Sermon for Ministry Sunday
Text: Matthew 28:16-20
Theme: Christ says, this is my ministry- go be my hands and feet.
Goal: to encourage Christians to see even the little parts of ministry of the church as part of the church where Christ can say, this is my ministry.
Need: We often view the church as something that we consume instead of as something we create.
Introduction: Consuming- and how we do that in church.
1. Christ is the only one who can really call it: My Ministry
2. Christ calls us to be hands and feet. Much different from a consumer.
3. Christ equips us to find our ministry that’s part of his ministry.
Conclusion: Clinch It.
We are all consumers. Since we live in a society driven by picking up the latest technology or fashion at the mall. Since we in general like to eat out or pick up Tim Horton’s coffee.
Interesting, how sitting in our Minivan or SUV in line at the drive through probably costs us as much in gas as it would have to make the coffee at home ourselves. Moral of the story is if you have to wait in line at the drive through, make it worth it and get the extra large and a doughnut while you are at it.
We are consumers. In university, a book listed the synonyms for consume. They are Destroy, raze, ruin, wreck; annihilate, extinguish; crush, overwhelm, suppress. I found those words in a thesaurus. Doesn’t sounds so nice calling ourselves consumers then.
But, it gives us a fair rebuke. Should we be content calling ourselves consumers? Is it right for us to just use up, burn up, and destroy or whatever synonym you want to use instead.
We step on very precarious ground when we carry that consumer mentality with us into the presence of God. I don’t think God is so keen with his people being consumers who just eat it up and there is nothing left. God doesn’t call us to be like a coal power plant that burns everything up and hopes enough coal turns up the next day to burn and consume to nothing.
Since this Sunday we are focusing on the different ministries of the church, we are going to take some time to look kind of behind the scenes in our church to think about what really is behind this whole thing called ministry that we do here. What we’ll realize is that Christ says, “This is My Ministry.” It belongs to Christ. It’s not to be consumed, but to be used so that we can living out our calling to continually be students and followers of Christ, and to continually be bringing others to be students and followers of Christ. Christ calls this his ministry and it’s a place were we live out our calling to be disciples and make disciples.
The first thing that we have give priority to is that no one has the right to call this, “my ministry” except for Christ. Why do we do church? Why is this building here? Why do we fellowship together? Why do we sing and read Scripture? Why CHURCH? Its because Jesus’ ministry didn’t end when he ascended into heaven. Before he ascended the ministry of the kingdom belong solely to Jesus. He was the one who preached repentance and forgiveness. He was the one that told about the kingdom of God being a reality on earth. He was the one who mended the broken hearts of people and welcomed the outcasts instead and those who were treated unjustly.
Now, as a part of a church community we are also called to own the ministry that is happening at a church. In ways we all can take some pride in knowing that Christ has given us some roll in his kingdom. That roll each of us can consider, “my ministry.”
And the offering that we have in the morning called “Ebenezer’s Ministries.” We can say that offering goes to the support the ministries of this church. That would be true, but we need to continue to stay focused on who really can say my ministry and be completely accurate. That is Jesus Christ. He says, the church is MY MINISTRY.
Still we read a passage like we did today, because Christ is no longer present bodily in this world. Through the awesome power of the Holy Spirit, we are empowered to be Christ’s body in the world. In Matthew 28, Christ knows the time for him to rise to heaven is coming. So he gives the directive to his followers.
That’s found in verse 19 and 20. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
This ties in with what Pastor Dirk preached about in the first message he gave to us. He talked about a spiral of care. He reminded us about how God blesses us so that we might in turn be a blessing to others. That pattern of care just continues down the line.
The consumer mindset just doesn’t fit the biblical pattern.
I brought up here with me the welcome packet that the people at the welcome booth hand out to people who are visiting our church and would like to know more about us. And in this pack there is a pamphlet that looks like this. On the inside it lists a good number of the different ministries that we have in our church. It talks about what the church does in the way of Worship, ministry for Youth, for Adults, in the way of Outreach and service.
This pamphlet should never be thought of as our church menu. “I’ll have a little bit of this, a little bit of that. If its made the way I like it, I might just come back another time with some friends.
