So, this Sunday it gets personal. Over the past few weeks, we’ve asked some important questions:
Who are we?
Who is our neighbor?
What is God calling us to do?
What is ahead?
Now it’s time to turn our questioning inward. In our First Church family, just like in any family, each of us has a role to play. Some of us are clergy. Some of us are lay staff. Some of us are lay leaders in various specific roles. Still others are Sunday School teachers, outreach volunteers, and participants in studies, programs, and other church activities. Others worship with us each Sunday, in person or through our Media Ministries, and faithfully fill out that commitment card every single year. The reality is that we all have a role to play as we live out our faith together in this congregation. The question is, what role do you play? What role could you play?
Everyone is gifted by God with talents, interests, and abilities. These are natural, innate gifts that each of us brings to every situation or opportunity we encounter. When each of us takes some time to examine our own gifts and natural interests, that is where we will find the key to what our role in our church family could be.
Remember that little song written by Jane Marshall? The refrain, “I am the church! You are the church! We are the church together!”, combined with the first verse, says it all:
The church is not a building; the church is not a steeple; the church is not a resting place; the church is a people. (You can examine the full lyrics to this deceptively simple, yet profound song here).
This little tune reminds us that it’s not a matter of speaking of the church in terms of the second person plural (“Y’ALL are the church”), rather it’s the first person plural: WE. We ARE the church, and each and every one of us has a role to play.
And regardless of what that role is — whether it’s Senior Pastor or someone who sits here in this beautiful Sanctuary every week and adds his or her voice to our prayers and hymns, we are all part of sustaining the work of this church to spread God’s love and, as our tagline reminds us, to Love God, Serve People, and Transform Lives.
This doesn’t just happen magically. Not only is there a lot of hard work that goes into “being a church,” it takes the financial commitment of every single member. Whether this commitment is large or small in terms of dollars committed, giving is a part of discipleship. As you may remember, Healthy Plate Discipleship involves prayerfully giving all we can in proportion to how God has blessed us. When it comes to our church, participation by everyone with their prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness is vitally important.
Sometimes people speak as though there is a big pile of money that somehow just “arrives” during this time of year that fuels the church for the year to come. Friends, there is no such thing. The money we operate on as a church — what fuels and funds all these ministries we do — comes in dollars and cents committed or given by each and every one of us throughout the year. We are the church. Together.
So that brings us back to our original questions: What role do you play? What role could you play?
I look forward to exploring these questions with you on Sunday as we continue to think deeply about our church.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster,
So, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies, I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service. Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is — what is good and pleasing and mature.
Because of the grace that God gave me, I can say to each one of you: don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought to think. Instead, be reasonable since God has measured out a portion of faith to each one of you. We have many parts in one body, but the parts don’t all have the same function. In the same way, though there are many of us, we are one body in Christ, and individually we belong to each other. We have different gifts that are consistent with God’s grace that has been given to us. If your gift is prophecy, you should prophesy in proportion to your faith. If your gift is service, devote yourself to serving. If your gift is teaching, devote yourself to teaching. If your gift is encouragement, devote yourself to encouraging. The one giving should do it with no strings attached. The leader should lead with passion. The one showing mercy should be cheerful.
Don’t hesitate to be enthusiastic — be on fire in the Spirit as you serve the Lord! Be happy in your hope, stand your ground when you’re in trouble, and devote yourselves to prayer. Contribute to the needs of God’s people, and welcome strangers into your home. Bless people who harass you — bless and don’t curse them. Be happy with those who are happy, and cry with those who are crying. Consider everyone as equal, and don’t think that you’re better than anyone else. Instead, associate with people who have no status. Don’t think that you’re so smart. Don’t pay back anyone for their evil actions with evil actions, but show respect for what everyone else believes is good.
If possible, to the best of your ability, live at peace with all people.