WE – Serve God Together

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Welcome to week 4 of WE.

If you’ve actually seen or heard all of the talks so far and you’re still here, then I believe you might just be what I thought you were…dedicated! Glad to have you!

If you’re a guest with us or just missed the last three weeks and didn’t watch them online…well, you really do need to catch up because I don’t have time to catch you up today as I have a lot of important information to cover. So, promise me you will watch them online today when you get home. In fact I want you to promise the people sitting next to you, so if each of you – whether you’ve been here or not – just turn to your neighbor and say “I’m going to watch them all.”

Thank you, now I feel like I can be really real with you today. There’s nothing worse than being taken out of context, so now that I know you will watch the rest of them so as to understand what I’m saying today in the context of the whole series I think I can be totally straightforward with you.

If you’re just joining us, we are about to launch on a church-wide experiment. We are launching into an experiment in church membership, attempting to recreate the Acts 2 church, attempting to make a church membership model that actually causes people to grow and become spiritually healthy. In fact, I’ve been comparing it to a group of friends who want to get in shape going to a physical fitness trainer and then working together to achieve results.

I believe that church membership can and should work the same way, and so I’ve literally been taking the whole church though the first membership class of the new reality, and this is week 4 of 5. Today we will be handing out the agreements for you to take home and pray about and come back next week to sign up to be a part of this experiment that we are calling Reality 2.0. So, if you missed the previous weeks – you really do need to catch up.

But to start us off today, I’m going to read the scripture we’ve been using throughout that we are basing all of this on as it shows us what the church could and should be.

Ephesians 4

11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.

12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.

13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.

15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.

16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Basically – as we all do our part and work together, we will become healthy and growing and full of love. We will look like the Acts 2 church.

So, that brings us to today.

A couple weeks ago I explained how in the human body, all the different parts and systems are interdependent and cannot function without the help of the other systems. Such as the muscles cannot work without the nervous system telling it what to do or the cardiovascular system bringing energy via the blood or the skeletal system to have something to move, and so on. Last week I illustrated how that works in the body of Christ as we all help each other grow.

Another aspect of the systems of the body is that they not only serve each other, but they ultimately serve the person that the body belongs to.


The real person that is the life inside of the human physical shell. The brain may be the physical organ that makes the body work, but even it is useless if not infused with life.

So, the physical body ultimately serves the soul.

In scripture, Christ is called the head of his body. 

The greek concept of head was more than just the fleshy sphere attached to your neck. It is that, but also means the head as in the head of a family – the leader, the master, the lord.

Christ is the head, the master, the lord, the leader of his body – and WE ARE HIS BODY.

And just as the human body and all of its parts only exist to serve the will of the soul that gives it life – the body of Christ, the people in the body of Christ, exist to serve the will of our head, our master, our Lord – Jesus Christ.

This is the vertical relationship.  Last week was about the horizontal relationships. This week is about the vertical relationship.

And today I want to cover specifically what is expected of the different members of the body as we serve our king.

Let’s start with me, your pastor. What is my role in this body?

Well, it just so happens that it is spelled out rather clearly in the scripture we are using. Let’s look at it again.

Ephesians 4

11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.

12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.

I must admit that I am lucky. My job description is right there in the Bible. Most of you won’t be that lucky. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

My role in this body. A pastor’s role – so this applies to all pastors on staff now and in the future – is to EQUIP and to BUILD UP. To EQUIP my fellow body members to do what? To do God’s work. And to BUILD UP this very body, this church.

The Greek word translated as EQUIP is KATARTISMOS which means “a bringing to a condition of fitness, perfecting.” It is often translated as PERFECTING.

My role, a pastor’s role, is to bring God’s people to a condition of fitness, to enable the individual parts to work together in the proper order.

I, as your pastor, am your personal spiritual fitness trainer. It’s right there in black and white. My service to my king, my master, my lord is to turn all of you into lean mean spiritual fighting machines.

And in doing my job, I am also called to build up the church, his body.  The Greek there for BUILD UP is OIKODOME –  constructive criticism and instruction that builds a person up to be the suitable dwelling place of God

My role is to do what I’ve been talking about the last three weeks. I’ve been telling you how I am going to do my job. How I believe God has called me to run this church for the purpose of equipping you and building you up.

  • For bringing you to a condition of fitness.
  • For making you a suitable dwelling place of God.

13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.

15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.

