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Earthen Vessels

In Bethany North on February 7, 2011 by scottsund Tagged: , ,

On Sunday Feb. 27, just 3 short weeks away, the small church I help lead is moving locations.  We currently meet each week in a community center in Shoreline and over the course of 5 months, the current location keeps feeling smaller and smaller as our community continues to increase.  So in 3 weeks we will be moving north 20 blocks to the Spartan Recreation Center at the Shoreline Center.  On Sunday we showed the promo video for the new location (below) and people were super excited.  We all love the sense of growth and it is exciting to be part of something that seems to have such energy and trajectory and momentum behind this.  This is the stuff of dreams.  And this is also the story of the Gospel.

Jesus calls us not only to follow Him in simple obedience, but spend our life expanding His Kingdom here on earth by living out His mandate to love our neighbor.  Keep in mind what Jesus says before departing earth in the Great Commission.   Jesus tells us to GO and MAKE DISCIPLES.  Definitely, as disciples of Jesus, we hear the call to move and grow and advance His message.  We are meant to grow God’s kingdom by spreading the Good news.  So as our church grows and spreads out, there is much to be celebrated and excited about.  This is a good thing.

But the problem arises at times with the “why” of church growth.  We all know God desires for His lost children to come and build relationship with Him and be reconciled unto the Father.  Truly, this is why Jesus came, to atone for our sin and allow us a way back to a loving relationship with our Abba Father.  These motives are pure and beautiful and worthy.

However, at times, I lose sight of this.  I struggle with pride and vanity and self-importance.  As I grow the church, I have to be careful that I’m not trying to grow myself.  The focus, or the “why”, has to be on Jesus.  Everything we do must be about enlarging His territory, and not our own.  We are meant to grow the Kingdom of God, not the Empire of Self. The dictionary defines empire as “Imperial or imperialistic sovereignty, domination, or control”.  Simply put- it is exhibiting control and power through subduing others.

But Kingdom?  The dictionary defines a kingdom as “A realm or sphere in which one thing is dominant”.  Empires mean to subdue.  Kingdoms seek to enlarge.  See the difference?  Paul says about the gospel of Christ, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.” The point of the gospel is not about the vessel, it is about the treasure within.

Without Christ, I will always mess this up.  If left to my own instincts, I will seek to glorify myself.  I will focus on the “vessel” of the church as if we are enlarging an empire.  No, that is not what Christ desires.  As we grow and enlarge the church, everything we do must point at the center of our faith: Jesus Christ.

So why are we moving?  Simple:  we want more space for people to come and hear about Jesus.

Get Ready to Move:

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2 Responses to “Earthen Vessels”

  1. When you become a Christian, the Church is no longer ABOUT you. You ARE the Church. The purpose of the Church is to reach the lost for Jesus. So the Church is ABOUT the Lost! This is the whole purpose for its existance. In order for a church to grow, it has to do ONE (1) thing; Lead people to Jesus where they repent and establish a redeeming relationship with God through belief in His Son. If the Gospel is presented weekly by the pastor of the church, then just bringing people into an environment where the Spirit of God can speak to the heart through the “foolishness of preaching” will produce church growth.

    But the act of the individual personally leading a friend to Christ is an experience you never forget, especially the first time. And it should always be one of the two major things in the mind of the Christian when regarding the world; leading a person to Jesus and bringing them into the fellowship of believers that is the Church.

    The Church can and should be an exciting place. Great music, worship, fellowship, preaching, teaching and good pot-luck dinners all go together to make the local church a wonderful place to be. David said “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the House of the Lord”. And that is the feeling we should have everytime we enter the church building.

    But you cannot build and grow a church on these things. Although church would be a boring place without these things, they are not what produces healthy sustaining church growth. They are but the natural outgrowth and symptoms of a church that is daily and weekly adding believers to the rolls through people coming into a Saving Knowledge of Jesus Christ.

  2. I had no idea Bethany North was moving even more North! That is great, and as Richard used to say, “Healthy things grow…but the goal is health, not growth.” I always liked that!

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