by Abraham Cremeens
Kossuth is an equipping church. We prize this part of our calling and mission from the Lord Jesus Christ. We are told in Ephesians,
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13, ESV)
While verse 13 points to the goal of maturity and Christlikeness, you never drift toward these. It requires intentionality and a whole lot of prayer. We as pastors take this calling very seriously. We use all the means that God has given us, and one essential way we do that is through the weekly proclamation of God’s Word.
To that end, we have designated a second series entitled Church Life Redefined. This is not to suggest that God’s Word has failed in some way, so we must redefine what the church is. Rather, our understanding and practice need to always grow and therefore require refining our fallible thinking at times. We scheduled this series several months ago as part of our preaching calendar because we want to continue to be intentional about who we are as a church.
This series starts this Sunday and will last for four weeks. As a preaching team, we have articulated four key questions which we will attempt to answer from the Scriptures. It is not an exhaustive list but represents areas we always want to grow in.
First, why should I become a member? Churches across the globe vary in their process of membership, and there is plenty of freedom as to what that journey can look like. However, God is clear that he wants every Christian to covenant with a local church family.
Good "parachurch" Christian ministries abound, and we thank God for them. God uses them in very big ways. But his church is his primary means of making disciples in this world, and the global church always expresses itself in a local body of believers who are committed to one another in covenant relationship. So, why should you become a member? To prioritize the body according to God’s plan. Don’t remain on the sidelines. Become an active part of what God is doing through the Kossuth family.
Second, why should I come on Sunday morning? This question has been pulled and stretched in a lot of different ways through the last year. We have been challenged in unique ways and forced to become creative at times. However, at this point, the COVID landscape has changed considerably. Most of our church family is in a position to return on-site each Sunday. (Please note, I am aware of a few church members who need to continue to worship from home due to medical concerns and the virus. I fully affirm that.) For most of us, the live stream from home needs to give way to the face-to-face worship gathering on Sunday morning.
Some American church leaders now consider “virtual church” the new wave that churches need to embrace. As your pastors, we believe God’s heart is always for his people to gather together face-to-face in worship. That’s a significant value for us because we believe it is God’s value. You should come on Sunday morning because God wants you to participate in the body. This has been a hallmark of the Christian church through the ages and continues to be so even in this digital age.
Third, why should I contribute toward unity? Contrary to the American way of doing just about everything, no Christian is an island nor is church even about you as an individual. It is about us together worshiping God together and on mission together as ONE. If God wanted to design a work that majored on independence, then he would have said, “Find a cave and worship me.” But he said in verses 15-16 of the passage above,
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16, ESV, emphasis mine).
Christ has built his church as a community enterprise and he wants us to function as one. Our survival depends on it. We contribute toward unity to preserve the body. If all 300+ of the Kossuth family function in 300+ different ways, we choose to draw and quarter ourselves and meet our end. But God has called us to unite in the Spirit as one body around the living Christ. We preserve that call not through independence but through interdependence as we all depend on him.
Finally, why should I give of myself and my resources? We might better ask, “Why wouldn’t I?” By God’s grace, we have been included in the greatest work God is doing in this world. He has gifted us and resourced us to contribute toward that work. If you stay on the sidelines, you miss out on the joy of kingdom work and gospel advance. Don’t do that to yourself.
There are many ways to be a part. God desires (for our own good) that we give of our time, spiritual gifting, resources, and yes, money, for the glory of his name and his mission. So give to partner with the body. Give generously and delight in the fruit on the other side. It is an investment that impacts eternity.
I believe God has set us up for great things ahead. God has stretched us and strengthened us in many ways over this past year, and we are much better for it. Now we stand on the precipice, and I am personally ready to leap into what is next. Let’s do that together. We need to keep growing in order to face whatever new challenges will come. This series aims to help us do just that.
So come this Sunday with a ready and open heart to receive what God wants to do by his Spirit in shaping us toward maturity and Christlikeness as a church family. Roll up your sleeves, open your heart, engage his Word, and let’s get to it!