Sunday Sermon: ‘State of the Church 2010’

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Today’s message is for the member of Twin Oaks, as well as those visiting, but seriously considering someday joining. Today I am going to preach what I call my annual – ‘State of the Church Message’. Obviously this is kind of a take-off from the president’s State of the Union Address; however I doubt very seriously that they will be discussing this message on Meet the Press or the evening news. I do hope to share some things with you that will inform, encourage and inspire you.

Matthew 16:13  When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?14 And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. 15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Christ shares (4) important details concerning the Church in this passage of scripture:

1) The church belongs to Him

2) He is the One building His church

3) The forces of hell are against His church

4) Yet not even the forces of hell shall prevail over His church

I. Satan and the Church

That Satan would be against the church should not surprise us. Scripture says that he is a roaring lion, roaming about and seeking whom he may devour. That includes individuals, homes, and churches. Someone has said that when Satan fell from heaven, he landed in the church business meeting. I’m glad to say that we have good business meetings here at Twin Oaks and they are open to all members and visitors alike. Yet, even though we enjoy a lot of peace and harmony in this church, we should never forget that we have an enemy who wants to destroy it. The way Satan enters the church is through individuals who allow him to control their mind and thinking. Scripture teaches us that we should always be on the alert for one of Satan’s attacks.

Yet though Satan is an enemy to the church, he will not prevail over the church. Though he often destroys certain fellowships, that need not be the case. The Lord commanded him, ‘Get thee behind me Satan.’ James tells us that if we will resist the devil, he will flee from us. A lot of church members need to rebuke the devil and let the Holy Spirit be in control.

II. Christ and the Church

A. The church belongs to Jesus Christ

Sometimes members of a church will refer to it as –  ‘my church.’ ‘That is my church.’ Normally that means that believer is attached to that church and feels like they are a part of its fellowship. They attend that particular church on a regular basis. It’s where they go to receive spiritual nourishment. It’s where they give and serve. They are committed to that particular church body and therefore they refer to it as ‘their church.’ We all need to be a part of a local church body. We all need a church fellowship that we can say is ours.

Yet we must never begin to think that we somehow ‘own’ the church. The amount of money we give doesn’t give us the right to own a church; nor does what we do or how long we’ve been there. A couple of years ago we put up a new sign out front and there’s one thing that intentionally missing – my name. I didn’t want ‘Terry Covey’ put on that sign, not because I am in any way ashamed to known as the pastor of this church, but because I don’t own this church. I’m no more important than any of you. This is my church in that this is where my family comes to worship, this is where we give our tithes and offerings, and this is where we serve. We are in fellowship with the Lord and with you as His followers and therefore this is our church and you are our church family. But never will I consider this to be ‘my church’ because I am the pastor. In my opinion, that would be a sin against my Lord.

A lot of churches go through times of turmoil. Most often that it is because someone or some group, tries to control the church. That’s not a new problem. It has existed since the church began.

1 Corinthians 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. 2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. 3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? 4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? 5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? 6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

1. The Characteristics of the Corinthians

It appears from scripture that the Corinthians were at times the most immature believers in all the Bible. Paul wrote more to the Corinthians than he did the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians combined. It was a church body often filled with division and dissension and all of it was due to self-centeredness and selfishness.

2. The Carnality of the Corinthians

Paul calls them – ‘carnal.’ The word carnal means ‘fleshly.’ By that, Paul meant that they living more by the old nature of the flesh than by the new nature of the Spirit. They acted more like non-believers than believers. Galatians 5 teaches us that the works of the flesh include: envy, strife and division. Yet the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy and peace.

Actually their carnality was a sign of their spiritual immaturity.

1 Corinthians 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. 2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. 3 For ye are yet carnal…

3. The Circumstances of Their Carnality

The Corinthians were carnal in many ways. They were carnal over the use of spiritual gifts. They were carnal over the observance of the Lord’s Supper. They were also carnal concerning spiritual leaders.

