Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sermon-- Vision for Ministry-- 2/24/08

Here is the audio of this message:

In looking at a Vision for Univeristy Baptist Church, we’ve looked at several things--
• Empowered Worship
o Passionate Worship
o Responsive Worship
o Invitational Worship
o Accept the call
• Emboldened Witness
o Awakened heart
o Emboldened heart
o Opportunistic heart
o Expanded idea
• Expressive Ministry

To be a church that ministers unselfishly to persons in the community and world in Jesus’ name.--Ministry

Community & World
In Jesus’ Name

Exercising spiritual muscles –

a man entered into a body building contest—an expert in the field of weightlifting—a genius. He had studied every technique, read every book and bio of the greatest, knew the strengths & weaknesses of free weights, each type of machine, had studied the best nutritional supplements. He entered the contest going up against muscles like this, all the while, he looked like this.

It is possible to know all there is to know about lifting the weights and building bigger muscles, and never build a single muscle to strength.

Does this happen often? NO—someone in this situation will in most cases, either start lifting weights or will stop learning about them--

In the same way, there are many Christians, many believers who think they will want to know all there is to know, grow all they can grow, who think they can build a strong spiritual muscle without the element of Ministry—which is our equivalent of lifting weights. But you won’t—as you grow as a disciple, you will either start doing ministry, or you will stop growing in your faith.

According to James, We Must Not be hearers of the word only—but we must be doers of it.

I am convinced that one of the main reason and causes of apathy, declining participation, decreased attendance, and lowered desire to commit in membership among believers in our churches, and in our church is because we are not getting our hands dirty Ministering in the Name of Jesus.

Ministry is focused more on people than it is on tasks—tasks often are necessary work in order to reach people—but the goal still must be—how does this help us reach people with the Good News of Jesus. Ministry is about people and once you lose that element—the task becomes tedious.

It’s like the difficulty of maintaining the military or troop morale when there is no battle to fight. The troops begin to question the necessity of training, they begin to question the need for all of their armor and fighting equipment. “What do I need this stuff for? It’s not like I’m every going to use it!!!???” So as a result, the difficulty becomes a maintaining of focus—attention to detail—the necessity of drilling and preparing. If given the opportunity—they would lessen the frequency and the intensity of the training. Mandatory meetings

People, that is the Church—we come and receive our training, we prepare ourselves to use the sword of the Spirit, but without Service, Ministry & Evangelism—all the best discipleship, the best Bible study, the best worship in the world will grow cold. “What do I need this Bible Study for—it’s not like I’m ever going to use it!” What do I need to be at church every week for—it’s not like I’m missing something important!”

We like to do a lot of things, we like to be busy—we like to go to Bible study—but where we are weak is actually applying what we know and what we claim to believe in ministering to and serving People—not ideas, not good intentions, but People—which includes our fellow believers in the church, believers who should be in the church but are not—and the lost who think they like Jesus but aren’t too sure of the church people b/c if they’re anything like the ones they see on late night TV—

The reason why the world thinks it likes Jesus and doesn’t like the Church is b/c they hear and read and see more about those moments when Christians do the wrong thing than personally experience the Church doing the right things.

Most of you have jobs that require you to deal with people. Could you do your job and avoid people? If you only served existing contracts, existing patients, students or customers but blew off anyone new?

We cannot just serve the church believers, but must also serve the Lost—actually talking to people in the moment of their need—much of which will be underappreciated, much of which we will never see a direct return for--

When we distance our ministry, our efforts, our gifts and calling from people—our hearts will grow cold.

Definition of Minister—someone that serves as an agency, instrument, or means to the praise and glory of God

Shorter than that—someone that serves
1CO 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
Colossians 3:17--17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:23--Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Ministry and Service go hand in hand—you were created for them.

Ephesians 2:10-- For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Every single one of us are created to be a Minister—to Minister and Serve. Thankfully none of us are created for exactly the same ministry or service.

1CO 12:4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.

