For the past six weeks our church has gone through a campaign using Rick Warren’s, What On Earth Am I Here For? (formerly, The Purpose Driven Life) book and materials. It has been a wonderful experience as all our LifeGroups went through a study together and our weekend services addressed the same topic each week. It also coincided with each person reading the daily readings from the book. And of course we threw in extra special events and activities along the way creating a really fun and unifying season in the church.
Each week I sent out special update emails with various bits of information about what groups were doing, the reading schedule and more. It also included a “blog post” of that week’s purpose, adding some of my insight into the topic. Each week got a bit longer as I grew into doing this (I had not originally intended to include this). Even though some of post is specifically “to” our church, I wanted to capture them in and repost them here. Just in case you are not aware, Rick Warren’s premise is that God has designed his followers to live lives that demonstrate 5 purposes: worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism. Here are the repostings of my insights for each of those.
Worship; “Assigning WORTH or VALUE”
As you in your reading and in your LifeGroups look at the purpose of worship, remember that worship is not characterized as an act or ritual like bowing down. Instead it is an attitude of the heart and will – recognizing the value of someone or something and giving it the proper attention in our lives. So when we hear something like, “He worships money or sports more than God” it makes more sense. Of course nobody is bowing to money or sports or hobbies, etc. But we certainly can give them greater value and importance in our lives than they deserve.
Fellowship; Worth the Risk!
Each of us has a built-in desire to be known, accepted and loved! But for many of us the risk or fear of rejection is huge. Or the risk of feeling obligated to deal with someone else’s “mess” is too uncomfortable to consider. But an insulated life is not a rich and full life that God wants for us. And while inviting others into our “space” can be messy sometimes, ultimately the reward of rich connections and relationships makes all the difference. Additionally, the call to live like Jesus can only be achieved in “the one anothers.”
That is why Mariners believes so strongly in the role of LifeGroups. Of course thats not the only way to express and live in fellowship in our lives, but it sure is a great one! If your group is a temporary one started for this series, please begin to consider what it might look like to stay formed and work together to see Christ formed in each other. If you are not in a group yet, please seek one out.
Take the “risk”, it’s worth it!
Here’s what some are saying about their groups for this series:
“Our group is loving every minute and we’re having some very profound times together.”
“Our group is also really enjoying meeting together and sharing life. Some great insights have been coming out, as well as questions answered more comfortably in a small group setting than buttonholing the pastors. We’ve been laughing, learning, sharing, and having a great time of participation. We’ve been able to spend a lot of time on prayer requests, which is even better than I hoped.”
“I have seen some members of our group begin to sense a value and significance in Christ.”
May you all experience the power of fellowship,
Discipleship; Christ Formed In You
Maturing in Christ, having Him formed in us, is our calling. To live like and become like Jesus! Somewhere along the way, the idea of disciple became synonymous with bible study and prayer times and daily devotions. And yes, disciples do those things! We do develop habits or “disciplines” of faith in order to understand and grow in faith. But the habits are not the mark of a disciple. Christ-like character is! Do we live humbly, exhibit the “fruit of the Spirit”, consider others…Love one another?
Over the past few months a number of our messages have included themes of sufferings and difficulties in life, and one might get the impression that to follow Christ is all down-and-out hardships. We don’t share those things to be depressing or because we have a cup-half-empty worldview. We do that to help each of us have a clear perspective that, despite the modern western view that we should have a life of ease and happiness, we live in a broken world and following God doesn’t exempt us from experiencing it’s hardships.
What makes our message different, however, is that the sufferings of life are not wasted in God’s plan. A verse in the message this past weekend was, “Trouble produces patience, and patience produces character, and character produces hope.” Romans 5:3-4 The process “in God’s plan” leads to hope. Outside of God, there is no hope.
So do we as followers of Christ have times of happiness and joy and ease? Yes, of course. Can we experience God and grow to be like Him in those times? Yes, of course! But let’s not be naive or caught off guard or run from the difficult times in life for as we face them with the view that God is working in us, then we are led to a hope, a Christ formed in us hope!
May we all “know the power of His resurrection and participation in His suffering”,
Ministry; Going For It!
Ministry is an interesting concept There are so many aspects and layers to it.
As I brought out in my message this weekend it is “anything” you do to bless others and honor God. And yet, I also brought out that we are called to find a role in our church family to fulfill our corporate calling to reach our community. So there is this tension between “where” and “how” I serve that seems to be casting a shadow on all of this. That is until we remember, ministry is less of what we DO and more of who we ARE.
