Values for Vision
As we head into a new year, we start with a new theme entitled "Values for Vision" - We are going to be looking at some of the Membership values we as church believe creates a sense of belonging and enables people to feel an active part of the life of the Church.
Looking out for one another – We believe in Supporting - AM
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Looking out for one another – We believe in Supporting
Which you may have seen in the current edition of the church magazine is no 9. of the ten values we seek to promote in the lives of Christian believers. Supporting each other is crucial to spiritual growth and development in any church, but the magazine article broadens out `supporting` as not only for each other but also for our leaders.
Let’s look this morning at ways in which we can support our Elders.
Quite often, when we think of supporting Elders, we think of recognising the role of eldership and the quality of those we appoint to that role.
Scripture has much to say on this subject and in 1 Timothy we find the kind of person an Elder must be:
The term Bishop, Shepherd, Overseer and Supervisor are also used as alternatives to describe the position of Eldership , and we may have listened before to ministry about how their whose lives must show a high level of commitment to Christ, in the way they behave and the Christian values they hold dear.
Elders are responsible for the spiritual direction of the church and as such will come under fire and be singled out for special attention by the enemy who will try to disrupt their spiritual and family life in an attempt to close them down and make them ineffective in the leadership role which the Lord has anointed them and which the church has appointed them for.
That is why our 3 recent appointments of Elders were introduced to the church and prayed over with the laying on of hands, not many Sundays ago.
As we (Roger Collins and Dave Enwright) prayed for them so should you also pray for them and take responsibility and ownership for them as they seek to walk worthy of their calling.
Stand with them daily as part of your supporting role of them
There is another aspect of the Eldership role that is not often ministered on!
Because, although leading and guiding in terms of vision and spiritual direction is perhaps the more enjoyable aspect of the Eldership role, they are also responsible for Pastoral Care.
In our alternative list we found the Elders described as Shepherds. That description can be found in 1 Peter 5:1-2, where Peter instructs the Elders to Shepherd the flock and because the word for Shepherd (can also be translated as Pastor we find that pastoral care is an Eldership responsibility.
I found “pastoral care” to be one of the more difficult aspects of Eldership during the time I served. But Elders have a responsibility to administer it.
Now let us just suppose that one of us is not living our Christian lives in line with straightforward scriptural principles and an Elder was designated to have a word in your ear about it!
Would you feel comfortable with that?
Of course, I know that it would depend on exactly what it was. But perhaps it was something that you yourself were aware was not right but decided not to do anything about .
Alternatively, it might be something that you were not aware of at all and hadn’t really thought about.
Is that something that you would recognise as part of the Eldership role and be prepared to consider and support : or would you reject such an approach outright and feel that leadership was going “too far” and overstepping the mark ?
Speaking into our lives can be acceptable from the platform, but speaking into our lives on a one to one basis can be quite different and sometimes bring the shutters down ending in rejection.
Yet it is very much a part of the Eldership role and Hebrews 13:17 goes even further saying that we should recognise and support those who “watch out for our souls” as those who must give account for their actions to God and we should be prepared to consider the points they raise and, even dare I say, submit to their advice and direction.
If it can be shown that, we are at odds with scriptural living.
Or would you feel that you’ve made your mind up and don`t want to be confused with the facts.
Scripture gives guidelines to elders to remind them of the way they should progress themselves.
They are not to “lord it up over the church” or be domineering or authoritative, proud or self-righteous.
If I acted this way as an Elder, I would disqualify myself.
However, although Elders should be firm and clear in areas of correction, these things should be done in love and grace, and above all in a spirit of humility! What a fine line they have to tread.
No wonder we are told in 1 Timothy 5 “Let Elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honour”;
I should think that they deserve it.
By the way, I am not suggesting that anyone is about to be spoken to by the Elders after the service, although only you will know if you should be! We are simply considering their role.
Also, if anyone thinks that I have never needed to be “spoken” to by an Elder” they would be wrong, but I am not going to tell you in what church or about what subject. Only that they were godly men and quite correct.
I have had my lessons to learn and I trust that I have taken them on board gracefully and grown because of it.
Therefore, I think that I’ve opened up some new areas of thinking on the theme of understanding the role and supporting Eldership.
Let’s move on now to...
2. Supporting Yourself !
- SELF CORRECTION
- Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:28. Examine yourself before taking Communion in order to get yourself right before God as you come to His table. I think that we should examine ourselves much more regularly than that.
- In 1 Corinthians 10:13. Paul says that you have not suffered any more temptation than anyone else has because God is faithful and will not allow you to be tempted more than you can bear, but with every temptation provides a way of escape. Therefore, as we examine ourselves we know what our sins and weaknesses are.
- Hebrews 8:10-11. Tells us that God has put His laws into our minds and written them on our hearts. Therefore, we know the difference between right and wrong!
- Support yourself by guarding your heart. Watch what goes in there! You know how God thinks and it`s down to you to make the decisions.
- Listen to the Holy Spirit nudging you from the inside; reminding you of right and wrong.
- And put simply - “do the right thing”
- When you need help; come and get it ….. from
- Eldership Team, Leadership Team (coming board) and Prayer Team.
3. Supporting Others
We have looked at our role in supporting both Eldership and ourselves, but now let us turn our attention to supporting each other. Here’s a couple of ways on how NOT to do it.
- Wife to husband. I`m feeling low, say something nice to me. Something that makes me feel like a woman. Husband to wife. You can`t park your car.
- Husband to wife looking for sympathy. Darling I have crashed the car. Burnt the dinner and blown up the gas cooker what do you think of me. Wife to husband. Go away you are bad news.
