And this is pretty surreal. Our last 5pm service. And our last service in the youth room. If you didn't know this is the room for the teenagers that they're been so generous to share with us over the last few years.
Our Disciplined Response
Tonight : The Gathering
It comes from the word 'Ecclesia' which is pronounced one of two ways, both are correct. It means this: "The gathering of a people with a purpose." So you could have an ecclesia around a faith, around a political ideal, you could have an Ecclesia around tele tubby collectables. When I say the word church some of you think of an institution or maybe even a building. You don't want to get caught up in debates that really just come down to language, I will say that technically the church is not an institution, or a building, it's a gathering of people.
Hoping to not talk too long. B/C we've got some things to go over at the end.
I love talking about church - B/C I am a church guy.
Conversation - guy - left Christian Faith
A few years ago, I had a conversation with a guy who left the Christian faith. He was raised a Christian, but has since, stopped believing in God. Not just leaving a particular church, but moved away from having faith that there is a God. That’s not that unusual, but what I thought was strange was that he said ‘I’m not happy about it. I wish I believed. Life was better when I believed. But at some point, I had to admit to myself that I was basically pretending.’
So while to us, that may sounds strange, it’s becoming more and more common for people to leave the Christian faith.
Show my cards : "I believe in the church." I believe the church is what God is doing in the world. Is the church perfect? Of course not. The church is people. - We can be closed minded, hateful, petty, exclusive. I can also see this beautiful thing that was started by Jesus to help heal the world.
I am where I am today not because I'm more spiritual than anybody else here. I am where I am today because for as long as I can remember, I've been committed to the church.
For us, church was never something that took away from our family, but church was something that kept our family close. And even today, in this room are 4 generations of Eifferts, that wouldn't see each other today, if it weren't for church.
Big idea: The Church of Jesus Christ is one family, one body, one tribe. To the degree we live apart from the local church, we sabotage our own spiritual health and development and we hold back the mission of Jesus in the world today.
This is obviously happening more and more in modern times. That people say they love Jesus, but they're just not into the gathering. - I can just stay at home, listen to the podcast, read my bible myself. I'm good.
Of course there are people who have been wounded by the church, the church is people, and people are imperfect. So we have to make space for people who have been hurt, and love them as they make their way towards healing. But if you camp out there, and make your home in the 'I don't need the church' space. Then this whole thing is a great big adventure in missing the point. The purpose of the cross isn't just to get you rightly related to God, but also to get you rightly related to your brothers and sisters.
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:12)
For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. (1 Corinthians 12:13)
Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. (1 Corinthians 12:14)
Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. (1 Corinthians 12:15)
And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. (1 Corinthians 12:16)
If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? (1 Corinthians 12:17)
But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. (1 Corinthians 12:18)
In Paul here is talking about how the different parts of the body need each other.
What's interesting is that body parts are only useful when they're connected to other body parts. For a musician, their pointer fingers are very important to them. But man, you cut that finger off and it doesn't do any good to anybody.
In the same way, there's too many Christians who are just a finger dangling out in space by themselves, and they're confused as to why their life lacks meaning and connection. It's because a finger is supposed to be attached to a hand. And a hand is supposed to be attached to an arm and an arm is supposed to be attached to a torso. And when that doesn't happen, those body parts that aren't connected to the body are good for just about nothing.
Grace Skin to Skin in the NICU
When our daughter Grace was born, she was in the NICU, so was 4 1/2 pounds tiny. And do you know what's so important for those tiny little babies? Physical contact.
Well because our adoption of Grace's wasn't complete yet and there was some complications, the social worker didn't want to have any skin to skin contact with the baby.
Well the NICU nurses had a different idea. And so they would let us in, make sure the coast is clear, pull the curtain, and give us skin to skin contact, because they know how important it is for those babies to have skin to skin contact, they can't just be in those incubators all day.
"Lack of physical contact can prevent normal development and can even lead to higher rates of illness or death in infants." (Dr. Bridget Coila)
Did you know theirs places where you can volunteer to hold the babies in the NICU? Some of you don't like church because you don't like the human contact. (And the preacher says "Shake hands with your neighbor, and you're like (be funny). You don't like it, but what you don't realize is love it or hate it, it's essential to your healthy development as a Christian.
Maybe the things you don't like about church are the things you need the most.
Peter goes around preaches: "Repent and be baptized."
Cool because it's 2 things, 1 you can do by yourself (repent) and another you need Christian community to do (be baptized).
So we have these 2 sides of our Christian faith - We have our personal relationship with Jesus and we have us coming together to form the body of Christ.
And as we close this 5pm service and I've thought about what I'd like to tell you going forward it's this: Church is essential for your growth as a Christian, and it's essential to God's work in the world.
