Sermon on January 22, 2023
This sermon is translated from German into English. You can find the original video here
I brought three challenging quotes with me:
- Lessing: The slowest, who does not lose sight of his goal, still goes faster than those who wander around without a goal.
- Mark Twain: As soon as we lost sight of the goal, we redoubled our efforts.
- From the Bible, Proverbs 29,18 : Without revelation, i.e. without vision, a people becomes wild.
Maybe you know that from your life. If you don’t have any goals, if you lose yourself in small things and don’t have a big picture of where you’re actually supposed to go, then you’ll bobble along, you have no drive, and some might lose hope and joy. You ask yourself: “What am I even here for?”
Last week it was about you personally, about your life, what you live for and what God says about it.
We looked at the fact that God created you for a relationship with him, that he longs for fellowship with you and that our life only really flourishes in fellowship with him when we experience his unconditional and infinitely great love, when we feel it ask how God intended life and that it gives him glory when we walk together and that we pass on his love and his invitation to be able to live a relationship with him to other people and show people what it means to be with To live Jesus when we take them by the hand, so that they themselves invite other people and take them by the hand. This is what the Bible calls discipleship. We don’t do all this because we want to sell something here, but because we believe and hopefully experience for ourselves that this is the best thing that can happen to you.
Today we want to think about why we as a community are actually there, what community is.
And if you’re new, this is a great way for you to understand what’s important to us and what makes us different. Community, ekklesia , is the Greek word for it, translated: the called out. In those days that meant people from a town or village who were called out, sort of like our politicians actually, to think about what’s best for the town and its people, and then go back and do that. God now takes this word for his church.
In Ephesians 2:19 let’s read:
So you are no longer strangers and homeless; you are now a citizen of God’s people, even of his family.
When someone begins to live with Jesus, then they belong to the global family of God, but we always see in the Bible that this is expressed in smaller communities.
Where is God’s truth found? In the church, and I would like to add, in the church that really has the Bible as the Word of God as its foundation:
This family is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth. 1 Timothy 3:15
It was God’s purpose that through the Church the powers and authorities in the unseen world might see the full depth and breadth of God’s wisdom.
God wants to make his wisdom, his truth and also his love visible in this world through the church. Sometimes church doesn’t look like that, but we also read that church is like a bride, Jesus is the bridegroom, and he himself forms his church.
And then Jesus says: Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them.
Have you ever thought about what that means? The Holy Spirit lives in the people who believe in Jesus and is already there.
Is not this enough?
Now we’ve talked about vision before, and when it comes to church, then we have to ask God as its inventor what vision he has for his church.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations: baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey all that I have commanded you.
We have formulated this as a community in a vision that we know and can also check whether we are on the right path:
We are a church in which as many people as possible get to know Jesus and are happy to follow him together.
And our values, which should shape our community culture, how we deal with each other:
- God in the center
- Based on the Bible
- love for people
- Together on the way
- Only the best for God
So it’s about two things:
- It’s about God, that we follow Jesus.
- It’s about people.
Our mission means that the church is not about you first.
This love should drive us in everything we do.
What does that mean specifically?
- It is our wish, when Benjamin is here soon, to invest more and more in young families, children, teens and young people.
- The plan is for Anni to open a children’s lesson parallel to the Fischkids, because we have so far had a gap between the toddler group and the Fischkids in terms of age and we would like parents to bring their children to Fischkids and if they have younger children also for them find a point of contact.
- We’re thinking about when it’s time to open a youth club.
- We want to start small family groups.
- And I’m always happy when there’s life here on a Sunday morning.
- If there’s a child crying or screaming in the back, it doesn’t matter, you’re welcome, just like everyone is welcome and it’s better than dead silence, isn’t it?
- We want to encourage people to join, regardless of their age group, and it’s good that we have a broad base, but that’s where we want to invest in particular.
- We dream that the community center will be full of people, and especially people who don’t know Jesus yet, that every Sunday there will be people who are interested in Jesus and who are invited.
But we don’t do all this to make any program. I think it’s important that we keep checking what we’re actually doing, because we can offer so much and we’re happy about how nice it is that we lose sight of the most important thing or don’t have time for it anymore , and these are the people around us.
And for that, I just want to remind ourselves of a few points.
- We said the first 10 minutes are for our guests.
- I understand that you want to hang out with your friends afterwards, whom you haven’t seen all week, and that’s a good sign.
- But if we think again, the congregation isn’t there for us and we still stand together for an hour afterwards, then let’s look at the first 10 minutes after the service, who’s new, who I maybe just don’t know yet, and consciously reserve the time for these people.
- And then we believe that community lives from integrating people into our small groups, having hobbies in common.
- Yesterday we had a game night where almost 20 people were there
- Just add people to the things that we enjoy doing anyway.
- We have lunch together once a month.
- And in the last general meeting we said that we simply want to invite someone to our home once a month, whether after the service or during the week or let us invite them.
- We called it Pasta Sunday, but it’s not tied to Sunday. ” Pasta Sunday” stands for not making a lavish meal, not cleaning the whole apartment beforehand, but about spending time together. If I invite once a month and am invited the next month, then I have minimal effort every 2 months, but if everyone does that, then our togetherness grows, then our relationships grow.
- The most important thing in all of this is that we pray for God to work. It doesn’t matter whether we do it privately, at prayer meetings, in our small groups, at 24-hour prayer or at special events. Because it is God who works, and without prayer we can leave it right now.
I believe that we have to understand and learn this again.
We were at a meeting for all employees of our association last week and heard encouraging stories.
In one church, people started a small group for their friends. The first attempt failed, but they were not discouraged. On the second attempt, they prayed 4 months beforehand and then started with a barbecue party. 30 guests were there. They then invited them to the small group. 2 have come. Only 2 we would say. Now, after 3 years, they have 8 small groups and last year celebrated several baptisms, where people have decided to live with Jesus, and some of them are now leading a small group for their friends again. And not just anywhere, but here in the middle of Germany.
We talked last week about how God gave each of us this assignment personally.
Imagine if each of us has one person on our list this year to pray for and invite, we were 140 people last Sunday and if that’s similar to the 30 to 2 I was talking about, then 10 people start a life with Jesus, and it increases year by year, then something big comes into being.
So I invite you to ask yourself at the beginning of this year what is your next step:
- Is it the step to say: I understood today what Jesus is about. He loves me and I want to be part of his family.
- Is it to say that I would like to publicly confess this decision that I have made again and fix it in baptism
- Maybe it’s your turn to say it’s a privilege to belong to the church. I want to be more committed again.
- Or is it my turn to say I want to be a part of God’s great plan for His church. I want to get involved and work together.
- Or that you say: Jesus, I make myself available to you again. I lost your heartbeat for me and other people. Please give it to me again. please move me I want to take what you say seriously and live how you want to live.
We’re going to sing hymns now before we’re about to celebrate communion together, and these hymns are prayers and you can make them your prayers or use the time to hold your heart out to God and let him touch you and tell him what you are feeling is on the heart.