Stewardship 2: A people-driven church

Click here to listen to the audio recording of this 18-minute message. Or watch the video recording on Facebook (the message starts at 41 minutes).

This is the second in our series on stewardship, in which we are concentrating on what it means to be a church – the church of Christ. Last week, we reflected on what it means to be a God-focused (or Christ-centred) church. Today, we reflect on being a people-driven church.

What is a church?

Imagine a congregation that is without a minister. Will they still be ‘a church’? Yes, for sure! A community of the faithful, even if they are just a few, is a ‘church’.

Now imagine a minister without a congregation. Perhaps even a minister with a church building. Will she or he still be ‘a church’? No, they won’t. A single person, even a minister, does not constitute a church. They will be simply a Christian person in fellowship with God.

Fundamentally, ‘the church’ is defined by its people. It is the people who constitute a ‘church’, not the minister or priest. All too often, however, ministers think that they are the church. And all too often, parishioners thing the minister is the church. We here this particularly when parishioners use phrases like, “We’re here to support our priest” or “Our pastor will decide what we should do”.

Priesthood of all believers

1 Peter 2:4-10 provides us with solid teaching on what it means to be church, particular versus 4-5 and 9-10. Here Peter describes the church with the following images:

  • you are like living stones
  • you are being built into a spiritual house (or a temple of the Spirit)
  • you are a holy priesthood
  • you offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ
  • you are a chosen people
  • you are a royal priesthood
  • you are a holy nation
  • you are God’s special possession
  • you are to declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light
  • you are the people of God (though previously you were not a people of God)
  • you have received mercy (though once you had not received mercy)

Martin Luther summarised this as “the priesthood of all believers”, drawing on the phrases ‘holy priesthood’ and ‘royal priesthood’ above. In the first Testament, priests were appointed to mediate between the Jewish people and God. They offered prayers and sacrifices on behalf of the people. Only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies. Only priests could engage God, not the people.

But with the coming of Jesus, who became our great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16), we have direct access to God through Christ. Jesus opened a direct pathway for all Christians to God. The writer of Hebrews says therefore, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence.” Jesus is the only one mediate between Christians and God – no priest can or should try to do this.

Moreover, we, collectively – all the people of God – the whole church – are called to mediate God to the rest of humanity, but witnessing to Jesus Christ. This is mission, and it is the mission of every believer.

One body of Christ

And so, we the church are called to be one people, one body, the body of Christ. Diverse for sure. But united in our shared relationship with God. There is thus no male nor female, no black nor white, no rich nor poor, no South African nor foreigner, no educated nor uneducated, no young nor old, no priest nor parishioner. We are all part of the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27) – every single one of us – and every part is vitally important – and every part must do its part.

Therefore, I say, a church is all about its people and must be driven by its people. We must be a people-driven church. It is all about YOU, not about the minister (we’ll talk about the role of the minister next week). Church is not like watching a movie, where you recline in a comfy chair with popcorn and cooldrink, while watching other professionals act things out on a screen. No! You are the actors and you must play your part in life and work of the church. It is all about you! You are the church. You drive the church.

Featured image from https://i.international.la-croix.com/0x0/prod/uploads/news/2020/04/1587575852.jpg

4 thoughts on “Stewardship 2: A people-driven church

  1. joanhill41gmailcom says:

    Good morning. Thank you for the beautiful services and sermons that have helped me greatly during this pandemic. I hope you never stop recording the services.

    Unfortunately, when I watch the services live, the feed breaks up to such an extent that it is impossible to watch. I’m sure the problem is on my side. When I watch later thing go well. So that is what I will be doing in the future, watching later, probably on Monday morning.

    My question is: may I still partake in the Communion if I am not watching the live feed?

    Thanks again. God bless you all. Joan Hill

    On Sun, 12 Sep 2021 at 1:49 pm, Reflections of God’s Love wrote:

    > Adrian van Breda posted: ” Click here to listen to the audio recording of > this 18-minute message. Or watch the video recording on Facebook (the > message starts at 41 minutes). This is the second in our series on > stewardship, in which we are concentrating on what it means to be a” >

    Like

  2. Good morning Joan. Thank you for your message. I’m sorry that the network is not stable for watching live. I think the problem is probably with your connection, as others who watch live had not had similar problems.

    Regarding your questions, I believe it is absolutely find to participate in the communion, even though it is not synchronous with us in church. The reason for this is that God is beyond time and space, and so many different moments in human experience may be simultaneous for God. God is no respecter of time and space. Please feel free to participate in communion at home, even if you are watch the service later.

    Blessings. Adrian

    Like

  3. Genevieve Geekie says:

    Such a worthwhile sermon !

    Thanks for sharing.

    Gen XxXx

    Like

  4. Thanks Gen! Blessings to you and yours. Adrian

    Like

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