Building on the Great Commission
Topic: Church Life Passage: Matthew 28:16–28:20
Building on the Great Commission
We are going to postpone returning to our series in Genesis for at least another six weeks because after prayer and discussion Matt and I felt it was important to lay out some of the things the Lord is putting on our hearts for Grace Community for the year 2010 and beyond. We’re calling this series Building because we are going to take a look at the work of building the church and our role in that work. Now the first thing someone might be thinking is, “hey, isn’t it Jesus who is building His church?” The answer is that yes, in the ultimate sense Jesus is the one who is building the church:
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18 (ESV)
Jesus is building His church throughout the ages and nothing is going to stop Him in that work, but the Bible tells us that Jesus isn’t building the church alone and apart from His disciples but that He calls His disciples to co-labor with him in the work. Speaking of the church Paul says to the Corinthians:
For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building. 10According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 1 Cor. 3:9-12
Though this is written primarily in reference to leaders, everyone in the body of Christ has a role in building up the church. Ephesians 4 tells us that the fivefold ministry is called by God to equip the saints for works of ministry for the building up of the body of Christ and when each part is working properly the result is the body of Christ is built up in love.
The purpose is to give us a vision and renewed excitement about the work the Lord has called us to. Believer’s must never think that we are just supposed to bide our time and somehow make it through life until we go to heaven. Christ has called us to a great work. Last month we reminded our souls of the importance of prayer and how we want to pray big prayers. But prayer isn’t disconnected from the work the Lord calls us to. Andrew Murray says He that would do the works of Jesus must pray. He that would pray in His name must work. Not just pray. Not just work. Pray and work. Pray for great things and work for great things – all by the empowering of God and for the glory of God. Jesus is building and He calls us to co-labor with Him and each other in building too. It’s both the purpose of this series and our prayer for this series that our vision for that work is renewed.
And a second and related purpose to this message series is the growing sense that the leadership team has (and I think many in the church have) that a physical building – a structure that can serve as a church home – is a strategic and important tool for us to pursue. So this series will be looking at building as a verb and building as a noun. Let’s begin with building as a verb and let’s turn to what is probably the definitive passage for the work the Lord has given the church.
I. The Great Commission is Built on a Great Foundation!
The church must never forget for a moment that the Church isn’t built on us it’s built on Christ and what he accomplished for us through his life, death, resurrection and ascension.
For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 1 Cor. 3:11
Any other foundation but Christ is a false foundation – the church is built on Christ, our lives are built on Christ, and the job Jesus gave us is built on Christ. As Jesus is about to commission His disciples on the mountain, He doesn’t tell them how great they are, He tells them how great He is! All authority in heaven and on earth – nothing higher than Christ. Nothing and no one is more powerful than Christ. He who humbled Himself to the point of becoming a servant and dying the death of the cursed hanging on a tree has been raised by God the Father to the highest point of power and authority.
That’s why the gates of hell can’t prevail against the church – because Christ is infinitely greater than all the hordes of hell. Our enemy is real and the fight is real, but our Savior is more real and far more powerful and He promises that while we obey the Great Commission He will always be with us. Dave Harvey writes this about the Great Commission:
Think about it: we are sent by the risen Savior to do his ministry in the earth. So we spill out of the locker room with the Great Commission, the greatest pre-game speech ever delivered, ringing in our ears. Through the tunnel of planning and preparation we run, ready to burst out on the field of church-planting opportunity. But then we realize something: we’re on the enemy’s turf and there is opposition everywhere. Suddenly our numbers seem puny and our playbook pathetically thin and predictable. It is for this moment that Jesus ended his Great Commission with these words:
“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
In other words, what he’ll do is always more important than what we’ll do.
The Great Commission is built on a greater foundation: Christ. We make disciples who follow Christ, we baptize them in the name of Christ, we teach them to obey all that Jesus commanded, and Jesus is with us as we do all this. We never want to forget this: what Jesus will do is always more important than what we’ll do!
II. The Great Commission is a Great…Commission
There’s a reason why the great commission has been called the great commission. Although these verses don’t mention the imagery of building, Jesus gives His disciples the blueprints for the how He will build the church through them. This is Jesus telling us what our job is – to build his church, not by making converts but by making disciples.
