Church isn't entertainment. When ready, all can be equipped by the Holy Spirit to be participants in something that Jesus started, and that we get to continue.
The responsibilities of the mission of the church are not on the shoulders of a few, but rather all who profess the name of Jesus as their Lord and savior should seek gifts to further the Kingdom of God, edifying one another for His purpose.
If I were to ask you about your story, you could tell me about your family. Your parents, the places you lived, some key people that impacted you, how you got to today. Understanding church as family offers us a similar story.
How about the story of an old house? Different families live in it, kitchens get remodeled, it might get an addition, a new roof. The house gets remodeled accoring to the occupant's needs. We are the house. Jesus is our foundation. The structure of our house, layout, or floorplan is determined by what God needs us to be.
This past StoryTellers series, the church leadership felt led to simplify for a season. This had financial benefits, but also spiritual. We were able to simplify worship, and it challenged all of us to become more engaged. This had led us to this point, where we can explore to better understand our place in His story.
In Exodus 25, we can read about the Tabernacle, the Tent where God chose to dwell with Israel. God made specific requirements that needed to be met for His tent of meeting to be built.
In 1 Chronicles 23, we read how the Tabernacle made its home in Jerusalem. We can read on in the story, and read the Psalms, to learn how King David, named the man after God's own heart, worshipped.
Further on in the story are temples being built, and God allowing their destruction, and the captivity of God's people when the people of God don't act as He requires.
At the center of the story comes Jesus. God made flesh. Rather than another house made of materials, He calls us to something far greater. When we read the bible, we learn that He is our foundation, and that we are a part of a structure, that when we gather, God dwells in us.
Each step along the way, God is coming closer to restoring what was broken in the beginning.
1 Cor 3:11 NLT - For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ.
1 Cor 3:16 NLT - Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in (or among) you?
Quick history lesson on Church history.
History of Worship Timeline (REFERENCE)
Near what is called the 5th of the 7 Great Awakenings, events known as the Azusa Street Revival took place in Los Angeles, CA...
Pentecostal movement - A major outgrowth of the Holiness churches started with the Pentecostal teaching of Charles Parham as a result of an “outpouring of The Holy Spirit” whereby congregants began spontaneously speaking in tongues in 1901 at a church in Topeka, KS. From Charles Parham came a student by the name of William J Seymour who founded the Azusa Street Revival, another Pentecostal outpouring in 1906 at an old Faith Mission in Los Angeles, CA. Again, the congregation began speaking in tongues (a gift of the Holy Spirit to believers) spontaneously, resulting in a widespread revival of sorts.
A gathering of church delegates from independent churches, Association of Christian Assemblies, Church of God in Christ and in Unity with the Apostolic Faith Movement, met in Hot Springs, Arkansas in 1914 to bring about greater organization and accountability to this new Pentecostal movement. Immediately, this young AG movement found itself confronted with the decision of whether or not to accept the heresy known as “modalism” (God is not Triune but One revealed as a different Person or ‘mode’ over time - OT times - Father, Early ministry of Jesus - He is no longer “Father” but “Son” to us all, at Pentecost - God is no longer known as son but is now to be related to as “Holy Spirit”). This “Oneness” theology is embraced even to this day by the Oneness Pentecostal cult.
Fortunately, the Assemblies of God in their infancy, were wise enough to reject this error and affirm the sound, Biblical doctrine of a Triune God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - One God in three persons. Today, the Assemblies of God claim to have 2.8 million adherants across 12,300+ churches. There wasn’t a clear cut “founder” as this was a delegation of several churches. The first Chairman/ General Superintendent elected by the first AG council was a man named Eudorus N. Bell.
When we come together we've come to expect certain things
Our liturgy/ tradition/ order of worship: about 3 songs, offering, announcements or a need to know video, message
These are all good things.
A quick google search found 64 verses about singing.
We can find numerous verses about giving of our time, talents, and treasure
There's verses about gathering to worship, and gathering to use gifts, including preaching and teaching
1 Cor 14:26 NIV - When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.
1 Cor 12-14, Eph 4
1 Cor 3:16 NLT - Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in (or among) you?
Right now, when we gather, a small number prepare the meal that we all eat here. Brian and the worship team pick out songs based on the message, and we try to create an experience that you can engage in. Much like a meal, we strive to make all the courses work together. But that's different than what we read in the bible. I'm not saying what we are doing is wrong for a Sunday morning. But perhaps we need to be the church with a smaller group of people throughout the week, where we can each bring something to the table, so that when we gather on a Sunday for worship, we become a temple to God. We worship in our neighborhoods throughout the week, but come together as a city for Sunday.