After the service when you walk out in the hall way and check out… an you will check out the table in the hallway after the service. . . . it shouldn’t look like a serving table at a buffet. I’ll try and little bit of worship, and a little Bible study, a little bit of child care, and maybe a tad bit of the group golfing group for a little dessert.
Its not like that at all. Each of the ministries that are going on in the church are not for our consumption. Eat up all that good spiritual stuff so that I can be full. All the ministries of the church fill us up so that we have the energy to go out and offer our service and love to someone else.
In some of my more cynical moments I think about things that I hear and things that I often say myself. The youth group is away on a service project right now. Is it that consumer worldview that makes me say something like… “I am so glad for this opportunity for them. I hope they get a lot out of the experience.”
Ah… Remember this is one of my more cynical thoughts. There’s nothing wrong with getting a lot out of a service project. But why is my first thought of these service trips, I hope our kids get a lot out of them? Shouldn’t it be, “God, let the equipping that we’ve done with these young people over the last decade and a half lead someone else to feel your love and become your disciple.” Haven’t we been nourishing our youth for that? I think so.
We don’t consume and devour ministry and have it end with us. We are ministered to so that we might minister to others.
That’s the way the church is designed to operate.
1 Corinthians 12 says, 12So it is with you. Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.” We develop through the work of ministry of the church so that we can do good for others who are being discipled through Christ’s ministry here.
The Christ’s ministry that happens in a church is happening for us to grow, the connect, to cope with sickness or death. And the church is built up like its supposed to be when we move on from the ones who are just constantly ministered to, to also passing along the ways that we have been equipped or encouraged.
This kid named Simon is really the perfect example. He grows up. He doesn’t win any popularity contests growing up. Decades later one teacher sees some real potential in this guy. He spends a lot of time teaching him facts and about the faith. Also about practical faith-and-life skills, like how to deal with adversity and how to be gracious, how to set priorities. Simon took these to heart. Especially after a time when he messed up pretty majorly. He was given the chance to prove that he was worthy of the trust and instruction the teacher had put into him. But Simon failed. His failure cost the teacher dearly. In fact, its probably part of what cost Simon’s teacher his life.
The teachers name was Jesus. He had a nickname for this student Simon. He called him Peter. The Rock. Through Peter’s denial, Christ encouraged Peter. Corrected him. Brought him back to the right way again. He went on to preach the message on Pentecost that would save 3000. Of the 3000 was a guy named Phillip. Phillip would be chosen by Peter as one of the first deacons in the early church. Then Phillip would go help a Ethiopian eunuch who couldn’t understand scripture. The Ethiopian is converted and returns to his home land again. There is evidence that soon after Christ, there were Christian churches weren’t just started in Asia and Europe, but also down in Africa as well. Ministry spreads ministry.
The energy from that is the most renewable energy source possible. It’s the Holy Spirit that is constantly moving us in all these ministries. Like the wind that turns those huge turbines, the Force of the Spirit keep blowing on us and through us.
We need each other for this. Can’t you see it already happening around us. Someone finds a book that a thoughtful library helper lays out. They read a little nugget of truth that they pass on when they visit an elderly widow in the church. That person in turn gives a good listening ear to the newest parent in the church who is struggling. That new parent joins up with others and gives a listening ear to others in a group of young parents. The listening ear allows some in that group to be calmer parents and are able to raise their children in the instruction of the Lord better. . . and so on. Where do you see this sort of thing ending. We are ministered to, are listened to, are taught, are rebuked, so that we may minister to the needs of someone else. All because we are the hands and feet of Jesus. Its only with all of us being ministered to and then ministering to others that we truly built up to be like the body of Christ.
That said. Are you at that point of being ready to join in part of the Jesus’ ministry at our church? Many of us have already found a place to use our gifts and talents. Hopefully some of us will be moved to be ready to take the step of ministering to others now. And if we have already taken that step. Be intentional about the area of ministry Christ has given to you. Intentionally allow whatever service you do in the church to build each other up. All for the sake of Christ’s glory.
And All God’s People Say
Merriam-Webster, Inc: Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Thesaurus. Springfield, Mass. : Merriam-Webster, 1996, c1988