This is about doing the work of the kingdom and no one is exempt from the work. We have different tasks but we all are called by God to work together to build the church which is an amazing privilege since that’s the only task that Jesus has been working for the last two thousand years. The only building, the only body, the only people, the only bride Jesus has been building for twenty centuries, that I can see in the Bible, is the church.
And that plays out practically on a local level. We who are called to GCC are called to the work of building up this local body. If you are visiting us from another church this morning, then you are called to join your hands and heart to that work. No one in the body of Christ is called to the bleachers to watch – we are called to get on the field and sweat and strain and work for the kingdom of Christ and the glory of God!
Now please don’t think that’s going to look the same way for everybody. Next week Matt is going to talk about building with a missional mindset – that is the go into the world with the gospel of Jesus aspect of this commission and we are all called to that. But there are so many other ways we can be used by God to build up the body of Christ. It can happen inside these four walls and it can happen outside. It can be reaching outside for lost sheep, and reaching inside to care for the Lord’s flock. There is no one template, and not one exemption. Every member is to be a minister.
Vision? Not fully formed, and it needs to be shaped by God, not us. But it includes having a real and significant connection and impact in our community for the sake of the gospel – people coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ through our witness. It includes being more effective in our discipling of believers. It touches on church planting to other regions, and maybe, just maybe, setting up satellite campuses to reach places that we might just be brushing right now and seeing congregations grow in those areas. It includes healthy, loving, grace-filled communities that glorify God and exalt Christ. And it includes building a pastoral team – which is one area we’ve seen God’s great blessing in since we have doubled the pastoral team in the past year! All this and so much more.
And that brings me to an odd transition. I have had this growing sense in my heart and it just doesn’t go away, but gets larger, that the next big step for this congregation in terms of vision and being able to effectively carry it out is the acquisition of a physical building. Building as a noun. I know there are churches that have made the fatal mistake of thinking a building was the promised land – once they got a building, they stopped moving ahead. That was their vision, rather than another tool in the implementation of their vision. That’s not what I’m talking about. So I want to take a few minutes to explain why I think it’s the next biggest thing for us.
III. Why a Church Building Will Help Us Build The Church
Let me first admit that we have been a little inconsistent in this pursuit. A year ago we were seriously considering the Catholic Church building in Painted Post and then we felt it was too much and moved away from it. I’ll admit our building fund hasn’t had a lot of vision attached to it – and I don’t know that the Lord was giving us vision before this time.
• Resolution to see it through, pray it through, and trust it through this time. We aren’t setting times or predictions, we will not be twisting arms or manipulating, nor will we make the mistake of thinking a building is the church – it’s not. But we think it’s one of the most strategic tools we can have right now in the place we are in.
• We think that at $375K the Catholic Church remains the best buy on the market for us – great location and good potential. I think with some work and investment we could make that place sing! But it’s on the market and of course we will be listening for the Lord’s direction and He can direct us as He wills.
1. A building gives us an increased ability to “go” into the world and reach our community
You might wonder about combining a teaching on the Great Commission (which is about going to all nations) with laying out a vision for a church building. But if we look at how the early church fulfilled the Great Commission, we see that they went into cities and towns and established local churches that then saw people added to their number. In other words, the model in Acts is that we do go out, but we need a place to bring them back.
a) A building helps us have exposure. There are a lot of people who simply don’t know we exist.
b) A building helps us have credibility. There are people who have preconceptions about a church that meets in a school building long term. There’s a point where it’s kinda like a 40 year old guy living with his mother. Time to move out! We know the church is not the building, but for some a building helps build credibility.
c) A building will help us make a connection. If a community outreach is held right next to the building we meet in, it helps to make a community connection and maybe make it more comfortable for folks to take the next step to visit.
2. A building gives us a place to carry out ministry on a regular basis
Right now we have to rent a space if we want to have a prayer meeting, or a teaching seminar, or a men’s or women’s meeting. There are seminars that we could use even to make a connection with the community that would be more visible and possible if we had a stable place to hold them.