We are ministers! The creation of the career pastor has kind of messed us all up a bit in our idea of ministry. God has shaped and called all of us to be ministers. And as we understand our new identity as Christ-followers we can begin to tune our “ears” to hearing the Spirit of God lead us to bless others at any given time.
There is another tension that casts a shadow, and that is the “need” versus “gift/skill” area. I’m going to speak to this in context of finding a role in our church. At the Connection Sunday this past weekend you saw serving teams with sign-up sheets expressing they need people to be on their teams. And as you walk from table to table you may think, “well, I don’t know where I fit in! I love to cook, or I love organize things, or I love to help people …(fill in the blank).” And you just don’t know how your gift or skill fits in with so many of the teams.
We had a discussion about this as a staff this week and so I want to pass this on to you – we understand the potential disconnect for many of us! And we are committed to figure out ways to make opportunities to serve be more relatable to your gift mix rather than our team/department name. Our next Connection Sunday will be based more on gifts and skills required instead of ministry teams! And to start off the opportunity to serve… if you are a person who likes to organize things and help communicate systems, I would love to have you help me create an even more relatable Connection Sunday Ministry Fair!
Until then, here is what you can do to find a place to serve now. If you know what your gifts and interests are, I and many others on our leadership would LOVE to talk to you about custom areas for you to jump in. There is a place for EVERY gift here and there are more opportunities than you can imagine to be part of the great calling YOUR church has to make difference in Half Moon Bay. If you really hunger to take those next steps to serve, then please reach out and we will help you find a role that can be very fulfilling for you and a powerful blessing for those you serve.
It starts with a couple of “reframing” actions. First, begin to embrace your calling as a full-time minister rather than an occasional volunteer. Second, become self-aware of what you bring to the table. You ARE gifted in some way by God and likely more than you give yourself, or frankly God, credit for! Third, recognize that those gifts can be used for more than your career or hobby and instead or in addition can lead people to experience God!
We looked at Romans 12 for our discussion on “Fellowship” a few weeks back, but I love this verse:
Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Romans 12:10-13 (NLT)
So much can be drawn from that passage and the verses surrounding it. But what struck me that week and again today is the “serve the Lord enthusiastically” phrase. I want for us all to love serving and give our all to this high calling, and to just go for it! As you move forward in your adventure, the adventure to see others blessed by God working through you, I pray you experience the incredible joy that God has in store for you!
Evangelism; The Highest Form of Worship!
This is our final update email and therefore my last blog post on our purposes. I have been privileged to be part of this event with our church and I hope you have been moved to take steps closer to Christ in trust and faith.
Evangelism is really an interesting call or purpose for our lives. Certainly, if any of these are controversial, it’s this one. Just the word…evangelism…has developed an awkwardness these days. For many it conjures up images of TV preachers or street corner harassment or door-to-door campaigns. Our fears of rejection or turning people off or being labeled judgmental or just not knowing what to say gets the best of us.
And yet it’s the sharing of the “good news” that is the last thing Jesus told us to do when he left this earth.
I don’t know about you, but I get pretty excited about my latest tech gadget or running shoe, and want to tell people. And practically every survey I have ever taken about a product or customer support asks how likely I am to tell somebody. So if it’s expected that I share about the insignificant, then how much more should I about the eternal? I don’t ask that to guilt any of us! I understand our fears.
But let me present this in just a bit of a different way for a moment. As we have learned of the 5 purposes, they have been presented as individual attributes or callings that we should aspire to develop in our lives. Sort of a measuring stick to see how healthy we are in our faith development. I want us to do just that, and yet instead of seeing them as separate, we should also see them as integrated and intertwined and all of them as “worship”.
An old statement from church history says, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” John Piper takes it a step further and changes the last half to “by enjoying Him forever”. So if worship is our goal, then how does evangelism fit in as the highest form of worship as my title suggests?
Our God is worthy enough for all of mankind, and more personally, our friends and family, to give their lives. Our God is worthy enough for us to “shout from the mountain tops” of what He has done in our lives. By sharing the good news, we in fact worship! And if one more person gives their life to Him, one more person is a worshipper.
I don’t know if that helps any of us overcome our internal obstacles to sharing more. But perhaps by seeing it’s importance, we might make the opportunity to work through our obstacles more intentionally.
We have the good news! Let’s pass it on.