1 Corinthians 3:4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?

Paul had planted the church, and shortly after, a young Christian by the name of Apollos came  and discipled them. The problem was not with Paul and Apollos, nor between Paul and Apollos.

a. The problem was the fact that the Corinthians:

i. Favored men based upon carnal reasons   (physical appearance, sound of voice, style of teaching, etc)

ii. Followed men instead of Christ

b. Paul also shares what is the right way to view our spiritual leaders –

1 Corinthians 1:10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. 13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

That pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? ‘Was Paul crucified for you?’

1 Corinthians 3:5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers (servants) by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? 6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

Who is Paul? Who is Apollos? Who is a Cephas or Simon Peter? Servants of Christ and His church. That’s what the word ‘minister’ means. If the Lord Himself was a Servant, and if His ministers are servants, shouldn’t the whole church be servants? That’s what keeps a church from becoming carnal. We all must take upon ourselves the spirit of a servant. If we all will be servants, God will use one to plant and another to water and God will produce the increase.

B. Christ is the One Who Builds the Church

Christ builds the church and He uses servants to do it. There are no stars in the church of Jesus Christ; only servants. Anytime a church begins to have more celebrities than it does servants, it begins to stink!

III. Christ and Twin Oaks Baptist Church

A. Christ has done much to build this church

1. Began in 1992 in a basement with 36 charter members.

2. We closed 2009 with 357 members.

3. Average attendance for 2009, (total of two services)  – 295. Last Sunday we had a combined attendance of 340 and we’ve had several Sundays this past year where we approached the 350 mark. I only share that to let you know that as those numbers go up, so does the need for the Lord’s leadership. To whom much is given, much is required.

4. On June 1, 2003, I preached my first message to you as your pastor. I asked you to call me ‘pastor’ because the title pastor means shepherd. That’s what I want to be. I once read that shepherds – lead, feed and give heed.

I also asked you to pray three things for me as your pastor: Wisdom, Boldness, and Humility. I gathered those three principles from the story of Solomon when he became king over Israel. I asked for:

i. Wisdom to know God’s will

ii. Boldness to do God’s will

iii. Humility remain in God’s will

I want to thank you this morning. I want to thank you for your prayers, support, encouragement, patience, love, and friendship. I also want to thank you for your service, sacrifice and steadfastness. This church would not be where it is at unless many of you had been faithful servants. Many of you are here today. Some are now home with the Lord. To God be the glory, great things He has done!

B. The Need for Wisdom, Boldness and Humility

1. Assistant Pastor

As many of you know, sometime back we made the decision as a church to hire an assistant pastor. That is something new for most of you, so let me take a moment and explain.

a. Eleven Years as An Assistant

I served for 11 years as an associate pastor before God called me to be your pastor, or what many call today – the Senior Pastor. Pastor Cannon, whom you heard me speak of many times, was the Senior Pastor and had been so for nearly forty years. He was a very wise, mature man who taught me much. Before he became the Senior Pastor of that church, he himself had been an assistant pastor in another church.

i. He was the pastor of the church and I, along with several others, were his assistants. It was a rather large church and had an assistant pastor in charge of Christian Education. Another was in charge of teens, another music, another children and another middle aged adults. My primary focus was with young married couples.

ii. Pastor Cannon was the pastor and bore the responsibility of shepherding that church. Yet because of the size of that church, it was impossible for him to be able to cover all the bases. That’s where we as his assistants came in. Our duty was to assist him.

b. Need at Twin Oaks

I never dreamed six years ago that one day we would be talking about hiring an assistant pastor. Yet I believe that if you talk with anyone who has been in the ministry for a number of years and understands what it’s all about, I believe that 9 out of 10 will tell you that we were at that point two or three years ago. Therefore,

i. Our church has voted to hire an assistant. We have already set aside in savings, his first year’s salary.

ii. Our church has selected a search committee and to date, we have reviewed numerous resumes, searching for God’s man for us. We need a man for the job, but we need God’s man for the job.

iii. His duties:

(I) Assist me – various pastoral duties (as I did for 11 yrs). He will be called by God, ordained as a pastor, and academically prepared to serve in that role.

