10 Essential Things to Tell People about the Church
- Sunday, March 06, 2011
Your television set brings in some good preachers every Sunday morning. You can sit in front of the set and worship God, study the Word, pray, sing, and even make an offering. I suppose you can even find a way to minister without leaving home. But the one thing you cannot do watching Charles Stanley or David Jeremiah on the screen is to fellowship. For that, you will require other believers. You will need to "forsake not the assembling of yourselves together" (Hebrews 10:25).
8. The toughest part of belonging to a church is the requirement for submission. That's why we rarely hear about it.
Submitting to one another in the fear of Christ. (Ephesians 5:21)
To submit means to give in to the other. Two men disagree; one gives in. Two women disagree; one gives in to the other. Only in matters involving life-or-death issues (the inspiration of Scripture, the efficacy of the cross, the Virgin Birth, etc) do we dig in our heels and say with Luther, "God help me; I can do nothing else."
To give in to another is to practice the command of Philippians 2:3. In humility, consider others as more important than yourselves.
Two motorists met on a one-lane bridge. The first one leaned out and yelled, "I never back up for fools." The second throws his car into reverse and calls, "I always do." Which of the two men is the stronger?
Practicing submission could stop 90 percent of church divisions in their tracks.
9. God created the deacons because He needed servants willing to do the dirty work.
Jesus gave us the ultimate picture of servanthood when He stooped and washed the disciples' feet (John 13). The Jerusalem incident of Acts 6--commonly believed to be the origin of the diaconate, even though they're never called deacons there--confirms that these godly men are to serve the Lord's people in the lowliest tasks in order to free up the leaders for the ministry of the Word and prayer.
In the Old West, during cattle drives, there was a division of labor. Someone rode point in front of the herd, others rode the flanks to keep the cattle together, and some poor soul had to ride drag. Usually, this dirty job went to the newest hire or youngest cowboy or the one in trouble with the boss. His task was to see that no animal was left behind.
That's the deacons. They are not the point people, setting the vision for the congregation; God has His "called" pastors for that. They are the background workers who spend their time and energy to see that everyone is cared for, that the headstrong stray is corraled and brought back, and that stragglers are dealt with.
The Greek word translated deacon, diakonos, literally means "through the dust." That has to mean something.
At a concert in your favorite public arena, workers wearing t-shirts with "Event Staff" across the back are scurrying around. They are not performing on stage, they are not the highest paid, but the concert would not happen without their faithful labor. That's you, deacon.
Thank God for you.
10. If you do not like change in your church or your personal life, you will want to avoid Jesus. He's all about change and growth.
The Lord Jesus said believers were to be like "new wineskins," a reference to their flexibility, their adaptability to change, their skill at making adjustments to fluid situations. (See Matthew 9:17)
The image of Christians as defenders of the status quo, of resisting every new idea, of reacting against anything foreign--that is anathema to the spirit of Jesus Christ. The seven last words of the church, it has been said, are "We never did it that way before."
Jesus knows this and understands it. In fact, we could make a case for our having been created this way so we will not too easily trash the best things of our past. The Lord said, "No one, after drinking old wine, wants new. For he says, 'The old is better.'" (Luke 5:39)
So, we have to work against our innate resistance to change and growth. I once heard Rick Warren say at his church, they are continually introducing new ideas and innovations. The idea--one of them, at any rate--is not to let his people get too comfortable with any one way of doing things.
Dr. Joe McKeever is a Preacher, Cartoonist, and the Director of Missions for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans. Visit him at joemckeever.com/mt. Used with permission.
Read part two of this series: "10 More Essential Things to Tell People about the Church."
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