Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Church's Job Description

            It has now been almost a month since we moved from Scottsville to Scottsburg (both in Virginia), where I am now the pastor of Bethel Baptist Church.  If you live in the area, I hope you’ll come see me at my new church.  We’re looking forward to a wonderful ministry with God’s people here in Halifax County.  This past Sunday in an evening service, we celebrated the beginning of my ministry here with an installation service.  At that service, we signed a pastor-church covenant, and much was said about my job description.  So at the morning service on Sunday, I spoke about the church’s job description.  I’d like to share with you the things that God expects of His church.  If we do these things, I know our Lord will find us faithful.

            Acts 2:42 (ESV) describes the activity of the early church:  “And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”  If we want to understand what kind of church God blesses, all we must to is model ourselves after those first believers.

            And they devoted themselves…  This means that they were dedicated, committed, and passionate about practicing their new faith.  Too many Christians today lack zeal, and would rather put the world’s distractions above their commitment to Jesus.  If we want God’s blessing, we need to devote ourselves to the things of God.

             To the apostles’ teaching…  No doubt, your church has at least one or two great teachers.  When God’s people follow their job description, it means they avail themselves of opportunities to learn more of God’s word, from people who are gifted to teach.  When Christians learn and grow, they eventually become teachers themselves, and continue the cycle of learning for generations to come.

            And the fellowship…  In order for the church to grow, it needs to be made up not only of people who come together on Sunday mornings, but also of folks who are friends throughout the week.  A thriving church means getting to know others within the Body of Christ, and supporting one another in good times and in bad.

            To the breaking of bread…  This refers not only to times of fellowship, but more specifically to times of worship.  In ancient times (as in some denominations today), the Lord’s Supper was celebrated every week.  Here, the breaking of bread refers to worship.  Too many Christians attend Sunday school but skip worship services altogether.  But worship is the Christian’s response to God’s goodness, and a balanced believer will make sure to incorporate time of worship in his or her life.

            And the prayers…  Don’t forget the deeper spiritual life of prayer!  Christianity isn’t all about being social and learning the Bible.  It’s also about engaging God in meaningful times of prayer—both in private and together with God’s people.

            These five things make up the church’s job description.  You might say, “Wait a minute—I don’t see missions listed here.”  The fact is that if the church does these five things, a missional heart with necessarily follow.  Verses 43-47 say that the results of a church following its job description are a sense of awe coupled with God performing signs and wonders among the people.  Also, believers with glad and generous hearts will share with those who have need.  People’s attitudes will be transformed as they learn to praise God together.  Neighbors around them will see this transformation, and believers will have favor with all the people.  And finally, God will add daily to the number of those who are being saved.

            I hope that you’ll be one of those Christians who knows his or her job, and that you follow your job description to the letter.  Not because you have to, but because you want to.  I hope that you’re devoted to these things, because through your devotion the church is blessed, and new believers are brought into the Kingdom.

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