Know Jesus, Show Jesus - Week 2: "The Five Things"


Today we are going to continue the sermon series we launched last week.  A three-part series on the vision of our church:  To Know Jesus, and Show Jesus.  

You might be wondering why we need to hear sermons on these topics again if we've gone over them in the recent past.  There's a couple of really good reasons: 


First, there are a lot of new people in our congregation who haven't heard about them and why they are important.  Over a hundred, actually.  Which may not seem like a lot to some people, but in Presbyterian world that's a lot of new members. 

Second, if you don't revisit the things that are important to you, dust them off and shine them up every once in a while, they very well may stop being so important.

Today we are going to talk about our core values as a church.  Why is it important to have core values?  What would you think would be a good reason to know how you are going to accomplish whatever it is that you feel called to accomplish?  

You could have really good intentions, right?  You might even have a compelling vision. But if you have no way to make that vision a reality, then you are probably going to fail. Do you guys remember Blockbuster?  At the height of their popularity, their vision statement was "Never be without a movie."  

Then Netflix happened, and because Blockbuster didn't have the kind of core values that let them innovate, see the future and be nimble--they passed up on the opportunity to purchase Netflix and in just a few years Blockbuster was bankrupt.  

Now, for millions of people, "Netflix and chill" has become a vision for not only how never to be without a movie, but for other things...  if you know what I mean.  

Here are some companies that have some really awesome core values that enable them to accomplish awesome things.  

The importance of Core Values: 

Build-A-Bear-Workshop: 

1. Reach
2. Learn 
3. Di-bear-sity 
4. Colla-bear-ate 
5. Give 
6. Cele-bear-ate

Zappos: 

1. Deliver WOW Through Service
2. Embrace and Drive Change
3. Create Fun and a Little Weirdness
4. Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
5. Pursue Growth and Learning
6. Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication
7. Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
8. Do More with Less
9. Be Passionate and Determined
10. Be Humble

Disney: 


1. Safety
2. Courtesy
3. Show
4. Capacity

Core values are the "how" that enable you to accomplish the "why."  If you don't have good core values and adhere to them religiously, you run the risk of not only not accomplishing your vision, but losing it altogether.  

So here's what I mean:  The "why" is our purpose, our vision as a church.  We believe that we are called to "Know Jesus, Show Jesus."

How we accomplish our vision is by focusing on our core values, our Five Things:  Worship, Pray, Grow, Love & Serve.  

We are dedicated to doing the following:  

worship authentically
pray fervently
grow continually
love unconditionally

serve selflessly

Let's come back to these individually in a moment.  

What we have discovered is that when we actually do pay attention to the Five Things, God has done some amazing things in, among and through our church.

Funny how that works, eh?

So how did we figure this out--these 5 Things? 

Read this passage of Scripture from the New Testament book of Acts chapter 4:

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 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, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

So, here's a question for you.  Which part of this passage do you think that lots of Christians like the most? (hint: verse 47)

I'll break it down for you.  First: "...enjoying the favor of all the people." which is a fancy way of saying that "everybody liked them."   Second: "And the Lord added to their number daily..." 

It doesn't matter what your theological bent happens to be, there isn't a single person in their right mind who doesn't want people to like them at least a little bit.  And for church-y people, we really want people to like us so that they will come to our church and help our church to grow.  Because after all, growth is a sign of the anointing and favor of God, am I right?

Well, in some cases it might be.  I will give you that.  And growth is a sign of organizational health, there's that.  Okay, let's just admit it.  If your church isn't growing at least a little, it's probably going to not be a church one day. 

But the point is that growth seems to be the point in a lot of churches, which it isn't, and it wasn't even the point in this passage from the book of Acts, even though that's the part that everyone seems to focus on:  Everyone liked the post-Pentecost Christians, and their group grew to megachurch status overnight.

The thing is--the early Christians weren't necessarily focused on their group getting bigger.  They focused on gathering in the Temple for worship.  They dedicated themselves to praying together in confidence and joy.  They also grew in their faith by listening to the teaching of the apostles, and they served one another and showed the kingdom of God to everyone who encountered them.  

And they showed Jesus to everyone they met.  

We have discovered over the past seven years that when we act on our core values--when we worship, pray, grow, love and serve together, we show that we know Jesus.  

How do we do this?  How do we stay focused on the how?  

Let me share with you what we've come to believe and to practice when it comes to our 5 Things.  

