Last week we took a look at a brief summary of the 1st five sermons in our series called “Church: Christ’s Community”. Here is an overview of the final five.
6) Community Leadership
What do we look for when we look for Church Leaders? Most of us shudder at the thought of the classic Televangelist of the 1980’s (or even today) standing before us on a Sunday morning – but do we have the right ideas about those who should lead our churches? As we looked at Acts 20:25-31 and saw what Paul said to the leaders of the Ephesian churches, we came to a better understanding of what church leaders should be like. They should be men who protect, teach and shepherd the people of the community. Realising that the church ultimately belongs to God they are to use His Word to protect them from false teaching and false teachers who would try to lure them away. Teaching is a crucial part of church leadership (both lists of qualifications for potential elders in Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3 stress the ability to teach), and it is because of the truth which underlies the unity of the new humanity! Expect your leaders to work hard at teaching you truth – and to protect you by warning you about potentially misleading teachings. It’s their God-ordained job!
7) Growing Community
Just in case we were left wondering whether teachers/leaders were the only ones who mattered in the community, Ephesians 4:7-16 taught us that teachers are a gift to the church (from Jesus – our conquering king), who are here to help everyone else in the church grow in the gifts that Jesus has given them! Teachers are like the coaches of sports teams who help us to use our gifts in front of a watching world, as we become a better and better “team”. As we are encouraged to use our gifts, we, and the church as a whole grows in maturity. There are no passengers in a church – we are all important to the body as a whole. If we sit back and don’t contribute – the growth of HTC will be stunted.
8) Extending Community
The news that Jesus has died for our sins, has risen from the dead, and will ultimately return is actually very good news! It is news worthy to be shared, and shared often. It’s also news which changed the way we live (as we’ve noticed over the last few weeks). Many people however, don’t want to hear the news because they often don’t see that our lives are changed by it. In 1 Peter 3:15, we are told as Christians to be prepared to share the good news with people who want to know why we live differently. As Holy Trinity we want to be so influenced by the good news of Jesus (the Gospel), that Pietermaritzburg will look at us and wonder why we are different. We want to live differently at work, at home, and with each other as a community – so that we can make the good news attractive. As we learn more and more about what the Gospel is, and how it impacts our lives, we are then able to share with those who question us why we do what we do. Remember – we are a new humanity showing God off to the watching world – we are by nature different…let’s live like it.
9) Community Development
Life-giving truth, that’s what the Gospel is, isn’t it? We are given new life, into a new humanity, by the truth shared in the Gospel. Not only do we want to share that with the people around us, we want to make sure (like the nearly 50 generations who have come between Jesus and us), that the good news is passed down to our children and their generation. Working through 2 Timothy 2:2 we saw that we should teach certain people the truth; train them to teach others, and then trust them to go out there and do it. All of us could be involved in this training, by praying for new teachers, identifying those with the gifts, and providing funds for the training. Ultimately, we can all be involved in developing the community, by passing on the truth of the Gospel to our children – our own, and those in the church family.
10) Series summary – the ideal church
So what now? What does HTC make of an entire series on the church? Where to for us? Acts 2:42-47 worked to bring together a number of the issues we had been discussing, and summarised them as follows: We strive to be…
a) A Learning church – learning the Gospel from the authoritative scripture. Not just letting it go in one ear and out another, but being changed by God as we learn
b) A Giving church – giving of ourselves to each other. In order to live as a community we need to give of our time and effort to build relationships… “fellowshipping”.
c) A Sharing church – if we are getting to know each other well, we’ll come to understand where people have needs. Acts 2 says that the early church looked out for their own – going to great lengths to ensure that those with needs were helped. How will we ensure that we take care of each other?
d) A God-focussed church. Without this, we may just as well be another social club. Continuing to spend time with God in prayer, remembering to thank him (individually and corporately), will help us have the proper focus. We can be God-focussed too in thinking like him. He reached out to mankind while we were doing nothing that was pleasing to him, and gave his son. As a church we can reach out to the city we live in (which we may feel negative about) and be a good influence. Be the type of people that others feel good about having around – and hope that they’re more open to listening to what we have to say (the Gospel).
Learning, giving, sharing and God-focussed. That’s what we’d ideally like to be. This side of heaven we won’t be the “perfect church” (there’s no such thing), but we can strive to be the ideal church with God’s help.
*All the sermons are on-line, and if you have any questions or concerns – don’t hesitate to contact Mundy.