Let’s Build the Church!
Pastor Jim Kniseley presented this sermon at Resurrection on January 13, 2013, on the Baptism of our Lord Sunday. The sermon text is Luke 3:21-22, “Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’”
Dear Friends in Christ,
Today we are going to speak about two things: Church and Vision. And both of these things involve all of us here today. Church and Vision.
You heard the gospel read today about the baptism of Jesus. The plan for salvation evolved in God’s mind in heaven. God unfolded his plan by coming to earth in human form, in the body of Jesus. Jesus was born, grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man, and at the right time, approximately age 30, God launched him on his ministry as our Messiah. Jesus came to the Jordan River, stepped into that river and was given a water baptism of repentance by John the Baptist, and then the coronation took place, the official stamp of approval from heaven. Luke tells it this way: Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened , and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
A big part of God’s plan of salvation is the Church. The Church was Jesus’ idea. The Church is made up of people like you and me who are called, gathered, enlightened, and gifted for the purpose of building up Christ’s Church and sharing the good news of God’s love and salvation.
Here’s a truth: every gift that is needed for vital and life-sustaining ministry is granted to the Whole Church and is found in every congregation. This congregation collectively has every one of the 28 wonderful gifts of the Spirit that are mentioned in the New Testament: gifts such as teaching and healing and administration and mercy and hospitality and wisdom. No one person has them all and so the plan of God is that we come together to use our gifts in common for the building up of the congregations and the Whole Church.
I have an observation and a challenge for us at Resurrection. The observation is that we are ready now and have a great need to move to the next step in being a healthy and strong congregation. That next step involves a large number of members stepping up in their volunteerism and discipleship in using God-given talents.
We’ve allowed ourselves to fall into some bad habits. These habits include having a few members do so much and having many members not do much. If I could put on my hat today as Dr. Kniseley, I would give this prescription to Resurrection for becoming a strong and vital congregation: Share the work load…quit burning out some of our willing members…encourage people to use their God-given talents…raise the bar and expect members to do their share. My prescription to the congregation leaders is this: Quit being timid and shy about asking people to step up. It’s not a bad thing, but a good thing. People who serve are invested and this becomes their church, a place, people in ministry in which they feel a strong connection.
What do people get out of using their God-given talents and being involved regularly in the life of the congregation? To name a few: we stimulate each other to faith and love when we work together for the common good; we increase our effectiveness and coverage when we share the load; people who are involved tend to be more satisfied with the church and remain faithful and committed. You and I have even read some of the data that shows that involved church people tend to be healthier and live longer.
Here is what I’m asking of us today. If you are a confirmed member of Resurrection Lutheran Church (that means you are at least 13 and have been through the confirmation program or joined as an adult) I would like you to figure out which Resurrection Ministry Team you will serve on.
Congregations have different models of organization for carrying out their mission. Resurrection is based on the model of teams. Our overall congregational ministry is broken into teams. The change now is that instead of serving on several teams, we are asking you to choose a primary team. Attend their meetings, help plan and coordinate the activities in that area.
Someone may ask: does that mean if I serve on the Property Team that I cannot also do things like ushering and teaching Sunday School. The answer is that you choose one team and attend those monthly meetings, but you can also sign up to do things that fall under other teams, such as ushering and teaching.
Let’s look at your forms. Please prayerfully consider your primary team. If there is more than one in your family, write your name by your primary team. I’ll be asking the team captains to contact you and thank you for signing up for their team. If you just cannot decide which team, I invite you to the February all teams night and you can visit the different team meetings to help you decide.
Let me offer a prayer to God on our behalf and then you can choose your primary team and sign your form. Let’s pray:
Just as you sent your Holy Spirit at the time of Jesus Baptism and at the Birthday of Your Church on Pentecost, we eagerly await your Spirit coming to us now in this time of decision. We want to be a strong and vital part of your Whole Church. Thank you for gifting us. Please help us to discern what those gifts are and how they can be used for building up your Church.
Thank you for the gift of Resurrection Lutheran Church.
We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!
Please complete your forms and wave them at me when you are done. You may fold them and place them in the offering plate today.