We’re having a good time at our “Discovering Christ & Our Church Family 101” class Sunday mornings at 9:00. We’re only halfway through, so it’s not too late for you to join us. Let me review what we discussed last Sunday, … and by the way, thanks for your good input and discussion !
Last Sunday we talked about the structure of our church, noting that the nature of the church should determine its structure. The church is not a business. It’s not just another “organization” either. According to the Bible, it’s a unique living organism, characterized by four words : fellowship, family, body, and flock.
1. The Church is a Fellowship.
- Implication : Good church structure should promote unity and downplay differences.
A top priority of true fellowship is unity. In our class handout, there were twenty Bible passages speaking of the importance of believers living in, and working hard towards, unity. A notable criticism the Apostle Paul made of one of the New Testament churches was this : “I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you” (1 Cor 11:18). At Emmanuel we try to remember this : “Unity in essentials : charity in non-essentials ; in all things, Jesus Christ.” It’s a desire to minimize divisions that leads us at Emmanuel to actually take few “votes” as a church. We limit our voting to the passage of an annual budget, election of certain church officers (as specified in our by-laws), purchase of land or buildings, calling staff, and making changes in our church constitution & by-laws.
2. The Church is a Family.
- Implication : We operate on the basis of relationships, not rules.
Unity and relationships go together, don’t they. The Bible calls us to relate to one another as a family. I enjoy the family-like atmosphere at Emmanuel. We hold each other dear, despite our quirks and failures. The New Testament puts it in clear terms : “Appeal to an older man as a father ; treat the young men as brothers, the older women as mothers , the younger women as sisters” (1 Tim 5:1-2, Phillips).
3. The Church is a Body.
- Implication : We function on the basis of spiritual gifts, not elected officers.
In an organization, “maintenance” becomes the focus ; in a church, “ministry” should be the focus. It has been our belief at Emmanuel that ministry in the church doesn’t require you to hold some office or title. How has God equipped you … and all of us together … to serve the Body and the world ? The people are the ministers ; the pastors and other spiritual leaders are the equippers. (See Ephesians 4:11-12.)
4. The Church is a Flock.
- Implication : It is cared for and led by shepherds.
Shepherding requires a subtle blend of authority and care. The New Testament terms “shepherds,” “elders,” “overseers,” and “pastor” are used practically interchangeably. (See especially Acts 20:17-18,28.) We have a good team of shepherd-elders at Emmanuel. Please be in prayer for them, that they would be led by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, filled with care for the flock, nourished themselves in a daily feeding upon God’s Word, and daring to step out in ministry by faith.
I hope you will join us this Sunday at 9:00 a.m. for the third part of our class ! There will be nursery care for babies and toddlers, and special activities for children through age 11. For those 12 and older, you are welcome to sit in with the adults or be with the younger kids.
Worship will follow at 10:15, including another message from the book of Daniel. “Heaven Rules” is our theme. Was heaven ruling when the three friends were thrown into the fiery furnace ? Does it seem like heaven is ruling in your life today, … during your fiery trials ? Let’s find out what God is saying to us through this powerful story from the Bible.
There have been numerous prayer needs come through the church prayer chain this week. I hope you will remember these needs as you go about your activities in the remainder of the week. If you are not currently part of the church email or phone prayer chains, please let Alex or Genelle know at . We would love to include you and would appreciate your prayers !
If you are praying for me these days, … thank you ! I need it, as I know you do too. What a privilege to pray for one another. Would you be interested in joining the elders and me for a few minutes of prayer in my office this Sunday morning at 8:30 ? Please come.
Here are some things on my plate for which I would appreciate your support in prayer :
- I have been sick this week with a pretty nasty flu bug. This is a “first” I hadn’t thought much about — being sick without Diana around is a first, and it’s not much fun. I think I am on the mend some now, but how I miss the good, tender care she gave !
- I thought the health-needs coop we belong to was short in what they had reimbursed us for Diana’s bills ; as it turns out, they think they reimbursed us too much ! I received their letter and now have six years of hospital and doctors bills to go back through and recalculate. Ugh. I am grateful for the provision we have received and am hoping to work out the difference. I will try to dig up all the appropriate paperwork ! Paperwork and files have been ongoing for over six months now since Diana died. And we live a fairly simple life … at least, I thought so !
- I will officiate the wedding of Libby Brown and Danny Parker this weekend. Please pray for God’s blessing on this marriage and my part in the service Saturday. These are two young people with tremendous potential.
- I will lead worship at the two local nursing homes this Sunday afternoon. Alex Grieshaber will lead the worship/study at Hermann Hospital. Thanks for asking God’s blessing on our role in the lives of some elderly people and those who care for them.
- I am about to start leading an “Ignite” group for some of the young men in our JAM youth group. This is the first time we have tried these small study-fellowship groups for our middle school students. Becky Aldrich is leading a similar group for some of the young ladies in JAM.
- Please pray for me as I prepare adult Sunday School for October. “Discovering Christ & Our Church201” will take place in November. During October, I’m looking forward to leading a spiritually challenging class for adults on a new topic.
- I have in mind to lead our Elder Board in a study and discussion of Biblical Eldership – a thorough consideration of New Testament and Old Testament passages that shed light on the role of a church elder. Please pray for how that might become a part of our elders’ fellowship and growth.
- I still have a great burden for men’s discipleship & mentoring but haven’t quite figured out yet where it can happen in my schedule. Please pray. Suggestions ?
- I need continued help as I work through the grief process. I have a continual burden on my mind as to how I will juggle family and ministry. I need clarity to see my new role in life, new direction, and new dreams. I am in need of being reminded, as someone said to me recently, “Give yourself permission to be patient.” Patience doesn’t come naturally to me. It will have to be part of the Spirit’s work in remaking me.
- Please pray for a return of more lengthy times of personal prayer and worship. My new busy schedule tends to eat into those very important times. I am longing for some “Road to Emmaus” days – such as the two disciples spent while walking with the resurrected Christ, when the sun seemed to break through the clouds and all became clear.
Thank you so much for being the fellowship, family, body, and flock that you are !
Hope to see you Sunday !