(As - prepare for Communion)
Learn to love people who are not exactly like you.
CAN you take communion by yourself? Sure. But there's something about turn our attention, as a family, to the cross, that is unlike anything else you can do by yourself.
There is no problem that we face that is not fixed by the cross. No wound that's not mended by the cross
So whether you're at a low point or a high point. Jesus says “Come all the same" - "There's room at my table."
The tendency with communion is to think that it's you coming and reconnecting with Jesus, but we didn't invite Jesus, He invites us.
So our returning is simply us saying 'Yes'.
As they pass. What I'd like you to do, is simply look to Jesus and say 'Yes'. Despite all the uncertainty in the future, to whatever you have for me, I'm saying 'Yes'. Despite the pain and disappointment of the past, to whatever you have for me, I'm saying 'Yes'.
(Pass / Invitation / Pray / Prayer 4 Poor)
As I'm sure most if not all of you know, this is our last 5pm service. We're moving our service time to 12:30 as our bible study graduates to a full blown church service.
So what does that mean? Well it means that we're moving into the big room and all the things the church offers will be happening. So we'll have nursery & child care, we'll have youth ministry, we'll have outreach opportunities,
I'm so excited about this new season. And I'm also so grateful for these past 5 years. August 2013 was The 1st 'Outlet' meeting and there was 6 of us.
We met in the Usher's Room until it got too crowded. And then we moved into the room across from the coffee bar (we call it the multipurpose room) until it got too crowded.
And it's been this crazy, little bootstrap bible study. And it's changed and morphed into something that none of us could have ever imagined. And I'm just so grateful. I'm grateful to God for how faithful he's been to us these past 5 years. And now we're on the precipice of a big change, for us as a community, and also me personally as a pastor. I'm just full of faith and excited and humbly asking you to make this transition with me.
And I want to take just a quick minute to give you the backstory on the change. I believe I'm called to be a pastor. I haven't always believed that and some of you believed that about me before I believed it about myself. But I do believe it.
And so I believe that as a pastor (and pastor just means shepard. So my job is to watch out for you). In fact, the writer of Hebrews says that we'll ultimately have to give an account for how we did or did not care for you.
Let me tell you what I want for each and every one of you: I want you and your family to become planted in the local church.
I'm not going away. In fact, just the opposite. I'm putting roots down. I don't want to just be your pastor at a bible study you go, I want to be your pastor for 30 years. I want to pastor a church that you raise your kids in. So nothing about this has anything to do with me leaving. This is me doubling down.
Instead of this being a bible study that you go to, this can be a church that you raise your family in.
2. This Community
We've built something here that means a lot to people just like it means to me. And so our community isn't going away, it's just growing up.
It's Superbowl Sunday, so you don't want to come at 5pm - so we're just doing 1 service that day for everybody at 10am. I'll be preaching, and you'll get to meet a lot of church family that you haven't met yet.
And can I give you the most random but important piece of advise for when we move our service time to 12:30? - Here it is: Arrive early.
With our new service time with all that we're offering. If service time is 12:30 you show up exactly at 12:30, you're gonna be late.
By the time you get your kids checked in and an usher makes you sit somewhere you don't want to sit. Just show up a little early.
We show up early to movies. Why? B/C we gotta get our popcorn, and our coke, and our snacks, and I have to pee, and I need a good seat.
So arrive early to church. - I'm not meaning to make anyone feel bad, but as a church guy, I need to tell you something: To get the most out of the experience of coming to church, arrive early.
Show up, have a cup of coffee at the coffee bar, shake some hands, meet some people, and get involved.
What does that mean? Well remember: Grow / Connect / Serve.
So we have our Grow classes. These happen on Tuesday nights. The semester started last week, but it's not too late to get into a class. You just show up on Tuesday at 7pm, and go straight to whatever class you're wanting to go to.
Next we have connect. So connect groups are groups that happen throughout the week, some of them at the church, some of them outside the church. Some are activity based, there's mens groups, there's women's groups, there's bible study groups. And that's a great place to get connected.
Next we have 'Serve' and by serve we mean becoming a part of the volunteering team here at the church. We've laughed at the fact that in the past people have come to us and said 'I love Outlet! Anything I can do to help?' And we scratch our heads and say 'Not really.' Because Outlet has been such bare bones operation. We not anymore. Not that we've converting to a full service, there's TONS of areas and they all want you to help them! But we know that some of you don't have any idea how the church is structured, so here's a brief rundown.
So how do we close? In prayer of course! And Pastor Cindi has actually agreed to come close us out in prayer, so please help me welcome up Pastor Cindi.