We > Me: Week One - "Many Parts"

Today we are launching a brand new sermon series entitled We > Me: Together We Can Do More. 

After the events of this past year, so many people who were engaged and regularly attending church have checked out.  Does the Church still matter? Is it still relevant?  This series will seek to answer these questions and more as we’ll learn why We > Me, and why the Church still plays a vital role in our lives. 

This past year was interesting, am I right?  Especially in church-y world. 

Most of y'all went to church in your pajamas this past year, drinking your coffee, eating your danish, your breakfast tacos, ham and cheese omelets... You know how it is.  It's been pretty easy to attend church now---or has it? 

Because what we're discovering after all is said and done is that the de-churching of America that had begun in earnest long before COVID accelerated at an incredible rate.  

The Gallup organization released a poll last year that for the first time since they did the first of those polls in 1937, the number of people who claim to attend a house of worship fell below 50%--to 47%.  

In 2000 that number was at 70% down only three points from the first poll in 1937. 

It's a generational thing as well.  66% of Traditionalists.  58% of Boomers.  50% of Gen X.  38% of Millenials. 35% Gen Z.  

There is a growing number of people who have no religious affiliation, which is the single biggest factor in this decline.  It's not that people don't have faith.  It's not that people aren't spiritual.  They are religious-avoidant and don't see the need for church. 

And now, Sundays have changed for so many people who used to attend church on a semi-regular basis.  Families have gotten used to having two whole days off on the weekend---every weekend.  People who struggle with technology checked out.  

Meanwhile, stress levels have gone up.  Anxiety runs high.  The world is uncertain and for many of us, our faith was shaken over this past year.  Shaken, and not stirred. 

And by stirred I mean stirred in the way that it may have been in the past--stirred to action, to commitment, to being engaged in the community and spiritual growth.  

So that's all good news, right?  Way to start the sermon off, preacher. 

But here's the thing...  This is the perfect moment for the church if the people who make up the church are willing to engage and embrace it.  Let me explain... 

What if I  told you... there is a place where you can discover your identity... your purpose... a real community... Connection with God... Love for others... Healing for your Soul... 

What if I told you that this place where all of these things is possible already exists, and just needs you to make it even more visible, more viable, more relevant than ever?  

What if I told you that this place---and we're talking about the church here--is better when we're together.  When We > Me...?  

And Together doesn't happen without a "We."  

I  Corinthians 12:12-14

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[a] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Let me give you some background on the church at Corinth, which was located in what is now modern day Turkey.  Corinth was a cosmopolitan city, a melting pot of people from all backgrounds in the Roman Empire, including a thriving Jewish community.

It was a cool city, with lots of impressive temples, culture, art, wealth, and some very clear delineations between rich and poor, slave and free, Jewish and non-Jewish.  

There was great diversity in this church--class, gender, race, background... and the conversations they were having as a church were all centered on the kinds of divisions that existed between these believers because of the society they were a part of in Corinth.  

They were having conversations about who didn't bring all that much to the table when they had potluck dinners. 

Paul has to weigh in at last on what it means to be a community brought together.  He wanted them to know that without a "we" there is no together---and he acknowledged that "we" is difficult sometimes, and super complicated. 

He employs the analogy of the church as a body--made up of different parts that have to work together in order to create a "we."  

Paul lands on the radical notion that when the community focuses on equality, mutual admiration, and humility that these different parts of the body discover how much they need each other.  

This passage teaches us that The kind of church that demonstrates the true love of Christ and bears witness to the Resurrection is a church where We > Me. 

So how do we figure this out?  And here's a tough question that we need ask... How do we expect the Church to matter unless it really matters to us?  

If there is no together with a "we," how do we get to "we?" 

Each and every one of us need to re-examine how we approach our relationship with our family of faith.  We need to ask these questions: 

How Do I Contribute to "We?" - What are the gifts that you have to bring, and are you bringing them?

What is Missing When I'm Missing? - What is it about your presence that makes Church matter?

Who Isn't In The Room & Why? - Do you ever wonder if we are as welcoming as we think we are?

What's the Elevator Pitch? - Do you share with others what your faith community means to you?  Why not?  Do you know what we're all about? 

I believe the Church still matters--now more than ever.  It can be a space where all kinds of healing, forgiveness, peace, grace, love and goodness can abound.  It can be a safe space for people to question, doubt and struggle with their faith.  It can be a place where all are welcomed and fully included, not stunted to the sidelines.  

It can be the exact place that the people in our community need right now.  And we can create this place together.  

Together doesn't happen without a "we." 


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