Pastor Jim Kniseley prepared this sermon for Sunday, June 24, at Resurrection Lutheran Church. This is our Ministry Faire Sunday and members are asked to fill out and submit their Witness and Service Forms during Worship.
Dear Friends in Christ,
This sermon may be one of the most important messages I have ever delivered to you. It has to do with our future and the kind of church we want to be. If you are a visitor with us today, I hope you will apply what I am going to say to your own congregation.
Resurrection is rapidly becoming a very average congregation. In the average congregation, 20% of the members do 80% of the work of ministry. While we have been blessed with growth in many areas, including membership and attendance and offerings, we have a severe need for folks to volunteer their time and abilities to the various ministries at Resurrection. I don’t feel good at all about members who simply show up for worship and then don’t give of themselves in service to Christ and the church family. It feels like I have failed in making it plain that as members of the Body of Christ, we are called to be servants to one another.
Jesus has given us a wonderful example. He is the one who said of himself, “I came not to be served, but to serve.” As followers of Christ, I implore us to follow his example.
Today at this worship service, you and I will be given the opportunity to fill out a Witness and Service Form and bring it forward as part of our offering. I hope that you will treat this opportunity with all seriousness and offer your time and abilities as a way of saying thanks to God and a way of declaring “this is my church family. Of course I want to do my part.”
Here are some of the areas of church life that right now are in severe need of help:
· Ushers at 11:15
· Sound system operator at both services
· Coffee hour
· Hospitality team
· Property team chair
· Social ministry team chair
· Evangelism team chair
God has given us a wonderful illustration in nature of how the church at its best can work. We’ve all seen geese flying in V-formation. They work as a unit and can fly very long distances. Scientists tell us that the effort of an individual goose impacts the others: as each goose flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. So by flying in a V formation, the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.
In his Book High Flying Geese, Brown Barr tells us that “whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone. The goose will return to the formation quickly to benefit from the lifting power of the bird immediately in front. If a goose gets tired, the goose simply rotates to the back of the wing and another goose flies the point . At the back of the formation, the geese constantly honk to encourage those up front to maintain their speed. When a goose becomes ill or wounded, and falls from the sky, two other geese fall out of formation. They follow the other goose down to help or protect it. They remain until the downed bird is able to fly again or until it dies.
Just think how strong a congregation we would become if we practiced that kind of unity, that kind of selfless service to one another.
One of our excellent shepherds in the Resurrection Shepherd Ministry, Virginia Shkrlac, has had to step back from her responsibilities because her husband Joe has had a series of strokes and is in a nursing home. She visits him every day in Culpeper. Two of the members of her flock, Jane Sahley and Elayne Lyman, have stepped in to a shepherd to that flock until Virginia is able to resume her ministry. These two women didn’t even hesitate to do this when Pastor Carol asked. What Jane and Elayne are doing represents our Resurrection Family at its best.
In the church calendar, today is designated as John the Baptist Sunday. His Day is always placed on the Sunday nearest June 21, the longest day of the year. For the rest of the year, the days will grow shorter. This wonderfully illustrates John’s words about Jesus: “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
The church I envision Resurrection becoming will be a servant church, a congregation where folks will lift up Jesus through words and actions, where we will seek to follow Jesus by serving and not expecting to be served.
Today when you indicate how you will participate in the life of the congregation, I ask you to prayerfully consider this: select at least one responsibility that does not happen during the Sunday morning worship time and select at least one responsibility that does does happen during our Sunday morning worship time. If each of us would do that, we would be rejoicing in the bountiful overflow of people sharing of themselves.
And maybe, just maybe, we will be able to say next year at this time: Resurrection is no longer an average congregation. Now we have 80% of our people doing 80% of the work of ministry. Oh I hope…
Thanks be to God. Amen!