Have you ever wondered what it would be like to plant a church? You're about to find out. Were hitting the reset button and going back to ground zero. We're talking about the most basic elements of our church and how you are going to live them out as we relaunch this team.
Every organization has a product - tangible or intangible. A measurable by which the effectiveness of an organization can be determined. Our product is The Gospel. That is our output. We want to have a single core operating system of the gospel And we are relentless about proclaiming that Gospel in as many ways, environments, expressions as possible. In fact, our mission is for every man, woman and child have repeated opportunities to see hear and respond to the gospel and become fully devoted followers of Christ.
We've got a problem. Only one solution: John 14:6
Muslims have their solution. Buddhism has its solutions. Jews have their solution. But faith in Jesus means we've only got ONE way to solve the problem. And it's not in knowledge, its in faith. It's not belief, it's in faith. It's not in a decision, it's in a commitment. What do we do about the 10's of thousands of people in our region, that are blithely headed to an eternity in Hell? Romans 10:14
Who is going to bring restoration to Depew, Lancaster, Cheektowaga, Clarence, South Buffalo, West Seneca? Jesus says to those who have placed their faith in Him. YOU GO! Engage your community, engage your context with the GOSPEL! Matt 28:18-19 The apostle Paul had just the right attitude toward this idea of exporting the gospel 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 Acts 17:22-24
Your life is a story of the work of God. And you need to strive to make what God is doing Fully accessible to people far from God. You may be the only Bible they may ever read. You may be the only Jesus they will ever see. You may speak the only gospel they will ever hear. You have a circle; these are the people that share your shift, share your shopping patterns, share your block, share your park and playground. Pray for them. Ask God for opportunities to live, express and speak the gospel into their lives. Pray for conversions. Pray for salvations.
AND increase your gospel IQ. Do you actually know the gospel? If someone said they really wanted to have a relationship with God, would you be able to show them how to do it? We've got souls that need rescuing. We've got a community that needs saving. We've got broken people that need healing.
What are the irreducible minimums of our church? We've got three weeks until summer is over and we relaunch our ministry. Around what is our ministry built? Gospel, centrality of what Jesus did on the cross. The centrality of Jesus being the only way to God. The centrality of the Gospel being our chief export to the world. The notion that WE as believers are the carriers of the gospel remedy to a fatally infected world. Today I want us to focus on the the input. The thing that the church needs internally to carry its export to the outside world.
Once again we are going to look at Jesus. Jesus is central because, among other things, He is relatively new to the historical scene. The Torah, the first five books of the Bible are ancient. Thousands of years BC. Still remarkably preserved. Jesus, is much more current. Only 2,000 years ago. He serves as a touch point to the Old Testament and connects the dots for us as the Messiah. Jesus; Deity, fully God and fully man is the hinge upon which all ecclesiastical and soteriological significance swings. So, when it comes to understanding those who carry out the gospel mandate, we turn to Jesus.
Everything that we are exporting, hope in Jesus as the savior of the world, Jesus continually proclaimed. Believe in ME. Whenever you eat the Passover meal, think of ME. Believe in ME and you won't be condemned. Believe in ME and the wrath of God will not fall on you. And the means by which He wanted to export the gospel was with the input of Disciples.
Rabbinical Tradition - “Follow Me” was the phrase used to call someone into the rabbinical school of that rabbi. It may have been something like a draft. Potentials had been scouted since they were children. How did they memorize? How did they process? How did they debate? How did they devote? How Zealous? If the rabbi like what he saw, he would approach and say, “follow me.” The understanding is the disciple would follow so close, and have such an up front view of what the rabbi would do, that they would be covered in the dust of the rabbi.
Now, at the draft, when all rabbi's were done saying, “follow me” the room was empty...except for all the people that no one wanted. These were the people who picked up the family trade. They didn't get tapped. They didn't have the academic chops to enter the upper echelon. I guess we'll get into construction. I guess I'll get into tent making. I guess I'l get into fishing. So, Jesus is walking along the sea shore and sees some guys who didn't make the draft. He does something VERY surprising. As a Rabbi, He says the words, “follow Me.” They got scouted!!! Not even on the farm team. Total walk ons!! What did the Rabbi see in us? I dunno, but lets go!!! Jesus is deity. He is the all powerful miracle working Son of God. Why did He tell anyone to follow Him? Jesus Needed input to carry the output!
FIVE MARKS OF A DISCIPLE
I'd like to talk about what a disciple looks like internally. Our five personal rhythms provide the framework at our church for the worldview, attitudes and activities of an effective and equipped disciple. They are:
Abide with Christ - Intimacy with God. Christ showed this attitude and practice. Luke 5:16 What kind of a habit was this? Convenient habit? Luke 4:40-42 This is what Jesus said to those who believed in Him regarding the topic of abiding in Him John 8:31-32
Serve the Kingdom - Jesus was around 12 years old - became a “son of the law” and had an obligation to observe them personally. And his folks had to take a long trip, pretty exciting, to Jerusalem (New York City) to fulfill a religious obligation. Passover and then the feast of the unleavened bread. We pick up their story on the way back. Luke 2:43-49 Mom, Dad, there is a higher obligation that I have. It's to serve the Kingdom. Book end that moment with Christ's drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane. He prayed. NOT MY WILL, but YOURS be done.
