Churches need balance--according to our Sunday speaker, Mark Mikel. We need people to focus on our mission (to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world) and we need people to focus on maintenance (keeping the building in good shape, ordering supplies, etc.). Not everyone needs to do both--and God will call us each in a unique way. The disciples in the early church chose to focus their attention to prayer and teaching the word; they chose others to handle the day-to-day care of the people. Both priorities need to be recognized--and they must support and encourage one another. A strong devotional life will help each of us be in tune with what God calls us to do. Open and honest discussions and relentless prayer will help to promote balance in maintenance and mission in our church. From these practices we will be able to select leaders in a more spiritual way.
...the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” Acts 6:2-3
As part of phase 3 of the Fruitful Congregations journey, Catherine Turcotte led both of our services in a moving time of reflection, repentance, and re-dedication. Using the portion of Revelation 3 written to the church at Laodicea, Turcotte gave us a word picture to help us understand verse 15. Imagine a long table in our Fellowship Hall. At one end are sweating glasses & pitchers of ice cold water to give refreshment. At the other end are carafes of steaming water and cups to offer healing warmth. In the middle are Dixie cups of tepid tap water. Most people would prefer what is offered at the ends of the table rather than the middle. The church of Christ is called to offer refreshment and healing. After Turcotte's message we entered a time of prayer and reflection; we wrote prayers of repentance on special cards and then came forward and placed the cards in glass bowls of water to symbolize the Living Water of Christ. The cards will dissolve over time and the bits of paper pulp will be fashioned into a bowl by Turcotte, and returned to our church to be a representation of Wakarusa UMC being a vessel for the Lord Jesus as He brings revival to this church and the community. Finally, those who chose to do so could offer themselves in service to God and receive anointing with oil.
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! Revelation 3:15
This week Pastor Ed reminded us that Jesus calls us to follow him in a life of service and sacrifice rather than a life of comfort. He shared the story of James and John asking Jesus for seats of power and glory--right after Jesus has spent a great deal of time talking about serving others. No one who follows Jesus should focus on earthly power. Pastor Ed recalled an E-pistle written by our bishop, Mike Coyner, in 2007. In it, Coyner called us to take off the bibs we might be used to wearing in church and put on instead aprons. To be the type of follower Jesus calls us to be, we must look at the world through the perspective of service rather than the consumer mentality encouraged by our world. We're challenged to pus aside a preoccupation with our own comfort and convenience to focus on what God is calling us to do.
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” Mark 10:35-36
Jeff Stueve kicked off the Windows series with a message on purpose--specifically the purpose of the church. He reminded us that our beliefs will color the way we perceive events and decisions in the world. He told about a model he uses in some of his courses call the BoLD model, which stands for Believe, Learn, and Do. What we believe drives us to learn about something and, we hope, what we learn is expressed by what we do. All three parts should be aligned. For example, if we believe the purpose of the church flows from Matthew 18:18-20, we would be driven to learn more about making disciples of Christ--and how to be better disciples of Christ ourselves. But we wouldn't stop with just learning, we would actually go out and seek those who do not know Christ and help them to become devoted disciples of His. We need to regularly examine the purpose of the church because it should be our window on everything we do as a church.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)