Recently, I started watching a new show on Netflix entitled: Manhunt. The show chronicles the last few years that the FBI tracked and ultimately apprehended the UNA Bomber. If you remember, the UNA Bomber alluded the FBI for close to 20 years as he carried out a serial mail bombing campaign. The turning point in the case was when Ted’s brother turned in a tip to the FBI after the UNA Bomber’s Manifesto was published. He believed the language in the Manifesto sounded similar to that of his brother’s. That tip and the letters they provided that Ted wrote them gave the rookie agent Jim “Fitz” Fitzgerald the material needed to link Ted K. to the UNA Bomber. A link he formed through linguistic analysis.
While the show primarily follows “Fitz” and his journey to catch the UNA Bomber, what you discover is that he didn’t do it alone. He wasn’t a one man show. He was just one of hundreds of agents assigned to a task force that worked together to bring Ted to justice.
In a similar way the body of Christ — the church — is made up of many different people. In order for the church to accomplish its mission to make disciples, all its parts must work together, just like all the parts of the FBI task force had to work together to bring the UNA Bomber to justice. Why is that?
Why is it necessary for the body of Christ to work together to accomplish the church’s mission?
(2) The body of Christ must work together to make disciples (vs. 20-21)
You see, we have to remember that the local church isn’t all about us. Yes, we all can receive a number of benefits from the church, especially a church that operates according to God’s plan and purpose. We can experience community and friendship, support and encouragement, as well as education and teaching. Those are all benefits of the local church.
But again, we have to remember that the local church isn’t all about us. Instead it is about us working together to accomplish God’s mission to make disciples.
In another one of Paul’s letters, specifically the letter to the Ephesians, he hits on the same theme of us working together as a body to make disciples. He says in Ephesians 4:11-16,
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Eph 4:11–16)
Now, there is a lot here, but what I want you to notice is that we need each other in order to make and grow as disciples.
- We need people to reach out to those in the community.
- We need people inside the church to teach and train us.
- We need others who will hold us accountable, encourage us, help us, be there for us in times of need.
- We also need others who can physically serve the surrounding community, who can organize events, follow up with visitors, manage the finances and operations of the church.
- We need strategic thinkers, planners, and visionaries.
- And much, much more.
There is a lot that goes into accomplishing the mission of the local church. A mission that takes place both internally and externally.
Reading that should clue you in to the fact that no one person can do all those things. It takes a team, it takes a church working together to accomplish that mission.
In 1989 the rule that NBA basketball players couldn’t play in the olympics was removed. With that rule removed one of the greatest teams ever to play together was assembled for the 1992 Summer Olympics. Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Scottie Pippen, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson, Patrick Ewing, John Stockton. All all-star players — most of them are hall of famers or will be — came together to play on what became known as the “Dream Team.”While all of these guys are uniquely gifted, there was some apprehension as to whether they all could play together. But when the games began it was clear that they were able to play as a team. They were able to play as a team because they knew they had to work as one unit in order for the team to function properly.
The church is the same. We are all gifted to play a unique role, but if you take one part away or just let one part do all the work, the body doesn’t function properly and it’s not going to accomplish the church’s mission. In order for that to happen, then,
We have to recognize that we have been brought together for a purpose and that purpose is to accomplish the mission of God.
It’s easy for church’s to get distracted and start focusing on something else. Often times that something else we start focusing on is our own personal preferences. But as one author says,
“The strange thing about church membership is that you actually give up your preferences when you join. Don’t get me wrong; there may be much about your church that you like a lot. But you are there to meet the needs of others. You are there to serve others. You are there to give. You are there to sacrifice.”
Rainer, I am a church member, 34.
The point, then, is that we need to get past our own personal preferences because they not only lead us to forget about the people around us that we need to reach, but it also takes our focus off what we need to do inside the church, and that’s help each other grow in Christ. The only way that is going to happen is if we get to the point where church isn’t about me but something greater than me. And that something greater than me and you is us coming together to accomplish our God-given mission to make disciples. Unless we recognize that we have been called to a God-given mission to make disciples and begin actively working together that end, we won’t accomplish God’s mission. We might serve to benefit one another, we might create a cool atmosphere for us to come hang out in. We might even make ourselves feel good but even so we won’t be accomplishing the mission God had given us — to make disciples.
So do you recognize that? Do you recognize the church isn’t about you but about something greater than you? Do you recognize that you have been pulled into this church by God to use your gifts to accomplish His mission? Do you recognize that when you don’t use your gifts, when you don’t participate in the life of the church you are hindering its mission? It’s like the church is walking around with a broken or missing limb, and you are that broken or missing limb.
We must not only realize that all Christians are members of the body of Christ, but we must also realize that the local expression of the body of Christ — the church — must work together to accomplish God’s mission to make disciples.on’t sit on the sidelines. Don’t allow what God has given you to go to waste. Use it for the glory of God and the benefit of His church, as you seek to accomplish His mission to make disciples.
Question for Reflection
- Do you recognize the church isn’t about you but about something greater than you?
- Do you recognize that you have been pulled into this church by God to use your gifts to accomplish His mission?
- Do you recognize that when you don’t use your gifts, when you don’t participate in the life of the church you are hindering its mission?
Post developed from my sermon: Why is it necessary for the body of Christ to work together to accomplish the church’s mission?