The Blueprints of a Healthy Church
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
January 5, 2003
amazing what you can find on the Internet. I’ve mentioned before that
I’m a Star Trek fan, so I was impressed when I found this. I found a
website of pictures of the USS Enterprise made entirely from lego.
The interesting thing about the website is that it chronicles the whole
process of putting it together. A guy named Kevin sat down and figured
out exactly how he was going to build the Enterprise before he even
started putting the pieces together.
SLIDE SHOW (on PowerPoint)
As you can see, it’s a pretty big and complicated model, and you can
understand why he needed to draw up some blueprints before he even
Today we’re going to look at blueprints, too. Not blueprints on how to
build the Enterprise, although that might be fun. We’re going to talk
about the Blueprints of a Healthy Church.
Blueprints of a Healthy Church
At Sunrise, we’re a brand new church. We’re just starting out. We’re
trying to build a body of people who honour God and truly represent Him
to the world around us. And as we build this church, there are certain
things that simply have to be in the plans if we’re going to be the
kind of church God wants us to be. And today we’re going to talk about
three of those things.
1. Community – all parts fit together
We read a passage from Ephesians 4 earlier in the service. What we read
was actually an excerpt from a letter that the apostle Paul wrote to a
church in the city of Ephesus. This was one of the early Christian
churches. The early Church consisted of Jews and Gentiles, rich and
poor, educated and uneducated, masters and servants, old and young. Yet
they were able to form a community of believers who supported each
other and strengthened each other and thrived as a church. So much so
that we’re reading about them a couple thousand years later.
How was this possible? How was it possible that such a diverse group of
people could become unified? I believe it was because they had what I’m
calling Community Essentials.
Keyword: harmony. Musically, if you’re talking about people singing in
harmony, you’re not talking about them all singing the same notes. On
Sundays, Jim helps fill out the sound a bit by singing a harmony to
what I’m singing. He doesn’t sing the same thing I’m singing, he sings
different notes which complement what I’m singing.
That’s what it means when we talk about Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Bass.
People singing different notes, but they all fit together to create
I used to live in Avon, South Dakota. It was a small community in the
south eastern part of the state. About an hour north of Avon, was the
town of Mitchell. And Mitchell has one claim to fame: the Corn Palace.
Here’s a picture. All of the murals, all of the decorations are made
from local crops. And every year the exterior decorations are
completely stripped down and new murals are created.
I’ve been inside this building. And you know what? It’s not all made
out of corn. The decorations require thousands of bushels of corn,
grain, grasses, wild oats, brome grass, blue grass, rye, straw and
wheat to create what you see. And the structure itself consist of wood,
metal, glass, and whatever else was needed. It’s one building created
by combining a variety of different materials.
Here’s the application for us. For community to exist at Sunrise, we
don’t all have to be the same. We don’t all have to talk the same,
dress the same, like the same things, or have the same background. But
we do need to heed the words we read earlier from Ephesians 4:2-3…
Ephesians 4:2-3 (NLT)
Be humble and gentle. Be patient with
each other, making allowance for each other's faults because of your
love. Always keep yourselves united in the Holy Spirit, and bind
yourselves together with peace.
We can be very different people, but we do need some things in common.
Specifically, we have to hold to the same values, the same beliefs, the
same Scriptures. We need to realize that as Christians we’re all in
this together. Listen to this…
Ephesians 4:4-6 (NLT)
We are all one body, we have the same
Spirit, and we have all been called to the same glorious future. There
is only one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and there is only one God and
Father, who is over us all and in us all and living through us all.
Okay? Common ties. There are a lot of common ties mentioned right there.
Agreement on Leadership
Think about the places in the world that are in turmoil right now.
(PARTICIPATION - NAME SOME PLACES?)
What’s the problem in most if not all of these places? They can’t agree
on leadership. Whether it’s spiritual leadership or political
leadership, people can’t agree on who’s in charge or who holds
With the Church in general and within Sunrise specifically, God needs
to be the ultimate authority. There can be a leadership structure,
there can be people who hold certain offices, but God needs to be at
the top. No man, no superintendent, no Pope, no guru, no prophet can
ever claim top spot. For Sunrise to be a healthy church, for us to even
be a Christian church, we need to honour God as our leader. He’s our
CEO. His word is our Scripture.
Check out verse 6 again…
Ephesians 4:6 (NLT)
… there is only one God and Father, who
is over us all and in us all and living through us all.
Same Hopes and Goals
Last month some of us got together to watch The Lord of the Rings: The
Fellowship of the Ring. We watched it just before the sequel came out.
Those of you who have seen the movie or read the book may recall how
diverse this group was. This “Fellowship” consisted of a couple humans,
an elf, a dwarf, a wizard, and a handful of hobbits. They originally
didn’t like or trust each other, but over the course of the movie we
saw them melt together into this “Fellowship” because of the same hopes
and goals… namely to destroy the Ring of power.
