Core Values Summary – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

All out there! It was great hearing from everyone on staff about our new core values, and to hear from some of you where you’ve seen these emphasis in your own life!

-Stories are important, we are caught up in the greatest story ever created. One scholar I know refers to it as the “drama of redemption” We are caught up in God’s drama as if we are characters in a play that He has written. We all have a vital role to play, an indispensable part. However, none of us are the main character. All of us are meant to point to shine the light on the main character of Jesus. He’s the reason we exist, He’s the reason we’re alive, He’s the point of everything we do. If our focus ever shifts off of Him, we need to close our doors and find some place that is focusing on Him.

-Here’s the best part: our story is still being written. From our founding in 1978 to our multiple building projects, to our continued updates and remodels in the past year, and we’re just getting started!

-Do you know how miraculous it is that we’re still here? This building was almost sold off in 2010/11 because we couldn’t pay the mortgage. Yet God sustained us, many of you remained faithful in attendance and giving, and each year brings us that much closer to being debt free! 

-Back before this building was ever here, the land was purchased and a sign placed off Johnny Cake Ridge Rd, and a certain Bruce and Linda Hibbard one time drove by, and Bruce had the audacity to share “what kind of dummy would build a church here in the middle of nowhere!” Jokes on him!

-Today, we’re going to spend some time walking through all 5 of our new core values, how they fit together, how we’ll be talking about them moving forward, and some other helpful passages of Scripture that tie in to each point of emphasis. 

-Tried using alliteration to make it easy for you all to remember them! AND each arrow should help you remember each point as well, they all have significance! 

READ Acts 2:42-47 – PRAY

  1. We – John 13:34-35

-We don’t exist without each other. We need each other to function/thrive/survive. There is no such thing as a lone ranger Christian (Keith reminded me, he had Toto)

-The predominate theory today “expressive individualism.” If you haven’t heard that term, maybe you’ve heard the mottos of it: you do you, be true to yourself, follow your heart.

-Historically, humans have been educated/taught to conform to some standard outside themselves (cultural, religious, familial) but today we’re encouraged not to conform ourselves to any other standard, but to “figure out/discover” whomever we want to be.

-An Australian author/pastor Mark Sayers have been unbelievably helpful for me in how we engage this cultural idea, and also pushes Christian to be better trained/equipped in how to deal with these ideas. He wrote a book called Disappearing Church where he defines this idea with 7 summary statements:

  1. The highest good is individual freedom, happiness, self-definition, and self-expression.

-Yet this has led to an increase in depression, suicide, etc.

  • Traditions, religions, received wisdom, regulations, and social ties that restrict individual freedom, happiness, self-definition, and self-expression must be reshaped, deconstructed, or destroyed.

-Once again, how is that working out for people?

  • The world will inevitably improve as the scope of individual freedom grows. Technology —in particular the internet—will motor this progression toward utopia.

-This was the predominant thought at the turn of the 19th/20th cent. Too. Then a world war came. And after that, a second one!

  • The primary social ethic is tolerance of everyone’s self-defined quest for individual freedom and self-expression. Any deviation from this ethic of tolerance is dangerous and must not be tolerated. Therefore social justice is less about economic or class inequality, and more about issues of equality relating to individual identity, self-expression, and personal autonomy.

-This is fine, but what about when your quest contradicts someone else’s quest? Who gets to decide who “wins”?

  • Humans are inherently good.

-Are they?

  • Large-scale structures and institutions are suspicious at best and evil at worst.

-Even the church is questioned (sometimes rightfully so!) Every institution is comprised of people, who (contra point 5) are not good!

  • Forms of external authority are rejected and personal authenticity is lauded.

-What is “authenticity”? Drives me nuts “authentic” worship 

-We’re not immune to these things! People leave church because it doesn’t conform with their preconceived ideas. We complain when things aren’t done “our way” instead of looking to build each other up. We so often aren’t even aware of how much we’re influenced by this thinking because it’s the air we breathe. 

-Sometimes it feels like people treat the church like Burger King: have it your way! What about God’s way? 

-This isn’t new! This is the way people in the 1st Century lived too! What is new is that today we have the internet so each individual can find other individuals who are pushing and believing the same things so then a new community comes out, but no one monitors or upholds people to a specific standard.

-Out of that hyper/expressive individualism of the 1st century came a church that was commanded to love each other more than you love yourself.

-The fact that “we” is one of our core values is vital to our continued health!

