5 Ways to Be the Church
By Pastor Manny
We’ve all heard, “The church isn’t the building, it’s the people,” and, “We don’t go to church, we are the church.” But do we really believe it? Do we really live it?
In the book of Acts we get a really good picture of what the church is supposed to be doing. Luke tells the story of this rag-tag group of leaderless disciples who decide that their mission isn’t over, it’s just beginning. They believe in the message they carry, and more importantly, they believe in the Messenger who delivered it to them, and as a result of this blatant faith in Christ and in the power of His message of repentance and renewal, the Church is born.
The steps for the spread of the Church are so simple; believe, repent, share, repeat. How, then, have we managed to complicate things so much in our modern attempts to be the Church? The biggest reason, we’ve forgotten what the Church is. We’ve lost the purpose of the Church; it isn’t a place for Christians to gather, it’s a Body with work to do.
In Acts 2, Luke tells us what is happening among those that are hearing this message of repentance for the first time:
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:42-47).
Out of this small passage of scripture I’ve found 5 ways that we can effectively be the Church again:
1. Devote Yourself to the Apostles Teaching
Simply put, this means reading, processing, and metabolizing the things written in God’s Word. We don’t have the luxury of journeying with Paul or Luke, but God inspired the writers of the Bible so we have the next best things, their teachings. If we are to effectively be the Church, we cannot allow our only intake of scripture to take place on Sunday morning from the pulpit. As growing Christians we have to be on a steady diet of teaching and this can’t happen if we expect our entire biblical experience to be spoon-fed to us. We must learn to feed ourselves, and then maturity and growth will begin to take place in our lives.
2. Be Together Often
To be the Church we have to be together. The Church is most often compared to a body. How useful would our bodies be if our limbs and organs decided that they didn’t want to be together anymore? It sounds absurd, but in a strange way that’s what happens when we decide to do it on our own. Our effectiveness is at its greatest when we are in community. My gifts are different than yours, so together we have a more complete unit than we would if you did your thing and I did mine. It’s easy to just stay home, to just let “them” do it, but that leads to isolation, loneliness, and a loss of purpose. The enemy will attempt to convince you that you are the odd man out, you are the unwanted, and that you don’t have anything to offer. That is an outright lie! You are a vital part of the Body and integral to the work of the Church. To be the Church we have to be together often. Not just on Sunday, but as often as we can, to challenge each other, to encourage each other, and to work side by side as the Body of Christ.
3. Be Sacrificial
This may be the hardest one of all. We can’t be part of the Church if we expect to be served. The Church doesn’t exist for those of us that are already here; it exists for the lost that aren’t here yet. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a support system for one another, but that is secondary to the real mission, which is to seek and save the lost of the world. As American humans, we have been convinced that if we aren’t being served, then something must be wrong. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. In reality, if we are serving others, often we’ll find that our needs are either being met as a byproduct, or that our needs weren’t as great as we once thought they were. The early Church sold possessions, including their homes and land, to provide for the needs of those around them. We often have a hard time giving up our Saturday afternoons to help someone, yet we find it very easy to complain when we have needs that are not being met. A great phrase I heard recently is, “a pulling mule can’t kick,” meaning, if we are out doing God’s work, we often find that our concerns and criticisms tend to fade away.
4. Break Bread Together
This picture of breaking bread is two-fold. One is very blatant, to be the Church we need to eat together. In Jesus’ day, sharing a meal was the ultimate sign of acceptance, which is why it was such a taboo subject that he ate with the least and last of society. When we eat together we become vulnerable to one another and vulnerability leads to understanding and love. Often when we disagree with someone in the church, it has more to do with not understanding each other than it does being offended. If we took the time to truly get to know each other, disagreement and conflict would be reduced significantly. To be the Church we must accept one another, which means being willing to know others and to be known ourselves.
The second side meaning in breaking bread is on the spiritual level; we are to have community with Christ. When we gather we should recognize Christ’s presence and allow Him the place at the head of the table. Communion with Jesus is the only true way to find unity with one another. When we remove our desires, however noble they might be, and allow His will to take their place, we no longer need to have things done our way. This is what it means to die to ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. We might have good plans and ideas, but Jesus has the perfect plan.
5. Be About Mission
The final ingredient in this passage is to simply be about the mission. There are hundreds of distractions that can take place in local churches. We can get so caught up in the inconsequential nonsense that we lose our effectiveness to the mission, which is to seek and save the lost. The early church in Acts understood the mission, which is why God saw fit to add to their numbers daily. It’s easy to lose focus on the mission when we are dealing with so many other things like finances, facilities, programs, etc., which is why it is imperative that we remember these things are not an end in and of themselves, but that they are a means to the end. These things are not the focus of the mission; they are tools to use to complete the mission. The biggest fear the Church should have today is that we lose our saltiness. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5 that we are the salt of the earth, but if we lost our saltiness (if we lose our effectiveness to the mission) it is impossible to get it back. We are the Church, and as such we have a mission and a purpose, anything that distracts us from that must be cast off.
Being the Church is hard work, which is why so many have chosen the spectator route. Going to church isn’t enough; we are all called to participate in the work, to grow in our walk with God, to do life together, to sacrifice, to break bread, and to be about the mission. We are all called and as a result of that call we are all equipped to fulfill that call.
“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” –Ephesians 4:1b-6
Remember In Prayer
~All who are sick with flu, viruses, colds and other illnesses
~Kimabole Friends Women’s Group in Kenya, our mission emphasis for March
~Pray for a renewed
spirit, a renewed desire, and a fresh wind to invigorate our church.
