* This is adapted from a recent sermon. A few sermonic elements remain.
Life can be hectic at times. We feel the stress of marriage, raising kids or grandkids, working extra hours or no hours. We feel the stress of kindergarten, elementary school, high school. The bills need paid, the yard needs mowed, the car needs inspection and registration. Some of us have health concerns or were consumed with the health concerns of someone we love. Perhaps we walk into this sanctuary with heartbreak or heartache.
All of the chaos can make it seem like getting ready for church on Sunday morning is getting ready for just another church service.
I get it. As the preacher, I prepare messages week after week. I discuss the things of God week after week.
“Hey Pastor Jeff, what are you doing?”
“Oh, getting ready for just another church service.”
Let us snap out of this slumber this morning. Something bigger is going on here than just another church service.
Take the time to read Ephesians 4:1~16.
Method: The church gifted and equipped for service.
Ephesians 4 doesn’t paint the picture of just another church service. It paints the picture of the church in action. These verses describe two groups:
Congregation: Every believer is gifted and called to ministry.
As a believers in Jesus Christ, each one of you has been given gifts by the grace of God. You are to use those gifts for the purpose of ministry. Notice verse 7: Each of you has been given grace gifts. Notice verse 11~13: you are to use these grace gifts for works of service. I don’t preach this as a recruitment tool for volunteer positions at our church. Yet, it is a recruitment tool for volunteer positions at our church. Serving here trains you to serve elsewhere. Many people that say, “Yes” to this idea fall into the trap of spiritual navel gazing: How has God gifted me? How can God use me? Here? There? And then do nothing. Don’t sit and ponder. Rather, ponder and serve. As you serve, listen for the voice of God.
Church Leadership: Equips the congregation.
It is not the task of church leadership to do the entire ministry on behalf of the congregation. Rather, it is church leadership’s job to equip. I need to do better. Confession: I feel as if I’ve talked about this a great deal over the course of my nine years as pastor of this church. Yet, I feel that I’ve failed to embed this into our DNA.
The church should be a disciple-making factory. This should be a grace gift assembly line.
Goal: Unity and maturity in Christ.
Unity and maturity are saturated throughout this passage. Verses 4~6 speak of unity by the repetition of the word “one.” Verses 12 and 13 speak of unity and maturity as each church member serves to build up the entire church to all reach unity and fullness of Christ. Verse 14 speaks of maturity as the church, no longer infants, resists false teaching. Verse 15 speaks of maturity as the body speaks the truth in love. Verse 16 speaks of unity and maturity as the church functions as one body with each part doing work.
Our goal each week is not to check an item off the spiritual to do list. If walking into this sanctuary is “just another church service” were doing something wrong.
You’ve been called by Jesus Christ. Hear that gracious call and respond.