-I am honestly convinced that by committing to and demonstrate that we need each other we’ll serve as a blatant example of what the world is trying to do/be with purely normal means. The problem is it takes something supernatural to truly bring people together. (we’ll look at that more fully in our next sermon series)

-One way of talking about this is the: 59 “one anothers” of the NT

-Do a quick word search for that phrase if you haven’t already. We’ll look at one of them, but take note: it’s really hard to “one another” without another! The Christian call is a call to community, to being together, to “one anothering”

-Jesus talking to his followers here. 

-A new “commandment” Do you know of any other commandments? Maybe 10 of them? In the OT the ten commandments served as the ethical framework for God’s people, in the NT, the ethical framework is: love. Poster of one anothers.

-Let’s think about this: how did Jesus love us? To death! And that’s how we’re supposed to love each other. That’s quite the command! 

-I love the way the EFCA SOF says it: we are to love God supremely and others sacrificially. And notice vs. 35if we demonstrate our love for God supremely and others sacrificially then other people will sit up and pay attention, and notice. But that means we actually need to love each other. 

-The we is the circle that surrounds every other value: we do all these other things together. I shared this example when I candidate here: when people stand in a circle which way do they always stand? Facing inside, but when we’re together we cannot just look at each other, we need to love and care for each other with one eye out to those around us, looking for opportunities to share the gospel in word and action.

-The first step of the process is looking back to welcome others in

  • Welcome – Romans 15:7

-I couldn’t find a better verse than this one to encapsulate this idea! Sometimes there are passages in the Bible that are surprising to me. Last year the most impactful for me was Phil. 4:5 “let your reasonableness/gentleness be known to everyone.” So far this year it’s been this passage. 

-I knew hospitality was in there, but welcoming?

-This is another one of those “one another” passages.

-Notice: “as Christ has welcomed you” How has He welcomed us? Have you ever had a conversation with someone who seemed completely enraptured in the conversation? They were all in, legitimately cared for you. Take that, add some steroids to it and you have Jesus. 

-3 stories encapsulate this:

John 4 the woman at the well. Micah talked about this, so we won’t turn there today. But this woman had 3 strikes against her: woman, Samaritan, and living in sin. Did Jesus treat her as less than? Now he didn’t let her sit in her sin, but he honored her, treated her with dignity and respect.

-Secondly, another woman, this time in John 8. This woman only had 2 strikes: being a woman, but caught in the act of adultery. Caught in the act. Yikes! And how does Jesus treat her? Again, he treats her with honor. Yes, calls out the sin, but doesn’t belittle her, doesn’t join in with the fuss or condemnation. 

-Prodigal Son: how does the Father respond? 

-We, similarly, should welcome everyone. Regardless of age, race, gender. Think of what God has saved you from, no one is too far gone!

-This is why you can probably quote my sermon opening, but I always introduce myself as a way of trying to welcome people in. 

-Had someone at a previous church tell me they long for the day where I don’t have to introduce myself on Sunday morning. If we get to that point we’re gonna die! We have new people every week! Introduce yourself!

-Next is our foundation for everything we do and say.

  • Word – Hebrews 4:12-13

-One thing that never ceases to amaze me is the fact that the Bible is alive. In fact, one of the reasons I believe the Bible is true today is because there is no singular culture that the Bible explicitly endorses. Every culture/civilization has something in the Bible that they would find offensive. 

-The church is meant to be a counter-culture to our prevailing cultural ideas and ideals that are taking place around us. We’re meant to live out a different way of living that is rooted and grounded in God’s Word. And God’s Word doesn’t fit nicely into our human made boxes. There’s a reason Christianity has spread to every corner of the globe! It isn’t culturally bound, so there can be Christian expressions just as easily in Japan or Mongolia or Russia or France as it does in the United States.

-But it’s not enough to merely say that, we need to read/study AND APPLY what we read to our lives today. It cuts through cultures, yes, but is also cuts through our hearts that are so prone to sin, or as we sing “prone to wander, Lord I feel it”

-Now that I say that, I also want to remind us that the Bible isn’t the only source of authority. It is the ULTIMATE source of authority, but God has also given us other means/methods of learning and growing. 

-I worry at times that we conservative Christians have a narrow biblicism that doesn’t recognize what the Bible actually calls us to. We are called to SOLA Scriptura, not SOLO Scriptura.

-I think this even affects the science/Bible “debates” The Bible isn’t a scientific textbook, we shouldn’t read it like that! The Bible tells us truth and is the source of truth, but it doesn’t teach us things like mathematics or science or how to build a house. It tells us that we should work hard, build good things, create culture, but it isn’t meant to be an instruction manual. Instead, it’s supposed to give us a language and create a new culture.

