Jesus, Risen and Speaking Again

Sermon Notes for Resurrection Sunday 2019

Often we have heard of the last seven sayings of Jesus on the cross.  But, what did Jesus say after the resurrection?

First Seven Sayings of Jesus after the Resurrection in John 20.

The first three sayings were to Mary Magdalene.

 

  • Why Weepest thou? (13 & 15)
    • Rev. 21:4 – God shall wipe away all our tears.

 

 

  • Mary (16)
    • He knows my name.

 

 

  • Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my father: go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. (Vs. 17)
    • Options A & B: – Taboo or Don’t hold me, go!

 

    • Option C: No need to hang on so tightly.  I am indeed returning to my Father, but not yet.  Go tell my disciples.  I will show myself to them and others soon.

Two sayings to the Disciples without Thomas  

 

  • Peace Be Unto You (Vs. 19)
    • Typical greeting but so much more; John 14:27 – My peace I give to you.

 

 

  • Peace be unto you, As my Father Hath Sent me, even so, send I you, receive ye the Holy Ghost, whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosoever sins ye retain, they are retained  (Vs. 21-22)
    • Deputizing – Holy Spirit – Messengers of the Gospel to be received by faith.

 

Two sayings to the Disciples with Thomas

 

  • Peace be unto you…Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless; but believing. (Vs. 26-7)
    • Christ will meet you where you are.  He will ease your doubts.

 

 

  • Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
    • Our belief is assured to be trustworthy by the Word of God alone.  It’s more than a feeling.  It’s settled in God’s Word.

 

Seven Sayings: Into Thy Hands

This sermon outline was more devotional in approach.

Luke 23:44-46

44 And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.

45 And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.

46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.

Psalm 31:5

“ Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.”

Learning to die from Jesus (Points made by John Piper)

  • Remember that God reigns.
  • Remember that God pities
  • Remember that your spirit lives on.
  • Remember that God’s hands are open to you.  
  • Do not murmur, complain, and rage against God.

Into thy hands…

  • What have you committed to God in sanctification?
    • Committed your prayers…
    • Committed your possessions…
    • Committed your family.
    • Committed your time…
    • Committed your life completely…

Seven Sayings: I Thirst

Soon Jesus would be dead.  The four last statements of Jesus seemed to happen in quick succession.  The fifth word of seven is, “I thirst.”

John 19:28-29

28 After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.

29 Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.

  • He did this to fulfill another scripture.  Everything Jesus did was in the will of God and no breath, no action, no word was wasted.
    • John 5:39, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
  • The prophecy referenced here is Psalm 69:21, “They gave me also gall for my meat, and in my thirst, they gave me vinegar to drink.”

Two drinks

  • Matthew 27:34; Mark 15:23 speak of a drink offered to Christ at the beginning of the crucifixion that was mixed with gall.  He would not take it. Gall was used to dull pain.
  • The second time, here, it was simply vinegar, the drink of the commoner.
    • Why was vinegar there?  It was popular among the Roman soldiers.  They would mix vinegar and water to prevent scurvy and other water born diseases.  It was also better at quenching thirst. Think of it as the Gatorade of Jesus’ day.
  • Jesus would drink the bitter cup that he asked the Father to let pass from him in the Garden of Gethsemane.

A man like no other.

  • Matt. 27: 48-49, “And straightway one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.  The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him”
  • Matthew 27:50-54, “Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. 54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.”
  • 2 Peter 2:22-24, “21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:  24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

What do we see and are challenged to follow?

  • Jesus’ physical humanity.
  • Jesus’ knowledge of the scriptures.
  • Jesus’ commitment to fulfilling the Father’s will.

Seven Sayings: My God, My God, Why hast Thou Forsaken Me

Jesus was on the cross for six hours at this point. It was about 3pm (the ninth hour of the day).  Up to this point, we have seen a great bit of detail about the physical side of Jesus’ crucifixion.  In this fourth statement, we are now fully introduced to the deeper anguish pressing down on the Savior.

Matthew 27:46

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Fully God – Fully Human

  • The suffering was very real, it was more than a feeling.  However, it is difficult for us to understand.  Jesus who had always been with the Father for all eternity is now feeling separation with God.
  • He had all power and was without sin being fully God.
  • But, with our full humanity, he bore the weight of our sin and punishment under the intense pressure of cross and the shame and reproach.  He suffered our physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional pains.

Psalm 22

  • Jesus was not speaking random words.  Nothing He said or did was with waster breath.  We find this statement in Psalm 22 and a deeper reading here finds many similarities to what Jesus was experiencing.  I will highlight some of the easier ones to see.

