Unfortunately we have not been able to record our sermons recently but here are the notes from Pastor Fern’s first talk under the heading “What makes a Successful Church?” from Sunday 8th October.

THE SERVING CHURCH
In looking at what characterises a successful Church we looked at the two key elements that flow from Jesus’ commission to the Church

  • How well we enable people to encounter God
  • How good are we at serving others?
    • How well we teach and support people to commit fully to Jesus
    • Tonight we are looking at another aspect
  • A successful Church will be a serving Church
  • Matthew 20:25-28 But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.
  • Context here – Disciples angry about James & John attempt to be appointed senior disciples –Mum was in on the act – In the previous verse Jesus had told them of his impending death
  • Serve with humility – in this context selflessly and for the benefit of the other
  • Serve with authority – we are commissioned by him and he said all authority is given to me – by implication we are commissioned in that authority to serve – example – Police Inspector
  • Service over status – diakonos – a volunteer servant (willingly) and doulos a slave – one born into that position in life – (obligated)
  • Jesus asks us to be both willing and obligated – the love of Christ compels me (2 Cor. 5:14) – This is a servant heart
  • Jesus example is of that servant king in Philippians 2 – we are encouraged ot be imitators of Christ

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honour and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

  • Our service for others should be both humble and status free – focussed on wanting the best for the other
  • Serve others – this is not about looking out for our own interests but the interests of others – example Make a Wish Foundation – little girl whose wish was for all the other children to be healed
  • 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 – here we see another aspect of servanthood – the ned to put aside preferences, traditions, likes and dislikes in order to serve those who need to encounter God
  • Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ. When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law. When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ. When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.
  • The essence of servant hood says Paul is putting others first doing and being whatever is necessary to make it possible for Jesus to be seen
  • We are a serving Church – and we all need to be serving people – people who give of themselves for the benefit of others – whatever it may take or cost
  • Succession planning group currently looking at how to answer the question “what should the Church look like in 5 years?”
  • Three examples of what other Churches are doing
  • We can sometimes be tempted to ask what washing cars has to do with reaching people for Jesus – where is God in this
  • Serving is one of the most powerful ways of introducing people to Jesus
  • Having a real servant heart with no ulterior motive is powerful – it is God’s love in action because we willingly obligate ourselves to his work
  • People notice that and it is strong evidence of the presence of God
  • Yes, we want them to find Jesus for themselves but it should not only be about that – people are cynical and resistant when they feel we are only interested in them as pew fillers
  • The Good Samaritan story is Jesus’ example of his expectations on his people