The P.E.W.S. of the Church – ‘S’ is for Service
Sermon Title: The P.E.W.S. of the Church – ‘S’ is for Service
Good News Statement: God equips us to Serve the Church
Preached: Sunday, August 29, 2021 at Dogwood Prairie and Seed Chapel UMC
Pastor Daniel G. Skelton, M.Div.
Scripture (NIV): Ephesians 4:11-13, 16 – Today’s scripture reading comes from the Book of Ephesians chapter 4 verses 11 thru 16. Listen to what the LORD is saying:
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
In 1927, at the age of 21, a young American by the name of Philo Farnsworth completed the prototype of the first working fully electronic TV system. After becoming immersed in a legal battle with RCA (Radio Corporation of America, 1919) for the Television patent, Farnsworth was awarded $1 million dollars in licensing fees for his invention. Though viewed by many historians as the true father of television, Farnsworth never earned much more from his invention, and was dogged by patent appeal lawsuits from RCA.
According to evangelist, Leonard Sweet, in his book The Gospel According to Starbucks, “Words were the common currency of communication—either printed on paper or words carried on radio waves.” The words left the reader or listener to form his or her own pictures. But then television came to town. Television added both sound and pictures to words, as Leonardo Da Vinci predicted several centuries before. I remember my grandmother sharing with me that when the first television came to her town, people crowded around the store front window to catch a glimpse of this thing that brought words and sounds to life. She said, “I don’t understand. But I know this will change things.”
Thinking about Television, the act of service came to mind. What we experience in life is often seen on television, especially in terms of service. On a daily basis we can watch waiters and waitresses serving others , we can relive the experience of having others fill our cars with gas, we can watch shows depicting our service men and women in action, we can even watch as first responders serve the needs of the community, we can hear and listen to preachers across the world share their understanding of service, and we can certainly be entertained by ridiculous advertisements. Television has not only drastically changed how we understand service, but it has reminded us that we are all called to serve in unique and life changing ways.
Let us pray… Dear Lord, Jesus, provide us with the strength to serve you, to find our calling, and to help serve those who need you in their life. Allow us to live into your Word so that we learn to serve and not be served. I pray that my words fall to the ground as your words settle in the hearts of all those before me. In your name we pray, Amen.
Service in the Bible’s terms is not a preliminary or a pathway to greatness; service is greatness. Jesus, in Mark chapter 10, says, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” We sometimes, are shocked to hear when people say they are called to do something we couldn’t image doing ourselves. However, when the person says, “This is my life, this is my livelihood.” They may even say, “This is my calling.” Then we know they are serving to serve and not to be served. In that sense, they express accurately the New Testament’s perspective on ministry. They are called to serve just as we are called to serve, as disciples, of God’s kingdom. If that is their calling, then what is your calling? How are you being called to serve in this community or even in this church?
We have been called to service, as we all have been called to Christ. It is not that some are called to Christ and then go on to service, but it is that to be called by Christ is to be called to service. So we don’t invite some to be the servants and others to be the served, but all of us are called to be the servants.
As Ephesians chapter 4 reminds us we all have the gift of service bestowed upon us. Paul writes, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13). Christ has equipped us with the works of service; and it is through Christ that we learn to be servants of the Word.
Whether you are called to read scripture, to share a song, to play an instrument, to recite a poem, to lead a Sunday School class, to stand at the door and welcome others as they come in, each of you is called to do something in this church that impacts the life of this church. Whether you are called to be a prayer warrior, a person who takes care of the landscape, or a person who continually gives your pastor a hard time, you are called to do something in this church that impacts the life of this church. Whether you are called to lead a Bible Study, help out at the local food pantry, or give the message, you are called to do something in this church that impacts the life of this church. As Paul reminds us, we all of different gifts and talents, but the question becomes, “are you using your gifts and talents to help serve the church so that the church’s life impacts the greater community? How are you serving your church?
Now, Paul clearly understood the importance of service. Christian service, is ultimately nothing more than the ministry of the risen Lord Jesus among and through his people. Essentially, to be in service is to be part of the body of Christ. Paul writes in verse 16, “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Each act of service—each song that is sung, each scripture that is read, each children message that is shared, and each act of welcome that brings people back every Sunday—is a ligament of Christ’s body that builds the church and keeps it thriving. A church that is built by the people is a church that reaches the people; and a church that reaches the people is a church that grows in love. It is through our service, our acts towards and for the church, that truly builds a church for the ages. However, how are you helping build the Body of Christ?
Are you being called to serve in the community as a lay person for this church, to serve those who are in need, to serve and volunteer at community events? How are you serving the Lord? Jesus says in Mark chapter 9, “I want you to know that he who wants to be great among you should first become the servant of all. And it will be in that expression of service that greatness will be realized” (Mark 9:35, paraphrased). You are all being called to serve, but are you listening? Are you willing to take a leap of a faith and do something that you are not comfortable with doing? Are you afraid to serve because you don’t feel worthy?
Well let me tell you something, not feeling worthy to serve does not matter to God. Why? Because God has a plan for you. Noah was a drunk but God had a plan, Abraham was too old but God had a plan, Isaac was a daydreamer but God had a plan, Jacob was a liar, Leah was ugly, Joseph was abused, Moses had a stuttering problem, Gideon was afraid, Sampson had long hair and was a womanizer, Rahab was a prostitute, Jeremiah and Timothy were too young, David had an affair and was a murderer, Elijah was suicidal, Isaiah preached naked, Jonah ran from God, Naomi was a widow, Job went bankrupt, John the Baptist ate bugs, Peter denied Christ, The Disciples fell asleep while praying, Martha worried about everything, The Samaritan woman was divorced more than once, Zacchaeus was too small, Paul was too religious, Timothy had an ulcer…, AND Lazarus was dead but God had a plan! And God’s plan was to have these individuals serve those who needed to be reminded of God’s love. These individuals weren’t perfect, but they still listened and they still served. These individuals didn’t know the future, but they still listened and they still served. These individuals were far from worthy, but they still listened and they still served so that they would become worthy. I’m challenging you today to know that you are worthy and that the time has come for each of you to serve this church and community in whatever way you are being called to do so. We all have different skills. So how can you use them?
John 12:26 states, “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My father will honor the one who serves me.” You are all worthy to serve because you all have chosen to follow and serve the one who has called you to serve. Each of you has a special gift that awaits to build this church. Over the course of this next week, I hope you will take the time to reflect on the ways that you can serve the church: are you being called to lead a song, to play the piano or another instrument, to read scripture, to lead a bible study, Sunday School class, or the prayer chain or to take charge of putting together dinners? What can you do to serve the church? How are you responding to what God lays on your heart?
Like Philo Farnsworth, we are capable of inventing something that has the ability to change the past: that has the ability to broadcast God’s love through a means of serving others. We have the ability to bring people together. You are all worthy to serve. You are all loved by God. And you are all part of a thriving church that awaits to keep the body of Christ alive and thriving. How are you going to serve? How are you going to televise that you are a follower of Christ?
Let us Pray… Heavenly Father, as we continue to seek how we can serve your church and kingdom, help us to know we are worthy, that we have the strength to take a leap of faith, and that we have the ability to learn to serve rather than to be served. We are all capable of being a ligament of your church; so help us find how we can be servants of your Word, of your Kingdom, and of your church. In your name we pray, Amen.
As you ponder how to serve the church, remember you are worthy and that you have the will power and the love to serve others alongside serving the Body of Christ. In the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, go in peace as you serve the Lord. Amen, Amen, Amen.