Do we need the church?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn Sunday we are going to be looking at why we need church.

I know that’s not a popular topic, mostly because many people have had bad experiences with church. So have I. But I still believe we need it, and here is why.

God chooses to use his church to change lives.

The church can be messy, misguided, misinformed, and sometimes just plain wrong. But that’s because the church is made up of messy, misguided, and imperfect people. And despite the failings of the church, I still believe God wants to use his church.

So that’s what we are looking at on Sunday. Why it is important to connect with community of followers of Jesus – otherwise known as the church. Now the church you connect with doesn’t have to be ours, structured like ours, or styled like ours. But I do believe that if we want to change lives, if we want our lives to be changed we can’t do it alone. We need one another. We need the church.

But what do you think about this? I know the church brings up a lot of emotions for people. So think about it over the weekend – do you believe we really need the church?

Red Letters of the Bible

1366751_91583540On Sunday we looked at this statement from the “Sevenfold Way of Following Jesus” – I am learning the teachings of Jesus.

This is such an important part of following Jesus. Because how are we to follow Jesus if we don’t know what he taught, or how he lived? Learning the teachings of Jesus are absolutely crucial to follow Jesus well.

We cannot follow Jesus well if we are unsure, confused, or misinformed about what he taught and how he lived.

And I would also add this: that Whenever we, as Jesus followers, have neglected his teachings, disaster has happened. The Crusades, hate, persecution, and most certainly a lack of love.

So I believe we need to focus back in on the teachings of Jesus. Yet this can also be difficult, because while we tell people to read the Bible we don’t often teach them how.

So on Sunday I gave you three simple tips to read the Bible, that helps to find more out of it. The first is to pay attention not for information, but revelation. God is fully revealed in Jesus. So as you read the teachings of Jesus, what does this reveal about God? For example, holiness in Jesus is revealed not as separation, but incarnation. Very different things.

The second hint is to look for things to practice. Jesus himself says: “Whoever hears my words and puts them into practice is like a Wiseman” (Matt 7.24). So watch for things to put into practice that day. Rather than reading a chapter, read till God reveals something you need to practice that day. It shifts the point from information, to practice and it’s a good shift to happen.

And lastly, I shared how we should read, watching for how we can grow in “loving God” and “loving others”. Jesus when he summarizes the teaching of the Old Testament says, it all comes down to loving God and loving others. That’s the point. So when I read I watch for that: how does this help me love others and God better, deeper, and wholer. St. Augustine once wrote:

“So anyone who thinks that he has understood the divine Scriptures or any part of them but cannot by his understanding build up this double love of God and neighbor, has not yet succeeded in understanding them”

And I think that’s true. So I watch for what the text reveals about God, reveals about what I’m to practice, and reveals about how I’m to love God better. This helps me to focus in on it, and to better learn the teachings of Jesus. Because I know that the more I learn the teachings of Jesus the clearer God becomes, and the more my life reflects Jesus. So I gave this challenge: read the gospels everyday this week. That’s a probably good challenge for all of us for a week…or probably for a lifetime.


Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: I am learning the teachings of Jesus

Teaching Points:

  • We do not drift into discipleship.
  • We cannot follow Jesus well if we are unsure, confused, or misinformed about what he taught and how he lived
  • Whenever we, as Jesus followers, have neglected his teachings of disaster has happened
  • Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. John 14:9
  • Focus not on gaining information but revelation
  • Holiness is not separation from messiness
  • Rather than reading the Bible for information, read it for action
  • How does this help me to love God, or love others better?
  • We need to learn the teachings of Jesus
  • If we want to keep our identity, if we want a text to live by that keeps us in the company of God’s people, keeps us conversant with who he is and the way he works, we simply must eat this book…The blunt reality is that for all our sophistication, learning, and self-study we don’t know enough to run our lives. Eugene Peterson

Adult Discussion Questions:

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new? What have been some of your struggles with reading the Bible? How might looking for things to practice help you in learning the teachings of Jesus? Why would you say learning the teachings of Jesus is important? Which teachings of Jesus stand out to you most?

Discussion Question for Families:

This week rather than asking questions, tell stories. Find a story of Jesus to tell each day and do that as a family, and let them ask questions and discover who Jesus is.

Challenge for the Week: This week everyday read some of the teachings of Jesus