Wanting to stick to the boundaries that my elders give me, I asked for permission to preach to the Oaks this morning on a one-off sermon about our church family. The past five years at the Oaks (and the whole Chapel) have brought a significant amount of change—staff and members both coming and going. Both the regular teaching pastor and worship leader are at least thirty years younger than their predecessors (at the Oaks), no worship leader who was here a year ago is now here (at either location), we’ve had a change in senior pastor (about three years ago), changed college pastors, executive pastors, and many more things. It leads some to wonder what is really going on, and what our future is as a church—and if we really want to travel that road.
I wanted to take a Sunday, pause our 1 Timothy series, and give a few thoughts on the topic, and a few hopes that I have for our church—both things I have observed, and a main truth that rings true for me. I love our elders, and they signed off on my doing that this morning. . .
There was nothing flashy, nothing sexy, nothing like that. I simply wanted to remember this one thing.
JESUS CHRIST BUILDS HIS CHURCH (Matt 16:18)
I cling to this idea daily. Many days I’m a little dumbfounded at my inability to keep up with people and what’s going on in their lives. This past week a friend had a baby, another received a foster child, another had to drop their foster child off back with family, a few are battling cancer, another family I adore is moving away, a few are wondering if this is still the church for them, some are hurting, some are preparing to be baptized in two weeks, at least one marriage is getting stronger by the minute, another is struggling, another is dealing with the death of a friend, one friend is changing careers.
Nobody is equipped to walk with people through all of that and not come out a little wounded. Only Jesus. He builds us up and grows us.
We imperfect people are the people God is using to bring the message of Jesus to the world. Why? I don’t know. If God has a cabinet of advisors they would advise him not to do that. They’d say we couldn’t be trusted with such a monumental task. We’d come out wounded, bloodied, hungry, tired, and fewer.
By God’s grace, the opposite has been happening ever since Jesus entered this world. The message of salvation and the body of Christ has been advancing and sharing the good news with others.
While that is the truth I hold onto, I did take some time to share a few other thoughts. Those thoughts are:
- How grateful I am at The Chapel’s history. It is amazing to see that the Lord has sustained our little group as long as he has. Over the course of church history we are an insignificant blip on the radar. But for a small group of people, eternity has been changed. Praise him for that. Not many churches have been able to be at it as long as we have and face what we’ve faced. That’s a blessing.
- How I get grieved when we focus on the wrong things. This is true for anyone, not just The Chapel. But the longer we exist as a church, the more focused on ourselves we get. I want to remind you of this article by Tim Keller—he shows the percentages and reasons why more established churches have a difficult time reaching new people. Most churches fight these battles, we are no different, but we must remember to look to Jesus as we do. His hope for us and through us is for much more to happen than getting caught up in style, preference, programs, and staff.
- What I’m committed to. I am committed to pray for our church, love our church, point our church to Jesus, to be honest with everyone as I lead, and to trust in Jesus who is building us together.
- What I covet: I need the prayers of everyone. We all do. And we all need to fight for unity, purity, and grace together in our church.
To that end, you are free to fill out the form below if you have any questions about our church, what’s going on, or things that may help you as we keep at church life together. Remember, you can submit prayer requests here—I join up with some elders and staff Monday mornings to pray for you. Jesus builds his church. He’s my anchor. He’s our anchor.