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1 December 2019
1 Corinthians 9:15-23
One of the nice things about moving to a new house is that it gives you the chance to re-think and re-set some things.
You might have your house set up a certain way … but now you are moving you can think about whether there is a better way to set it up.
You might have certain things in storage … now you can think about if you want to make them accessible for use.
You may even think about family habits that might be good to change, or new habits to start.
In some ways we have that opportunity as we move to our new Homebase.
Is it time for a reset of some things?
What I mean by that is:
Now, just in case you are nervous … it is not open slather.
On some things we cannot, and we must not change. Warwick spoke about the big ones last week.
We are a church that will be inflexible regarding the fact that GOD alone is BIG … not us, not our culture but our God alone.
Therefore we will be committed to reformed doctrine … that is Christ centred, Christ exhaling Christ honouring. We are not going to move and inch on that.
We will be committed to listening to God’s voice in his scriptures and to preaching.
We will love the local church as he loves it. We will be committed to one another in unity and love.
We are inflexible (by God’s grace) on these things, because God tells us to be inflexible.
Within those boundaries however, we have wonderful freedom to use what God has given to us to serve him as we are able.
It is as though God has set before us a lovely broad highway … on the edges of the highway, there are high walls which are made up of the things God says are fixed. Things that never change. Things about which God is inflexible, and about which you must be inflexible. In between these two walls, there are thousands of ways of doing things and a wonderful freedom.
One of the nice things about moving is that we can think about the things we do and wonder if there are other ways to do them … or new things to try.
Let me ask you … How do you work it out?
As a church, which choices are we going to make of all these things here in the middle of God’s high walls?
Well – they’re not really good reasons for doing anything, and this morning I want to mention two criteria that will direct any choices we make.
The first is this:
We will use our God given flexibility to serve the gospel.
1. Does it serves the gospel
I think the apostle Paul was probably call “Mr Yes-and-No”, by those who didn’t like him. You never quite knew what he’d do in so many situations.
If you asked him …. If a man becomes a Christian, should he have Jewish circumcision?” Paul’s answer: “Yes, and no.”
When he was heading off to preach through Turkey, he said that his Greek companion Timothy should be circumcised (Acts 16:3). When he took Titus with him to Jerusalem, he said he shouldn’t be. Even though that meant an argument with the Jews. (Galatians 2:3)
Why is he so indecisive, or was he?
“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.
To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law.
The overriding principle: v22b,23
I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
You see, he’s not really “Mr Yes and No” at all. He is really the same every day – he’s “Mr Always Governed by the Gospel”. What matters most is: whatever it will take for the gospel to be heard.
That’s why he had Timothy circumcised – so the Jews would not be put off from listening to Paul preach.
When the Jews demanded that Titus be circumcised because they believed that was necessary to get to heaven – and that faith in Christ was not enough. He said … no way.
He did opposite things – but for the same reason. What dominated everything for him was the gospel. He did whatever served the cause of the gospel. Within the walls of the inflexible commands of God.
Let’s talk about next year.
It seems that often, when a church builds a new building, it grows in numbers. It just seems to be what happens. Not always … but often.
So, by God’s grace, next year there are going to be new people coming to us. Some will be checking out Trinity church, because they are curious about the new building. Some will be back sliders who haven’t been to a church for years … but are making a fresh start. Some will be friends that you invite. Some will be down and outs … doing the rounds of visible churches Some will be desperate seekers wondering about Christianity
What will we do?
How will we use our flexibly to serve the cause of the gospel of Christ in Tamworth in our new building?
Committed to preaching … yes
Committed to reformed doctrine … yes
That is not going to change.
What will change?
You will know that we are seeking to improve the way we do welcoming and care for new comings.
We are hoping a team will take a month each and really commit themselves to helping us care for any new comers in that month.
Including following up with them and organising a social each month.
You will know that we want to start a “Getting started” small group, that will meet weekly that will be perfect for new Christians and those checking it out. We hope it will be really beneficial.
We have spoken a little about that.
But you know: a church is never strong just because it has good programs, the leaders are strong, or the teaching is sound
A church can’t be strong without all that, but those things alone don’t make a church strong, or sound, or good.
For a church to be a healthy church, the ministers - all the ministers need to minister. In a thousand different kinds of informal ways:
It’s as people
Welcome someone who is new, spend time getting to know them over morning tea, introduce them to a few others, and make some personal contact later and they stick with it for the long haul.
Use their home, or their car, or their letter writing or texting or their dropping in on others, to be an encouragement to them and welcome them and stick with them.
Offer to pray for newcomers under stress and they display in their lives the sort of selflessness that Christians have because of Christ.
They are brave to challenge wrong attitudes in love and enquire after people who have grown slack and don’t grow tied.
You know, is pretty comfortable here. Not many newcomers. You probably know most people’s names. Not many troublemakers or difficult people or people not like us. Mostly everyone is pretty good at English
What would it mean if that all changed?
Being flexible for the sake of the gospel … is probably going to mean being uncomfortable.
It might mean for you who have enjoyed not leading a small group will need to say … I’ll lead a small group because we have grown so much we don’t have enough leaders. That will take time.
It might mean, being uncomfortable because you’re not good at welcoming and remembering names … but there are so many new people that for the sake of the gospel you’re going to be uncomfortable … week and after week … and not just talk to the people like you.
It might mean we need to simplify the English in the sermons or have people who are happy to meet with those who struggle to understand English and help them understand the sermon.
It might mean, we get used by people … who consume us.