On February 27, 20 from Bangor Liberty were involved in preparing, serving and cleanup for 46 guests. The menu was vegetable soup with meatballs, bread, carrots, celery & peanut butter, mixed fruit cups, pumpkin bars, blueberry dump cake and angel food cake with whipped topping and drinks. Thanks to all our great volunteers!
Our next meal will be Friday, March 28th. Come join this fun night of service and fellowship.
In the Mail
Many loyal and faithful members of the staff at the hospital seemed really glad to see me and asked that I share their heartfelt gratitude to FUM for supporting them and looking out for their welfare by managing the hospital responsibly during the past eight years.
has been over a year since we learned that East Africa Yearly Meeting planned
to enter into an agreement with the National Council of Churches of Kenya to
manage the hospital, but the timing of that handover has been a mystery.
Representatives of FUM were not invited to participate in the discussion or
in making plans for the transition, but have hoped and prayed all along that
the new management would be good for the hospital and for its staff. And we
have kept asking ourselves, “How do we responsibly end this commitment to
Kaimosi Hospital for the good of all?”
Former General Secretary of Friends United Meeting
-Excerpts from her letter, the full letter is posted on the church bulletin
HOC Supply Closet
March is one of two months we contribute to the HOC Supply Closet instead of the Union Food Pantry. Each month an average of 530 individuals or families come to the Supply Closet to choose 3 items that cannot be purchased with food stamps.
To remember the items needed, just think of the letter “D”. It will remind you of Detergent, Dish soap, over the counter Drugs, Diapers and Dollars. If you’d like you can take home a bag in the entryway to use as a reminder to purchase and return these basic needs. Please help by bringing items or $$ by March 30. Thanks in advance for giving these practical gifts of love to our Marshall county neighbors in need.
Join us for classes/studies at 7 pm each Wednesday night. There are classes or studies for all ages, and a nursery for the younger children and babies. Meals will be held at 6:15 prior to our studies on March 12th & 26th.
The next meeting will be a workday on March 18 at Peggy Martin’s. We’ll gather at 9:30 to sew pillowcases. Neil and Peggy will provide lunch and Ann will give the lesson in the afternoon.
On Thursday, March 20th, Liberty USFW will meet at the Marshalltown Pizza Ranch at 5:45 pm, followed by a tour of the Salvation Army at 7:00 pm. Husbands are welcome to join the ladies for the meal and tour.
Garrison Scholarship for Christian Ministries is available for IAYM members who are pursuing a degree in a field related to Christian Ministries. All applications and references must be submitted to Iowa Yearly Meeting Office by May 31st. Awards range from $500 to $1,000 per calendar year. Contact BLFC for details, application and reference forms.
Garrison Memorial Scramble
4-Person Best Position Tournament
April 26, 2014
Oakland Acres Golf Club, Grinnell
??? - Contact Anthony Nieuwsma
Weird Animals VBS 2014
God filled the world with a lot of crazy creatures...including you! Weird Animals VBS will teach kids that even when you feel left out, even though you’re different, even when you don’t understand, even though you do wrong and even when you’re afraid, Jesus still loves you!
Join BLFC as we explore some weird and unique creations. Mark your calendars for the evenings of July 20-24. See Margaret or Jenalee to ask questions or volunteer. More details to come as we prepare to learn that the love of Jesus is one-of-a-kind.
March Mission Emphasis:
RSWR Kimabole Friends Women’s Group, Kenya
Right Sharing of World Resources is a Quaker micro-credit organization that supports income-generating projects led by women; many of whom are making less than a dollar a day.
The Kimabole Friends Women are a group of 30 Quaker women living in the area where it took the intervention of the Kenyan Defense forces to bring years of clashes over land under control. People are now settling down and reorganizing their lives.
Business activities are picking up. Years of fighting have taken their toll and unemployment and poverty remain high. Women have been particularly hit hard. This self-help group intends to start businesses in poultry, selling firewood and growing vegetables for local markets.
These women want to live in peace and have a better future for their children. A grant of $4750 will be repaid in a year. The women hope to net monthly incomes between $83 and $170. They use these funds for basic household needs and to provide education for their children. Please be generous with your support of this project on March 16th.
Ideas to “Live Love” in March
~March 13 is Popcorn Lovers Day - Be creative & share some popcorn with friends, co-workers or neighbors.
~March 9-15 is Teen Tech Week - Interact with teens in your church or community. Ask them questions about the latest technology they are using or set a time for them to help you with your technology.
From our Youth Pastor, Kris
Recently, we, along with the rest (I think) of New Providence, lost electricity from 7pm until about 1:30pm the next day. It was cold in our house. When we left the house it was 52 degrees! It’s just amazing to me that we realize how much of a role electricity plays in our lives when we don’t have it. It powers everything. Our heater. Our stove. Our refrigerator. Everything. I think what was the WORST part was that our router was out so we didn’t have Internet access. That was an exaggeration if you didn’t catch it! The point is this. How many times in our lives do we take God for granted? How many times have we looked past Him, and realized how much we need Him until “the power goes out.” We should be constantly looking to Him in the good times, not just when we need Him. We can’t put God in a box and just take Him out when it’s convenient for us or when things get really bad! How many of you have heard that song, “If I had a little white box to put my Jesus in…” The point of that song goes on to say “…I’d share Him with my friends.” We learned that song at camp and it quickly became one of my favorites. It’s great to say that we should share Jesus with our friends, but I don’t think we should put Jesus in a box in the first place. God is in every part of our lives, not just in the bad times. Rejoice in Him all the time!! “God is good…. All the time!”!
So if you work for Alliant Energy or had anything to do with restoring the power to my house along with the rest of New Providence, THANK YOU!!! Let’s not put God in a box and only take Him out when we really need Him, but let’s praise Him
and give Him the glory in the times where He has blessed us!