16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

That is my part, and I promise to do this with all of my being. This is why I cannot compromise. I cannot sit still and run a cushy comfy come as you are and leave just the same kind of church. God won’t let me.

  • Is it a big task? yes.
  • Do I feel adequate to do it? No.
  • Do I believe that God doesn’t call the equipped but he equips those he called? Yes.

And I believe God has been equipping me for years. Just like a personal physical fitness trainer has been educated and trained in how to do his or her job, I have been educated and trained – but more importantly gifted by God – to do my job as your spiritual fitness trainer.

  • I don’t say this to boast.
  • This is not of my own doing.
  • I didn’t ask for this, but I humbly accept the call with fear and trembling.
  • Because Scripture also tells me that I will be held accountable not only for my own life – but for the lives God places in my care.
  • Your lives…
  • And it’s a sobering thought.
  • I’m just telling you like it is.
  • Keeping it real.

Ultimately, I’m a part of the body, just like you. We each have a role to play, and this is my role. I accept it gladly and with all humility, but I can’t do my job without your cooperation.

One line in the membership agreement reads:


I will follow the leadership of my pastor as he equips me to do God’s work, and I commit to practicing the spiritual disciplines that the Bible teaches me, as clarified by my pastor, to bring about spiritual maturity.

That’s not following me as I do whatever I want.

That’s following me as I follow Christ.

If I ever stray – I expect you to hold me accountable by calling me out and/or not following me anymore. 

This is not a position I take lightly nor for granted.

While it is a great burden, it is also a great source of joy that I get to see God working in your life and knowing I had some small part to play in that.

But, enough about me, let’s talk about your part…

I could just get a bible and throw it at you and tell you to read it because all the answers are in there, but then I wouldn’t be doing my job. So, let me take this big book and make it easy for you by pointing out the four basic disciplines gleaned from these scriptures that result in the most spiritual growth. These are effectively the spiritual version of eating right and exercising.

Members will commit to practicing and growing in these disciplines and allow the church to hold you accountable to that commitment.

The wording from the membership agreement is:


I willingly ask my church leaders and family to lovingly hold me accountable for practicing and growing in the following spiritual disciplines:


Because, otherwise, what’s the point?

It’s like what’s the point of getting a gym membership if you never go, or worse if you go but only sit and watch the TVs. Going to the gym will not make you healthy. You have to actually exercise while you’re there to make a difference. Those people on The Biggest Loser don’t lose all those pounds just because they’re on the show – they have to do the work.

Now, like I said before – you don’t have to be a member to be a part of the church. After next week, you won’t hear me talking like this very often. So, if you’re totally not interested in doing this – just hang out another week and we’ll get back to some less divisive teaching…like the series on biblical creationism I’m starting in two weeks.

But if you are serious about your spiritual fitness. If you really do want to grow and are willing to do what it takes, just like those Biggest Loser contestants are willing to do what it takes to change their lives – then this is where the rubber meets the road. If you want to grow. If you want to get fit. If you want to be all that God made you to be and know what it is to truly know the Lord – then this is how you do it.

But I’m not just going to tell you what to do and then leave you to your own devices. That would be setting us up for failure and pretty much be what every other church is doing. No, when you become a member you not only join the AMAZING FAMILY, the amazing network that I talked about last week, but we will also have a COACHING SYSTEM, a group of people who are designated to be there to spot you when you need it. You make the commitment, and we lovingly help you keep it and we rejoice together as your life is changed before our eyes.


What it is: Loving encouragement to help you succeed in your goals of spiritual growth.

What it’s not: Legalistic stats watching to kick you when you’re down.

Basically, while it is necessary to have something of a “list” of things to do – the primary focus of this experiment is personal relationships and people helping people. But we would be doing a disservice to you and not really helping you grow if there were not minimum spiritual activities required. Same would be true for a personal fitness trainer – it would be pointless to hire one and then only come and hang out with them and never actually workout or eat right. This membership is very much about doing life together, but it’s doing life together with a purpose – and that purpose is spiritual growth, and this is how that is done.

So, what are the disciplines?



This one we already talked about last week – it’s doing life together, one of our missions. It’s also called fellowship. It’s being a part of the family and spending time with each other, both just having fun and also in intentional acts of growth.

It’s making church attendance a priority.

It’s hard to be WE when it’s just ME.

It’s participating in the things we do as a family, like potlucks, events, and small groups.