- I keep every confidence. It is the people I tell who can`t.
Do we have to be taught “how to support”?
I am a firm believer in the kingdom principle that some things do not have to be taught; they come with “knowing Jesus”.
The Holy Spirit shows us many things about the person of Jesus. Not only who He is, but also what His values are.
And supporting and caring for each other is something we have to be reminded of rather than taught.
A Pharisee when testing Jesus over which was the greatest commandment, was told by Jesus of two Old Testament verses:
- Deuteronomy 6:4-7. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind.
(Which Jesus quotes Matthew 22:37-40.)
- Leviticus 19:18. Love your neighbour as yourself.
So we are off to a good start then as God makes it quite clear with these two Old Testament verses at the beginning of the bible that our love for Him should reflect itself in our loving and caring for each other.
But Jesus, so as to underline it adds in John 13:34-35 “A New Commandment I give to you. That you love each other as I have loved you,” and when you do this effectively (Jesus said) it will be a witness to others of who I am and that you are caring for each other because of me!
Loving others are reflections on how much we love Jesus.
So I wonder are you going to make contact someone who is not here today or is this a time for you to think of all the reasons why it’s impossible to do so. I think I hear the sound of the rubber hitting the road and I am getting more popular by the minute.
Great, but sometimes, if you can’t make contact, with a person, you can make contact with God and you can pray for them.
So do we really look out for others? Do we walk the walk or just talk the talk. When was the last time that you did contact with someone who did not show up on Sunday? When was the last time you realized someone hadn’t shown up. When was the last time you enquired about someone who hadn’t shown up?
Enough said. Our life group often sends cards to those we haven’t seen for a while, we also send cards full of signatures to those who aren’t in our life group but whom we know haven’t been to church for a while.
Not just those who have been unwell but those who have been absent, it shows you care. We have never sent one yet without receiving back a thank you (John 13 Love one another as I have loved you) that also applies to those from outside of the church who aren’t Christians (by this all will know that you are my disciples) . Cards with God bless on maybe.
Matthew 22 and John 13 are not just cosy suggestions but show that the Lord was in deadly earnest about these things.
And doesn’t following Jesus mean getting out of your comfort zone, now and then.
As well as cards, phone calls are a good way of contacting and looking out for others;
They are part of the safety net that our church family needs in order to operate and one referred to by many of our visiting friends. The café also is there, make good use of it. Keeping people in and not letting them just drift away.
These things aren't necessarily the reason that we come to church but they should be a part of what we do when we get here.
So when did you last do it?
I’m not preaching absolutes. Just jogging memories. If you are already doing these things, you can put a tick in the box.
A Pastor in South America once decided to test just how much his church cared about the less socially acceptable folk in the community outside his church. One Sunday morning he dressed up as a tramp and sat on the floor outside the church door. He had grown a beard especially, wore his gardening clothes and stood in the smoke of a bonfire. So he looked the part, smelt the part and to all intense and purposes, was the genuine article, and you all know where this is going. Because the reaction of his large church was to walk past him into the church on the other side:
- Maybe through fear?
- Fear of confrontation
- Fear of catching something (we know that that’s like)
- Fear of being dragged into something (comfort zone)
- Fear of not being able to handle it (embarrassment)
- Many of them must have had a fear of something because all of them walked by on the other side.
Now he was not suggesting that members of his church should necessarily try to help as individuals. May be two or three could do something. Like offer of a cup of cold water, which in a hot country would be much appreciated!
Part of our supporting others is to recognise their gifts and abilities, and giving opportunities for them to use their gifts.
The obvious area for this is in reading scripture (which the children did beautifully this morning) or taking the prayer slot in church or offering a life group involvement to someone perhaps.
But supporting others can mean valuing and encouraging each other.
Seeing Jesus in each other and recognising that He loves and died for them as He loved and died for you.
And by the way one of the messages that screams out from Jesus on the cross is:
“I could never be ashamed of you”
So why then do we sometimes act as though we are ashamed of some less attractive individuals that Jesus died for and later rose again.
Do we sometimes judge a book by its cover and write off some because they do not fit our required spiritual criteria and therefore could not possibly be used by the Lord until they sort themselves out.
I would like to close with a clip from another south American church where a drunken beggar comes in and wants to sing to the church; just the sort of person you don’t want to have anywhere near the front of the church !
If anyone like this ever came into our church, we would probably want to sit him down in the café area and keep him quiet until after the service had finished, and only then get alongside and show support for him!
And you will see in this clip that’s exactly what the church try to do.
Sit him down with one of the Leaders and keep him quiet.
But Jesus has a plan for everyone. He uses who He uses. Whatever we may think about it.
And this man made it to the front. Please do not switch off to this clip. Just because it may not fit into your own worship style, remember Jesus is far bigger than anyone denominational experience.
PLAY CLIP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SQ28GGpQTI
For this man the voice of Jesus cuts through all of his life’s bitter experiences.
Some things I remember about this clip.
All begin by laughing
Then they begin to realize this may actually know Jesus! In his own way of course.
The fire and earthquakes etc. are the things that brought him down
No bolts or gates of enemy design can close out the voice of the Holy Spirit because we can never again say “The Lord can’t use me”.
What`s the latest possible date I can still make something out of my life.
This drunken man found that God could still use him long after he thought he had gone past his sell by date.
And maybe we need to look at others through heavens eyes!
As the Lord sends us to support others in this church or community
So He sends His Holy Spirit to support us!!!