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Evangelizing the World

This morning we are wrapping up our summer sermon series! For the past many weeks we have been talking all about the Ekklesia – the church – the gathering of God’s people. And if you’ve been with us throughout this series, hopefully you’ve gained a greater understanding of what the church is, what it’s purpose is, and why your involvement in it is so important.

We began, first of all, by defining the church. And we were reminded that the church is not a building…  church is not an event we attend each Sunday morning, but the church is the gathering of God’s people.  The Bible describes us as the body of Christ or as the family of God.

And as such, we all have an important role to play in the church. Just like a physical body needs all the body different parts to function together (we need the hands to hold stuff, the feet to walk, the ears to listen, the mouth to speak, and all that stuff)… In the same way, every believer has an important role to play in the body of Christ – in the church. We all have a role in this family so that the church can do what God created it to do.

And of course, that leads us to the question, “Well, what then did God create the church to do? What is the purpose of the church and what’s my role in it?”

Well, we identified three main purposes or tasks of the church.

  1. To bring glory to God through worshipping Him together.
  2. To bring glory to God by edifying His people.
  3. To bring glory to God by evangelizing the world.

And so far, we talked about bringing glory to God through worshipping God together – honouring Him by being obedient to all the things that God has commanded us.

We talked about bringing glory to God by edifying God’s people – or building each other up – helping one another become more like Christ.

And now today we want to talk about bringing glory to God by evangelizing the world.

And you may be glad to hear that we don’t have any more greek words to learn today! It seems we’ve had a new foreign word to learn every Sunday in this series – ekklesia, weorthscipe, oikodomeo – but I don’t plan on teaching you any weird and wonderful words today.

I think most of us already have a pretty good understanding of what it means to evangelize the world – the hard part isn’t defining it – the hard part is actually doing it!

But just so that we have all the bases covered, to evangelize the world really just means to tell everyone the good news of Jesus Christ.

That is one of the key purposes of the church – we are God’s means of letting everyone know the good news about Jesus.

There are several places in the Scriptures where we are told this, but perhaps one of the clearest examples in found in the books of Acts.

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Worship in Ekklesia

Well, last Sunday I kinda left you hanging…  For the past few weeks, we’ve been talking about the purpose of the church – or the purpose of God’s Ekklesia – the gathering of God’s family. And by last Sunday, we had already talked about the main over-arching purpose of the church – which is to bring glory to God. In everything we say or do, we aim to display and declare God’s goodness to the world around us.

But then we narrowed our focus just a little bit and began to discuss the specific tasks of the local church. Bringing glory to God is the ultimate aim for the church as a whole – but what is God’s purpose in establishing local congregations? How are we to bring glory to God together as a community in ways that we simply couldn’t on our own?

And so last week, we divided these tasks of the church into three main categories. They were: 

  • To bring glory to God through worshipping Him together.
  • To bring glory to God by edifying His people.
  • To bring glory to God by evangelizing the world.

And so we started last week by digging into what it means to worship God – and that’s where I kinda left you hanging! We talked primarily about what the word ‘worship’ means – but we didn’t really dig into what that looks like as one of the primary tasks of the local church. But that’s where I want to go today.

So to do that, let me first refresh your memory as to what worship is all about – because today’s message really does build on what we talked about last week.

You’ll remember that last Sunday we looked at the old english word “weorthscipe” – which basically means to ‘declare the worth of’ something. And it’s from this old word ‘weorthscipe’ that we get our modern word ‘worship’.

When we worship something, we are declaring it’s worth or its worthiness. But worship isn’t simply about the words we say or the songs we sing in church. Worship is much more about the daily decisions we make and the priorities we have in life. It’s about showing how we esteem and value God (or anything else for that matter) by the choices we make every day.

Because whatever it is that is our highest priority, whatever it is that we value above all else, whatever it is that is our greatest consideration in every decision – that is what we worship.

It’s like what Jesus said in Matthew 6:21… 

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21 NIV

Whatever it is that we hold most dearly, whatever it is that we choose above all else – that’s what we treasure – that’s what we worship in our hearts.

