This Laity Sunday sermon by Jim Campana emphasizes that the mission of the church is to make disciples for Jesus Christ. All members of the church have been gifted by God for this mission. Campana explains that the role of church leadership like pastors and teachers is to equip the laity, or church members, to use their gifts for ministry and service. This builds up the body of Christ so that the church can effectively carry out its mission. Campana challenges the congregation to see themselves as ministers called to share the love of Christ, not just passive recipients of ministry. He encourages them to identify and use their spiritual gifts to fulfill God's purpose for the church. The key point is that the church exists not for itself but to carry out God's mission in the world. Every member should play an active part in this.
In summary, Campana's Laity Sunday sermon calls on all members of the church to embrace their identity as ministers equipped by God to share the gospel through service and ministry. This advances the mission of making disciples, which is the fundamental purpose for which Christ established the church. Campana motivates the congregation to move from passivity to actively employing their diverse gifts for this mission.
Well, this morning is our belated Laity Sunday, a celebration of you, the laity of the church. It should have been October 15th, but due to some scheduling changes, it made more sense to move the date forward to today. It's also the last Sunday that we will deal with the topic of stewardship. Wow, a bogo day.
To begin, there was once a strong man at a circus slideshow who demonstrated his power before large audiences every night. Toward the end of one of his performances, he squeezed the juice from a lemon between his hands. He said to the onlookers, I will offer anyone $500 who can squeeze just another drop out of this lemon. Well, a small, thin, older, white-haired lady with a cane hobbled up to the stage.
She picked up the lemon and clamped it between her two frail, bony hands and squeezed it. And lo and behold, out came two teaspoons of lemon juice. The strong man was amazed. He paid the woman $500, but pulled her aside and privately asked her, what is the secret to your strength? Practice, the older woman said.
I have been treasurer of my church for the past 42 years. That's usually the thoughts going through people's minds when we talk about stewardship in the church. Squeezing that last drop of money out of you. For me, giving is a personal topic between you and God.
But stewardship encompasses much more than money. So put your wallets, purses, and checkbooks back where they belong. I'm not going to try to squeeze any more money out of you this morning. Our passage from Ephesians is a perfect example of how faith and stewardship overlap.
At our monthly administrative council meetings, we have been working and refocusing on the mission in this community and in the world. And the basis for our discussion centers around one pointed statement. It is not so much the case that God has a mission for his church in the world as that God has a church for his mission in the world. Mission was not made for the church.
The church was made for mission. You see, building the church is not our job. If we make disciples, we will always get church. But if we build a church, we will rarely get disciples.
And there's a difference. The importance of mission dictates what a church does. It provides the foundation upon which we can build as we make disciples through strategic ministry planning. Mission formulates the ministry function and provides guidance and decision making.
It inspires ministry unity. And finally, it facilitates evaluation of ministry effectiveness. Our mission remains constant. Make disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
How we choose to answer that mission totally together evolves over time as we grow in faith, we increase our resources, and we identify those needs out in the community and the world that need to be met. And it all starts with you, as it did with Paul. Paul wrote in Ephesians 3, 8, just think, though I did nothing to deserve it, and though I am the most useless Christian there is, yet I was the one chosen for the special joy of telling the Gentiles the glad news of the endless treasures available to them in Jesus Christ. In chapter 4, he further goes on and says, however, Christ has given each of us special abilities, whatever he wants us to have out of his rich storehouse of gifts.
Paul makes it clear he is not talking about saving grace here. Paul is talking about specific ministries in which God gave each of us a specific job for the church. This job, this mission in ministry is both a privilege and a responsibility. We don't all have the same responsibilities.
We are all a unity in Christ, but we aren't all the same. We don't all do the same jobs. Some of us received one grace, one ministry, others received another. Acts 6, chapter 4 tells us that we all have at least one ministry that we are to devote ourselves to.
It's this point that Paul is working towards. Jesus gave gifts to people. Unfortunately, he let it up to us to decide and identify how to make decisions on how we're to use these gifts to make disciples. That's the part of stewardship I'm speaking about today.
God has a church for his mission in the world, and laity is the driving force. In Ephesians 3, God gave Paul a specific ministry. His job was to proclaim the good news about Jesus to the nations. Paul calls this gift God's gift to him.
It's a privilege to have God give you a job to do. It's a privilege to be entrusted with an important task, and Paul was grateful for that. He knew he didn't deserve this. So it's vital that you see how Paul describes this ministry.
He says, this grace was given. What we are supposed to hear is that Paul was given a specific ministry that is both a privilege and a responsibility. This grace was given. Our pastors are Jesus' gift to us, but each of you are Jesus' gift to Fairhaven as well.
