Episode 2
21 September 2021

Together Again | changing another life

It’s easy to watch church online and on demand. We can fit the weekend service into whatever time works the best with our busy schedules. But should we?

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hey good morning good to see everybody
my name is kevin uh one of the pastors
around here it's good to be with
everybody in brighton everybody in
monroe saginaw anybody watching online
is good to see you i don't know how your
commute to church was today uh if you're
watching online i assume it's pretty
easy um but uh i hit a turkey on the way
to church today and i didn't know how to
feel about it and it all happened fast
because like it's like i saw the turkey
and as soon as i started like hitting my
brakes he jumps or she i don't know i
didn't talk to it and it it hits my
windshield and then bounces off and runs
off so we can just assume it's probably
fine i made breakfast for a coyote or
something but um
but i literally when i hit it
i hit the crap out of it it pooped all
over my windshield and it broke my
windshield and then the rest of the way
driving up here i was just thinking i
was like man if that broke through like
what do you do like do i just come to
church and figure it out later because i
got to teach like i don't know how that
works there's no handbook for it uh
anyway uh so hopefully your your
turkey-less commute i hope uh was better
than mine but glad that we get to be
together together again as we are
talking about what it means to be
whether you're online or in person what
is it to be part of church
so if we don't like really have a clear
definition and understanding of what
this is all about uh we we could come
maybe with the wrong expectations
or or we could only maybe experience
part of church and never like the
fullness of church this happened to a
lady at our ann arbor campus just last
week it was her first time ever coming
and she showed up and if you were here
last week we had block parties outside
and and the same thing was happening
there in ann arbor so she shows up to
our last service there's a dj music and
a party going on she got kind of wrapped
up in it all and she was a little late
to the service so when she came into
what is the lobby
and the doors to the auditorium were
closed and there's this tv with the
worship on and the service happening she
just thought that's it so she sat down
and just watched church and thought like
that's what this church does and so she
sat there she watched the service i was
teaching so it was like the most amazing
thing she had ever seen i didn't ask her
but i'm just guessing and then when
although our ann arbor campus pastor
dismissed the service imagine her
surprise when those doors opened
and a bunch of people walked out and she
was like
and i think that can happen to us maybe
you're you're new to church this is a
great conversation for you to understand
what church is really about it's not a
service that you attend
this here what we're doing right now is
just a a a little bit of what church is
it's just scratching the surface but
there are some of you who who probably
have been in church your whole life
and this conversation is just as
important for you
to remind you of what church actually is
and the part
that you play
see what can happen to you and i if uh
if we're not careful maybe out of just
tradition and it's like church just the
thing we do
or we come in and it's all new to us and
so we come with maybe the wrong
expectations of what church is supposed
to be
if we're not careful church can kind of
be deluded to something that it was
never meant to be like we're all
a western people in a modern era and we
have affluence and we are
consumers through and through we are
and and if we don't pay attention to
this we could have the same kind of
relationship with the church
that we have with like meyer or kroger
like they're like the reason we would
pick to go to a meijer versus kroger or
the other way around based on maybe
convenience based on like the feel or
the price points or our preferences
is more than that
church is so much more than that
and so you and i are invited now if
you're new to church that's the right
thing to be kind of seeing is like
what is about this church and how do i
feel and how can it help me that's like
a great place to start but that again is
just scratching the surface of what all
this church stuff
is about
now we're called to be together as a
church for very particular reasons and
not just for what we get out of it but
what we put into it like think later
today in your life if someone knew you
were at church this morning was like hey
why do you go there
what would you say
why why do you go to church
if someone asked you what is church what
would you say how would you define it
how would you explain it to somebody
this together again theme is a
conversation for all of us to realize
like we are always one together again
kind of moment away from having our own
lives changed
it's not just like something we did once
it's something we participate in
continually and we are always one
together again moment from watching and
experiencing and celebrating somebody
else's life change every time we gather
together in weekends or in small groups
or in service projects or in coffees and
coaching relationships we are are being
invited to be moved towards god to grow
in our relationship with him all the
so how would you answer that why do you
go to church
i've heard people have all kinds of
reasons for not going to church
it's always it's always funny when
people are like oh church is full of
hypocrites it's like yeah yeah no duh
it's a bunch of people and they're just
as jacked up as you are like if you're
new to church
this is a really good thing it can be
easy to come into auditoriums and spaces
and look around be like look at all
these nice people
but they're not that nice i promise you
like if you get to know anybody they're
just as selfish as you are they're just
as much of a sinner as you they're just