We don’t have to sing any particular songs. We don’t have to physically bow down. We don’t have to bring any offerings or sacrifices. We can do those things, but they only have meaning if they are outward reflections of what’s already going on inside in our hearts. We need to worship God in spirit and in truth, like Jesus said in John 4:23. He says…

23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24

That’s why the object of our worship isn’t necessarily revealed by what songs we sing on Sunday morning. The object of our worship is revealed by our daily decisions and choices. It’s those choices that truly reveal what we value in our hearts – what we worship.

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True Worth-Ship

About three years ago, I taught you all a new word. I’m not sure how many of you remember it – but it was an old english word that isn’t really in use anymore. Most people have never seen it written anywhere or heard it used in any conversation – in fact, I still don’t know how to pronounce it properly, but here’s the word: “Weorthscipe”

My best guess for it’s pronunciation is “We-earth-skype”or “Way-orth-skippy”.

But this word basically means to declare the worth of something. If you break it into two parts, you can start to see our modern english words hidden within the old….

The first part “Weorth” – means value or simply worth. You can see that pretty easily – just drop the ‘e’ and there is the modern word “worth”. So that’s pretty straight forward….

The second part is “scipe” which means “the condition of” or “the quality of”. We see the modern version of this quite often today, although now we spell it now SHIP.  You see it on the end of many words like “friendship” – the condition of being friends – or “leadership” – the condition of being a leader.

So with these two parts – ‘weorth’ meaning value or worth and with ‘scipe’ meaning “the condition of” –  together, we get the idea that “Weorthscipe” is the condition of having worth. Does that make sense to everybody? Are you tracking with me?

This word is important to us today because even though we don’t use the word “woerthscipe” anymore, we certainly use its modern equivalent very often especially in the church – and that modern word of course is  “worship” or “worth-ship”. 

Worship is when we declare or affirm the worth or the worthy-ness of something or Someone.

And I’m guessing that by now you know where I’m going with this, but if not, let me back up just a bit and explain why we’re talking about worship this morning.

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The Purpose of the Church

Last week we began a conversation about the purpose of the church. With COVID-19 forcing us to make so many changes to how we do church and ministry over these last months, I think it’s important for us to remind ourselves why it is that the church exists. 

We live in a rapidly changing world and it’s important that we be able to change and adapt how we do ministry to make sure that what we do is useful and effective – but at the same time, it’s even more important that we never lose sight of why we do that ministry in the first place.

In other words, our methods can change, but our mission must remain the same.

The purpose of the church never changes. The purpose of the church in Paul’s time is the same purpose of the church in our time. Of course, the activities of the those churches probably look very different – but their end goals are always exactly the same.

And so that’s what I want to look at for the next few weeks: What are the end goals of the church?  Why do we exist? What is our purpose?

Because only when we understand our purpose can we effectively determine what activities will help us accomplish that purpose!

And so we started two weeks ago, first of all, by defining the church. Sometimes there is confusion even about that! What exactly is the church?

Well, we looked at three ways the Bible describes the church. First of all, it describes the church as a family – the family of God. The Bible teaches that from the moment we accept Christ as our Saviour, every believer is then adopted into God’s family. We read in Ephesians 1 that God loved us and chose to adopt us even before time began – and this gave him great pleasure! I always find it incredible to think that it filled God with joy to adopt me into his family. But that’s what the Bible says. We are adopted into His family and we are all now brothers and sisters in Christ.

So that’s one way that the Bible describes the church – as a family.

The second way that the Bible describes the church is as the body of Christ. Just like the human body has many different parts that all work together as one body – so it is with the body of Christ. We are all completely different from one another – we have different backgrounds, different ways of seeing the world, we have different interests and passions – different skills and abilities. And God has put us all together – united in Christ Jesus – to function together as one body. We are all necessary parts of God’s church.

So that’s the second way the Bible describes the church – as the body of Christ.