So, membership will include a commitment to doing life together, to participating in what we do as a church family, especially being here on Sundays.

While we believe that being a part of a Life Group is the absolute best way to live, we recognize that you are busy people and for some of us a small group during the week in addition to Sunday is just not feasible. While we strongly encourage Life Group participation, the minimum commitment simply includes Sunday morning church attendance.

The actual wording from the membership agreement is:


I will, on a regular basis, diligently spend time with God’s people, to the extent that I am able, by attending our Sunday morning services and participating in our Life Groups and other gatherings.

That’s not so hard is it?

Hebrews 10 – meeting together

24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

And this is something that we can actually help hold you accountable for because it can be measured. One thing we are going to start doing is effectively taking attendance on Sundays by having everyone – at least members – turn in a connection card with at least your name on it. We may explore other options for how to do this in the future, but for now that’s how we’re doing it.

If you’re serious about growth, that should be an easy obligation to keep because you are mostly already doing it. We’re not expecting 100% attendance, but once a month is not enough.

Obviously there are exceptions for those of you that work or have duty on Sundays or are in life situations that make it difficult, but that’s what the coaches are for. By no means will we simply track attendance, look at the numbers, and then kick you out if it’s only 98% attendance instead of 100%. If we do see that you are falling behind in this or any of the other things you let us hold you accountable for, that’s where the coaches come in to lovingly encourage you to get back to the gym, so to speak.

Now, obviously I am not able to cover every possible situation up here – but there will be time for questions later.

The next two disciplines are things that are not as easy to measure but are absolutely crucial to your growth.


This one should be obvious, but sometimes seems to be the hardest thing to do. Every person who calls Jesus Lord should be able to dedicate at least 15 minutes to listening to him each day.

If you are serious about knowing God – then you absolutely, no way around it, must read what He wrote. Otherwise you only know him through hearsay.

2 Timothy 3

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

His Word is the primary means of equipping his people.

Romans 12

1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

You want to know God’s will? You want give God proper worship? You want to be transformed, changed? Then you have to renew your mind. You have to stop filling your brain bucket with junk and start filling it with God’s Word daily.

If you want to be physically healthy you have to stop eating only sugar and junk food and start eating protein and vegetables. Changing nothing but Adding a lettuce-only salad once a week will not cut it.

So, how do we help you with this? By suggesting reading plans and hooking you up with accountability partners so you can do the plans together.  It’s worked for me for years. ALSO WORKING ON A CHURCH-WIDE READING PROGRAM.

So members will commit to reading your Bible on a regular basis and accepting guidance and accountability until such time that you don’t need that anymore and can do it on your own, or you are ready to be a coach yourself and holding someone else accountable. Because you simply cannot grow spiritually healthy without God’s Word in your daily diet.

The words from the membership agreement are:


I will, on a regular basis, diligently listen to God by reading and/or listening to His written Word.

If you want help getting started there are a few programs we can connect you with.


1 Thessalonians 5

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

God’s Word is God talking to you, teaching you, reshaping your mind. Prayer is you talking to Him (and sometimes He talks back). This is where you really get to know God. You get to know a lot ABOUT God by reading his word, but you get to actually know God personally by your prayer life.

This is probably the most difficult to fully help you with because there’s no real way to measure it or hold you accountable. But as a member we will teach you and show you how to do it, and the coaches are here to help you as needed.

The words from the membership covenant are:


I will, on a regular basis, diligently spend time with God by talking to Him in prayer.

One practice I have is prayer journaling. Often I can have trouble praying just in my head – easily get distracted and start thinking about other things. But I found that if I type out my prayers, like letters to God – I’m able to focus more. Sometimes I’ll type a few things and then just sit there and listen – and if I feel like I hear something in my spirit, I write it down. I’ve received much guidance that way since taking this position. It’s also neat to look back on past prayers and see how God has answered them or reshaped my thinking.

A prayer life is so crucial to growth, to knowing God intimately – so, as a member you will agree to letting us help you with your prayer life.


If Bible Reading, Prayer, and Fellowship are the eating right of spiritual fitness. Giving is the exercise. The other three feed you – Giving is how you burn some calories. Giving is the hardest to start of all the disciplines, but the most rewarding when you finally get going. Not unlike weight lifting or running. Doing the other three and not this is like practicing all the time but never playing in the game. It’s a whole lot of listening without a lot of doing.

