This month we are thinking about what the church is here for and how we build the church. Of course, someone will tell me that it’s not our job to build the church, that’s what Christ does through the power of the Holy Spirit. Quite right. It is his work, but we are called to cooperate with him in it. When Jesus left this earth after the 40 days were over following his resurrection he did not say, ‘You hang around for a bit and have fun, I’ll build the church and return later to collect you.’ He said:
‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ (Matthew 28:18-20)
He left his disciples with a task and that task was to make disciples. We have thought before (many times) about the five purposes that we see acted out in the early church:
Discipleship – Fellowship – Worship – Service – Evangelism
If we are to build the church in an authentic way these are the five purposes that still guide us. And if we are to establish The Bridge as a fruitful way of further expressing our life in the community, then these five purposes are at the heart of that. So in this series we will be exploring how those principles need to be worked out however the church moves forward.
We began by looking at Fellowship because this follows on from our studies into the nature and character of God, which we studied over the summer. The basic truth about God’s nature is that he is Father-Son-Spirit in an indissoluble unity of love. The basic truth about his desire for human beings is that he wants us to participate in his community of love. His gracious and merciful desire to rescue us from the power of sin, and our slavery to sin, all flows from this.
Not only that but we desperately need that sense of community. We may find the odd character who wants to be alone, but most people want anything but that. We long for community; so much so, that it has become the dominant feature of our society. Social media is just this, a way of saying, ‘Here I am, I matter!’ What God wants for us is something so much deeper than Facebook and longer lasting than Instagram! This is eternal life, life in all its fullness. This is what we want to express as a church and what we want to build into The Bridge, because The Bridge is just a way of projecting who we are in Christ.
Now there are some things that we have begun to do that are part of this process. One of those is Celebrate Recovery. Unless you’ve turned up for the first time recently you will have heard me speak of this before. Often. We allow ourselves to believe a lie that Satan tells us: ‘You will never be any different, God can’t help you’. It’s a lie but we don’t expose that lie by sitting back and waiting for something to change. We have to give the Holy Spirit something to work with. Celebrate Recovery is a programme for anyone who has bad habits, patterns of behaviour they can’t break, things that have hurt them that haven’t really gone away and behaviour that they indulge in that has hurt others. It’s for anyone, and it is at heart a discipleship programme. It frees you to be yourself. It does not require you to tell strangers your inner hurts and secrets, but it is a way of dealing with them. We are starting this month. If you want to know more, please pick up a leaflet or speak to Jo Moore or myself.
Finally, I was asked this week if, as part of this commitment to love one another and our community, there is a fund that we use to help people going through hardship. There is, and it’s called the Communion Fund. If you would like to donate to that, please put your offering in an envelope marked Communion Fund and place it in the offering.