Ask anybody, family is never easy. Every family has struggles, has conflict, has some kind of drama. We can’t choose who is in our family, and while we love family, we don’t always like them, but we need family.
Wife: you don’t like anyone on my side of the family.
Husband: That’s not true, I like your mother in law, better than my mother in law.
ISOLATION IS NOT WHAT GOD WANTS
Isolationism is not God’s plan for His people. He invented the church because He knows we are far better together. Not perfect, just better. People were not made for isolation, they were created to from families.
During the corona virus pandemic we have been told to isolate. We’ve been instructed by government and civil authorities to stay home. Many Christians have done church online, many haven’t bothered. Introverts have commented how much they enjoy staying away from people and being solitary. Extroverts have gone stir crazy. The Bible says,
Psalms 68:5-6 (ESV Strong’s)
Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.
God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,
but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.
Many if us have known what it is like to be dislocated from church. Sure, we survived, we didn’t lose our faith, or maybe some of us did, but we didn’t thrive, because we are better together. Take an ember from the fire and it tends to go out. Unity and church are not my idea, it’s God’s… He sees the power if it, and even commands unity.
Our church family is our home, where God has planted us. It’s not perfect, but if you find the perfect church, don’t join you’ll mess it up. We still need each other.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV Strong’s)
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
So let me ask you, why bother? Why is your church family so important to God, and why should we be so important to you? Why do you need your church family?
1. TO ENCOURAGE AND UPLIFT YOU
Your church family should encourage you. When you are down, or struggling, they are there to support you, care for you and say words that encourage you. Sometimes we fail, but mostly we are good at encouraging each other.
My Vision for Ignite is a church where people serve doing what they love. They are given opportunities, support and backup to become who God wants them to be. I want us to build a community together where loving and supporting each other is normal, not the exception.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV Strong’s)
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
The Bible is pretty strong when it addresses words of encouragement in church…
Ephesians 4:29 (ESV Strong’s)
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Corrupting talk is the Greek SAPROS, which means rotten or purified, and frankly this accurately describes the speech of some Christians I know! But the Greek for “giving grace” is OIKODOMÉ, which is a building term meaning construction of a dwelling… Building up! Are your words building others or purifying them?
2. TO BE ACCOUNTABLE TO
Your church family gives you accountability. We all need this, lest we become a law to ourselves and head into error.
Colossians 3:16 (ESV Strong’s)
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Notice that the standard to which we are held accountable is the Word of God. At your church you can hear the Word taught, giving you knowledge, which if applied correctly leads to wisdom. But notice there is also admonishment, that is warnings.
When you meet your church family week by week, eyeball to eyeball, you become accountable to each other. As a pastor, I take this very seriously. I don’t want to lose any of our church family to bad teaching or failure to warn people.
To your family at Ignite, you are accountable, and there is safety and security in that accountability. My leaders are accountable to me, and I to my leaders.
Romans 15:1-2 (ESV Strong’s)
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
3. TO BE SHEPHERDED AND GUIDED
Your church family is a place you can be shepherded and guided in your life. If you are seeking God, I want our church to be the place for you. That’s why we are committed to changing how we do church. I don’t want to be stuck in tradition, I want to be listening to the Lord and seeking God together.
How can you be guided at church? The Holy Spirit is our guide, and He lives within us, so why can’t we just go it alone, or meet as a separate splinter group? What bother with a church family at all?
John 16:13 (ESV Strong’s)
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
Beware of guidance from a single source that is not the Word of God. I wish I had a dollar for every person I’ve seen use the phrase “God told me” to do what they want. Guidance is almost always from multiple sources.
The pastor’s messages have often spoken to our people, as have prayer and prophetic words, as have solid and godly advice. For me, a passage of Scripture is the best guidance with the witness in my heart, but not one I look for, one I find in my day to day Bible readings.
FAMILY IS YOUR TRIBE
Your family is really your tribe, and your church family is your tribe too. When you go to a school musical that your child is in, who do you look for? Others may be more talented, more beautiful or more prominent, but you look for yours don’t you?
You can stay home and watch far better sermons in the internet. You can see Hillsong who provided better worship and entertainment. But they are not your tribe, not your people, not your family. TD Jakes, Joyce Meyer or Rick Warren might be great, but they don’t know you from Adam and don’t really care about you. This is your family, and with all my shortcomings, I am your pastor. I can know you, speak with you, and before God I care passionately about you and your life with God.
WE ARE BETTER TOGETHER
Ephesians 4:16 (ESV Strong’s)
from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Proverbs 27:17 (ESV Strong’s)
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
So we we reignite church here, take the time to rejoice in the incredible gift God has given us… Each other! In this room, in the chapel, in house parties, we are one and we are better together. We sharpen each other, we grow together, we support one another, we stand as one, one body, one family, one church! ,This week the Lord gave me this verse for our church family…
Isaiah 58:11-12 (ESV Strong’s)
And the LORD will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.
And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to dwell in.
It’s no accident that you are here today, it’s no accident that you are being planted here, so let’s get gardening and grow fruitful together. Sometimes we throw away what we have to try and gain something better, but God says we are better together.
We are going to move into a new format right now of finishing in small groups, to discuss and to pray together.. So let’s finish the broadcast, and I’d ask group leaders and house party leaders to stand and gather a group together.