Psalm 22

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.

But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.

They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.

But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.

All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,

He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.

But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts.

10 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly.

11 Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.

12 Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.

13 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.

14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.

15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.

16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.

17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.

18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.

19 But be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me.

20 Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.

21 Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.

22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.

23 Ye that fear the Lord, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.

24 For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.

25 My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.

26 The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the Lord that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.

27 All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.

28 For the kingdom is the Lord‘s: and he is the governor among the nations.

29 All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul.

30 A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.

31 They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.

  • We so much messianic prophecy being fulfilled from this Psalm in the crucifixion of Jesus.  I believe it also helps us see what is happening.
  • When Jesus went through the temptation in the wilderness and the intensity of the prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, Angels came to minister to Him and restore His strength (Matthew 4:11; Luke 22:43).  Help was always near.
  • Jesus cries out on the cross, and from the content of Psalm 22, speaks of desperation for God’s presence and help.  However, on the cross, it was not there.  Why?

Christ became Sin, who knew no sin.

  • Christ was not forsaken from communion with God.  He did not cease to be the second person of the triune God.  Even Psalm 22 shows a still confident faith in who God is and trust in His character.
  • The sinless Son of God who had been, from all eternity, in an intimate relationship with His Father, is now spiritually separated from Him as we are when sin is present in us. When the sins of the world were put upon Jesus there was, for the first time, a separation between the Father and the Son. The Bible records something happened between them that we can only understand through the eye of faith.
    • That is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself (2 Corinthians 5:19).
  • The Father was placing the sins of the world upon the Son in order that everything in the universe that had been affected by sin could again be made right with God. Jesus was suffering the pain and separation that we deserve:
    • For he made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
  • In order for this to occur, the Father had to forsake the Son and allow our punishment to fall on Christ as our substitute.  
  • At this time, Jesus is standing not before God as Father (abba), but God (el) the righteous judge of sin.
  • May we grow in greater appreciation of Christ giving His life for us.
  • Christ was forsaken so we can have confidence before God in saying, “…for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.  So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Hebrews 13:5-6).

Seven Sayings: Behold thy…

John 19:25-27

In the previous two statements made by Jesus on the cross, we were given a glimpse into the salvific power of Christ.  The intercessory work was demonstrated through Jesus’ prayer to the Father over the ignorance of the crowds.  The immediate nature of salvation was seen in the words spoken to the penitent criminal on another cross.

Still, at the cross of Jesus we also see the compassion of Jesus and the devotion of many of his Followers.

  • As crowds gather round, Jesus sees five familiar, friendly faces.
    • Jesus’ Mother was there but we don’t see any of May and Joseph’s other children (Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21; John 7:3-5).
    • His aunt – Mk. 15:40 (Salome), Mt. 27:56 – mother of Zebedee’s children (James and John).
    • Mary the wife of Cleophas – mother of James and Joses (Mt. 27:56).
    • Mary Magdalene – the woman who Jesus cast 7 demons out (Lk. 8:1-3)
    • The Beloved disciple, John (John 13:23)

Mary was under Jesus’ Care.  No one cares for us like Jesus.

  • We know the song, “Mary, did you know?”  Let’s talk about what Mary knew.
    • She knew the message of Angel.
    • She heard the words of the magi and shepherds and pondered them in her heart (Lk. 2:8-20)
    • However, when Jesus was 12 years old at the temple in Lk. 2:41-52, she didn’t seem to have a full understanding of who He was and His purpose.
  • All, we can tell is she knew he was special.
    • Wedding at Cana – (John 2:1-5)
  • However, more than Mary’s love, we see Jesus’ love and compassion.  Scripture testifies of His care for us as well.
    • 1 Pet. 5:7, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”
    • Phil. 4:19, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
    • 2 Cor. 12:9, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

What we also see is how Jesus provides much of our care as He gave the care of Mary to John, a representation of the Church, the body of Christ on Earth today.

  • Why didn’t Jesus entrust Mary to Joseph or their other children?
    • Apparently, Joseph was dead.
    • Also, the step-siblings had not followed Jesus as we seen earlier.  At least not at this point.
  • So, instead of finding care in our physical relations and the world…
    • A new relation was given the responsibility
      • Acts 20:28, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
      • Mt. 19: 29, “And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.”
        • How can we have a hundred mothers, or children, siblings, and so forth?  No where but through the Spirit in the Church.  We receive a hundredfold the benefits of our human relationships.  To be bound together through Holy Spirit is something stronger than any relationship outside of the Spirit. 
      • We are not a part of this kingdom, we are part of the church.

