Every Church and or ministry has a structure or way they operate. It usually is geared around what they are passionate about or what they feel called by God to accomplish for Him. Some believe that structure in the Church is not good but God is for structure.
1 Corinthians 14:26 What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.
The main reason we come together is to Worship God and encourage our Brothers and Sisters in Christ. But when we do come together we need to do it in an orderly manner.
1 Corinthians 12:27-29 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?
Church structure is important to God because it is through church structure that we accomplish His will. Structure allows us to accomplish more as a body of Christ than we could individually. He gave us people with the gift of administration because it is through their ability to organize that we will accomplish more than we could if we were all headed in many different directions.
“The purpose of structure is to provide a reproducible, simple, and accessible framework through with the gospel can be experienced by both Saint and Sojourner. … And this structure provides a place for anyone to move toward faith at her own pace. (Tangible Kingdom, pg 120, Hugh Halter and Matt Smay)
We all are at different stages spiritually and we have to provide processes that allow people to grow in their spiritual walks. We cannot expect the same things out of infants that we do from full grown adults.
What is the task of the Church?
Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Every church is called to make disciples. (Followers of Christ)
Although there are many ways to accomplish this task we believe God has called our congregation to do things a certain way. This does not mean that we are the first ones to do it this way but it might be different from what some of us grew up doing in Churches. It also does not mean that what others are doing is wrong, it just means we are called to do what God planted this church to do.
Listen to the Word of God/ Encourage with the Word of God/ Live the Word of God.
Today’s Lesson is like Coach Lombardi “ Gentlemen this is a football”
Some of what we believe is wrong with the Church and Christians in the Church is that they have gotten away from the basics of Christianity. With many new programs, events and curriculum comes the idea that spiritual growth will happen through those things. As we can see that, although those things are good they do not always accomplish what is truly needed in the lives of people.
1) Daily Reading
Do you read the Bible regularly?
If you want to be changed, if you want to become more like Jesus Christ, discipline yourself to read the Bible. (Spiritual disciplines of the Christian life, Donald Whitney, Pg 33)
As Donald Whitney goes on to say in his book most people are intimidated to read the Bible. To read a 1000 page novel is tough. Donald Whitney says that it takes 71 hours to read the Bible.
The Average American watches 34 hours a week of television according to the NY Daily News. 23 hours a week on line (email, texting, social media and other forms of communication) according to Business news daily.
Donald Whitney says that if you spend 5 minutes a day reading the Bible it will take you 3 years to get through it. He also says if you read 15 minutes a day then it will take you a year.
A) Read in the morning
Mark 1:35-36 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with him searched for him,
I love that Donald Whitney says he reads in the morning because he does not have as much problem with sin when he is sleeping. We need to start our morning off this way because just like Jesus people come looking for us and then our day seems to not be our own.
Leadership books talk about rising early to start focusing on your dreams and goals so why would we not do the same with God?
How you think determines how you act so you need to start your day off with right thinking.
Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect
B) Have a reading Plan
2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[b] may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Bible Apps on phones come with Daily Verses and reading plans to make it very easy for you to pause wherever you are to take time to read. Some of the Bible Apps even come with technology where people can read it for you so all you have to do is listen.
Just like athletic and health goals you should set spiritual goals and a spiritual routine.
Some of us do better with our exercise routines than our Bible Readings. I know this because I see people post their exercise routines on Face Book.
C) Write down a word or phrase of the day
Our goal is not to just read but to be changed by what we read. I write notes on index cards and leave them on my desk to remind me what God showed me that day. Not all days do I have something that I really need but sometimes I write things down in case God showed me that scripture for someone I will run into that day.
If you want to be real spiritual you can journal every day.
2) Cooperate Reading
Cooperate means we act or work together. Too many come to church and they feel as though they are supposed to just sit there. You actually have a part to play in the service because it is part of your job to stay engaged in what is being taught.
Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
1 Timothy 4:13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.
One of the places we start listening to the word of God is at Church. Going to church and listening is the equivalent to eating out. Someone else prepares the meal and you get to enjoy it. If it is the only meal you eat all week then you will starve or at least be undernourished.
The Jewish Nation would meet in Synagogues and connect with God and others. They would hear the stories, have prayer, study, remember, have festivals and celebrate the Sabbath. Since Christianity was born out of the Jewish culture many of them continued these patterns which were established by God originally.
