Summary: Part 1 of series, "Who Runs the Church". Examines the part members play in the life & ministry of the church.
WHO RUNS THE CHURCH?
Part 1: What Part Do I Play In The Church?
It was 6 years ago this week, that Gladys, Drew and I moved back here to Enterprise to start what is now known as “River of Life Church.” When we moved back, it was with a little bit of fear and apprehension, but it was primarily with a sense of excitement; looking forward to seeing what God was going to do.
It was 6 years ago this week, that we at River of Life Church, first began holding weekly Bible Studies at the Deltona Community Center. Every Thursday night for several years, we met in that building. We met on Thursday nights because we couldn’t find a place we could rent in those days, where we could meet on Wednesday nights.
In those days, we had nothing. We had no money. We had no buildings. We didn’t have a copy machine, or a phone number. We didn’t have anything but a burden for lost people, a vision for the needs in this community, and a promise that God would build His church. We didn’t even have a name yet.
* How many of you were with us at that first Bible Study?
You know, when you don’t have anything and there aren’t many of you, it doesn’t take much to run an organization. Decisions are kind of made on the fly, as you sit down together and talk about where you see the Lord leading. Since we didn’t have much business, we would talk about what was going on and the successes we saw, as we got together for worship each week. The only formal leadership we had, of any real sort, other than myself, was the trustees. They were entrusted with signing checks and contracts for the church.
In September of 2000, we held our first public worship service here in this school. Within weeks, the church more than doubled in size. Before long we found that there was more church business going on than could be comfortably covered during our weekly Bible Study, so we formed a Leadership Team. This team was made up of the heads of various ministries. This team has been meeting on a monthly basis ever since. This team has received nearly monthly reports on the church’s finances. It has served to help plan the activities and to help chart the course of the church.
My friends, God continues to build His church. Today, after 6 years, our congregation continues to grow. Next Sunday, we will be holding another Baptism and Bar B Q where more will be baptized. The Lord has blessed us with 2 properties, totaling more than 11 ½ acres and more than 3 buildings. The church has grown to the point where we have added a part-time financial secretary and the first Sunday of July we will be adding our 2nd ordained staff person.
God is working. The church is growing. With growth there again comes a need for leadership expansion and growth. In the weeks ahead, we will be looking at what the Bible has to say about church leadership and about running the local church. This morning I would to begin our study, our examination of leadership in the local church by addressing the question of laypeople in the church. What part do you, as members, as baptized believers, play in the church? Please open your Bibles and turn with me to 1 Peter 2:1.
- Read 1 Peter 2:1-12
I. YOU ARE THE MATERIAL OF THE CHURCH
How often people mistakenly talk about a church as though it is nothing more than a building. People talk about going to “church” or meeting at the church. Since we continue to meet in a school, some have even said that we are not a real church.
Sir, Mam, young person, I want you to understand that you are the church. Verse 5 says that you are living stones. You are the material with which the church is built.
How sad it is, that people often forget that the first century church usually did not have buildings of their own. The early Christians met in parts of the temple, or the Jewish synagogues. They met in people’s homes and in the tombs. They met on the river bank. They met wherever they could and yet even without a building people complained “They’re turning the world upside down.”
I am looking forward to having a more permanent place to worship myself, but my friends, if we forget that it is you and I who make up the church, all the buildings in the world will not be a help.
In the Old Testament, we read that God, In a special way, dwelt first in the tabernacle, and then later in the Temple. In the New Testament we read that we are the temple that God’s Spirit dwells in.