-The picture I’ve shared before is that the Bible is a window. Can spend time looking at the window, but a window is meant to be looked through. We’re supposed to use the Bible as a means of viewing/interpreting the world around us. So we gather together to spend time learning where our views are warped and deficient and submit ourselves to the Bible as our ultimate source of authority.

-Hence the down arrow. I get that idea from a passage like Col. 2:6-7 we need to remain rooted in Christ Jesus (we do that by learning/studying his teachings which are God’s Word). The Bible needs to be our foundation that we build on, because all other ground is sinking sand. 

-This leads us to the up arrow! It is through God’s Word that we better learn how to worship God with everything we are.

  • Worship – Romans 12:1-2

-Back when I was titled a “worship pastor” I would just tell people that means I’m the pastor of everything! Every individual area in our lives is supposed to be used as an act of worship. That means you work hard at everything you do, because Col. 3:23 reminds us we’re not working for people, we’re working for God! 

-Work hard and play hard. Not too far from the truth, as long as you’re remembering that your play is an act of worship.

-Look at this passage in Romans 12.

-Present your body as a LIVING sacrifice. We read that so often we can just glance by it, but think of that for a second. Isn’t that an oxymoron like “jumbo shrimp.” How can it be a LIVING sacrifice. The sacrifice is what you kill as an act of worship.

-In a sense that’s what happens – the Christian call is a call to die so that Christ can live/be seen in/through us. But at the same time, Paul says LIVING sacrifice, so we’re still alive!

-At the heart of that this is the irony of the Christian life. If you really want to live, you have to die. That’s how live a life of worship.

-But Paul doesn’t stop with just being a living sacrifice, he talks about HOW we operate out of being a living sacrifice. 2 things: don’t conform, be transformed.

-The temptation is to be conformed. To give in, to look exactly like the world. I think that’s been somewhat true if you study the history of Christianity in the US. There was an assumption somehow that if you were an American you were a Christian. We’re seeing some of those facades stripped away now and to be a Christian is finally starting to mean something again. But because of that, there’s a lot of people who associate Christianity with certain worldly things that aren’t meant to be true of the church.

-Instead, we’re supposed to be TRANSFORMED. How? Through the renewal of your mind. That’s more than just thinking differently. In fact sometimes I think it’s imperative that we just “go through the motions” because I think we can act ourselves into better states of thinking than we can think ourselves into better states of acting.

-2 aspects of this worship: gathered and scattered. Gathering is important to help us renew our minds every week. To be reminded of what is true, to be encouraged in our pursuit of Christ, so that we can scatter and continue being a living sacrifice. 

-This arrow points us up because our orientation needs to be heaven-ward. The author of Hebrews reminds us to fix our eyes on Jesus Christ. By doing that we can keep all the things in the rest of their lives in the proper order.

-Finally, we don’t exist for ourselves, we need to keep an outward orientation at all times

  • Witness – Acts 1:8 

-We’re here because the first disciples were faithful witnesses. I thought Pastor Bruce had a stroke of genius last week in reaching out to his son-in-law to find out how he views a witness. 

-Expert and fact witness. Really hard to claim to be an “expert” witness on Christianity (there’s so much to learn!) but all of us are supposed to be “fact” witnesses! 

-One of my favorite examples of this in is in John 9 with the man who was born blind. The Pharisees are grilling this guy, they grill his parents, and here’s his fact testimony: “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” That’s a beautiful picture for us! All of us were once blind, but God opened our eyes and now we can see. I used to be one way, but now because of God transforming my mind I’m completely different! Your witness doesn’t have to be much more than that! Just tell about how God is working in your life.

-Look at where Jesus tells them to go: Jerusalem, all Judea and Samaria, to the END (not ends) of the earth. We can be fact witnesses to our transformed lives, or as the EFCA SOF says “demonstrating the gospel in word and deed,” all across the world.

-None of this is anything new/novel, in fact it’s what the church has been doing for 2,000 years, but we need a way of capturing that idea together, so I used alliteration and arrows to try to help you! 

-The order matters: we, together, need to commit to this otherwise it’s just words on the wall. (keeping with the w theme!)

-This also serves as the way we grow as disciples:

-Someone welcomes us in enough to give us a glimpse of God’s love

-We’re given God’s Word to be planted and grounded in as our foundation

-Because of that foundation we’re better equipped to worship God with more areas of our lives

-This worship leads us to be a fact witness about the transformative power of the gospel in our lives.

-Here’s the crazy part (to me) about this. One of my most helpful books on philosophy of church ministry is Center Church by Tim Keller. I read this one a number of years ago, and made a note on a specific section in here. Then I forgot about it. After coming up with our new core values I was perusing this book again and found my notes. I need to find a better system of tracking these things!

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