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Purpose Driven Plus One: Fellowship

Purpose Driven Plus One: Fellowship Sermon Audio Here

Acts 2:42-47

Moving from “Saying Grace” to receiving gratefully; the simple act of eating reminds me every day that God gracefully gives me what I need. Food does that. Eating together with others who recognize it as well adds layers of meaning. Fellowship is important!

What’s The Function of Fellowship?

Fosters Devotion Together~ Acts 2:42 (Fellowship builds our faith)

  • 42 A} “devoted”=continued steadfastly 1) ongoing choice 2) consistent
  • B} “THE fellowship” =NOUN; group of participating partners
  • C} “breaking of bread” same verb used to describe regular meals as well as Lord’s Supper, early church practice was to share a regular meal followed by Communion =POTLUCKS ARE BIBLICALLY IMPORTANT

Furthers Desire For God~ Acts 2:43-47 (Fellowship helps others see God at work)

  • 43 God kept on working among them; they responded in careful awe
  • 44/5 NOT “live in a commune” but shared their lives together
  • 46 Notice again the emphasis on the meal; they even shared the location among themselves (house-to-house-to-house); you may not realize it, but when you have people over for a barbecue, that CAN BE A SPIRITUAL ACT
  • 47 fellowshipping, done rightly, draws people into God’s presence and enables them to be saved

“The sacred is in the ordinary…it is to be found in one’s daily life, in one’s neighbors, friends, and family, in one’s own backyard… travel may be a flight from confronting the scared– this lesson can be easily lost. To be looking elsewhere for miracles is to me a sure sign of ignorance that everything is miraculous.”
― Abraham H. Maslow

Others understand what the Christian life is like when they see it in US.


Purpose Driven Plus One: Evangelism

Purpose Driven Plus One: Evangelism Sermon Audio Here

Isa. 6:1-8; Luke 24:44-49

As I was looking through our Church documents, I ran across my original “Terms Of Call” that the search committee sent me when I first started here. It was a refreshing reminder of what we’ve agreed upon as pastor and congregation. “If I’m to carry out these terms of call,” I asked myself, “then HOW do I do this???”

How Does The Gospel Work Among Us?

We See The Need ~ Isaiah 6:1-8

  • Isaiah gets a vision of the Lord, and is struck with just how unworthy he is for ministry. God’s response? God CLEANSES him, and makes him worthy. And Isaiah says “send me!”
  • This is what makes the Gospel GOOD NEWS: none of us is good enough, but God makes us worthy, and calls us into service

We Share The Seed ~ Luke 24:44-49

  • 44 Jesus IS God’s plan
  • 45 we can’t see it unless we’re opened by God (cf. Rom 10:9-15)
  • 46/47 ~Resurrection (Jesus’ New Life Cancels Old Debt) ~Repentance (Stop Holding Onto Old Debt) ~Restoration (Live The New Life God Gives!)
  • 48/49 Just as you’ve received it, share it


  • Worship is a celebration of the Holy Spirit in our church body through prayer, music, communion, praise and thanksgiving. We share in the reading, understanding, and teaching of God’s word. We Minister to one another by using our God-given gifts to strengthen and build the church family as we grow in our commitment as disciples of Christ.
  • We Fellowship as a church family, brothers and sisters in Christ. We walk together in the light of salvation by the love of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
  • By the authority of Jesus Christ, we Share the Gospel in our community and support those who share it with the world. We are committed to Discipleship through lifelong training and learning that empowers all to spread God’s Word.

As God’s gathered people, we realize we’re gathered FOR A REASON: We Share, we Support, we Worship, we Teach, We Reach, all to change the world!

Purpose Driven Plus One: Discipleship

Purpose Driven Plus One: Discipleship Sermon Audio Here

Matthew 28:16-20

I had a chance to visit with my daughter’s pastor at the church she attends in her university town. I found myself explaining what our congregation is like, and tried to describe WHY we do what we do.

