Summary: The greatness of a church is not measured in how many come into the church but in how many go out in ministry. The church gathers: then the church scatters. The church must go outside its walls to reach people who need the Lord.
Scripture: Romans 12:1-8
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. 3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
FOUR LESSONS FROM GEESE
It's really interesting how we as a church can learn so much from the instinctual behavior of one of God's creations - Geese.
We will never become a church that effectively reaches out to those who are missing out if we shoot our wounded and major on the minuses. Instead of being fishers of men, as Christ has called us, we will be keepers of an ever-shrinking aquarium. Next fall when you see geese heading south for the winter, flying along in V formation, you might be interested in knowing what science has discovered about why they fly that way. It has been learned that as each bird flaps its wings, it creates uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in a V formation, the whole flock adds at least 71 percent greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own. (Christians who share a common direction and a sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier, because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.)
Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone, and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front. (If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those who are headed the same way we are going.) When the lead goose gets tired, he rotates back in the wing and another goose flies’ point. (It pays to take turns doing hard jobs—with people at church or with geese flying south.) The geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. (What do we say when we honk from behind?) Finally, when a goose gets sick, or is wounded by a shot and falls out, two geese fall out of formation and follow him down to help and protect him. They stay with him until he is either able to fly, or until he is dead, and then they launch out on their own or with another formation to catch up with their original group. (If people knew we would stand by them like that in church, they would push down these walls to get in.) You see, all we have to do in order to attract those who are missing back to church is to demonstrate to the world that we have as much sense as geese here at church. That seems little enough price to pay to win the lost and minister to one another. Even geese have sense enough to know it works every time.
I. LIFT PEOPLE UP (Encouragement)
Our people need inspiration. We need to see people as God sees them. Booker T. Washington said, “You cannot hold a man down without staying down with him.” We don’t want to hold people down. We want to see them prepared and released for ministry. God has given every Christian at least one spiritual gift (Ephesians 4:11) “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,”
Our ultimate purpose is to glorify and exalt Christ and to lift up his people (Ephesians 4:12-13): 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
II. LOOK PEOPLE OVER (Enlistment)
This is about recruiting. Identify people’s gifts and abilities. We’re not just looking to fill slots. People need three things to be recruited:
1. A challenge (New Testament concept of servant hood)
2. A change within (surrendering your rights)
3. A choice (God’s will as your will)
We need to seek to enlist people scripturally (Ephesians 4:4-6): 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
III. LET PEOPLE IN (Enrollment)
This is about commitment. Commitment is not an automatic process. You must show it to others and seek it in others. A good motto is: “Give up your rights; pick up your ministry.” Two of our most precious commodities are time and ability. Those who are being enlisted need to know three things:
1. Philosophy (what they are) 2. Purpose (where they are going) 3. Process (how they will get there)
IV. LINE PEOPLE UP (Equipping)
This is about training. Provide people practical opportunities for training. Give them accountability. Preparing “God’s people for works of service” (Ephesians 4:12, NIV - to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up - is not about just assigning warm bodies to fill vacant positions. It’s about enabling people to grow in their spiritual gifts and to become more effective servants of Christ. Equipping is not to be done haphazardly. It is to be done through a process.
The process for equipping is:
1. I do it (demonstrating); 2. I do it and you’re with me (mentoring); 3. You do it and I am with you (monitoring); 4. You do it (multiplying).
V. LET PEOPLE OUT (Implementation)
This is about real ministry. The greatness of a church is not measured in how many come into the church but in how many go out in ministry. The church gathers; then the church scatters. The church must go outside its walls to reach people who need the Lord.
The effectiveness of our churches depends on the number of people who are involved in meaningful ministry.
Several years ago, in England, Sir John Barbirolli was conducting a great symphony orchestra before a “standing room only” audience. The concert hall was unusual in that it was used for cultural events on weekdays and for religious services on Sundays.
On this particular Saturday evening, one of the patrons of the orchestra noticed that the clergyman who was to preach there the next day was in the audience. He leaned over and said to him, cynically, “When are you going to fill this hall on Sunday the way Sir John Barbirolli has tonight?” The clergyman looked his antagonist straight in the eye and said with a steady voice, “I will fill this hall on Sunday morning when you give to me, as you gave to Sir John tonight, eighty-five disciplined men and women to be with him and to work with him.”
If you are with me and work with me we can fill this place not only one time on Sunday but 2 or 3 times, would that thrill your soul? Think about it as it all starts with you, then you and me, and then you me and every one else!
Together we can do all things through Christ!