But we all have different jobs. You have all been gifted to help Fairhaven go and make disciples. So it wasn't enough that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and made peace between all of us and God. Jesus also gave us gifts.
And when you look at your neighbor sitting next to you, do you say to yourself, that person is Jesus' gift to Fairhaven? In verse 12, Paul tells us why Jesus gave the church these people as gifts. He gave the gift of pastors and teachers to Fairhaven for the fixing and the equipping of the holy ones, for the work and the service, and for the building of the body of Christ. He gave them so that we, the saints, are prepared and ready to minister so that the body of Christ can be built up, so that we are able to go out and feed the multitude, just as Jesus did over 2,000 years ago. All of these gifts of people is for the building up of the body of Christ.
Again, building the church is not our job. If we make disciples, we will always get the church. But if we build the church, we will rarely get disciples. The dynamic truth is that everyone is to be engaged in ministry.
It is not the work of some hired holy man to do all the ministry. Some people have the belief that they pay a minister to do the ministry. By ministry, they mean that he or she is to do everything. He is to do all the visiting, all the evangelism, all the praying, all the counseling, all the administration.
And if time permits, he needs to get together a little talk for Sunday morning. After all, they think, isn't that why we pay him? But God gave the mission, the ministry, to all the saints. And he gave the task of equipping the saints to the ministry to the anointed and gifted leaders such as pastors. We don't pay ministers to do the ministry, all the ministry.
The saints, you and me, are the ones to carry out ministry. We the saints need to be prepared or equipped to be the hands and feet of Jesus for someone else. And only in this way will someone be ministered to and Jesus' mission for Fairhaven accomplished. No pastor or team of pastors can do the ministry which has been ordained for the saints to do.
And here's where we often get confused. This idea of laity as the people who receive ministry simply gets in the way. We need to think of the term laity differently, replacing it with something more true, more active to what our calling and stewardship should be. We consider ourselves laity, but in reality we should be thinking of ourselves as ministers, each of us, all of us.
Somehow something must change in our own self-image. We must begin to see ourselves as a community of ministers. This has the potential to completely change how we understand Fairhaven and each of our roles in it. And when we do, this changes everything about us as a church community.
This does not mean our pastors and other leadership gifts are no longer necessary. They are. They are necessary to equip the saints. But the saints, all of us, are the ministers.
All of us are to be available to minister to others in the community of the church, to lead the people. All of us are charged to make disciples for Jesus Christ. When we deal with one another, we are to see ourselves as a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. And the pastor is not the only one who can do that.
All of you can be instruments through whom Jesus' love flows. But that takes a fundamental alteration in thinking. You must begin to see yourself as that representative, a minister, Jesus' gift to Fairhaven. You must begin to function on a level of spiritual gifts by finding your gifts and using them.
And you must seek to be led by the Spirit to minister to people. I know this is a paradigm shift in thinking. But the reason should be obvious. Let me introduce you to the Tate family.
Old man Dick Tate wants to run everything, while Uncle Ro Tate tries to change everything. Then there's sister Agitate, who stirs up plenty of trouble with her help from her husband, Irritate. Whenever new projects are assigned, Hesitate and his wife, Vegitate, want to wait until next year. There is, then there's Aunt Imitate, who wanted the church to be like all the others.
Devastate, of course, provides the voice of doom, while Potentate wants to be the big shot. And, of course, there is the black sheep of the family, Amputate, who completely cuts himself off from the church and its ministry. You see, building a church is not our job. If you build the church, you rarely get disciples.
God created this community, which he calls Fairhaven. God insists on dealing with us in community. He has chosen that through the church we would grow to maturity, so we can effectively minister and make disciples. He could have dealt with us in isolation, but he chose not to do so.
God in his very nature is community. It is not so much the case that God has a mission for his church in the world, as that God has a church for his mission in the world. Mission was not made for the church. The church was made for mission.
But we just don't work if we're not all on the same page. And so God put us together, blessed us with gifts that we might give and receive ministry, and that we might be matured into the image of Jesus Christ. And that is why he gave gifted leadership to the church and gifted you to Fairhaven. Pastors and teachers equip the saints for ministry, and the saints do the ministry to fulfill the mission.
It's that simple. Let me close with Hebrews chapter 10, verse 24. We should think about each other to see how we can encourage each other to show love and do good works. Yes, laity and stewardship go hand in hand.
We were all given gifts, and we are all gifts to Fairhaven. Mission was not made for Fairhaven. Fairhaven was made for mission. Yes, we were made for mission.
Years from now, I hope Fairhaven is not remembered for what we have, but rather what we gave. Let's go and make disciples. Amen. Thank you.