Seven Sayings: Today

The second sermon in our series, “Seven Sayings from the Cross” comes from Luke 23:35-43.  Everything Jesus did and said had a purpose.  There were no wasted movements or waster breath with Him.  Including the words, He spoke from the cross.  While I don’t think they were intended to be wordy theological dialogues like the parables, they are indeed practical theology.  The complexity and immensity of what Jesus accomplished on the cross are demonstrated in these statements in a way that every person can understand with ease.

Luke 23:35-43

35 And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God. 36 And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, 37 And saying, If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself. 38 And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, This Is The King Of The Jews39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. 40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. 42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. 43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.

First, we see this Scripture demonstrating the instant nature of salvation by the grace of God alone received by faith alone.

  • In the very moment, “today,” we receive God’s gracious offer of salvation by faith we are brought into justification and adoption.
    • Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit”
    • Romans 8:14-17, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
    • Romans 10:9-13, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
  • Notice, the only thing the penitent thief could do was confess his fallen nature and need of the Father’s grace.  He could do not works, and we can do no works to gain or add to our salvation.
    • Ephesians 2:8-10, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

This Scripture also demonstrates the reality of heaven and hell.

  • The cross stands as a dividing line between those who receive Christ by faith and those who reject (the two thieves being on each side of Christ).
    • Lazuras and the rich man in Luke 16:9 show the clear teachings of Jesus’ teaching on our eternal destiny.
    • While our culture talks about a lot of grey areas, Jesus did not.  For example, look at Jesus’ “altar call” at the end of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:13-29).  There are two separate gates, two different paths, two different endings to find.  You either bear good fruit or evil fruit.  A person can either build on the teachings of Jesus (rock) or reject them (building on the sand).  There are no grey areas in any of our responses to Christ.  You are either with Him or against Him.

 

Lastly, this Scripture demonstrates the comfort knowing Jesus brings to us.

  • Since salvation is made a reality at the moment we receive Him by faith, we can have confidence before God in the Judgement.  We do not trust in ourselves but in Jesus’ glorious work on the cross and His Word to us.  We find comfort in knowing Jesus, for at the end of our life we will be with our Lord in eternity.
    • 2 Corinthians 5:8, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”

Most Read Posts of 2018

We just wanted to send out a message to thank everyone for another wonderful year on our blog.  The following lists show the ten most-read posts this year.  Looking forward to another year of serving and writing!

10. Christian Baptist Camp Meeting 2018

9. Three reflections on the Old Testament Tabernacle.

8. Don’t Quit!

7. Get out of the cave!

6. A pre-history of Christian Baptists.

5. Apps for small Churches.

4. But, be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

3. Camp Meeting Time! 

2. New Research Publication

1. Reasons for going to youth camp.

Almost back to normal?

At the beginning of December, I finished the last course for my Ph.D.   One-third of the way done with the Ph.D. requirements.  The remaining two is the completion of the oral comprehensive exam in February 2019 and my dissertation.  I thank the Lord for all He has already done and anticipate greater things still to come.  While there is still plenty to be done, it feels like a significant obstacle has been crossed, and normalcy is on the horizon.  Possibly?  It at least makes me smile.  So, the question is what am I looking forward to when my Ph.D. is finished?  What is it that keeps me moving forward?  Here are some of the things I am looking forward to doing with greater consistency and focus.

  1. Read for personal enjoyment and other interests.  With so much focus on scholarly books and articles, there are so many other books I want to catch up with reading.
  2. Write more frequently.  The blog started as a way to practice writing.  However, through it, I found a greater love for writing.
  3. Develop greater proficiency in playing musical instruments.  Right now, I can make a decent sound on most instruments.  Still, I would love to be able to have a greater mastery on the piano and guitar.
  4. Travel and visit new places.  This one is in partnership with the next one.
  5. Most of all, I am already enjoying more time with my family and look forward to completing my studies and having greater flexibility of time.  Being able to provide more for my family and giving more of myself to them is a great desire.

 

 

 

 

Whatever it is that you are doing that is a challenge and sacrifice, what keeps you moving forward?

 

The Fellowship of the Church

Relationships between Church members possess great influence when it comes to the overall health of the church.  When a church is known for its loving fellowship, the atmosphere may be characterized as warm, welcoming, non-threatening, and hospitable.  On the other hand, if a church is known for not having a loving fellowship than it may be characterized as cold, non-welcoming, threatening, and uncomfortable.