It might be you use your time to befriend someone and give up a morning each week to read the bible with them, week after week, month after month.
It might mean church gets really big, and rowdy with some children who are not used to church.
It might mean loving people who smoke, or swear or are not married or are homosexual, or multicultural or vote for the greens, and a thousand other things that I haven’t thought of.
Everything in this world is telling us NOT to love, not to be generous.
Don’t put up with people who take but don’t give.
Don’t spend what you have earned on others.
We must love, because we know the gospel of the grace of God. We have been loved by a God who has loved us - and chosen us, and called us and justified us and who sticks with us all the way. If we have known such grace, how can we not show it?
How flexible can you be? For the sake of the gospel?
That is the first thing I wanted to speak about this morning. Our flexibility will be guided by not our comfort, or what others are doing, but does it serve the gospel.
That Criteria looks out there, as it were.
I think there is another criteria for our flexibility … and this one looks in here.
2. Does it build the church?
How should you use your gifts here?
What should our program be on Sundays at 9:30? Should we change anything? What should we be doing in our wider programs as a church?
The Bible doesn’t give us a lot of detail on the answers to any of those questions.
So how do we decide? As we have said, we know we must be God-centred and Christ-focussed.
Having asked that, what then? Well it’s the same rule for us as it is for this church at Corinth.
1 Cor 14:12 “strive to excel in building up the church.”;
14:26 Let all things be done for building up … [the church]
There is the principal.
How do we use the freedoms we have to build one another up, serve and care for each other with a new building?
One way we do that is by making sure there is lots of cross over in our lives.
An old Chinese proverb says you can’t administer eye ointment from a second-floor window.
If I want to touch your life in a delicate or difficult area, I need to get close enough to know what you need, and then to draw alongside you.
We can talk about loving one another and building one another up until the cows come home but it isn’t real until we get close to one another - until we move towards real people in real ways.
How are you going to use the new building to mean there is more cross over of our lives?
How a building is going to help us with this … and I think the answer is … only when it becomes a home.
It is not an accident, that one of the names given to the church is that of family or household.
What will that mean for next year as we seek to care for one other.
New jobs that need to be done.
In a family home things often work best where children are rostered to wash up, or where tasks are allocated so that he does the lawn she writes the cheques, he takes out the garbage and she washes the car.
There are a hundred things that just have to be done and it makes sense to work out how to get them done.
In the family of God, it makes sense to roster people to serve the morning tea or lead the service, or sweep the paths and to allocate someone to run the PA system or write the cheques to pay our bills.
Who is going to washing windows and vacuum the carpet and play the music and plant the garden? Clean up and setup.
Some homes fall apart when 20% of the members end up doing 80% of the tasks. While the rest play with toys in their bedrooms or their backyard sheds. Churches sometimes fall apart because 20% of the members end up doing 80% of the tasks. There will only be more next year.
I guess we could let others do it … you know there are some real keen beans in this church … they serve a lot.
How will you help our family here be healthier?
That is one way in which we can crossover our lives. As we share tasks together to care for the church. As we serve the Lord and care for each other.
What about crossing our lives socially?
I have heard many people say that the Church is now so big, you can’t know everyone. I know it can be hard.
Will you work out ways we can crossover socially using the Homebase?
You small group leaders … can you help us do that?
You members with the real gift of organising us … will you help us to crossover more and the rest of us support them.
We have applied for some of the synthetic turf that is being removed from the hockey fields.
We are hoping for two lots.
One lot to go in the immediate overflow area, where kids play and we will gather for morning tea and have BBQ area.
The other part we are hoping to get is much bigger. About two basketball courts. Big enough for a cut down soccer game, or volleyball or something else.
How can we use it … for evangelism … yes … but also to crossover our lives.
So that you know me and I know you … and this building becomes a home we share and we build each other up.
Life is sometimes more comfortable when things stay the same. When life is predictable. When there are neat black and white answers to all the “what should I do when?” questions.
Being flexible is part of being godly. Being a beautiful church means loving the walls that God has built … and living with joy, and godly flexibility in between them.
What will be do to make this building count for the gospel and for the strengthening of the church?
There must be heaps of things … will you help us make it work?
As I finish … said at the beginning, moving can be time to make some new habits and get rid of some bad ones.
Might there be some habits to make or habits to lose for you?
Are you in the Habit of always arriving late? No reason ..just habit? So that you never welcome newcomers or display to others just how important being together is. That would be a good habit to change as we seek to care for newcomers and each other.
Have you grown into the habit of always leaving early? You’re uncomfortable around crowds or there are other things to do or … well it is a habit. Such that you never work on relationships in the family. It is probably a bit like getting to family dinner late and always leaving early … it has to have an impact on us all don’t you think? Is the move a good time to change that bad habit?
Have you always wanted to be an inviter? You have lots of Christian friends and friends who are not Christian and you have always thought it would be good to get them together. Why not make it your habit next year to do that.
We would love to help you … we have a new building … we have greater access, BBQ, small field …. Organise and ask us along … make us better at doing that together.
Has it just become a habit that you don’t serve in any way. Maybe your use to, … but now … nothing. Might there be an opportunity for you to change that with a new Homebase … there will be more task. Why not make it a habit to serve next year?
Have you always thought it would be good to read the bible with someone one on one … but you have never been brave enough to begin it. Well why not start next year …
You know we have two resources.
One is a building … that is nice. You know what the more important one is. People who love Jesus and have been changed by him.
Let’s do all we can to serve him together.