The Blueprints of a Healthy Church
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
January 5, 2003

 

It’s 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.
(http://happywaffle.com/enterprise.html)

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 started.

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.

 

The 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.



Community Essentials:

  1. Relational Harmony

    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 beautiful music.

    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.

     
  2. Common Ties

    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.

     
  3. 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 authority.

    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.

     
  4. 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 love.
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 us…
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 each other.
 


 

Copyright © Greg Hanson, 2002 SunriseOnline.ca