Persist in Community - Matthew 17:14-17 The word that Jesus uses there is the same word that Paul uses in his letter to the church at Colosse. Colossians 3:13 Jesus PUT UP with us and we are told to PUT UP with others.
Live Generously - Matthew 13:14-18 Jesus models generosity. He says, they came to be taught, they came to be healed I've done all that. But they are hungry. I'll give them more.
God: The Power Source
Why the reset button? I talked to another church plant pastor; one who is farther along in shorter amount of time. He told me when we relocate, for whatever reason, we really are resetting the system. You get to start over. SO, A couple months ago, I was wondering how we could best leverage this move of ours to impact our community with as much good as possible. At the end of it all, I couldn't think of anything more foundational than the Gospel, Disciples and God.
So we looked at the Output. We looked at the Input. Today we are going to look at the Power Source. The power source is God. Now God is not DEAD. Heaven is for real and God is for real. He is experientially real. He is faithfully real. He is mathematically real. It is a mathematical impossibility that the universe as we observe it could have ever come into existence without a designer. Mathematically there must be some sort of a transcendent designer who got all this designed and going. Scientists will never tell you this because it violates the philosophy of the science community, which is never look for anything that cannot be empirically observed.
We are going to cover only 7 attributes of God that I think will inspire us to live richer, more vibrant and fuller lives:
Creative Genesis 1:11, 20, 24, 26, 27
God created all things. In outrageous diversity. And then there are people; tall, short, colored differently, hair colors, eye colors, skin colors, muscular, frail. With all our interests. With all our personalities. And all the diversity in all humanity only exists with a tiny percentage difference in our DNA.
Just Genesis 3:12-19
Temptation. Disobedience against God. Declared with their actions that, “God isn't a truth teller.” BUT, God isn't only just. He is perfectly Just. And so His justice is ultimate.
Merciful Exodus 34:6-7
Leads with LOVE, Patience, Faithfulness, Forgiving. BUT he is JUST. Punishes children. Their children. The sins that the father did, he punishes. If the kids follow in their dads footsteps, God doesn't turn the other way. He doesn't consider the punishment that dad endured as paying for the sins of the kids. God doesn't consider that a new way has been chosen and that it no longer bothers Him. He is faithful to be just.
This description of Gods nature was so significant it was repeated 8 times in scripture. It was even put into a song. Psalms 103:8-14 This is a pre-messiah passage. This was written before Christ bore the sins of the world. It was a portrait of God's grace before anyone could understand how that would work out.
Doesn't treat us as our sins deserve.
Extravagant Romans 8:17
He removes our sins as far as from the east is from the west. Salvation doesn't just take away our sins. It takes away our sins, adopts us into the family and puts us on the family will as co-heirs with deity.
Exodus 20. 10 commandments. Exodus 21-31 are all specific instructions on how God wanted the worship of His people to be expressed. He is a specific and ordered God. He is honored when things are well planned out. When things are carefully appointed. God is not a “seat of His pants” deity.
When we are CREATIVE we are reflecting His character. As a church, we are to be creative in the mission. When we are LOVING, we are reflecting the nature of God. When we hold people ACCOUNTABLE to the truth, to their obligations, to their word and promises, we are honoring God. We are reflecting His nature. Conversely, when we avoid conflict because we don't want the hassle because its easier to handle things ourselves, we dishonor God. Be willing to face off for the kingdom.
When we are MERCIFUL, we show the nature of God. GRACE may be the hardest of all God's characteristics to represent. It's best seen in the gospel, and hardest to display in human terms. We have cheapened grace. When we are EXTRAVAGANT, not in programming, but in character, we showcase God's character. When we are generous, we showcase God's generosity. We cannot be disorganized and honor God. We cannot ignore schedules and honor God. We cannot allow our church to be run in a sloppy fashion an honor God. We cannot miss training, leadership and equipping meetings and honor God. Friends, if we are to represent God well, we have GOT to get and keep our ducks in a row. The more important a thing is, the more attention we pay to details.
The church is the most critical mission in the world. There is a time coming when the Father shall settle all accounts. That day is coming. It is held back because of God's character.
Live the mission!!! Think about your neighbors. Think about your co-workers. Think about your friends. Think about your extended family. The clock is ticking. HOW can we reach them? HOW can we impress upon them the imminence of judgement? Let's WORK TOGETHER to bring our best to the table to be as good as we can be to live the mission.