Without a loving fellowship, a congregation will struggle in everything that it does.  Charles Arn wrote, “One of the most important contributions your church can make to members— and nonmembers— is to teach them how to love” (Arn, 2013, p. 127).  This is the foundational belief of why it is so important to focus on congregational relationships.  This is obedience to Christ’s teaching in John 13:34-35 but it also how we come to know God.  In 1 John 4:7-8 we learn that if we love we know God and if we don’t love then we don’t know God.  What we see is that Christian fellowship not only connects members to each other but also connects them to Christ.

There is an undeniable sense in scripture that believers are to have a deep spiritual connection displayed through their relationships.  Passages like John 13:35 word as though our relationships are markers for the Christian faith.  By having a common faith brings believers to a common ground but there is also the understanding that believers have the Spirit of God binding us together in the most holy faith (Ephesians 4:3).  It would be hard-pressed to say there is any scriptural ground for a Christian not to engage in deeply committed and authentic relationships with other believers.  In fact, part of the sanctification a person goes through is to turn their thoughts and feelings out of themselves and towards other believers. 

We see Jesus immediately begin to gather his disciples after his baptism and temptation in the wilderness.  Fellowship with others was of paramount to Christ.  We see when Jesus was away from the disciples in pray but we also see him keeping them at least a few yards away during His most intense night of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Jesus spent over three years of time with the disciples sharing in everyday life.  Jesus one day would look at the disciples and says, “ I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made it known unto” (Jn 15:15).  In relationships, there has to be a mutual honesty and transparency.  Jesus called the disciples friends because He could freely share what God had been doing.  Congregational relationships mirror this “friendly” relationship with confession, exhortation, rebuke, and encouragement. 

After the Holy Spirit descended and indwelled in the disciples, after the sermon of the Peter, after the three thousand souls were added all on the same day of Pentecost, we see almost immediately a close fellowship mentality.  The people seemed to throng upon the disciples as, “they continued stedfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42).  It seems the remainder of the New Testament is about the growth of the fellowship of the church and the growing pains it would have to deal with.  In the context of congregational relationships, we read “by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13) and “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).  The congregations were to be “of one accord, of one mind” (Phil. 2:2), and that we are to “consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” (Heb. 10:25). 

In Paul’s letter to the Philemon, the master of a runaway slave, Onesimus, he focused on the common ground that believers stand on.  According to Paul, fellow believers all share in some in the same grace from God and therefore live in a common mutuality that makes all equal.  The implications this has for churches has been profound.  Coming from this perspective, it would be perfectly acceptable and even beneficial to all, for pastors to approach others as their equals.  This goes for board members and congregational members.  It would also apply to others as they relate to the pastor.  In this view, it would be normal for pastors to have strong relationships with others in their congregations.   

Leading the fellowship.

Paul wrote in Romans 12:3-8 about a diversity of spiritual gifts in the body of Christ.  This diversity ended up causing issues at some point in several of the churches, including those at Rome and Corinth.  With the church at Rome, the tensions between people’s gifting’s were only bolstered by growing racial tensions between Jews and Gentiles.  Such differences are magnified when they are also used to solidify a person’s position and authority over another person.  But these things shouldn’t be in the Christian community.  Paul’s view on this is that the Christian community is a body in which each individual is joined to every other member of the community”.  

Therefore, it seems that both of the scripture describes an approach for all believers to approach relationships with other believers with a high level of openness.  As for pastors, they need to be aware of the dangers of pride from spiritual gifts or different positions in the church bring.  They also need to be aware of the utility of diversity of gifts and backgrounds.  This demands that pastors approach all other believers with a mutual respect, not of a position of hierarchy.  Each believer is valuable to Christ and to other believers.  This usefulness extends past the profitableness for ministry but also for the benefits that relationship brings with other people.   

The biblical foundation begins to point out the importance of fellowship in the congregation.  Loving fellowships, mutual understanding, and ministry partnership are all important components of a healthy congregation.  Without strong relationships in the congregation, the likelihood of a church accomplishing the great commission will be minimal.  To flourish a congregation must have fellowship and it is up to the leaders to promote and cultivate the leaders.  Peter Scazzero writes in his book, The Emotionally Healthy Church (2010), “As go the Leaders, so goes the Church” (p. 20).  A proverb from my dad says, “a fish always rots from the head down.”  The leadership of the church can point the direction of a church’s fellowship by what it teaches and by what it models.  Mostly by what it models how to fellowship in front of the members of the congregation and community. 

