The focus of our sermons for 2018 has been on the church. When I say, “The church”, I am referring to the Body of Christ — the fellowship of every blood-washed, Spirit-filled, born-again believer. Included in that, of course, is HCOG.
We began the year by finishing up our Read-Through-The-Bible-In-A-Year sermon series with eight messages focusing on Jesus’ letters to the seven churches in Asia Minor as recorded in Revelation 2-3.
From there we spent several weeks discussing what it means to be a missional church and an incarnate church. We used Roland Daniels’ book Church in the Middle as our template as we studied God’s word, being reminded of Jesus’ call to “go and make disciples”.
For the past three months we have been going over the basic fundamentals of what it means to be “a
church”. We discussed the following:
- The Church: Its Foundation — The basic foundation of the church is the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Everything in the church is built upon this truth. Christ is the Cornerstone from which every ministry is measured.
- The Church: Its Organization — Christ is the head of the church. He is the Supreme Authority whom we submit to, and everything we do is in accordance with His word.
- The Church: Its Fellowship — We spent two weeks discussing koinonia — the perfect unity which Christ desires for His church. Jesus said that this is the most important witness we have (John 13:34-35).
- The Church: Its Power — The Holy Spirit gives us the power to be God’s church. The power is not for us to show off our spirituality, but:
- power to serve
- power to worship
- power to make disciples
- power to live humbly with one another
- power to turn from sin
- The Church: Its Worship — Worship is more than simply singing praise songs. Worship is a frame of mind and heart. Worship happens when we bow down in humble adoration before Almighty God and submit our will to His.
- The Church: Its Promise — The Bible contains hundreds of promises We focused on Jesus’ promises of acceptance, a relationship, trials, and a reward.
- The Church: Its Future — We spent two weeks looking at what Scripture says about the future of the church, from persecution here on earth to a New Heaven and a New Earth where we will reign with Christ for all eternity!
- The Church: Its Politics — God’s word reminds us that we live in between two kingdoms: the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world. Because of Christ we have dual citizenship, and we are obligated to serve in both kingdoms. We are called to represent God’s Kingdom here on earth, and we increase His Kingdom by making disciples.
As HCOG approaches its 60th Anniversary I believe it is important to be reminded of what it means to be a church dedicated to following Jesus Christ. In the next couple of years we are going to experience many changes at HCOG, and we need to solidify the foundation of who we are and why we are here. We need to develop the next generation of leaders who will provide spiritual discipleship for the next generation of believers. We need innovative and creative ways to reach our ever-changing community with the Gospel message. We need relevant ministries that will bring Jesus into the lives of the people in our community. We need musicians, teachers, techies, preachers, and anyone who is willing to use her/his gifts to serve in the church and reach out beyond our walls with the love of God.
These things are not just going to happen. If we are not careful time will pass HCOG by, and we will become one of those churches stuck in the past, holding on to the “good old days” until the doors of the church are closed for good. I know that sounds fatalistic, but consider these statistics:
- Only 1 in 7 pastors are under 40 years old
- 65% of all churches in America have plateaued or are in decline (85% in the Church of God).
- Every year 4,000 churches close their doors, compared with only 1,000 new church start-ups
- Half of all churches in America did not add any new members in the last two years
I don’t mean this to be “gloom and doom”. The Spirit is alive in HCOG! I am excited about what the future holds for us, so let us not lose heart. God has richly blessed us at HCOG. He has proven Himself faithful to us for the past 60 years, and He will always be faithful to His church!
Let us, therefore, continue to be faithful to Him. Let us be willing to use our spiritual gifts within the church to build up the Body of Christ. Let us also bring Jesus into our homes, neighborhoods, places of work and our schools, sharing God’s love and the message of salvation within our communities. This is our calling. This is why God has established HCOG. Let us live up to that calling.
God bless you all.
Your Servant in Christ,