The primary statement in the membership agreement reads:


I will, on a regular basis, diligently give back to God a portion of all that He has given me, which is all that I am and have.

Basically, we only give out of what has been given to us.

And it is true that all that we are and have was given to us by God.

In scripture, what we are expected to give back to Him can be divided into two major categories, which are spelled out in the membership agreement.

The first is our time in service to God through His church, the body of Christ.  The membership agreement reads:


I will, on a regular basis, give back to God a portion of the time He gives me by serving this church both as needed and in my area of unique talents and spiritual gifts.

Since all the time you and I have is given to us by God, it seems only fitting that we should use it to serve him. And not only does he give us time, He gives us abilities, talents, and even spiritual gifts that he expects us to use in serving him as parts of his body.

Remember how in a human body, all the different parts and systems ultimately serve the purpose of the body they belong to? It works the same way with the body of Christ.

Paul speaks of this in a few places.

One is in 1 Corinthians 12 where he talks about the necessity for the different parts of the body to be different from each other. “If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be?”

In Romans 12, he gets a little more specific:

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

That is not an exhaustive list of the spiritual gifts, but do you see how he is encouraging everyone to use their gift?

Peter said:

1 Peter 4

10 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

As it says in our main scripture for this series:

16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

The body doesn’t work right if the members aren’t doing their own special work, if they are not performing their function.

Basically, this means

you are created by God for a reason – a specific reason that fits into the context of His body –

in fact, apart from Christ’s body, your life and my life have no purpose or meaning (This is what Jesus meant by “apart from me you can do nothing.”)

and the physical manifestation of his body on earth is the church as a whole which is made up of local churches, which themselves make up parts of the whole body. I talked about this a couple series ago in Church: The Ugly.

God expects you to use the gifts he gave you for His service and for the benefit of your fellow members.

And as you do that, you will find that what once was something you were pretty good at, that He will take that skill or talent and produce far more from it than you could if you were doing it just for yourself. I can attest to this personally.

So, members will commit to learning what your spiritual gifts are and you commit to using them to serve the church in some way. And the best way to find out what your gifts and talents are is to try out different things and find out what resonates with you. We have several volunteer teams that serve on Sunday mornings to make church happen that would be a great starting place and also another form of fellowship. And I’m always interested in hearing new ideas. But regardless of what you do, to be a member you must do something because in this family, everyone helps out.

I’m sure you have questions about this one, and I will be happy to answer them after service or another time.

The second thing we give is our financial resources in support of the mission of God’s church, the body of Christ.

The wording of the membership agreement is:


I will, on a regular basis, give back to God a portion of the monetary income He provides for me by contributing financially to this church.

For some reason, this is the hardest one for many people. Actually, it’s not just “some reason” – Jesus knew all too well the connection between our wallets and our hearts. This is why he specifically warned us not to store treasure here, but to store treasure in heaven, that you can’t serve both God and money, and that the cure for worry is to seek first His kingdom and then everything else would be added. (paraphrase of Matthew 6:19-34.)

You see, God doesn’t want your money.

He wants your trust.

He wants us to acknowledge that our provision comes from Him, not ourselves.  He knows that we trust in our money more than we trust in him. Because we will easily skip church to go to work, but would we skip work to go to church? Because for some backward reason we think we can live a day without God, but we can’t live a day without money.

I could go on and on about this topic because it’s had such a huge impact on my life. I would most certainly not be here in front of you today if I hadn’t begun this discipline years ago and seen God do amazing things in my financial life. And I want the same for you. I want you to have peace about money – which is what I have. I haven’t worried about money for years – despite having my pay cut in half twice in the past five years. God has always provided more than enough. Did you catch that? My pay went down, but my living went up.

Which would you rather have?

Lot’s of money and stress or less money and no worries?

(of course we would all like to have lot’s of money and no worries, but that’s a pipe dream when money is your god – mo money, mo problems)

Jesus promises a worry free life when we get this one right – look it up in Matthew 6. And, of course I’m not saying you will have less money – you may very well have much more, but does it really matter how much you have when you are content?

So, because I love you and want you to grow, members will also commit to giving financially to the church. While I am a firm believer in tithing – 10% – that’s not what I mean by this. Members will simply be expected to give something on a regular basis and put your name on it so we can keep you accountable. How much or how often is up to you and your personal level of faith. And again, we have coaches who can help you figure that out.

2 Corinthians 9

Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

Do you believe God’s word? Do you trust him? Then put your trust into action.

