Overview:

Let’s think about what it means to be the church. Our fifth ministry value says:

“Youth will connect to the Church for life when they come to know it as more than a weekly program. The Church is a place where children, youth and adults share life experiences, which will allow them to grow into a deeper understanding of true community.”

In the bible, show me where “church” means coming to a building with a steeple on it once or twice a week.

Ephesians 2:22 says, “In him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” And 1 Corinthians 3:9 says, “For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” So the place where God resides is not in the church, but in us. The church is not where God lives, the church is a man-made institution designed for people to come together and worship God.

These are different things. I think it’s important that we start to wrap our brains around this truth.

So we know where God lives, but what then is the church?

In Acts 2 we read about the early church. It’s where everything gets started that eventually leads up to where we sit today. And after Peter gives the very first sermon, what does this early church do? Go back home to their “normal” lives? Nope.

Here’s what they do: vs 42-47 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

Does that sound like what you know of and experience in the church today? True community is doing life together. That’s what the church is supposed to be. That’s how it started. How do we get back to that?

Resources:

HS Message Audio – Ministry Value #5 Renewcast 14: Ministry Value #5 – ft. Holden G

Overview:

At Renew we’ve been going through some ministry values. Here’s the fourth:

“Youth serving alongside those they’re connected to is a profound way to help them care for this world. Service allows them to see people loving God in the midst of brokenness. This peaks their interest in who God is.”

Let’s look at the idea of how serving others might cause people to come to know God.

1 Peter 2 is talking to those in the church who are called to mature in their faith. Vs 9-12 says, “You are a chosen people…that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God…Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to…live such good lives among the pagans that…they may see your good deeds and glorify God.”

The Message translates this idea of glorifying God in vs 12 to say that people will be “won over to God’s side” when they see our good behavior. So what does “good behavior” mean?

There’s a lot of personal reflection required here to determine what that means exactly, but whatever it is, it will cause people to “glorify God.” In my experience, I’ve never seen people be “won over to God’s side” by seeing someone follow the rules. I HAVE seen people come to believe in God because they saw someone caring for those who are hurting, who are poor, who need help, etc.

Doesn’t this define our definition of serving others?

Our ministry value says (we believe that) serving others not only helps those who are broken, but will also help us realize who God is. Seeing people serve those in need somehow opens our eyes to see God.

This is what 1 Peter is saying I think. People will be “won over to God’s side” through something as simple as the act of service. We don’t need to complicate it.

What are some ways you have seen God? What are the significant events in your life that have revealed God to you?

Resources:

Renewcast 13: Ministry Value #4 – ft. Hayden L

Overview:

 

At Renew we’ve been going through some ministry values, and the third says this:

“We are called to offer genuine family support built on trust and vulnerability. Doing life together allows us to experience God’s healing presence through difficulty, and at the same time celebrating the joyful life he intended.”

Romans 12:5 says something that is easy to ignore in our culture: “So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” How about that for a picture of what the church is called to be? If you read this passage in the Message translation, it helps us get a better idea of what Paul means.

In vs 1-2 he says, “Embrace what God does…Don’t just get comfy in this culture…The result: You’ll be changed/mature.”

That sounds difficult, but there’s something else to ponder here about how we do this. In vs 3 he says, “…it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.” So he says that God does this good stuff in us; it doesn’t come from ourselves. And it’s important, he says. What does that even mean? How do we understand ourselves through God?

This is hard to grasp so he gives an example in human terms, which gets us back to our ministry value:

vs 4-6 “In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we?”

We get the idea here. An arm by itself is useless and really has no purpose. But an arm is quite helpful when connected to the body. Think of this concept within a family system: a child needs a parent in order to survive. Or a sports team: each person has a different and important role. Paul is saying in Romans that we find our meaning and function when we work together. We find our true value as part of God’s family. And we come to understand that when we embrace what HE does. It’s not about what WE do.

Picture the vastness of the universe. Scale that down to just our little earth. And now imagine yourself as just a speck of dust in comparison. My life (my meaning and function) is a tiny part of this whole thing. There’s something so much bigger than me. We understand this concept as a member of a team. If you win a championship, you feel that you’ve contributed to something so much bigger than just your individual role. It has very little to do with you, but life feels great in that moment.

Knowing God is like that, and knowing ourselves lies somewhere in there too. We need this church system to truly find our meaning and function. We are family. We belong to each other. So let’s support each other, which requires trust and vulnerability. This is our ministry value. Are you willing to open up?

Resources:

Renewcast 12: Ministry Value #3 – ft. Jill & Hunter M

Overview:

Ministry Value #2: “Youth need significant friendships that add value, encourage growth, and validate each person’s worth. The church provides a place for youth to support one another in a way that they might not experience anywhere else. These types of relationships can be life changing.”

A few questions to get started:

  • Who is someone in your life you’d consider a significant friend? Why? (they “add value, encourage growth”?) Can a significant friendship exist without these things?
  • Think about everyone else (those not considered your significant friends). How do you validate their worth as a human being?
  • Now think about the church. How might it offer something not found anywhere else?

In John 15, Jesus tells the disciples that being connected to God is like fruit being connected to a tree. A branch can’t produce fruit on it’s own; neither can we. And then Jesus says a couple of interesting things:

“This is how my Father shows who he is–when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.” (v 8, The Message translation)

“If you keep my commands, you’ll remain…in my love…This is my command: Love one another the way I have loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.” (v 9-13)

There are a lot of commands in the bible. We tend to complicate it and the church gets a bad rap for doing so. And while there is more to this train of thought, one thing is pretty clear in this passage: When we love our friends to the point of death, we are like a tree producing fruit. For those of us in the church, this is our calling.

  • Do you experience this type of love in the church?
  • Do you contribute to it or detract from it?
  • What could happen in the church if it was known for creating these types of friendships?
  • Does that really exist elsewhere? Why or why not?

This kind of love can exist outside the church, but there’s a bigger potential for it here because we have these words from Jesus. We have a calling to it despite our differences.

See more explanation of these ideas in the message below.

Resources:

Middle School & High School Renew Message

Renewcast 10: Ministry Value #2 – ft. Mark F & Jenna L

Renewcast 11: Ministry Value #2 (Part 2) – ft. Jeffrey R & Carina M