(II) Help plan special events: Sportsman’s Banquet, Passion Play, etc

(III) Focus primarily on our Junior High and Senior High Ministries. He will be a leader, but he will need many to help him. Our goal is to develop separate Jr. High and Sr. High ministries. Therefore, this man will need parents and a host of energetic volunteers to assist him. Keep in mind God’s formula for success – one plants, another waters and God gives the increase.

We are a team and together, we can build a winning team. My goal over the next few years is to develop to a greater extent our ministry from the nursery through young adults. This man and his family will help us do that. I thank everyone who has been and is currently involved. According to Paul in 1 Corinthians 3, everyman shall one day receive reward according to his or her labor. Many of you will one day hear the Lord say, ‘Well done thou good and faithful servant.’

Many ask, “How close are we to hiring this person?” That’s up to the Lord. We’ve looked at and prayed over many resumes. I have full confidence that person is out there. Never forget, while this church was on its knees in Ferrum, praying for a pastor, there was a pastor in Lima, OH, praying for a church. At God’s right time He brought us together.

2. Building and Expansion

We have a good problem here at Twin Oaks. We need more space. To put it in a nutshell, we need a larger sanctuary in which we all can come together in worship. We need additional classrooms for our Sunday School to continue to grow. We need an area large enough to hold events such as Homecoming and the Sportsman’s Banquet. One of the problems our Building Planning Committee has had is to determine what we need the most. We need it all right now. Therefore, if someone is ready to write a check this morning, we would estimate that about $3 million dollars will come close to covering it. $4 million for sure. Obviously, we can’t do it all at once. So what is the most logical steps for us to take?

We took one big step a couple of years ago and went to two services. Whereas that has allowed us to continue to grow, it also puts a great strain on a lot of people and keeps us all from experiencing what it could be like if we all were here together and focusing our energy into one service. Will we ever go back to one service? Many of us pray so. Here’s something to think about – one service at 10:00 am with Sunday School at 9.

Here again, we need wisdom, boldness and humility. We need the wisdom to know what to do, the boldness to step out in faith and do it, and the humility to always keep in mind that it’s about building lives and not building buildings.

We have a committee that has been working and planning on finding the best solution. Many churches are building what is called a ‘Multi-purpose facility’ which can be used for worship and other large gatherings.  If we do something like that, we can remodel much of what we currently have and expand our Sunday School classrooms.

I’m going to go ahead and give you the sticker shock. At the very least it’s going to be somewhere around $1 million minimum. “We can’t do that!” some of you are silently screaming! No, we can’t, but God can if that’s how He wants to build this church. I would also like to set a goal for us that by 2013, we are in our new facility. If you know much about building, it will take all of the next two years plus years to get it done.

We made a commitment a few years ago to save up at least $250,000 before we begin to build. We’re currently debt free and have in our building fund over $150,000. That amount needs to continue to grow and who knows, the Lord may bless and use you to help in a great way. You may somewhere along the way be blessed and able to give a large sum. Or, you may be like the boy who gave his lunch to Jesus and with it, the Lord fed a multitude. ‘Little is much when God is in it.’

Conclusion:

Our goal is not to build buildings or empires. Our goals is to build lives. That’s what Christ meant when He said that He would build His church. Growth to some means numerical growth. Growth to others means spiritual growth. I believe that numerical growth is the result of spiritual growth happening in the lives of many people. Acts 2 says that the Lord added to the church daily, such as should be saved. When Christ is the One building His church, numerical growth and spiritual growth go hand in hand.

1 Corinthians 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

The foundation of it all is saving faith in Jesus Christ. Many years ago, a song was written entitled, The Solid Rock.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

Is your life built upon Christ, the solid rock? Upon this rock, Christ will build His church, and not even the gates of hell shall prevail against it.

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