1st Timothy 3:14-16:
I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth. By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness:
He who was revealed in the flesh,
Was vindicated in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Proclaimed among the nations,
Believed on in the world,
Taken up in glory.
A long time ago in Bible College is was sitting in chapel alone for the most part and reading my Bible. I was reading First Timothy at the time because I was in Pastoral Epistles class at the time. I hit these verses above and had one of those ‘ah-ha’ moments. long story short. I wrote my master’s thesis on First Timothy as Asbury some years later and eventually it became my basis for any church vision I have every had for any church I have been the pastor of since.
The basic idea is that Paul uses three images of the church here to describe it. The first is family in imagery “household of God”. the second is political “church (assembly) of the living God” and the last on is architectural “pillar and support of the truth.” It gives three pictures of the church. It is the family of God, the assembly of God and the primary pillar of support of the truth. For me this translated to the three things that a church should be concerned about to fulfill these roles: Love, the Gospel and the Truth. These translate into action in the forms of Worship, Evangelism, and Discipleship.
The purpose of my address on Sunday morning is to evaluate where we are, show where we need to be and how we are going to get there as a church. Usually that is the purpose but this year I knew that I had a series of messages on where we need to get to and how we are going to get there. therefore, I really had this single message to outline where we are and why. This was the difficulty of this Sunday as I hate two things as a pastor – conflict and facing the ugly truth of where we are at. In my humble option this is where Hersey Congregational Church is and why.
Worship – In the context of love, the love of the existing members and regular attendees is good. The problem is that because it is good we have for the last three years rested on this goodness of our love and in my opinion rested our way to a kind of deadly complacency about other things. It has caused us to settle for what is good and not pursue what is the best or great. That said this is still a good foundation to build upon but we need to start building soon.
Evangelism – In the context of going into all the world and preaching the gospel we sued to do a lot more preaching by our character through Shepherd’s Table and had open spaces to invite people to our cell group Living Stones. Now not so much. Shepherds Table is gone on no reasonable substitute in its place. Living Stones has tried to fill the discipleship role which was not its original strong suit. It was meant to hit all three areas but by focusing on discipleship it has lost both its evangelism and worship functions in the process.
Discipleship – Like I said. Living stones was providing some of this but now it is it and because it is no longer true, as it is the sole thing it does and it is really not suited to do this as it was to be the whole thing it was before. Other than that, I have been talking about getting something discipleship oriented for my entire time in the church.
The real issue for me in this sermon because of the series that will follow through the end of February, was to lay out where I think we are and why. The why of all this is complacency because we are a good church but we need to become a great church. I end this thought though with the idea that I believe we can get it done because we do have a good core of leaders and people who are strong enough and able enough to do it. What will follow is casting vision for a whole series and hopefully some action toward it during those months.
Blessings and Cheers!!!