If the leaders of the church are together in one mind and one accord they will produce an atmosphere of unity in the church.  When they work together through conflicts and problems they will model to the church how they can do the same with their own personal conflicts.  When the leadership of the church partners together to do ministry it encourages and models how others in the congregation can also work together.  On the opposite side if there is division in the leadership, jealousy, and a whole number of other relational pitfalls then the potential for harm in the congregation is great and the possibility of schism looms.   Since the ramifications of unhealthy congregational relationships are serious, it is important that the leadership of the church keep their ears open to what is taking place in the relationships of the people. 

Fellowshipping better.

This means that leaders have to constantly gauge themselves and the relationships of those in the congregation.  The first part is probably a little harder to do since it might mean adjusting the way we relate to people.  Mel Silberman put it in his book, People Smart (2000), “Think of getting interpersonally fit just as you would think of getting physically fit” (p. 9).  He suggested that we have to do some work to make improvements in our areas of strength and our areas of weakness.  

While individuals can work on their relationship skills it is still the responsibility of the church to foster those relationships by creating atmospheres for relationship building.  The joke is that many churches think of fellowship as the two minutes of handshaking during the worship service or involving the green bean casserole after the service.  While those do play in a part in fellowship but only a part.  They only add to a much larger possibility of a loving fellowship atmosphere in the church.

Russell and Russel (2010) wrote that there are several ways to create this type of atmosphere through the work of the church.  The first is the use of the “large atrium” in which “You can hear the buzz of the crowd long before you arrive in the atrium” (p. 212).  It’s been said that you can see how much people enjoy each others company by how long they stay before and after service.  He offers two more suggestions for creating an atmosphere, recreational opportunities, and meaningful activities like service projects and mission trips. 

The methods are many and very personal to each church’s particular culture.  What may work best at one church may not work at another.   Ultimately, each church need to rely on the biblical foundation for having a loving fellowship and the basic need of people to belong.  Having a loving fellowship can be one of the strongest assets a church has in regards to discipleship and evangelism.  It’s too important to not understand and study.  It’s too important to not intentionally promote and protect our Christian fellowship. 

References

McIntosh, Gary L.; Arn, Charles (2013). What Every Pastor Should Know: 101 Indispensable Rules of Thumb for Leading Your Church. Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Russell, Bob; Russell, Rusty (2010). When God Builds a Church. Howard Books. Kindle Edition.

Scazzero, Peter, (2010). The Emotionally Healthy Church. Zondervan. Grand Rapids, MI.

Siberman, Mel; Hansburg, Freda (2000). People Smart. Berret-Keohler Publishers, Inc. San Francisco, CA.

Changes that have affected ministry.

The following is a list of major shifts in everyday life that have changed how a large portion of how ministry takes place.  The first list focuses on past changes from the 1950s to 2000.  The second list focuses on changes since 2000 and the trajectory into the future.

Past Changes – 1950’s to Present

  • Shepard to Rancher – Family church minister shifted to larger congregational care.  Pastors are more specialized in their area of care (lead pastor, teaching pastor, executive pastor, worship pastor, youth pastor, etc.).
  • Inclusion – More open and friendly to other faiths/denominations.
  • Community Perception of Pastors – Less respect and use by the community.
  • Communication – Technology has increased ability but apparently disconnected us more.
  • Priority of church vs. family – Church is no longer a priority. 
  • Authenticity – Transparency has increased and generations clash over how much to share.
  • Worship style – In regards to ministry, shorter preaching, more worship arts focus.  
  • Dress – Formal clothing shifted to more casual.
  • Technology – More than just communication, but also travel, audio systems, a/c, and so on.
  • Women in ministry – Women are taking more leadership roles and entering the ministry.
  • Preaching/teaching – Style is more conversational and teaching.  Regularity in times preaching. Not as much “shouting” preaching.
  • More fellowship opportunities – Less time spent together outside of a church.  

 

Future Changes – Present to Future

  • Diversity/Globalization – People are scattered.  Grow diverse or shrink.
  • Age – Baby boomers are moving to old age.
  • Relevant – How much engagement with the culture and changing along with it?
  • Increasing inter-faith – Common ground. Inter-denominationally already accepted.
  • Technology – Continually changing and driving church practice.
  • Family  Dynamics – mixed families focus.
  • Authentic Worship – Experiential (attractional) vs. truth
  • Online Community – Physical church or online church.
  • Diversity – Women and greater ethnicity in leadership.
  • Formal education less valued – Where can I get the training for less debt?
  • No single source of information – Many other opportunities for information and spiritual formation outside of the church.
  • Reverse formation – Younger generations teaching older generations.  
  • Teamwork vs. solo ministry – Greater use of staff in the church.