This is a message summary. The message was given to the Annual Church Meeting Sunday morning service. 24th April 2005
In preparation for this morning, I’ve been asking myself what sign will we hang on the church door? This morning I want to hang some signs on our door. Two of them don’t belong, but we need to make sure that the third is always there. As we do that, I want us to read three passages of scripture together. Here is the first, it’s 1 Peter 2:4-5 9-12
The first sign that doesn’t belong is a “For Sale” sign. When you sell something, you let go of what you have for a price.
This sign doesn’t belong for two reasons. Firstly, it does not belong because we must never sell out on what we believe, because what we believe defines who we are.
Notice how the passage I read says a lot about who we are. We are living stones being built into a spiritual house, we are holy priests, we are a chosen race, (spiritually) we are royal priests, we are a holy nation and we are God’s people. All that depends on certain convictions about who God is, and how he relates to us.
So who we are is defined by what we believe. What we have in common is what we believe. We are a family because of what we believe.
Secondly the “For Sale” sign does not belong because we are not going to sell out on the issue of Christian behaviour. I have a conviction that what we believe should make a difference to how we behave. Looking at this passage, let me give you four reasons why we can’t and won’t sell out on the issue of Christian behaviour.
- Verse 9 says “You are a holy nation” We can’t sell out because God made us holy and calls us to be holy.
- Verse 10 says that we have received mercy. We can’t sell out because to do so would be to trample of God’s mercy.
- Selling out on behaviour is spiritually perilous and destructive. The passions of the flesh wage war against your soul. V11.
- We can’t sell out because honourable lifestyle honours God. V 12
A couple of weeks ago I put up this list on a Sunday evening and preached on values for serving in Priory Street. I commend them because when we embrace them we honour God.
We will value:
- Bold faith
- Humble service
- Christ like love
- Joyful attitude
- Honest communication
- Personal purity
- Spiritual Surrender
The second sign that doesn’t belong is the “Do not disturb sign” As a church we won’t be putting out the do not disturb sign. Let’s read from the Bible again, this time we are in the Old Testament and this is Numbers 9:15-18
Some months ago I was reading this passage and it really spoke to me about the nature of life with God. Some of you will remember that a number of years ago the theme of our church holiday had to do with God’s people leaving Egypt and travelling to the Promised Land, and we called it “Camping with God.”
One of the things we see in this passage is that for God’s people change could come at any minute, or it might not! That’s up to God. The people moved not when it was logical to do so, not when they wanted to, but when God moved.
One of the mistakes we could make would be to put out the “Do not disturb sign” I guess that after a few days, for God’s people camp could get pretty comfortable, but when God moved on you moved on.
And after a couple of months in the same place, I guess it could get pretty boring, but if God stayed, you stayed.
I think this coming year could be a year in which we experience some change. We have talked about going to two morning services. Will we do that this year? I honestly don’t know. I do know that we need to be ready to do that if that is what God is saying, and ready not to if that is not what he is saying.
We will be bringing to you certain proposals about the way in which the church is led, and some are already working through the uncomfortable aspects of that change.
Finally, and this brings us on to our last sign, I sense at the moment that God is saying something about the way in which we do Sunday morning services in particular. I feel really challenged to seek to make our morning services a place where people who are far from God and people who have know God and walked with him for years can have profound life changing experiences. And there are elements of change involved with that.
So here is the sign that we need to make sure is always on the door. The “Welcome” sign. You know it’s one thing to put the sign up, it’s another thing to do everything in your power to make sure that you mean it.
When you welcome someone into your home, it affects the way in which you behave. You go out of your way to make them feel at home.
Jesus sees his mission not in terms of being with and ministering to spiritual people but in terms of ministering to those who were far from God.
What Jesus seemed to be able to do is both attract people who were far from God and train disciples, and his whole ministry was strategically focussed around that task.
Now I think as a church I think we have a pretty good understanding of God’s heart for people who are far from him. What I am saying is that we need to work really hard to make sure that the welcome sign stays on the door.
That has implications for the way in which we do a whole load of things. It has implications for what I preach, and how I preach. It has implications for worship, it has implications for stewarding, for projecting, for where you park your car, for who you talk to after services.
In conclusion then we must ensure that the “For Sale” sign never goes up at Priory Street. We must not put up a “Do not disturb” sign, but we must ensure that the “Welcome” sign is always up.