as much in need of a savior as you are
and the beauty of the christian
community is not that it's a bunch of
perfect people not that they have it all
figured out not that we all agree on
stuff but rather that what brings us
from all our various backgrounds and
experiences together is jesus christ and
what he did and how he defined love
becomes how we try to work out how to
love each other even though it's
painfully difficult
i i don't mean to burst your bubble
but if you were to look around the room
to your left your right
there are people
who voted different than you in the last
election i'm sorry to tell you it's
shocking and offensive i know
there are people who are singing the
same worship songs you are love jesus
want to learn from him and follow him in
their life and they don't root for the
same football team you do it's crazy how
dare them right
now the beauty of the church is not that
we have it all figured out
and not that we are
all alike
the beauty is supposed to be that
despite those things we're learning how
to love each other sacrificially as
jesus has loved us
and our failure to do that
is not evidence of why church isn't for
it's just evidence of all the more work
you and i have to do and being for each
other what jesus calls us to be
and i've heard people have all kinds of
weird reasons for not going to church
like one person was like well you don't
have to go to church to go to heaven
i'm like what does that have to do with
anything that's like the weirdest way of
making something make sense that that's
not going to heaven isn't even jesus's
goal do you know that
because like when we say going to heaven
we're talking about like some
off-distant place and like we get to
escape all this stuff no no what happens
someday and what we refer to as heaven
when eternity begins the heavens and the
earth come together and all this
brokenness will be redeemed and restored
we're not going anywhere we just get to
have a world absent of evil
and we get to live eternally in the
presence of god
and so too often we think of like well
you don't i mean yeah you can believe in
jesus and have the forgiveness of your
sins and and but
but jesus wasn't inviting you just to
hold your breath and survive the rest of
this life
he was inviting you to bow your knee to
his lordship
to realize that you were made in his
and there is a vocation for you to live
into as an image bearer of god to
reflect his glory and his love and his
light to the world around you
do you realize you are god's primary
plan for reaching those who don't know
and when we gather as the church we are
this expression who worship together and
who center ourselves on his truth
and we go back and we be the church we
say it every week go be the church where
you live where you work where you play
church is not a building
church is not a brand
church is not a service church is not
good worship church is not it's us
and it's so important that we have this
picture right
so that we can interact with it
in the way that god designed it
one of my favorite like together verses
in the new testament there's a lot of
it talks about like not just when we're
together but the things we do when we're
together sometimes they call these
commandments the one another
like there's all these commands to to be
for one another and love one another and
forgive one another and one of my
favorites comes from this book in the
new testament called hebrews
and in chapter 10 the
the scriptures are talking about how
this this old way of understanding
religion and temples and like religious
like important people has all changed
that all of us who now follow jesus get
to stand in confidence in the presence
of god become like priests to the world
around us
in verse 23 this is what the the
scriptures tell us
let us who follow jesus hold
unswervingly to the hope that we profess
for he who promised is faithful
and let us consider how we may
spur one another on towards love and
good deeds
listen what 25 says
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
you and i are invited to be together
for a very specific purpose like it's a
habit that we're supposed to have in
encouraging and loving each other so
like notice that the scripture doesn't
be together so that
you feel better about yourself i i hope
you do
at least sometimes there's like pretty
appropriate times for you not to feel so
good about yourself and work on that
part of you and take some next steps but
most of the time it's okay if church
gives you some warm fuzzies
but that's not what church is for that's
not why it calls us to
church isn't supposed to be just like
the best worship music ever though it's
great when we have that
now church is this in this environment
where you come
to be together and where you get
encouraged and you're to encourage
others where you are challenged and
spurred on towards love and good deeds
and you
are to challenge and stir up inside of
them to become more as god intends them
to be this is the call of church which
is why we can't just be in large crowds
we also have to be known in smaller
spaces it's why we need small groups
that's why we need coaching
and so
let's walk through this and just talk
about these couple verses and we'll read
a few others that speak to this from the
new testament for you and i but the
first thing i just want to talk about is
what the church
is according to hebrews it's telling us
that the church is with this habit we
have of getting together now
think for a moment about your habits
like one of the primary habits we should
have as followers of christ is that we
gather with each other corporately in
spaces like this to worship in small
groups where we can be known but we
think about your habits in life
don't your worst habits like the worst
habits you have aren't those the habits
you do alone
like if you were gonna polish off a
whole package of oreos you're probably
alone right
like you're not doing that in front of
someone else who's gonna be like are you
really gonna eat the whole thing
and there's all kinds of habits you and