We are always to live in a context of God and others. Although there is not direct order to have Worship on Sunday it came from the disciples who met on the day the Lord rose from the dead. It was also a time to reconnect with others and they were encouraged by each other and the words that were preached.
A) Come Ready to Hear from God
Most people do not go to Church expecting to hear from God. If you are struggling with something then you usually are listening more hoping God speaks to you through His word.
Many of us are distracted by life that we cannot focus on what God is saying. You fought in the car with your family on the way to church or you could not fit into that favorite dress anymore because you put on a few pounds.
In the book “It’s a Mental Thing” Gregory A. Dale PhD and Jamie E. Robbins PhD say that the woman’s Duke Lacrosse team take time before practice to write down everything that has to be done after practice is over. That way they can be fully engaged in practice and not distracted by what has to be done. If they can do that for a sport than surely we can come up with ways to not be distracted at church.
We come to church distracted and we stay distracted so when we leave we say that we did not get anything out of the sermon. Your thinking about lunch, how tired you are or you are asleep. God is a personal God and He wants you to know the truth but even though He is speaking through His word you still do not hear because you have chosen not to hear.
B) Stay Focused
1 Timothy 4:7-8 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; 8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
We expect our children to be disciplined in every area of their lives except in spiritual matters. Kids that are in sports after school are expected to pay attention after being in school all day yet we do not expect children to focus for an hour on Sunday’s.
Since I was a youth Pastor for around 20 years I have heard many excuses from parents how their child thinks church is boring or how I should not expect them to listen for 20-30 minutes in youth group. I agree that we should make the teaching relevant and use as many illustrations as we can like Jesus did but at the same time these parents would not accept anything less than straight ‘A’s at school. I had one parent actually tell me that “that is too much Bible for one weekend” when we put on a weekend event.
On of the reasons we have power point, videos, and hand out cards is to help you but those resources mean nothing if you are not willing to do your part and stay engaged in what is being taught.
How you can stay focused in Church: Take Notes; Circle a verse you are going to look up later and or write down a verse you need to share with a friend.
Remember God may be speaking to you not for you but for the friend that needs you to share Gods word with them this week. When you determine hearing from God may be for you to share with others, you pay attention more.
The problem is the North American Church has been convinced if you can entertain them you can keep them, but in the process we have developed spiritual babies. When you come to church you have to determine that you are going to stay mentally engaged.
“Many Christians look on the Spiritual Discipline of memorizing God’s Word as something tantamount to modern –day martyrdom. “ (Donald Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Pg 41)
I am amazed at what High School football players have to memorize in order for all the plays they use on a Friday night. I am amazed that a Baseball player can look over at a coach who is doing all sorts of signals and know what they and the batter are supposed to do. I am baffled that a basketball coach can call out a number and all the players know where they are supposed to go. I cannot believe that a marching band can do all the steps in unison while playing an instrument. I cannot believe that I can memorize many of my favorite channels on the television so I can quickly get to them.
It is not that we cannot memorize it is that we are not motivated to do so.
Donald Whitney says if you were offered 1000 dollars per verse for one week, how many verses would you memorize?
We do not see the value in memorization therefore we do not do it. It is a discipline issue not an incapable issue.
A) To Battle sin
Psalm 119:11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Ephesians 6:16-18 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
The word of God is a weapon that many of us do not use. We are to be aware of our enemy and be prepared to battle this enemy. This is the very weapon Jesus used to battle Satan in the desert. If you do not believe in Satan than you might not want to follow Jesus Christ because He did. Many of us are going into battle without a weapon and we are wondering why so many people look at Christians and see no difference.
B) Build up our Faith
Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
We have the same fears and lack of peace as those without Christ because we are not putting Gods word in our memory banks. When we memorize what God promised us and what He already accomplished, then we can have peace in His plan.
C) People need us to know the truth so we can pass it on to them.
People are looking for answers to this worlds dilemma. The world struggles because it has a philosophy that does not want a God or any absolutes, but also wants there to be right and wrong.
“You see truth by definition is exclusive. If truth we all-inclusive, nothing would be false. And if nothing were false, what would be the meaning of true. Furthermore, if nothing were false, would it be true to say that everything is false? It quickly becomes evident that nonsense would follow. “ Ravi Zacharias Beyond Opinion pg 314)
We have to get back to the basics of Listening to the Word of God. In our times alone with God and in times when we are together as a Church. We are not supposed to just learn for the sake of learning but because the world needs us so desperately to have answers when they realize they have been lied to through this worlds philosophy.