Someone has said that 90 percent of the work of a church is done by ten percent of the members. What do you think; could that be said of our Church too? In Mark Twain's book Tom Sawyer, young Tom is given the chore of whitewashing his Aunt Polly's fence. Tom grudgingly sets to work. As he paints, several acquaintances stop by. Each friend invites Tom to come and play, which certainly sounds like a lot more fun than painting a fence. Tom formulates a plan. If he can recruit some of his friends to help, the work will get done in half the time" Boy, your plans sound tempting," says Tom, "but I'm having way too much fun painting this fence." The idea that fence painting could be fun never occurred to Tom's friends until he made it look like an adventure.
If you know the story you'll remember that Tom ended up with a whole row of fence painters while he simply stood by and watched. Tom figured out that it takes one person a lot longer to complete a task than when many people pitch in.
Last week we learned that there are a lot of similarities in earthly families and the Church the family of God. One common thing is work. There's a lot of work in any family. Everyone must be fed, clothed, and organized. Likewise there is a lot of work too in the Church family. Who are called to do the work in the family of God? Is it only a handful of selected or elected individuals? In order to understand the dynamics of serving or working in the Church we will look at how the early Church practiced Christ’s model of servant hood, and hopefully by the end of our time we may understand what it is to serve as Christ Served in the family of God. Acts 2:42-47. The early Church in the Book of Acts Chapter 2 was founded by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Believers from all walks of life and backgrounds were devoted to worship, prayer and fellowship. They impacted their community through a life style of evangelism. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to any one as he had need. It was a community well connected to God and to one another as a result the LORD kept adding to the Church daily those who were getting saved.
What do we see happening here? Without anyone orchestrating and legislating we see a beautiful ministry of sharing & caring in operation. If you’ve been long around in Christian circles you may heave heard the word called “Ministry”. The word ministry simply means “service” For our context we understand it in terms of Christian ministry or Christian service. What is biblical ministry and how do you understand it?
I. THE BIBLICAL BASE FOR MINISTRY
Let’s take in Paul’s holistic view of life and ministry in his letter to the Colossian Christians in Col. 3:12-24 Paul lays out requirements for biblical ministry such as, holiness, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. He emphasizes right relationships in marriage, family and in the Church that are foundations for Christian ministry. Every relationship presents an opportunity for service. In fact if you are married and have a family, your family is you’re first and foremost field of ministry.
Later Paul writing to Timothy stresses certain requirements for elders. One of the criteria for ministry there is that they must manage their own family well, they must see that their children obey them with proper respect, because if anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s Church? (I Timothy 3:1-5) Here Paul poses a challenge for all those who are aspiring to serve in the Church. The challenge here is; our serving God depends on how well we serve our families. In other words do not abdicate your God given responsibilities at home before accepting responsibilities in Church!
Over the years in my ministry I have seen several Christians who become workaholics for God. They are very busy for God. Their lives were filled with serving, and trying to love other people while their families at home suffer. They feel guilty to take rest and enjoy meaningful relationships with their family. They sacrifice their family on the altar of ministry. On the other hand I have also seen a number of good Christians overly concerned about their own needs and their families needs. They attend church and tithe regularly but never get involved in the Church. Both positions are not healthy. When it comes to serving whose model should we follow?
II. JESUS CHRIST IS OUR MODEL
Ministry is a distinctive Biblical idea which comes from a Greek word “doulos” this was the term used for a bond slave, one who was offered his freedom but voluntarily surrendered that freedom in order to remain a servant to the master he loved. In other words God never forces us to serve him. Ministry or service in Church is a voluntary choice. This idea typified Jesus’ purpose as described by Paul in Phil 2:6-7, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing taking the very nature of a servant(bond slave) being made in human likeness.”
In Col 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Paul urges the slaves of those days to not to work for the approval of their earthly masters but with sincerity and respect, work for the Lord. Isn’t that a redemptive view of work?