i have that that we the worst ones we do
on our own because we are not at our
best by ourselves that's not how we were
created that's not god's intent for you
and i
now one of the best habits you and i can
have is to be in relationship with other
people because it draws the best out of
us church in essence is like a positive
peer pressure to be moving forward in
our relationships with god become more
like him
be encouraged and be challenged that's
why we gather
this was jesus idea for you and i
and you could go all the way back to the
beginning of the scriptures
to talk about this in genesis when god
says he created
out of community in himself creates us
for community with him
this is our design we are not our best
but but i want to go to the beginning of
where church got its definition
this is where we
have taken our name as a church from
this portion of scripture
if you've been around for a while you're
like yeah we know but it writes the
right definition for you and i like sets
the bar
or the scorecard
of what church was and what we need to
the very first church is described like
this in the book of acts chapter 2 verse
that they
devoted themselves to the apostles
teachings now that's most of what we
have here in the new testament these are
the people who hung out with jesus lives
were changed by him quoted him tell us
the stories of what happened and why it
matters and we are devoted to it it is
authority that speaks to us and guides
us in life
and to fellowship and to the breaking of
bread and this is really funny to me uh
if you're new to church you already know
this if you've been around church for a
while you've probably forgotten how
weird we are and like as church people
we create this like own culture and
stuff and so people use that word
fellowship like it's normal like hey you
want to fellowship
who says that you mean you want to hang
out sure
and then they're like oh you guys want
to break bread together what are you
talking about do you want to have dinner
yes i love dinner i love food um anyway
they were doing this stuff they're
hanging out with each other and eating
meals and prayer
this is what it says next verse 43
everyone was filled with awe at the many
wonders and signs performed by the
apostles there's part of church that is
always giving us more reasons to be in
awe of who god is in his mystery and the
way he works in our life and in the
lives of others and in our communities
that's part of church
verse 44
and 45 it says all the believers were
together and had everything in common
they sold property and possessions to
give to anyone who had need there was a
recklessness to their generosity
if jesus's definition of love was
self-sacrificing on a cross they learned
to embody that for the sake of other
verse 46 says every day they continue to
meet together in temple courts like in
big corporate kind of experiences like
our weekend services and they broke
bread in their homes and
ate together
when was the last time you thought
about how profoundly
spiritual eating food is
if you don't know that eating a good
meal is spiritual
one i feel sorry for you and two you
probably have never had truffle
guacamole from izolida in downtown ann
i'm just telling you when you eat it
you're like oh there is a god there is a
god who is creative and then if you
follow that up with their chorizo
fondito i'm telling you the sky parts
and it's like god's like you are my
child and i am well pleased with you
there's many types of meals if you're
like me that you're like that changed my
life which is an exaggeration but i just
love food
but there's something profoundly
spiritual about the organizing of not
just church but our lives around meals
and who we share it with it was one of
the things that jesus did that made the
religious people of his time the most
angry with them is because of who he
chose to eat meals with and identify
with and bring up on his level as a
rabbi and an authority it has the
capacity to change our neighborhoods
it's as simple as what we choose to do
around the table
all right back to the verse i'm supposed
to be reading
uh they ate together then this is what
happens this is like the byproduct of
this whole definition that we get at
church and praising god and enjoying the
favor of all people could you imagine
could you imagine if we had the favor of
all people
but but what if we try what if we just
seek to be the kind of church who just
loves and who serves and who is this
beacon of light in our community
and the lord added to their number daily
those who are being saved
the byproduct when we gather together
and organize ourselves around jesus's
lordship and his call in our life for us
to be church together is that he adds to
our number those who are farther from
the reason we are here is not for
we benefit from it but we are the church
for the sake of the world who's around
the the greek word that was translated
when this stuff was first written in the
first century
the greek word that we translate as
church is the word ecclesia
and when you hear the word church i
don't know what you think of i don't
know what definition or pictures you
have in your mind of what church is but
the word that they use they just
borrowed from the culture around them
and it means
assemble that's all it means
it's when those who were following jesus
all assembled like it was just two or
three of them or thousands of them it's
like the best
the best image that you and i could have
of what church is
is like this
right it makes you cry almost you're
like that is so beautiful that's church
it means assemble
that for those of us who follow jesus
and we believe he is lord of the cosmos
there is a war of darkness and of evil
that is set up in absolute opposition to
him and to this world and to our lives
and when we assemble we become like a
signpost pointing at the truth of god we
become like an outpost of god's kingdom
in this world
our job as the assembled church and
followers of jesus is to shine back the
light and the love of him to our
the call to be church and assemble