3. A building is a better stewardship of our funds
Think of this – we’ve spent close to $70K in rent in the time we’ve been here.
4. A building will give our set up/tear down crew a much needed break
These guys have been getting up early and leaving late to set up and tear down every Sunday for close to seven years. If you don’t think that’s a big deal, sign up for the team and see how you feel a year or two from now…
5. A building strengthens our investment in future generations
This church isn’t just for us; it’s for our children and our children’s children. We can help establish the long-term presence and stability of the church by investing in a building.
• We figure that our target goal to consider a serious move in the direction is $100K – which seems like a lot of money, but we already have over $35,000 of it saved, so we’re really just talking another $65K. We won’t take on a burdensome debt, but we will take on a debt that we can handle safely and our goal would be to pay it off in 5 years, not 20. It’s possible the CC isn’t the place – maybe there’s another building not even available right now, maybe we will build. But that seems to be the one right now. But it will be something.
• Not equal giving, but equal sacrifice. Consider creative ways to raise money – maybe give up something that you like and take the money you would spend to give to this investment.
• We will share more, but please consider what the Lord might have you do – and please don’t give until it hurts – give until there’s joy!
• Now, we can’t afford to take our tithes and shift them to BF. We are falling behind – a weird time, but God is into weird things. If you aren’t tithing, please obey the Word and step out in faith and do that first. If our general fund is healthy we will take excess and put it into BF too, so that’s where we need to start.
• We want everything about this building fund campaign to glorify God and build a testimony of what God has done. So along with our each giving sacrificially let’s ask God to provide from unexpected sources and means too.
• We can’t ask for that if we aren’t personally invested – but if we are doing all we can, we can.
This isn’t the normal kind of ending to a message but I want to ask for you to pray and ask the Lord what your part is. We all need to work, and give, and serve, and pray. No one is unimportant and no is exempt.
Now I mentioned we’d be taking a special offering at the end of the service. Our general fund is behind and we want to save a lot towards a building fund. But this offering isn’t for us at all. I watched a video put together by Mark Driscoll, the pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, and he and another pastor went to Haiti and saw the devastation, and their mission was to connect with the pastors and congregations of Port Au Prince. Many of these congregations have been devastated. Pastors and congregation members killed, rotting away in church buildings that can never be used again. Flocks scattered, lives broken.
It puts our lives in perspective and how much we have to be thankful for.
Mark and other pastors have started a ministry called Churches Helping Churches which is devoted to helping the hurting in this devastated region by helping the ones who can bring the most hope. Let me read from their website:
Churches Helping Churches was created to address the immediate and long-term needs of churches when disaster befalls a country, region, city, or people in the spirit of Galatians 6:10—“…let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
Our help complements the initial waves of humanitarian aid that pour into a country in the wake of a disaster. Many countries have relied on networks of local churches to be a primary conduit for the flow of health care, humanitarian aid, and even education. Rebuilding churches is a means of restoring infrastructure in a country through which aid can flow into local communities which so desperately need it.
Both throughout history and following specific tragedies it is often the local church that cares for widows, orphans, and the poor. It is the church who performs the funerals, grief counseling and spiritual follow up with families of victims. Rebuilding local churches helps address the practical and spiritual needs of a country, one person, one neighborhood, and one community at a time.
When the magnitude of a catastrophe can be described as “biblical,” it is the local church that reminds people that another biblical concept is even more powerful: hope in Jesus Christ.
I realize some may not be prepared to give. We are going to put the website up – very simply churcheshelpingchurches.com. You can go on there and give online. I realize that many of us have already given, but maybe you are in a position to give more. Otherwise, consider this a reminder to pray for the suffering, bereaved, broken-hearted of Haiti.
And so we begin a fresh and invigorated building fund by giving to rebuild churches hundreds of miles away. Churches that have been torn apart. Appropriate and I believe it pleases the Lord for us to do so. We never want to be just about our own church, but always look beyond and have a vision for what God is doing far beyond our locale.
Thank you for your generosity. Thank you for allowing me to share openly and practically. Let’s pray and then I’ll ask the ushers to pass the plates.