Friends no matter how stress full your work place is, God may have placed you there for a purpose and you have an opportunity to lift your work to a whole different level of significance by doing it as unto the Lord. I believe that God calls all of us to serve him wholeheartedly; giving our best in the field of influence he has placed us. However it is good to seek God, how you might specifically contribute your gifts to the building up of his Kingdom.
We want to model Christ in our servant hood. He voluntarily gave up everything in following the commandments of God. He maintained perfect balance. He worked hard all day preaching, teaching, casting out demons, healing the sick, and confronting the Pharisees. At times he prayed all night yet there are times where he stopped all ministry and rested. Not only he rested but encouraged His disciples to rest as well. Jesus modeled a ministry of compassion. He equated service to God with service to others. Remember the parable of the King separating the goat and the sheep at the end time in Matthew 25:31-46?
The essence of this parable is that when we minister to others who are in need we actually minister to Christ. And when we fail to do so we sin against God. If we call ourselves followers of Christ then we become part of the family of God therefore we are called to follow his example. In reality all believers are “ministers’ therefore all believers are expected to serve without any exception. How can we serve in the family of God? If only we have the will to do it there will be no shortage of ways to do it.
III. SERVING IN THE FAMILY OF GOD:
In our text in Acts 2 we read how the early Church was involved in the ministry of compassion and of service. It was like one big family. They had everything in common, they voluntarily sold their possessions and goods, and they gave to any one as he had need. They genuinely loved and cared for each other. They were together and worked together for the common good of the rest of the family. We have learned that Church is like a family, the principles that apply to any family also apply to God’s family.
Let me illustrate. Let’s suppose you went for a dinner in a restaurant. There are people who wait on you. All you do is sit and order anything you want and in a matter of time it is brought to you. You can even complain about the food and they may put up with you. But that is not how it works at home in a family dinner, Right? You are called in to help set up the table; clean up your plates after you eat; at times you are expected to wash other members plates as well. You can’t bark order at your Mom; and say get me some ice cream!! Let alone complain about her food; otherwise your dad may have to say something to you.
What’s the difference here? It is the family; not the restaurant. In the restaurant you were treated like a special guest; whereas in the family you are one among the rest. You are expected to help out. It works the same way in the family of God. You can’t remain a guest all the time; may be initially. But just like in any family you would be expected to share the work load. The best way of getting bonded with Church family is by way of getting involved in service. The sooner you participate in the church the sooner you feel like you belong here.
When we first joined Rivers Edge a small church plant in
Malden in 2005, we offered
our services as a family. My job was to place Church signs on the curb and
collect them after the service. I did ushering, welcomed guests, collected and
counted the offering and prayed every Sunday for three years. Wilma helped in
the Sunday school. She also led Mom’s group. Together as a couple lead a small
group at our house. Only after one year of serving did I get to preach in that
Church for the very first time. In the process we felt at home with that church
and were bonded with pastor’s family and till today we cherish their
My job as a Pastor at ECCOA is well defined, it is not to do all the ministry by myself but to equip you for works of service so that our Church may be built up (Eph 4:11-12). That is the reason why in our Church we do not encourage independent ministries; there is no room here for a one man or one woman show. We encourage team ministry. We must realize like Tom Sawyer did in the story. It takes one person a lot longer to complete a task than when many people pitch in.
Just recently Wilma and I cooked together a full meal and delivered it to someone within an hour. In the process we enjoyed working together and later realized the speed at which we worked because we each did our part.
If you consider this is your home church then you belong to this family. There are plenty of opportunities to serve such as: Hospitality, ushering, worship team, media, outreach, children’s ministry; sound and technology; communion set up etc. Or it could be teaching the Sunday school once a month or helping in the nursery or signing up to bring snacks for fellowship hour. Of course there are many more areas. If you have a desire to serve we have a place for you to serve.
Would you prayerfully consider where God would best have you serve, if so then take this information sheet sign it and hand it over to me or to anyone of the ministry leaders. Let’s together make a difference. Amen