A Vision for Ministry that Engages People because that is Serving God

Serving others is serving God—whatever you do for the least of these, you do unto me

Colossians 3:23-24--Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Matthew 25:34-35--"Then the King will say to those on his right, `Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

MT 25:37 "Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

MT 25:40 "The King will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

A Vision for Ministry that is Intentional—
Not just for the sake of doing it, but with Intent and Purpose
Why are you doing it—for the attention, because you

Ministry must be Expressive—why are you doing this—what is your motivation? In who’s name? —In the Name of Jesus Christ—

AC 3:6 Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
Ministry will be Binding—blest be the tie that binds--And Evangelistic—It must be Both

For too long we have looked at ministry as if it is something that stands alone—we do ministry and then over here, we do evangelism. Ministry must never be separated from the People you are ministering to.

Sometimes we think of ministry and evangelism like this:

Well the truth is that much of evangelism takes the form of ministry—like servant evangelism much of evangelism is really a matter of ministry.

That’s why your Sunday School needs a Teaching Minister and a Connecting Minister—to connect to those who are on your roles who are not there and let them know they were missed, make sure they’re OK, if they have any prayer needs, what they missed— to connect with those who aren’t on anyone’s roles but should be

A grown up disciple that is not serving is not mature after all—maturity is for ministry—act on what we know

Study without service leads to spiritual stagnation

When you have a Vision for Ministry that is people focused rather than task focused—the result is an Energized People of God

When you have a Vision for Ministry that Pursues Opportunities to serve and meet needs—the result is an Evangelistic People of God

Vision for Ministry that is Internal—It Reaches In—and does the things necessary to meet the needs of the church and the church family—that ministers to each other’s needs—pray, call, visit, invite each other into our lives—many of us have hurts and pains and struggles that we are afraid to share, afraid for one of you to know about----they need you.

Vision for Ministry that is External--Reaching Out—to those who are not a part of our fellowship—maybe not any church. They are hurting as well—they have struggles and pain, but with much less hope of an answer—if I just do better, if I just work harder, then maybe these bad things won’t happen, maybe God will love me.—let’s you and I find a way to minister to their hurts and pains—pray for them, show them you care, make them a meal, send them a note everyday.

It’s not the fact that people aren’t in need of ministry
It’s not the fact that we are greatly lacking in resources for ministry

The primary cause is a lack of Willingness to actually do ministry on a personal, life impacting level that causes us to get our hands dirty, that causes us to be vulnerable to reach out to those who are not like us, who are dirty and struggling, who are the sick.

It is as if…
We are doctors who only want to treat healthy patients. We are lifeguards who only want to watch Olympic swimmers. We are police officers who only want to patrol the crime free neighborhoods. We are the Church who only wants the righteous and not the sinners. We are like shepherds that want to stay with the 99 rather than go out for the one who is lost—but the heart of Jesus goes

We want ministry on our terms—when it is convenient—with people we already know or without people at all. And so our service in the church and in ministry becomes optional, if we feel like it—it moves from often, to occasionally, to from time to time, to rarely, to not at all.. Church attendance follows this same thing.

We do not want ministry that involves sacrifice, inconvenience, or people that haven’t already got their life together.

But Jesus said it is the sick that need a doctor. In the same way, it’s those who are drowning that need the lifeguard—it’s the crime ridden neighborhoods that need the police.

If you reflect on your Christian life and it feels stagnant, or uninspiring, or indifferent, or unnecessary. If coming to Church, to fellowship with other believers has become “no big deal” or “I know I won’t miss anything so there’s no real reason to be there.” If you think that, then a lost person will certainly think that—and if you think that then get involved in ministry—not doing stuff, but ministering to people--nothing will wake you up faster, nothing will inspire you to more than ministering to people in need—I’m not saying more tasks—that keep you busy but still cut off…, I’m saying people—find a way—if someone is on your heart right now, talk to me and Patrick, and together, we’ll think of a way to impact their life.

Let me ask you—think about what you are currently doing at UBC, how you minister and how you hope to minister.

With eyes closed, let me see a show of hands for those who are mostly Internal in the way you minister and your hearts desire.

Let me see those who are External—toward those not in the church
No insignificant ministries—some visible, some behind the scenes, all vital

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