MERGE 3: GO MISSIONALLY
Bible Passage: Colossians 4:7-18.
INTRODUCTION TO MERGE
Today, we arrive at our final look at MERGE - our spiritual growth engine that is designed to help people find Jesus and then to follow Jesus until character and conduct are fully formed in them. That's God's goal for your life, to conform you to Jesus.
MERGE is based on three values that will advance that formation process:
Gather Relationally by connecting to Christ and his Church.
Grow Intentionally by practicing the spiritual disciplines.
Go Missionally by serving the church and/or the community.
Associated with each value is a series of concrete action steps. Soon, we'll have cards printed up with all the steps on them. It's a guide to spiritual growth, a simple way to measure progress and stay on track.
We've arrived at the third value: Go Missionally. What I mean by this is: we join Christ on his mission to the church and the world. Essentially, we step up to serve the church and the community.
To help us get a handle on this concept, let's read Colossians 4:7-18. It's a list of people who stepped up to go missionally with the apostle Paul. Let's read:
(Colossians 4:7-17) Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. 8 I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts. 9 He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here.
10 My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.) 11 Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my co-workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me. 12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. 13 I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis. 14 Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings. 15 Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.
16 After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.
17 Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.”
This final section of Colossians introduces the men who hand-carried Paul's letter to the church: Tychicus and Onesimus (vv. 7-9). The list also shares greetings from Paul's ministry team (vv. 10-14), greets other Christians in the area (vv. 15-17), and closes with a final blessing (v. 18). The list is sort of the equivalent of a group photo today.
Based on this list, I want to explore how we can go missionally. Then I have some action steps we can all take. It's all very brief today because I want you to hear from Jimmy Kongwa, who is with us from Zambia.
HOW TO GO MISSIONALLY
1. SAY YES. The first step may be the hardest, but it's also the most important. Paul's list of ministry partners communicates this: It takes a team. There's something for everyone to do. But first, we must say, "yes, I'm here to serve."
The Cornerstone is thriving because so many people step up to serve. At a recent staff meeting, we focused on all the moving parts that make Sunday mornings here possible. By the end, my spreadsheet had 104 lines. Just for Sunday mornings. We are all needed.
On Wednesday, I was so excited. Someone said to me, "I'm ready to serve wherever needed. Just let me know what." I've been praying ever since about the right ministry fit. I'd love it if you came to me and wanted help finding your place on the team.
2. EXPECT SETBACKS. Going missionally can be a challenge. For example, Aristarchus (verse 10) was in jail with Paul in Rome. Before that, he was in Ephesus as Paul preached the gospel and an angry mob grabbed him (Acts 19:29). Not fun at all.
While we're not likely to be arrested for stepping up to serve, there is a price to pay. Volunteering to serve in the church or community means hard work. It takes time and energy. It is often inconvenient and sometimes there are setbacks and opposition.
The question we all have to ask is this: what matters most, Christ's mission or my comfort?
3. START SERVING. Paul describes Tychicus (verse 7) as a "dear brother, a faithful minister and a fellow servant." Tychicus stepped up to serve on Paul's mobile mission team (Acts 20:4). He didn't do the teaching. He stayed in the background doing all the support work that made it possible for Paul to preach and teach. Jesus-style ministry is done by servant-hearted people.
Servant-hearted people see a need and they meet the need. No job is beneath them because the mission is so important. Because Jesus went to the cross, he is our role model of a servant-hearted person. Years ago, I was in the Philippines visiting a church in Olongapo City. The church was training several interns to plant churches. Every Friday, they mopped and polished the tile floors in the church auditorium. You know why? It was part of their training because Jesus-style ministry is done by servant-minded people.
Many years ago, I met a man who is very like Tychicus. I met him in Zambia where he had left a good job in banking to serve orphan street kids Jimmy Kongwa saw the need and stepped up to meet the need because he is a servant-hearted man. He and his wife Ivy lead Hope Story, Zambia and he is here today to give us an update on his work.
GO MISSIONALLY CHECKLIST
Here is the Go Missionally checklist. These are concrete action steps we can all take:
__ Make the decision: I am stepping up to serve.
__ Adopt the servant mindset: see a need, meet a need.
__ Work through the S.H.A.P.E. mini-video series.
__ Complete the S.H.A.P.E. Assessment.
__ Talk to Pastor Peter or Pastor Joe about your S.H.A.P.E. for service.
__ Ask the Lord to give you an opportunity to serve.
__ Start serving in the church, or in the community, or with your small group.
__ Make regular, generous, financial contributions to God's work.
JOIN JESUS IN HIS MISSION
At the Cornerstone, so many people have stepped up to serve. You are already going missionally. Thank you for all you do. The Cornerstone Church is thriving because of you. If Joe or I can support or encourage you in any way, let us know. Please come to our Volunteer Appreciation Dinner next Saturday evening. Kim and I want to say thank you. We've ordered delicious BBQ from the Lakeshore Smokehouse. Please sign up so we know how much food to order.
I want to give someone here a challenge. I don't know who it is or I would talk to you privately. As I was reading through that 4th chapter of Colossians, one verse struck me:
(Colossians 4:17) Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.”
Does that speak to anyone? The Lord is saying to you, "You aren't done yet. I have more for you." I don't know what you left unfinished, but he is calling you back to it. Maybe you needed a time of rest and restoration. OK. The Lord is saying, break time is over because, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9).
HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT?
Have you ever thought what a huge privilege it is to partner with Jesus? I don't think he needs our help, but he wants it anyway. That's mind-blowing. We are on his mission team. We serve alongside him to build the church here and around the world. In big ways and small; up front and behind the scenes; it all matters because it is all God's work. And we get to be in on it. As long as I live, I'll never get over the joy of that. Paul said it well:
(1 Timothy 1:12) I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service.
Have you ever thought that everything you do in partnership with Jesus has an eternal impact? When it's all been said and done, it's the work you did to advance his mission in the church and around the world that will last. There will be people who found faith; broken people who were healed; kids who were led to the Savior; faltering Christians who got back on track; joyful worship in this church, and angels praising the Savior; because of your service. There will orphans who found homes; trafficked women who found freedom; pastors who were trained brought their communities to faith; because of your service. I could go on and on. Your most important legacy won't be the house or money you leave behind. Your most important legacy will be the eternal impact you made because you served on Jesus' mission to the church and the world. That is what I call an impact legacy. I came across this quote that captures what I'm saying: “Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” —Shannon L. Alder Jesus said:
(Matthew 6:19-21) “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
There's only one way to store up treasures in heaven: serve with Jesus on his mission to the church and the world.