RECAP: TOGETHER AS GOD’S CHURCH based on Ephesians 4:1-16
It is very difficult to learn how to truly be and work together. I learned this truth especially when I was in college at a Resident Assistant team-building retreat. We were split into teams of four with a challenge–we had to canoe from the shore, touch the flag in the center of the pond, and then return to shore. My group struggled. We first could not figure out how to go forward. We ended up spinning in circles or moving to the left for a little bit, and then to the right, and we were back to where we started. The girls had already touched the flag. Then, with all our might, we tried to move forward, only to capsize the canoe! Even as we struggled to get the canoe righted, we kept returning to the water. It was a complete team failure!
I still do not know how to canoe. But what I learned is that when we canoe, we have to all have paddle in the same direction AND with the same rhythm in order to move the canoe forward. If any oar was not in sync, it would cause the canoe to go into a direction we did not desire to go.
The same reality is true in a church. The Acts 2 church was “together” and received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Later, they “were together and had everything in common,” and the Lord added to the number of disciples daily! Jesus’ prayer for us was to be one like he and the Father were one, in complete unity. Together, we are the church!
But if we look at the church in the United States right now, we are certainly not together. We are like an old story my pastor growing up used to tell. A man died and went to heaven. Peter was giving him a tour, and when they opened the first door, there was a long, narrow corridor with people worshiping God, and God was on the throne in the center of the room. Peter then took the individual to the next door, and it was another long, narrow corridor of people worshiping God in a different way, but God was on the throne in the center of the room. Peter and the man then went to the next door, and experienced the same thing. The man then asked for an explanation, to which Peter said, “The first room is the Baptists; the second room is the Catholics, and the third room are the Pentecostals–they each think they are the only ones here!”
We fracture each other and divide each other. How can we move toward God’s vision–a church that is together? We can look to Paul’s guidance to the Ephesian church who was also experiencing factions in its midst!
1) Focus on what we have in common. Paul encouraged the church to focus first on those things they all shared. They all shared one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father. This is the core of who we are. Paul did not say we needed to get all our theology, perspectives, or viewpoints in line. The church did not have to have a uniform belief of the rapture, the mode of baptism, or the makeup of the elements of communion. They simply needed to focus on the core of what they all shared together!
Now please do not think this means that Paul said we all need to embrace everything, hold hands and sing Kumbaya. Rather, he said we need to become one in these seven core areas. For example, God is holy–an embrace of any belief that goes against the holiness of God would keep us from being one, and would be like paddling our oars in opposite directions!
2) Share our gifts with each other. God has given the church unique gifts for a specific purpose. We all have been given the gift of grace. We also have the five vocational gifts: apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher. Now we might think we don’t have apostles or evangelists in our congregation. But even though we do not embrace those titles, it does not mean those gifts do not exist. The apostolic gift cares about new church growth, leadership development, and discipleship. The prophetic gift cares about integrity, declaring the truth of the word of God and preaches accountability to God’s Word and way even if it flies in the face of culture. The evangelist cares deeply about reaching the lost and sharing the good news of the gospel to those outside the walls of the church. The pastoral gift cares about the nurture of the body and casts vision and direction. The teacher instructs the church in the Word of God and models what it means to be a person of faith. Even though the specific office might not exist, all of these gifts exist within our body!
3) Live a life worthy of the calling. When we focus on what we have in common and share our gifts with each other, we begin to see amazing things happen. First, the body is edified, encouraged to continue the work of Jesus and growing in the faith. Second, we all reach the unity of the faith. We become one in spirit, goal, and direction while each remaining unique and different in perspective (unity, not uniformity). Third, we are equipped for works of service, inspired to reach those around us. Fourth, we grow in our knowledge of Christ, and fifth we can stand against any spiritual attack–because we are together!
Together can indeed happen. Let us as Beaver Creek grow in togetherness, paddle in the same direction, and see where we go. I firmly believe we can see a move of God in our day like the early church experienced in their day, but it starts with truly being together!
Questions for Reflection
1) What are some fond memories of togetherness you have experienced at Beaver Creek?
2) In what areas should we focus more on becoming one?
3) Which of the gifts have you seen operate within you?
4) Who within the congregation can you edify this week?
This Sunday Pastor Ryan will continue the Vision series with the sermon titled, “Passionate Living,” based on Philippians 3:4b-20. To execute the vision of God, we must be passionate about our faith. What does passionate living look like? Come or tune in Sunday to find out!
Daily Bible Readings for July 20 – 26
July 20: Acts 2:1-4 What happened when the early church was one in heart and mind?
July 21: Romans 12:3-8 How should we function together as the body of Christ?
July 22: 1 Peter 2:9-10 What can we be together?
July 23: Acts 2:42-47 How did the early church live out their oneness?
July 24: Colossians 3:1-4, 12-17 How can we be one as the church?
July 25: Matthew 5:1-12 What does it mean to passionately live your faith?
July 26: Matthew 5:13-16 What does it mean to passionately live your faith?
This Week’s Events:
Saturday, July 24–Winnie’s retirement celebration from 4-8 pm
Sunday, August 8–Summer Vespers @ 6:30 pm
Call for Worship Leaders and Children’s Story
As we look at the ability to reopen in the coming weeks, we are in need of both worship leaders and children’s story. We are looking for one person each week, rather than a month at a time. If you would like to serve, contact Alice Over (worship leading) or Tammy Stine (children’s story).
In place of our Lenten Vespers, we will have summer outdoor vespers on our church grounds two additional Sunday evenings during the summer: August 8, and September 5 at 6:30 pm. Come enjoy some fellowship, campfire songs, and our wonderful church family outdoors!
This past Vespers, I challenged those who attended to think about one thing that the church has meant to them and one thing they would love to see at Beaver Creek in the next five years. I now extend the same two questions to you if you did not attend. If you would like to answer, please simply email me the answer to those two questions!
Call to Prayer
Let us continue to pray for our nation in the following ways:
1) National return to God
2) Repentance of personal sin
3) Repentance of corporate sin
4) Healing for the brokenness of relationships
5) Our leaders
6) Restoration of the national church
Misti Wheelbarger is looking for volunteers for the nursery during the Sunday School hour for next year. If you are willing to help, even if it is just for a Sunday, please reach out to her and let her know.
Four Ways to Give!
1) Mail your tithe into the church office
2) Drop it by the church office on Tuesday, Thursday or Friday, 9 am – 1 pm
3) Our online giving platform: https://beavercreekchurchva.churchcenter.com/giving
4) Drop off in the offering plate on Sunday!
Continue to Keep in Prayer our members in Skilled Care Facilities: Mary G Miller, Shirley Miller, Stanley Suter & Carolyn Wine
John Bennington (health)
Sam Carr (health)
Elijah Tucker Dean (health)
Tina Dotson (COVID)
Bill Eckard (recovery)
John Fix (addiction)
Janet Good (health)
Cindy Heatwole (health)
Heath Kimmell (health)
Larry LaPrade (COVID)
Lent family (work)
Barbara Meadows (health)
Alda Miller (health)
Betty Miller (health)
Mary M Miller (recovery)
Mary G Miller (health)
Tami Plaugher (health)
Evy Kaye Sandin (recovery)
Chris Shirk (health)
Ann Simmons (health)
Crystal Smith (health)
Tammy Stine (broken ankle)
Frank Tusing (health)
Thompson family (COVID)
Mary Whitmore (health)
Whitmore family (various)
Owen Wright (health)
Tyler Zombro (health)
Pastor Ryan Cooper
Beaver Creek COB