Monthly Archives: September 2009

The Circulating Effect of Community

Have you ever known anyone who struggled with proper blood circulation? Some of the symptoms include numbness of the hands, feet and fingers or painful leg cramps. Sometimes even the color of the skin is affected, turning a bluish or even black color. Poor blood circulation is usually a result of lifestyle choices that we make (our diet; exercise routine), that effect the function of our hearts. J.I. Packer draws a comparison between the human body’s need for circulation and the body of Christ, and her need for community. He writes: “…one of the reasons why great sections of the modern church are so often sluggish and feeble, compared with our counterparts of one or two centuries ago, is that the secret of fellowship has been lost…A body in which the blood does not circulate properly is always below par, and fellowship corresponds to the circulation of the blood in the body of Christ. We gain strength through fellowship and we lost strength without it.”

This Sunday we will be continuing our three part sermon series on the church,The Body and Bride. This past Sunday we considered the foundation of the church, namely the gospel and all of its implications for who the church is. The church is made up of those who have been brought from death to life, redeemed from slavery to sin and purchased with the righteousness of Christ. But, what is the outcome of living out the gospel in this corporate way? What ought to be produced by this pool of grace and mercy, called the church? Billy Newhouse seeks to answer these questions this week as he considers Strengthened through Community from Ephesians 4:1-16.

Are there any symptoms of a lack of spiritual circulation in your life? Are you utilizing the opportunities for fellowship and community that are available to you through the church? How involved are you in your Care group? Is it a priority or an optional activity each week? Are you building meaningful relationships, or seeking to hide behind superficial conversation and quick exits after the last “amen” is said? British theologian Alister McGrath summarizes the importance of community well when he writes: “The Christian is not meant to be, nor called to be, a radical and solitary romantic, wandering in isolated loneliness through the world; rather, the Christian is called to be a member of a community.” That community is the local church. I hope that you will join us this Sunday as well continue to trust God in building a gospel community at Redeemer.

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What Does McDonald’s Have in Common with the Church?

What is the difference between the church and McDonald’s? Perhaps this seems like a silly question, but in the consumer centered world in which we live, it may seriously need to be asked. Think about it, you go to a McDonald’s to get something specific that you want. Not only are you targeting something specific, you are are needing that something to be delivered to you in less than 5 minutes. And if the little speaker on the menu is working properly, that specific something comes through the little drive-thru window fast, hot and ready to eat. The economics are pretty simple–people want certain foods fast and Ronald McDonald caters to their desires in exchange for six dollars and ninety nine cents (super sized of course!). McDonald’s is a very successful, consumer driven business. Do you see any parallels to the church? Are there people who have something specific in their minds when they walk through the doors of a church? Absolutely! Lively music, big playground equipment for my children, short, but extremely practical sermons (the drive-thru variety), funny videos on the screen to keep my attention, a nice, clean building in a nice safe part of town and of course a fully operational Starbucks in the lobby. And what if your church falls short of one of these menu items? We’ll, that’s the beauty of living in Houston, Texas–there are 10 other churches just down the way that are working hard to meet the needs of the consumer. Loyalty? Commitment? Service? That’s the church’s job, not mine. So, what was the difference between the church and McDonald’s?

This week at Redeemer, we are beginning a three week sermon series on the church, entitled: The Church: The Body and the Bride. In the first part of this series, Billy Newhouse will be considering “Immeasurable Riches,” from Ephesians 2:1-10. Our desire in this first sermon is to set the foundational stage for a biblical understanding of the church. Is the church simply another consumer driven business, or is it a group of redeemed people, who have been humbled by the gospel? When we read the pages of the New Testament, the consumer model quickly breaks down. According to Paul, we are not the ones in the “driver’s seat” so to speak, but we are “dead” (v. 1). Dead people don’t get to set the agenda, the marketing strategy or the business plan. They have clearly blown their opportunity to run things their way. This is the testimony of every Christian…I got it wrong!– “Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest” (v. 3). So who sets the vision and agenda for the church…the dead guy, or the One who has and gives true life? “But God…made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” (vs. 4-5). The church is not a business, but a group of people who have been made alive by the grace of God for the glory of God. The church is the body and the bride of Jesus Christ.

So, how have you viewed the church? As a drive-thru stop on your way to something more important, or as your eternal family? What does your level of commitment to the local church say about your relationship with Jesus? How are Christians uniquely equipped to love and minister in the church? What constitutes a church? Are you serving the church, or expecting only to be served? We pray that this series will serve to remind you of the grace of God in your life. We hope that your commitment to the local church will be refreshed and renewed. We long to see “his workmanship” doing “the works that have been prepared for us to walk in” (v.10). Join us as we explore the beautiful gift of the church together over these next three weeks at Redeemer.

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