To illustrate this whole giving point, let me turn your attention to this table (it’s empty).

Everything you see on this table represents everything you have that God had no part in providing for you. Admire your handiwork!

That’s right – nothing. Everything you have is a gift from God. Clearly all the time you have is from him, likewise your abilities – you may have honed your skills but he gave you the ability to do that. And of course your money is all from him. What? You worked for it? You earned it? Who gave you the ability to think, reason, and speak so that you could perform said job? Or eyes that see and hands that move? Who caused you to be born where you were into the situation you were and placed people and circumstances in your path to bring you where you are right now? That’s right – God did. You may have controlled your response, but even the ability to do that was a gift from God. So, it is exactly right that everything you see on this table is what you have acquired without God…Nothing.

So, what has God provided? Let’s start with you – represented by this ME/WE bucket – He made you with all your abilities. Then he started adding all the good things in your life. He gave you so many days on this earth to do his service. He gave you certain talents and gifts. He gave you the ability to earn money and the money itself. He gave you a family and people that love you and air to breath and water to drink, and a church family and a pastor who cares enough about you to tell you the truth – all kinds of good things.

Now you can go on living with a ME mindset and hoard all these good things and not share them with God or with other people. And you might get to keep what you have, but probably not – Jesus did say the treasures on earth have a way of rusting, being stolen, or eaten by moths.

But what Scripture tells us, what God tells us is that we are to live our lives open to him and to others. We are to live HE minded – opening up all our good stuff, our time, our talents, and our treasures to share freely with others and to specifically give some to God through the church. And when we do that. When we take all this that he gave us – not just the balls in the bucket but the bucket itself – give just a portion of it back to him on a regular basis in obedience – this is what He does (dump another bucket onto the already mostly full bucket.)

Over and over in scripture God promises that when we give just a little back to Him of all that he gave us, that he just ends up giving us more and more to the point that we’re overflowing.

So, you decide which bucket you want to be.

The ultimate question is not about money or time or talent, it’s Do you trust Him? Do you trust God at His word? Because that’s what this is about. In fact, that’s what all of this is about.


Growing spiritually is simply learning to trust God more than ME.

That’s what it is.

Slide51 Slide52

Specifically it’s knowing Jesus intimately to the point where you are like Him. And that can’t happen without trust.

It’s right there in our main scripture:

13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

And trust requires action. It’s not enough to say you trust Jesus, you have to do what he says in His word instead of what you feel in your head.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;

do not depend on your own understanding.

Seek his will in all you do,

and he will show you which path to take.

Spiritual maturity is about trusting HE instead of ME.


James 1:22

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

So those are the practices, the disciplines that cause spiritual growth.

  • Bible Reading
  • Prayer
  • Fellowship
  • Giving

They are the eating right and exercising of spiritual fitness.

And they are all required, not just for membership, but to actually achieve growth. And I can promise you. I can guarantee you, that if you do these things your life will be changed. But you don’t have to do it alone. And that’s what this whole membership experiment is about. It’s about all of us doing this together.

it’s about becoming WE – as in WE are dedicated to seeing OUR LIVES CHANGED by the transforming, restoring power of Jesus Christ.




It is my job, my calling, my duty, and my great joy to equip you and build you up toward that end. As your personal spiritual fitness trainer I have just laid out your fitness plan. And I’m going to be here to encourage you and lift you up and help you along the way – not just me – but all the other members as well.

This membership agreement is double sided. One side is you, the member, committing to this church body, and the other side is the body (me, the coaches, the other members) committing to you. Very quickly, I’ve covered most of the member commitment – here is the church’s commitment:

It begins with “We, the members of Reality Church…”

  • We promise to actively love you as commanded by Jesus in John 13:34-35, defined in 1 Corinthians 13, and acted out via the “one-anothers” found throughout Scripture.
    • (This is an echo of part of the member commitment that I didn’t cover today, but covered in detail last week.)
  • We promise to care enough for you to hurt when you are hurting and rejoice when you rejoice.
  • We promise to do what we can to help you when a need arises in your life.
  • We promise to lovingly hold you accountable to these agreements you made with us today by providing a network of coaches who will encouragingly help you achieve your spiritual goals.

But it has to start with you.

You have to decide if you really want this or not.

You have to decide if you are willing to give God a chance to change your life by joining with the portion of the body of Christ that is Reality Church.

I so hope that you will.

Let’s Pray