The church's one Foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord;
She is his new creation
By water and the Word:
From heav'n he came and sought her
To be his holy bride;
With his own blood he bought her,
And for her life he died.
Elect from ev'ry nation,
Yet one o'er all the earth,
Her charter of salvation
One Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy Name she blesses,
Partakes one holy food.
And to one hope she presses,
With ev'ry grace endued.
Though with a scornful wonder
Men see her sore oppressed,
By schisms rent asunder,
By heresies distressed,
Yet saints their watch are keeping,
Their cry goes up, "How long?"
And soon the night of weeping
Shall be the morn of song.
The church shall never perish!
Her dear Lord to defend,
To guide, sustain and cherish
Is with her to the end;
Though there be those that hate her,
And false sons in her pale,
Against or foe or traitor
She ever shall prevail.
'Mid toil and tribulation,
And tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation
Of peace for evermore;
Till with the vision glorious
Her longing eyes are blest,
And the great church victorious
Shall be the church at rest.
Yet she on earth hath union
With the God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won:
O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we,
Like them, the meek and lowly,
On high may dwell with thee.
Justin Martyr was born in 100 AD and converted to Christianity sometime around 130 AD. He taught and defended Christianity in Rome and in what is now Turkey. He was executed for his faith around 165 AD. Justin Martyr's "First Apology" gives us some insight to what a gathering was like in the early years of the church...
Having ended the prayers, we salute one another with a kiss. There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these things at His hands.
And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present express their assent by saying Amen. This word Amen answers in the Hebrew language to γEνοιτο (so be it).
And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion.
And we afterwards continually remind each other of these things.
And the wealthy among us help the needy; and we always keep together; and for all things wherewith we are supplied, we bless the Maker of all through His Son Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Ghost.
And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things.
Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons.
And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need.
But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead.
For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration.
Very early in church history, we can see that they participated in traditions, rituals, that take actions of Jesus, memorializing them, that continue to this day.
Before the last books of the New Testament are even finished written, there is lanuage. Sunday is "The Lord's Day," because that's when He conquered death, raising from the grave.
Communion, or "The Lord's Supper," which Jesus started at a Passover meal, is now celebrated regularly.
The church saying of agreement, "Amen," which vebally declares agreement already exists.
There's art that archeologists are constantly finding, letters that have been found, and old songs that are continually being discovered.
Ephrem the Syrian, born around 300 AD, wrote a wide variety of literary works, hymns, prose, poems, biblical exegesis. His writings helped the church through some troubled times. About 400 of the hyms he wrote still exist today.
What we do is a continuation of all that came before us. God worked in people starting at the very beginning. Through our participation, we carry on what came before us.
Like Yoda, as he his passing, tells Luke Skywalker, "Pass on what you have learned."
It is important that we gather for corporate worship. However, what we do on a Sunday morning in a building amongst ourselves is different from "going into the world."
Corporate worship is important. It helps us be unified. This might be "Home Base" but the mission takes place out there.
16 Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted! 18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,[fn] baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Go into the world: We have opportunities to live out this verse in Rochester, Seacoast Region, even Mexico.
Make disciples: live like Jesus. His example shows us to
1: Love God
2: Love each other
3: Love the world.
Some people question if they can be used by God.
“Jacob was a cheater, Peter had a temper, David had an affair, Noah got drunk, Jonah ran from God, Paul was a murderer, Gideon was insecure, Miriam was a gossip, Martha was a worrier, Thomas was a doubter, Sara was impatient, Elijah was moody, Moses stuttered, Abraham was old, and Lazarus was dead. God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the CALLED!”
When Jesus met with people, he met their physical needs before he addressed their spiritual needs.
In John 17, Jesus prays for his disciples, he prays for us. Of all the things he could have prayed for, political influence, faith, miracles. He prays for us to be ONE as He and the Father are ONE. He prays that he will be IN us.
Imagine what influence, what a light to the world if we as a body of believers appeared as ONE. So loving in our actions, that it was obvious that there is something different about us. Obvious that we seek first the Kingdom of God. Obvious that God is IN our lives.
What would happen if rather than relying on our limited resources, we were to rely on Him, His Spirit, His gifts?
What if we were like a child, trying to make a parent proud. What if we tried to worship God in such a way, that we could make our spritual ancestors proud?
Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.
However, he has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ. That is why the Scriptures say,
“When he ascended to the heights,
he led a crowd of captives
and gave gifts to his people.”
Notice that it says “he ascended.” This clearly means that Christ also descended to our lowly world. And the same one who descended is the one who ascended higher than all the heavens, so that he might fill the entire universe with himself.
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. 18 Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. 19 They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. 21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. 25 So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. 26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.”[fn] Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil.
If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. 29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.