Every Church Has A Reason To Exist

To Answer “Why Are We Here?”
From Warden Community Church Covenant: “…recognizing the privilege and duty of uniting ourselves for Christian fellowship, the enjoyment of Christian ordinances, the public worship of God, and the advancement of His kingdom in the world, we do now, in the sight of God and invoking His blessing, solemnly covenant and agree with each other to associate ourselves to be a church…”
Presbyterian Great Ends of the Church: “Proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind; Shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God; Maintenance of divine worship; Preservation of the truth; Promotion of social righteousness; and Exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world.”
Purpose Driven Church: “Worship; Fellowship; Discipleship; Ministry; Evangelism”

To Respond To Christ’s Call ~ Matthew 28:16-18 – what does discipleship MEAN?

  • 16 notice “disciples” these are not casual followers of Christ, they have dedicated everything they are to the disciplines that Jesus has been teaching
  • 17 Post-Resurrection: they worshiped. They understood that Jesus was not just a rabbi, but Emmanuel – God With them (cf. Matt. 16:16 “you are the son of God”)
  • 18 highest possible Authority in heaven and earth = King over a kingdom

To Live Like Jesus Wants ~ Matthew 28:19-20 – HOW do we make disciples?

  • 19 GO & MAKE DISCIPLES… 1) BAPTIZING~ more than repentance and ritual {but that’s still a part}; covenant sign of constant significance => like a tattoo of affiliation or a BRAND
  • 20 2) TEACH to OBEY~ more than information – TRANSformation 3) ASSURANCE~ we aren’t to do this alone

“Disciple” means to pass along the disciplines taught by a teacher. As disciples of Christ, we can know WHY we’re here- to Respond to Christ’s call, and Live like Jesus.

We Are Unleashed!

We Are Unleashed! Sermon Audio Here

Acts 1:8

Last weekend was the 64th Annual Meeting of the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches.

2018 NACCC Annual Meeting Highlights:

Council Reports

  • Approved recommendation of 3 new churches
  • Consolidated two offices into one
  • Approved 2018-19 budget
  • Our churches donated $116,000 to churches who faced disaster needs around the world
  • Started regional convocations around the country – Midwest and Northeast
  • Developing a lay ministry training program – distance learning with mentors and cohort
  • Adopted new mission statement: “To nurture fellowship among Congregational Christian Churches and support ministries of the local church in its community and to the world, all in the name of Christ” AND vision statement for the NACCC: “Vital and healthy Congregational churches, sharing the love of Jesus the Christ”

Bible Lectures by Terry Lindvall: M.Div from Fuller; doctorate thesis on CS Lewis. Ordained in Congregational Church in 1973. President of Regent University. Fellow at William and Mary. Author.

Acts 1:8 – “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you shall be my witnesses…to the ends of the earth”

• Witness is a noun and verb
• What is a good witness – from a lawyer

  • Remember what was seen
  • Each witness has their own style and sight
  • Power of witness is in the details – what happens when we see and hear
  • Witness answers truthfully and without guile or agenda

• Three areas of witness in Scripture

  • Torah and Law as first witness
    o Jews set up stones along the way as a witness for their return.
    => Ex: Finding Dory – shells lead back to home. All of us are ‘like living stones’
  • Creation Itself as second witness
    o The heavens declare the glory of God – Psalm 96 –
  • Witness of the saints
    o People in Scripture were passionate livers of God’s grace. We are surrounded by this hall of witnesses – they are eccentric, sort of crazy, and strange.

Three Take-aways:

  1. we recognize we are witnesses of God’s love. Deuteronomy 6.
  2. we recognize God’s glory in creation and bear witness
  3. we learn to witness the odd and flawed characters of God’s people.
  • How do you witness of Jesus?
  • How do we bring forth Christ?

Learn to Discern: Going in God’s Will

Learn to Discern: Going in God’s Will Sermon Audio Here

Matthew 13:47-52

When planning for a road trip: what do you do to make sure it’s a good trip? What do you bring? Leave behind?

As You Are GOING (into all the world)…

Weigh Carefully ~ Matthew 13:47-48

  • 47 notice that all kinds are caught: people, ideas
  • 48 AFTER the catch, the results are examined: people, ideas
    (WE can’t judge people, but we CAN use discernment about ideas: what lines up with God’s Word? What conforms to God’s Will, and fits in God’s Kingdom?)