And then the third way the Bible describes the church is as an ekklesia. The New Testament was originally written in Greek – and in the Greek language, the word ‘ekklesia’ simply means “an assembly or gathering of people”. You could use that word to describe an angry mob or the crowd at a rock concert or any kind of gathering. But it’s that word “ekklesia” that gets translated in the Bible as ‘church’. So anytime you’re reading in the New Testament and you see the word ‘church’ – the original greek word that was written there is “ekklesia” – an assembly or gathering of people.

And of course, when he Bible talks about God’s ekklesia, it has a specific kind of gathering in mind – a gathering of God’s family – an assembly of the Body of Christ.

We read in Matthew 16:18 when Jesus said:

“On this rock I will build my church.”

Matthew 16:18

Christ is building his ekklesia. He is assembling his family. He is putting together the body of Christ.

And so that’s kinda the idea that we’ve latched onto for this series.

Ekklesia – the assembly of God’s family. The church is not a building. It’s is not a charitable organization. Church not an event that we attend each Sunday morning. The church is the gathering of God’s family – it is the assembly of the body of Christ. And Christ is building His church – he’s adding more and more people to the family – adding more and more parts to the body.

But the big question still remains: Why? What is the purpose of this assembly? Why is God building His church? If God has put us together as one united body of Christ – what exactly does He want this body to do?

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Ekklesia – The Assembly

Over the past several months, COVID-19 has radically changed our familiar ‘church’ experience.  

The Sunday mornings we knew a year ago were very different from the online Sunday mornings we knew for the last three months – and they are very different from what we’re experiencing today!

Over these last months we’ve changed how we gather. We’ve changed how we worship. We’ve changed how we do preaching and teaching. We’ve changed how we do kids programming. We’ve changed how we fellowship. We’ve changed how we do Bible studies. We’ve changed how we connect with each other and with the community.

So many of our familiar church experiences have changed.

And so this whole process of changing how we do church has really led me to reevaluate what we do and why we do it!

    • Just because we’ve always had a snacktime in the middle of our service doesn’t mean we have to… It doesn’t even mean we should!
    • Just because we enjoy having some talented musicians lead our worship with piano, guitars, and drums – it doesn’t mean we have to… it doesn’t mean we should!
    • Just because we’ve had great success in running our summer kids club or other kids programming –  doesn’t mean we have to…. doesn’t mean we should!

It’s easy to get into the habit of just doing things because that’s what we’ve always done before. But it’s important to evaluate every once in a while to see if what we’re doing is still useful and effective and important.

It’s like the story of young lady who was newly married and she decided to bake a ham for their first Easter dinner. So she took the ham, sliced off both ends and placed it in the roasting pan. Her husband was watching all this and asked, “Honey, why did you slice off the ends of that ham? It’s all good ham – why not just bake the whole thing?”

The young wife thought about this and said “I’m not sure – that’s what mom always did when she baked a ham. I’ll ask her.”

So the young lady called up her mom and asked “Mom, when you’re roasting a ham, why do you always cut off the ends?” The Mom thought for a moment and said, “Well, that what your grandmother always did. Grandma’s ham was always delicious, and so I’ve always just done what she did.”

So the young lady then called up Grandma and asked, “Grandma, when you cook a ham, why do you always cut off the ends?” To this the Grandma replied, “I always cut off the ends because I didn’t have a roasting pan big enough to fit the whole ham.”

And I think this story illustrates what often happens in church. We just do things a certain way simply because that’s what we’ve always done – without considering if what we’re doing is still useful, effective, and important.

And so with all the changes that we’ve been forced to make because of COVID-19, I think now is a perfect opportunity for us to all reevaluate how we do church. 

Why do we do the things that we do? What are some things that we should change? What are some things that we should never change?

But I guess, to answer those questions, we really need to take a look at the bigger picture. What exactly are we trying to accomplish as a church anyway? What’s the purpose of the church?

If we don’t have a clear picture of why we exist and what God wants us to accomplish – I think we’ll have a really hard time measuring the effectiveness of what we do.

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