This morning, I’m talking about the hope we have in Christ of spending
eternity with God in heaven. That’s the hope, that’s the goal that we
can have together in Christ.
Ephesians 4:4 (NLT)
We are all one body, we have the same
Spirit, and we have all been called to the same glorious future.
2. Teamwork – mutual support and service
Ephesians 4:7, 11-13
However, he has given each one of us a
special gift according to the generosity of Christ.
He is the one who gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the
prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their
responsibility is to equip God's people to do his work and build up the
church, the body of Christ, until we come to such unity in our faith
and knowledge of God's Son that we will be mature and full grown in the
Lord, measuring up to the full stature of Christ.
This passage only lists a few, but there are a whole slew of things
that we call Spiritual Gifts. They are the special abilities that God
gives to every believer that enables us to serve each other, build each
other up, and make an impact for God. And God gives different people
different gifts according to what He thinks is best. We’re not all the
same. We don’t all have the same abilities. We are each uniquely gifted
in different areas, and that’s the way it should be.
(WRITE DOWN PASSAGES IN MARGIN? – Rom. 12:1-11; 1 Cor. 12-14; Eph.
4:1-16; 1 Peter 4:10-11)
Tonight between 8:00 and 11:00, please don’t call. I’m going to be
sitting in front of my TV watching Team Canada beat the Russians in the
Gold Medal game at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Halifax.
I’ve seen at least part of all of Canada’s games so far. And you know
what? I’m glad we have a goalie. I mean, it’d be pretty tough for us to
win if we didn’t. I certainly doubt we’d be in the gold metal game.
But you know, I’m glad all of the players aren’t goalies. First of all,
they’d look pretty funny skating around, and secondly I don’t see how
they’d ever be able to score. No, a hockey team requires a goalie,
defensemen, forwards, penalty killers, power play specialists, skaters,
checkers, skilled players, tough guys… A good team requires all of
these people with different strengths and weaknesses working together
as a team.
In a minute I’m going to show you a video clip. It’s a video of a man
named Bill Hybels. He’s the pastor of the biggest church in North
America. Willow Creek Community Church is located in the suburbs of
Chicago and sees about 20,000 people every week. I had the opportunity
to visit there back in 1994, and it’s an incredible place and a great
church. But they got there because different people with different
gifts and different passions and different personalities all worked
together as part of the same team.
There’s a funny story he tells right before this clip, and I wish we
had time for it this morning but we don’t. So I’ll just summarize it
for you. It’s a story about Pastor Bob. It’s summertime and Pastor Bob
is trying to fill all the positions that need to be filled in the
church before the fall comes around. And in order to do that he goes
through a whole series of messages that essentially guilt people into
volunteering to teach fourth grade Sunday school, etc. But what happens
is that the people who are guilted into serving in these positions
aren’t gifted to do them, and in the case of teaching fourth grade
Sunday School might not even like kids. So everyone ends up frustrated
and very little is accomplished in terms of ministry within the church.
And that’s where the video clip picks up…
HYBELS VIDEO FROM NETWORK
This is something we’ll spend more time on in future weeks, and
sometime down the road we’re going to offer a seminar called NETWORK.
This video is actually part of that seminar. And I would encourage all
of you to take part in this seminar when we offer it later this year.
3. Love – A solid foundation
Ephesians 4:16 (NLT)
Under his direction, the whole body is
fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it
helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and
growing and full of love.
Love is what makes everything else work. It’s the glue that holds the
Church together. In fact, it’s supposed to be the hallmark of the
church… the thing we’re known for. Listen to what Jesus said:
John 13:35 (NLT)
Your love for one another will prove to the
world that you are my disciples.
As his disciples, as believers in Christ, we’re supposed to be known
for our love for each other. Unfortunately, over the years we’ve earned
the reputation of gossiping and bickering and self-righteousness and
hypocrisy. And that’s got to stop. Sunrise needs to be known in
Charlottetown for our love for each other, for the way we support each
other and pray for each other, for the way we meet needs, for the way
that we genuinely care for each other.
Just as we close, I want to read a number of verses from the book of 1
John chapter 4:
1 John 4: 7-12, 20-21 (NLT)
Dear friends, let us continue to love one
another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is born of God and
knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God—for God is
God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into the world
so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love. It
is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a
sacrifice to take away our sins.
Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love
each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God
lives in us, and his love has been brought to full expression through
If someone says, "I love God," but hates a Christian brother or sister,
that person is a liar; for if we don't love people we can see, how can
we love God, whom we have not seen? And God himself has commanded that
we must love not only him but our Christian brothers and sisters, too.
We’re starting a new year. And as we look ahead, this is the kind of
church that I want us to become… A church that’s unified, a church
that’s serving each other and building each other up, and a church that
loves each other and is know in the community by how much we care for