Celebrating Our Church
Today is a time to celebrate our church.
The church is not the building, not the programs, not the staff, but the people.
What is Emmanuel? What comes to your mind? Do you think 48th & Spruce, or P. Paul or ECF and Phileo? Emmanuel is the people.
We often say, “I’m going to go to church.” “I’ve starting going to church again.” “I haven’t been going to church very much.” The idea of going to church puts the emphasis on the building or location.
Acts , 46—all the believers were together, meet together.
Maybe it’s better to say that the church is gathering today, or I’ve rejoined the fellowship.
That’s what ecclesia meant, gathering or assembly—it’s the people.
Back then, they probably didn’t have a building. Some of those places didn’t have ordained, full-time pastors as we have today. They were just the gathering of the followers of Jesus.
Think of house churches in
They don’t go to church, they are the church.
Like the house churches in
But you change enough of the people, and the church is no longer the same.
And that’s why welcoming our new members is important: because the church is the people.
Joining a church is like being brought into a fraternity or sorority, or like being married into or adopted into a family. It’s all about the people—the people are the church.
1. Recognizing the church is the people.
2. Serving One Another, Living in Community
Acts 2:44b, 45.
In this community, there is a “we’re going to take care of one another” mentality.
We belong to each other. It is an expression of our community.
In the early church they shared everything in common, they gave of their resources, property to help those in need. They were committed to each other.
People let each other stay in their apartments, borrow each other’s cars, help each other move or paint their new homes, cook meals for each other, etc.
We’re welcoming these children into our community.
The kids haven’t done anything, but because of the faith of the parents, because they are part of the community, we embrace their children as well.
Let me say thank you to all our Sunday School teachers (). Thank you for giving of your time and heart to help raise the next generation of followers of Jesus.
I know one family where after a particular child, and they didn’t have family to help them, one of our young adult sisters would go over 2-3 times a week for about 2 months, to care for the older child. She refused to get paid, she did it as service. That’s living in community
Sometimes moms have playgroups with their kids, and as the kids are playing, they might push/hit/bite—one of the moms would immediately step in and discipline the whole group, even those kids who are not their own. Or perhaps in the fellowship hall after our service, the kids might running around and one of them does something dangerous, any of the parents would immediately take care of the kid. One mom put it to me as, “We see each other as a community.” That’s exactly right!
Christian parents don’t have to raise their children by themselves. We have a community, we and do it together.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. We say it takes a church to raise a Christian.
That’s one big part of infant baptism: it is celebrating our community—we’re going to help raise our children together.
3. Reaching Out to Others
As wonderful as it is to be in the family of faith, the community of Christ, God’s purpose for the church is hardly just inward. There is a strong outward focus as well.
The early church saw people coming to faith in Jesus all the time. We read in Acts in several places how God kept adding to their number those who were being saved.
Jesus is building His Church. And He is still building His Church today.
I want to celebrate Jeff and God’s work in his life.
And I want to encourage us
Welcome our newcomers.
Sometimes it only takes a Billy, to say Hi, take an interest, invite them to your small group
Small group: There has to be real community
They’re attracted to what we enjoy—community
God is still working to save souls.
Jeff didn’t grow up in church at all. He came just to score points with his future in-law’s. But God showed in something greater.
Jeff was hungry, big eyed and eager.
God is bringing souls!
We celebrate our church today.
That’s you, the people. What makes Emmanuel Emmanuel are the people.
We serve one another as we live in community. Infant baptism affirms one aspect of that community, that we’re going to embrace one another’s joys and pains, resources and needs, and children.
We’re reaching out to others. God wants to save souls.