together is not to be some holy huddle
hiding from the world
not to be some people who stand on our
little soapbox and wag our finger at all
that's broken in the world of course
it's broken of course they have wrong
beliefs about god they have yet to come
to know the truth and the hope of jesus
no wonder there's fear no wonder there's
outrage our job
isn't to just be angry at all that's
broken and dark our job is to be light
that's better than your acting but i
know it was good
think about this for a moment right now
we could not make this room more dark
that's not a thing you can't turn the
dark up
though that would be a cool name for
like a heavy metal band you can't turn
the dark off you can't you can't all you
can do is take light out of it
do you hear what i'm saying the problem
in the world is
it's not them it's not that it's not the
darkness it's not the evil it's that
those of us who know jesus aren't doing
all that we can to shine light into it
to love them as jesus has loved us
to go out of our ways to take the
sacrificial and enemy loving of jesus on
a cross and learn to embody that every
where we work and where we live
that's the call of the church
and this call
is a commandment
jesus didn't just make us in his image
for community he commands us to be in
when we gather and assemble in large
spaces and small spaces we are to be
because it's what he calls us to do
and that's why the the book of hebrews
talks about it as a habit it's a
formative spiritual practice and habit
in our life to be together
again we're not our best on our own
a christian without a church is a
because the church isn't a building
it's you and you and you and you and me
it's us
and wherever we go
we can be the church
wherever we are we have access to the
presence of god
everywhere you and i go every
conversation we have every interaction
is an opportunity to be like a city on a
shining light into the world
modeling a different way to live to vow
to to prioritize our lives let's read
those verses from hebrews again
in hebrews 24 it said let us
how we may spur one another on towards
love and good deeds
not giving up meeting together and some
are in the habit of doing but
encouraging one another
i think this asks a really just
practical question for you and i
when you think of church
when you when you think of your current
participation in the church like one of
the new testament analogies used for
church is that we're like the body of
like he's the head we all make up the
body we all have our own roles to play
but if you don't do your part in the
body of christ it cannot be as strong
as potent as healthy as it's supposed to
so you and i all in our journeys of not
just following god
begin to learn how he has shaped and
called us
to be a part of his church
that we would be encouraging and
spurring one another so here's a good
question for you when you when you think
about church who's the person
who you've given permission to be in
your business a little bit
they're an encouragement to you but they
also have your permission to challenge
again we we are not our best on our own
this is the true gift of marriage
my wife is a gift for many reasons
but the real gift of me being married to
my wife is that she is the only person
close enough to me
to know the real me
the me i'm not always proud of the me i
try to hide from most people
my wife in our relationship is like a
mirror that she holds up to me many
times to reflect back to who i really am
and i don't always
rarely even like it
i'm more selfish than i would like to
i lose my patience i think things and
say things that i am not proud of and
there are all ways that that in any
other relationship i could hide from
what are the relationships you have
given access to the real you the full
where have you chosen to trust this
design god has for you to be fully known
not just by him but by others
who know your fears and your anxieties
who know your mental health struggles
who know your habits that you're not
proud of and who are spurring you on
towards love and good deeds
and just as important as that question
is who are you being that for
who are you being church for
who are you encouraging
who are you spurring on towards love and
good deeds in your life
this is the
call to be like jesus
i love the way pastor rick warren talks
about this he said this in stressing the
importance of church
said we are created for community
fashioned for fellowship and formed for
and none of us can fulfill god's
purposes by ourselves
the bible knows nothing of solitary
saints or spiritual hermits isolated
from other believers or deprived of
now that's just not the call
and so
the church
is a commandment
of not something that we attend but
something we participate in a community
we are connected to
that knows us and we know them and
here's the hardest part
this comes at a cost
this call to be community will cost you
all great things cost us
but to follow jesus in this path this
way of loving as you've been loved will
cost you
it'll cost you your comfort
there's just nothing comfortable about
being in tension with another person
there's nothing comfortable about their
life falling apart and you being aware
of your like how ill-equipped you are to
help and yet there you are in that
moment to try to be something for
someone that you're not even sure how to
be for yourself and yet that is the call
the moments where we hold on
unswervingly to the hope that we have in
jesus and step into the mess
and it will not be comfortable
but it's okay
and you don't have all the answers and
it's okay
i love the way the apostle paul points
to this truth in one of his letters to
the church is living in galatia
in galatians 6 he said it like this
carry each other's burdens and in this
way you will fulfill the law of christ
if you were here during our series on
first john we we just kept coming back
to this idea john kept reminding us that
jesus said i have one commandment follow
it i'll know you're my disciple by this
one commandment yeah the world will know
who you are by this one thing love
