“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Ephesians 4:15-16 (NIV)
During these days of a fledgling economic recovery, I often hear business people asking one another, “How’s business?” So, I asked a friend who is a global vice-president for a company involved in the international car industry the same question. His answer was very interesting to me. He replied: “We’ve had to restructure our business to adapt to the changing economic climate. Bottom line we can’t survive doing business as usual. In order to turn a profit we had to go back to square one and start with the basics: What is our business? How are we going to achieve our business goals? What do we need to change to achieve those goals?”
Now, I’m not particularly interested in the auto industry, but I am interested in effective leadership and that was my “take away” from my conversation. My friend asked the right questions and did what was necessary to find answers to those questions. I want to be an effective leader in our church, so I asked myself the same questions about IBCB and thought about how we answer them for our “life” and “work” together:
“What is our business?” In the car industry business is about making money by producing cars. In the church our business is about “being and making disciples of Jesus Christ in authentic community for the good of God’s world.” In the end, my “success” as a leader…our “success” as a church…will be measured by the difference we make for good in God’s world as we live our life together as followers of Jesus Christ. It’s not about whether you are a faithful individual, though that’s important. It’s not about whether we run an efficient church, though that, too, is important.
In the end, it’s about how we are cooperating with God’s work in the world! God does his work in my life through the life of the church to accomplish his purposes in the world! It’s egocentric to think that the gospel is about me or about our church. The gospel is about God’s work in the world. So, we have to ask ourselves how are we doing at:
- Being and making disciples,
- Creating authentic community, and
- Accomplishing God’s good in the world
“How are we going to do our business?” To achieve our “business” goals we have to structure our life together and devote our energies to activities that will actually produce disciples who relate to one another in authentic community and are engaged in the world. So, we have created the following “places” and are providing resources in which you can invest your time and energies to achieve those goals. When you commit personally to and participate communally in these, you become and make disciples in authentic community:
- Worship—attend weekly celebration services designed to inspire
- Growth Groups—participate in weekly gatherings designed to involve
- Studies—devote yourself to periodic Bible-based studies designed to instruct
- Personal Devotion—invest time daily in God’s presence to introspect
Of course, we have chosen to use SERVICE as a way of focusing our energies in each of these places. You’ll note that in worship, growth groups, studies, and personal devotions we highlight at least one of these components of “Acts 2, biblical community” in order to shape our thinking and living:
- Spiritual Formation—growing to think, act, and be like Jesus
- Evangelism—helping people take another step toward Jesus
- Recreation—enjoying life together with Jesus’ family
- Volunteerism—giving away my time to build up Jesus’ body
- International Missions—spreading the good news of Jesus
- Caring Relationships—loving others genuinely like Jesus
- Extending Compassion—addressing the practical needs of people like Jesus
“What do we need to change?” Though we’re far from being all that God wants us to be as a church…and there are some significant changes that we as a church should consider…the most important question for us to ask is much more personal: “What do I need to change?” Each of us should ask ourselves the question and then make the necessary commitment and take the necessary steps to move towards “being and making disciples in authentic community for the good of God’s world.” How would YOU answer that question? Would you say…
- God is convicting me of the need to be more devoted to the discipline of being alone with him through reading the Bible and praying every day.
- I sense God leading me to commit to a growth group where I can connect with a community of believers to serve and to be served.
- Though I’ve attended IBCB for a while I don’t contribute to the ministry of the church by volunteering, but not anymore!
- God has given me a heart for indigenous missionaries planting churches. I will become a champion of their cause through prayer.
- Our growth group will get involved with helping the hungry at a local food kitchen.
- I need the help of learning how to be a godly parent. I will attend a training session.
These are just some ideas about how we as individuals can commit to our life and work together. As each of us is guided by God in the choice…the next step he wants each of us to take, God works in and through us as individuals and as a church to accomplish his purposes in our lives, our church, and his world!
May God have his way and do his business in our lives!
Sermon Notes: Our Work Together