” among them. In fact, on the day of Pentecost when these men first started to preach about Christ, the people were amazed at their verbal skills since they were “all Galileans.”
Now these would not be the type of people that I would have wanted to start a organization with that was going to change the world. I would have chosen proven leaders, great speakers, wealthy influential persons, but God chose to build His church with ordinary people. Ted Turner once said that Christianity is a religion for losers, and in a way he‘s right. And that is what makes it so great. My brother and I like to argue about things, and the other day we were arguing about who was the better basket ball coach, Rick Pitino or Tubby Smith. Now both of them took Kentucky to national championship, Pitino in ‘96 and Tubby in ‘98, but I argued that Tubby was the better coach because on Pitino‘s ‘96 championship team, over half of the squad went to play in the pro‘s. Where as Tubby had only 3 get to go from the entire team. Tubby looked like the better coach because he didn‘t have star players, just ordinary 6‘6 men.