and as paul saying here like there's
this this sense of being church for one
another is we are willing to stand under
each other's burdens
to not let others suffer alone
to step out of our comfort into a space
that we will not feel always qualified
for or good with or know what to do but
to help support the burdens of people
around us that's church
but it won't just cost us that it'll
cost you your time
this is one of the hardest things for
you and i as modern folk to do
because if i ask most of you i imagine
like me you would be like i just don't
have time
like when our neighbors in need we don't
have the margin for it and oftentimes
it's because we're busy doing church
stuff which is even more ironic
we are so busy and so organized and so
calendar around our lives and what we
need what we want what we want to
accomplish we don't have space to be
interruptable like we see jesus over and
over in the stories
i was hanging out with uh some church
planning friends of ours
their kenyan their names are charles and
and uh they came to the states to do
like a leadership residency and prepare
to go plant and then they went to south
africa to plant
and as a kenyan who had been living in
the states for like six months i i
wanted to know his like reflection of
our culture like his commentary like
what stood out what's good what's bad
and i said isn't it crazy how we're just
too busy
and he laughed
he's like you guys aren't too busy
you are busy in all the ways you choose
to be
he goes you guys use calendars and you
plan and schedule and you're on time
like i wish we were more like that where
i'm from he goes you guys aren't too
busy you're busy in all the ways that
you choose
i just want to challenge you with that
idea have you recognized that to really
be the church for each other in the way
that god has designed us it's going to
cost you your time
which means our lives and the way we
organize them must
this as a priority
and that's that's the last thing i'll
give you is that this
this call for church will cost you your
priorities it will cost you having to
learn to say no to yourself and we
aren't good at that we don't like it
jesus said this really really clearly in
this moment of the sermon on the mount
in matthew chapter 6
he speaks about all that his kingdom
would be this counter-cultural way for
those of us who follow him to live
and in matthew chapter 6 listen to the
way he says this in verse 33.
seek first his kingdom
and his righteousness and all these
things will be given to you as well
if you and i can learn to prioritize god
say yes to him and know to ourself more
often and keep our priorities in order
he promises that he'll he'll take care
of all that other stuff that we're
worried we won't fit in or make happen
i mean ironically when you choose to to
sacrifice your comfort and your time and
prioritize like serving other people
ironically you'll feel more comfortable
in that process you'll feel closer to
the more you start orienting your life
around god's kingdoms and other people
like you will be you will grow more
let me this was really cool this just
got sent to us yesterday by our livonia
campus pastor i want you to meet this
guy his name is brian
brian yesterday joined a crowd of people
at our livonia campus to do a service
event where they're building bunk beds
brian is dying of brain uh of brain
cancer he has a tumor
he flies every monday like he will
tomorrow to cleveland for treatment
he comes back in time
tired and depleted
to rest and he and his wife amy come to
church every weekend together
and yesterday when he saw bobby our
campus pastor in livonia he goes i
rested up all week just so i could be
because there was something in his life
that knew that like if anybody had an
excuse to like
call one off and like sleep in for the
day it was him
and he was like no no the most important
thing i could try to do is store up my
energy to be there in that moment for
the sake of other people and not just
i i don't know what this means for you
like maybe you're new to church and your
next steps just come back
maybe you're you're new around all this
church stuff and you're realizing you've
only been experiencing part of it and
you have a next step to take
maybe that's that's rooted for you if
you're not in a small group that is the
best next step you can take
to be in community with other people and
begin to learn about the scriptures in
jesus and how to really follow and walk
with him
maybe your next step is to stop at our
next step table and just ask how you can
get more involved
maybe your next step's not just a small
group maybe you need someone to have
permission to speak into your life and
to challenge you and we call that a
coaching relationship
i i don't know what your next step is i
just know we all have one to take
because we're trying to be church
in church for this world that's around
let me pray for you
father we love you and we thank you for
your goodness and your grace in our
we thank you that as we come to your
teachings and and the way that the first
century church was working
out how to be in relationship with each
other and follow you well that it still
speaks and challenges to us today
for god in all the goodness of who you
are in the person of jesus all that
you've done for us
it is humbling
that you would choose us
as the vehicle through which to to reach
the world
it is humbling god
and we all know like we just don't feel
equipped and like we'll mess it up and
yet you invite us in your grace
to try anyway
and so would you help every one of us
to live into
the calling you've given us
learn to live
in the service of other people
and so whether whether we're someone
who's new and we just need to keep
coming back or someone who needs to join
a small group or get in a coaching
relationship or find ways to serve would
you help us learn
to prioritize you
to seek you first
as we we try to be as
faithful to following you as you
you've been so faithful to us and we
pray in jesus name amen

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