Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Mission & the Message

"Good morning. We’re entering into an exciting time as a church," Pastor Brad said as he called us to worship. He didn't mention the snow at all, maybe because we're all too exhausted from shovelling it still after yet another dump on Friday. Nevertheless, Susie Newman wrote a blog entry about all that white which we posted here.

Announcements included the following:
1. Semi-annual meeting after the service in which we will be getting an update about the building and the capital campaign.
2. Next week would be a great week to join us in adult Sunday School at 9:00 a.m. as a man from the Barnabas Ministry will be with us to share things that are going on in the world through mission.
3. Chuck shared that they are wanting to put together a 21 day devotional with each of us sharing a favorite Bible verse and thoughts. They want to create something on the order of Our Daily Bread.

Chuck, Ken and Darlene were joined by Levi this morning in leading worship, first singing Worthy of Worship and finishing with He’s Everything To Me as the offering was taken.

Karen came forward to share with her Sunday school class, the littlest ones in the church…. a very special little group. They learn Bible stories and songs and make crafts, all directly proportional to the kids’ attention spans.

Various needs were lifted up to God in our time of prayer…and then Brad delivered the sermon.

The Mission and the Message

Pastor Shannon began by reading Philippians 1:1-10

Questions routinely come my way about every kind of thing from the coffee we serve to the subjects we teach. Behind all these questions is the question, "What will New Life Covenant look in 5, 10 or 20 years? Are we going to be flourishing?"

This always leads to more questions. What difference are we making in this community? What is God asking us to do that we’re not doing? How do we improve our shortcomings? How do we help people get plugged in to the life of the church?

What is the vision God has for your lives? How do we cultivate generous spirits while living immersed in a materialistic culture?

Brad briefly reviewed the manifold activities that have been happening in preparation for the building of a larger facility for ministry across the street and the issues surrounding our future.

The church at Philippi was the first beachhead for the Gospel away from Israel, a new church on a new continent. The story is detailed in Acts 16. A businesswoman named Lydia helped bankroll the church. A jailer was another early convert. Paul and Silas, two escaped convicts, were also there.

Years later, when Paul wrote his letter to the church that took root in this tough Roman colony, he didn't begin by laying out his credentials. Rather, in this letter he tossed all that aside and emphasized his servanthood. 

His prayer was that they would discern God’s plan for their community. God’s will was for this church to thrive.

Brad learned early in life the meaning of this word. His first funeral ever conducted was for an infact three days old. The cause of death was FTT, Failure To Thrive.

Our Mission
If the Covenant church is a franchise, what business are we in? Paul puts it like this in verses 3-5… We are partners in the Gospel.

3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

The word Gospel meant Good News. Today it conjures up performers in polyester suits and big hair… but in Paul’s day it was Good News. The business of the church is sharing the Good News of Jesus. Hope for the poor... liberty for the oppressed.

Our mission is to help people meet, love and follow Jesus.

There's a story of a volunteer group on Nantucket Island that formed a lifesaving society. It was an amazing group devoted to saving lives because travel on the Atlantic Coast was so treacherous. They watched the sea at all times and when someone saw a ship go down these people would drop everything they were doing to go out to save lives. They didn't do it for money or fame, but simply because they valued lives. Their motto was, "You have to go out but you don't have to come back." They put everything on the line.

Eventually they gave up their focus because “the professionals” now did it, the U.S. Coast Guard. The irony is that the lifesaving society continued long after the life saving ended. The group continued meeting but had lost their purpose.

This is something that cannot happen to a church. As long as there is someone in need of hope, in need of Jesus, in our community, we are responsible to reach them. We are partners with God in this. We’re in the Good News business.

Paul wrote, “He who began a good work in you is faithful and will complete it.” We all make commitments that we fail to complete, but God is not like

Fifty years ago a handful of people started a small church here in Twig. 25 years later there were ten, and yet they never closed the doors.

"He who began a good work…"

In business there are three kinds of people… customers, employees and partners. God calls us to be partners in this business.
When people band together, you have no idea where it will lead….

God, help my love to abound more and more with knowledge and depth of insight so that I can discern the best. God, help me not to settle for O.K. Help us discern the best.

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