First, we worship authentically.  When you go to each of our worship services, you will find that they are all unique.  Our early service First Light seems like you've stepped into a small church where hymns are sung, you recognize everyone, it's casual, the setting is intimate...  

Our casual service is authentically casual and creative.  You'll find energy and joy, videos, colorful and descriptive bulletins, no offering plates, food, coffee, people wearing shorts, jeans, flip flops, you name it.  

Traditions is authentically traditional, but also full of energy, using traditional elements of worship to do new things, and to fill the service with life and joy.  

We work at this.  We know that not everyone worships the same way, and so we seek every week to create authentic spaces for people to authentically connect to God.  And we also know that worship isn't something that you only do on Sundays--we work at finding ways to connect our congregation to worship during the week through daily devotions, weekly messages of hope through our newsletter, and so much more.  

Listen, if worship isn't authentic it falls flat, it doesn't glorify God and it feels wrong.  You will feel it in your bones.  We don't ever want to get to a place where we aren't being authentic and excellent in our worship.  

Secondly, we pray fervently.  I don't know if you noticed this, but we have a time of prayer at each one of our service where we remember those in need, share prayer requests, and petition God on behalf of our members, friends and neighbors.  

We also provide great opportunities for people to receive prayer throughout the week through our prayer chain, prayer lists, and prayer request forms that we offer on the web. 

Because we believe that God is still in the business of answering prayer.  We don't know how that works all the time, but we believe that prayer is a huge part of the way we connect and communicate with God.  

Third, we grow continually.  Not only do we push one another on Sunday mornings in the weekly teachings, we also provide great opportunities to learn more about the Bible in Sunday school classes for all ages on Sunday mornings, Bible studies and programs for all ages on Wednesdays, and other assorted small groups that pop up throughout the year. 

We also have grown our Lifetree Cafe program because we know it provides people an opportunity to test and grow in their faith.  We believe that if you aren't growing in your faith, you are moving backwards.  Part of what it means to be a disciple a follower of Jesus is to constantly be wrestling with the Bible, asking hard questions, learning about your faith, testing your ideas, and so much more. 

Fourth, we love unconditionally.  We have so many opportunities to connect and to love one another.  We care for those who are sick among us.  We send prayer letters to celebrate with those who have joyous events in their life, and we also send letters to commiserate with those who are struggling.  

We open our doors to anyone and everyone--always seeking to find ways to break bread, laugh together, share together, do life together.  I see so many groups caring for one another and for our church.  It's amazing to experience the love that our church members and friends have for one another, and to see them display it so unconditionally. 

Finally, we serve selflessly.  We discovered recently that well over 90 per cent of our members were involved in some kind of mission or ministry. This is an incredible number considering that old organizational truism that so many churches embody--the 80/20 rule.  Which states that 80 percent of the work in a church is done by 20 percent of the members.  

Not at our church.  We find ways to give of our time, talent and treasure for the sake of the kingdom of God and we do so selflessly.  Which is why so many people come to our church and are amazed at all of the things we are up to.  I had a pastor at our recent presbytery meeting, which we hosted, tell me.  "I don't see how your church is able to accomplish all of the things you accomplish."  

I told them, they had no idea.  We were doing even more than they imagined.  

We worship.  We pray.  We grow.  We love.  We serve.  This is how we accomplish the how that enables us to reach the why of our vision.  

I want to encourage you to make these 5 Things a part of your life.  Dedicate yourself to worship.  We need you here.  Our church isn't the same when you aren't in worship with us.  I get you have excuses, but I honestly don't care about them.  We need you.  

Your prayers are needed, too.  Not just for the sake of the church, but for your sake.  What I've learned over the years is when I pray fervently every day, it connects me to God in ways I never imagined possible. 

We need you to grow in your faith.  Find a Bible study to be a part of.  Join a small group.  Go to Lifetree.  Be a part of a group that holds you accountable and who helps you to expand your horizons when it comes to faith.  And if you can't find a group you like, start one.  

We also need your love.  We need you to join with us in loving one another so that the world around us will know that we are Christians.  Break bread with your sisters and brothers here.  Abstain from gossip.  Hold to what is good and run from what is evil.  Work for the peace, unity and purity of the church in all things. 

And we need you to serve.  Without your hands and feet, our church is a poorer witness.  We need you to come alongside us and serve the kingdom of God with love and imagination.  Don't be afraid to start new things.  We need to always be finding new ways to share the Good News and help heal the world.  

When we worship, pray, grow, love and serve together, we show that we know Jesus. 





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