Summary: God’s purpose and design for church and church growth

Before I begin this mornings sermon I have an announcement to make regarding next Sunday. To make it possible for everyone to attend church next Sunday, we are going to have a special "No Excuse Sunday." Cots will be placed in the foyer for those who say, "Sunday is my only day to sleep in." Murine will be available for those with tired eyes... from watching television too late on Saturday night. We will have steel helmets for those who say, "The roof would cave in if I ever came to church." Blankets will be provided for those who think the church is too cold, and fans for those who think the church is too hot. We will have hearing aids for those who say, "The I speaks too softly," and cotton for those who say I preach too loudly. Score cards will be available for those who wish to list the hypocrites present. For those who wish to spend time with family on Sunday we assure you that your Father will be in attendance. There will be 100 T.V. dinners for those who cannot go to church and cook dinner also. One section will be devoted to trees and grass for those who like to seek God in nature. Finally, the sanctuary will be decorated with both Christmas poinsettias and Easter lilies for those who have never seen the church without them.

Laughable yes, and perhaps even a little uncomfortable for we all know the announcement wasn’t really an announcment because we all already know the excuses people use for not coming to church.

They are kind of like the excuses I use for not attending sporting events. The number one reason: Every time I went, they asked for money.

2. The people I sat next to didn’t seem friendly.

3. The seats were too hard and not comfortable at all.

4. I went to many games but the coach never came to call on me.

5. The referees made decisions that I couldn’t agree with.

6. The game went into overtime and I was late getting home.

7. The band played numbers I’d never heard before and it wasn’t my style of music.

8. It seems the games are always scheduled when I want to do other things.

9. I suspect that I was sitting next to some hypocrites. They came to see their friends and they talked during the whole game.

10. I was taken to too many games by my parents when I was growing up.

Now I realize I am speaking to the choir this morning, that none of you have or would ever use any of those excuses for not attending church. Instead I want us to focus on why we attend church, why we join churches. Up until a month or two ago I would have struggled with my answer oh I mean I know all the right reasons to say we attend and join churches (GIVE RIGHT REASONS)

But I had trouble arguing with people who said they didn’t have to be in church to worship God but that they felt in nature close to God….that God is everywhere. I knew the bible spoke of church but I thought it meant the universal church - you know all christians are the church…..All of that is true but just a month or so back I came to learn something new - perhaps you already know it - be reminded

I. Church was and is God’s Idea

A. From the beginning….Old Testament

1. temple

2. preparation

3. design

4. who went where

5. it went everywhere

6. expected the people to go - understood

B. But it is in the New Testament that I have come to understand church attendance, church membership is not an option but a command of God!

a) Jesus regularly attended synagogue calling it "my Father’s House"

(1) He spoke of the church as God’s household, as the living God.

(2) He spoke of building his church

(a) When - Peter profession Matthew 16:18-28 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 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.

2. 117 scriptural reference

a) 10 universal church

b) local church - jesus’/God’s emphasis was on it

C. The Local Church

1. In Acts the organization and leadership of the church is addressed

a) pastors, teachers bishops elders, and deacons are called to oversee the church.

b) Hebrews 13:17 holds the leaders of the church accountable for the church and lives of the individuals

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