Live Intentionally ~ Matthew 13:49-52

  • 49/50 Wicked end: 1) away from God; 2) unpleasant; 3) awareness (why wouldn’t we warn? => kid w/ RADAR AHEAD sign)
  • 51/52 God is doing new things even today
    (cf. Isa. 43:18-19: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way...)

Depend Wisely ~ 1 Kings 3:9

  • So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
  • We follow God’s example: He calls to all people, so should we. He’s responsible for the final judgment, we’re not. In the meantime, we pay attention, examine the new, keep what’s worthy, and make it available with the best of tradition.

God examines people; we examine ideas. God calls the world to Himself; we can’t shut out the world completely, but instead use careful discernment to discover is God is doing a new thing that we didn’t realize. We depend upon God’s given wisdom to help us learn to discern!

Learn to Discern: Growing In God’s Will

Learn to Discern: Growing In God’s Will Sermon Audio Here

John 3:27-36

We all know Jesus was a carpenter’s son. And we certainly know that He was an itinerant rabbi. But do you remember His very first recorded parable? Was it about wood? Craftsmanship? Was it about travel or teaching? Nope. Jesus’ first parable was about SOIL. He knew His listeners would be concerned with growth!

We Can’t Grow in God’s Will Unless We

Know Growth Comes From God ~ John 3:27-30

  • 27 spiritual gifts come from God; no other source. We don’t CREATE our own SEEDS
  • 28 I’m not God: we are Sent to Represent
  • 29 attends the Bridegroom: John t.Bap. is the “best man/M.C. of the day” point to Jesus’ love for the Bride
  • 30 John’s explanation to his own disciples is a MODEL for how we, as followers of Jesus, are to live: HE is to increase in us; we are to DECREASE. Our very SELF is to become less and less important as we become more like Christ.
=> imagine you’ve been given a piece of land to garden; what to do first? REMOVE what you DON’T WANT (rusted car bodies, big rocks, weeds) We get rid of the negatives, so the positives can grow

Care About Our Condition ~ John 3:31-36
(We’re BARREN!)

  • 31 stuck with earthly perspective (we can’t see like God sees)
  • 32/33 God gives us the truth, but it’s not always accepted (because of our “earthly” vision)
  • 34/35 gives the Spirit without limit TO JESUS; when John taught this, the Spirit didn’t indwell anyone yet
  • 36 “will not SEE life FOR”= replace FOR with INDEED; one state (God’s wrathfulness) follows another (willful blindness leads to righteous indignation)

Isaiah 61:11~ For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.

We are the MEANS by which God grows His righteousness and praise for the world to see. Like Adam, we are DIRT; are you going to be rich fertile soil, or dry and barren dust?

Learn to Discern: Showing God’s Will

Learn to Discern: Showing God’s Will Sermon Audio Here

Jeremiah 1:4-10 / 1 Timothy 4:11-16

Ed Faubert is what you call a “cupper”—in layman’s terms, he’s a coffee-taster. And his perspicacious taste buds are actually certified by the state of New York! So refined is Faubert’s sense of taste for coffee that even while blindfolded, he can take one sip of coffee and tell you “not just that it is from Guatemala, but from what state it comes, at what altitude it was grown, and on what mountain.”

Wanna Grow?

Go! ~ Jeremiah 1:4-10

  • 4/5 God chooses us to serve (not dependent on YOU)
  • 6/7 God does the sending (not your responsibility)
  • 8/10 God’s word is effective (not your job to change others)

Show! ~ 1 Timothy 4:11-16

  • 11/12 set an example: ALL parts of your life are fair game
  • 13 devote yourself: what does that look like in YOUR life?
  • 14/15 wholly~holy pun: giving ourselves is part of the sanctification process:
    • having others watch HOW you serve the Lord is itself a PART of serving the Lord
  • 16 carefully persevere: keep on keeping on

KNOWING a fact doesn’t change a life; IMPLEMENTING it does.

Pastor Ed Backell

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