Here’s Your Purpose
October 25, 1998
We love highlights, don’t we? Sports highlights, news highlights, and even sit-com highlights. Highlights sort of give us the essence of a game, a story, or a show in a nutshell. Americans love highlights. Tonight on this stage I am going to do something that I believe has never ever been done in the history of church. That’s right, this crowd will get to experience something that has never ever been attempted. I am going to show you some sermon highlights of last weekend’s message. It is crucial for you to get these highlights regarding the stuff that we shared last weekend because they loom large, they play out importantly in this session. So sit back and relax as you see the first ever sermon highlights.
NFL Films presents–Message Highlights.
It was a cool, clear, crisp day as senior pastor Ed Young walked across the frozen tundra to begin a brand new message series called “On Purpose.” During the first quarter of the message he did something rather unusual to describe various people at the church. He left the platform and went to a McDonalds drive-thru.
[Video reprise of McDonald’s drive-thru scene]
Next he did something that faked everyone out. He took a flu shot from nurse Terry Dawes. Watch that move in slow motion.
[Video reprise of flu shot scene]
He also discussed growing spiritually. And he mentioned some misconceptions that many people have about this process.
[Video reprise of misconceptions about spiritual development]
He also made several tackles regarding comments that people make about the church.
[Video reprise of misconceptions about Fellowship Church]
Finally, the game concluded with a cliffhanger.
[Video reprise of the final comment—People believe, “There really isn’t a place for me.”]
What is the key to on purpose living? What is the comment? What did we not share last weekend that we promised to share tonight? It is the involvement key. That’s right. Involvement. Remember, God wants our individual purposes to coalesce and coordinate and connect with the corporate purposes of the church. And when we have the integration of these purposes going on then and only then will be have true significance and understand what focus and life, for that matter, is all about.
My four-year-old twins, Laurie and Landra, have just started playing soccer. Last week Landra had a pretty good game. In fact, she was all over the field, running and diving and making plays. She scored three goals, all for the other team. She kicked the ball in the wrong net. A lot of us are playing on the field. We are going back and forth, running and diving and making plays, yet if the truth were known, we are kicking the ball in the wrong net. Our purposes are not coalescing with the purposes of God. We are not hooked in, we are not engaged, with the local church.
Now some of you are saying, “Hey, Ed, wait a minute. The church? I thought you were talking about my life. I thought you were talking about me. I though you were talking about my deal. The church? Why the church? You mean the church and my purposes need to get together? You mean that is going to be the key that really makes life matter and gives me true fulfillment and satisfaction?” Yes, the key is involvement. And in tonight’s message I want to talk to you about the why and the how of involvement.
Let’s start with why. Have you ever wondered why God chose the church? Why the church? I think right up front that God chose the church because it is a place where the issues of the heart can truly be championed. The church is the place where the issues of the heart can be dissected, discussed, and lived out. How many of us here tonight are married? Will you lift your hands if you are married? Turn to your spouse and give them a quick kiss. Those aren’t boos you are hearing, those are kisses. Intimacy is part of marriage. The Bible commands us as husbands and wives to connect strategically, intimately, regularly; and to have a great time at it. It is part of being married. It is the man and his bride getting together regularly.
I want to share with you a great verse of scripture—1 Corinthians 7:5. It is talking about intimacy, men, intimacy, women. “Stop depriving one another.” Husbands, again, that verse is 1 Corinthians 7:5. Now the person you just kissed in church, what if you turned to them and said, “You know, honey, we are just going to connect about once a month now. We will have that intimate conversation, that physical intimacy, that emotional intimacy about once a month.” Do you think that would go over big? Do you think your spouse would really be into that? I can tell you what your spouse would say. “Are you kidding me? No way. We are married. Come on.”
That is where the deep issues of the heart are championed. The institution of marriage was created by God Himself, but also there is another institution where the issues of the heart should be championed and dissected and discussed and lived out. The church. And the church is the ultimate bride. So every time you drive past the Fellowship Church, hum the wedding song because the church is the bride of Christ. Yet a lot of us only connect with the local church about once a month. You mean to tell me you have a good marriage with the church when you only connect once a month or maybe twice a month? Give me a break. The church is to be a part of your life and mine. It is made to be a place that we attend consistently and where we hear the profound issues of life discussed, dissected and lived out. It is where we get into the real deal. God invented the church and it is so powerful and meaningful it is called the bride of Christ.
Hebrews 10:25, “And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” That is one of the whys behind the involvement key. The church is the place where the issues of the heart are championed.
Every time the word “church” is mentioned in the New Testament, except for two exceptions, it is referring to a local church, a specific church. You are not going to be able to find someone who is a true Christ follower, someone who is really involved and connected and purpose-driven who does the Christianity thing outside the church only. It is not there.
So why the church? I will give you another one. It is a common source community base. Have you noticed? People today are looking for community. They are looking for connection. They are looking to talk to someone and to really do life together.
Lisa and I were at a coffee shop two weeks ago. A woman walked up to us with three children. She began to talk to us. I had never seen her before, nor had Lisa. She said that these were her three children and that they had just moved down here from the north. She said she was lonely. She was just spilling her guts right there. She said that she needed to connect with some people, that she needed some adult dialogue and that her children needed friends. She said they were trying to find people but that everyone was so busy. We mentioned the church and the importance of the Fellowship Church in our lives and the relationships that we have developed here. After a couple of minutes she walked off. I turned to Lisa and said, “How sad. That woman will never understand true community unless she gets connected into a local church.”
I will say it again. If your community base is not the local church, it is just a matter of time before you do a nose-dive relationally speaking. I don’t care who you are. I don’t care what you look like. I don’t care how much money you have or don’t have or how cool you think you are. It is not going to happen for you and you and you relationally until you say, “Okay, God, I am going to make the church my relational base.”
But do you see the entire statement? We not only need a community base but a common source community base. That is the key, the kicker. Our common source, our common denominator is Christ Himself. After all, he invented relationships. If I am single, my base should be the church. If I am married, it should be the church. If I am a student, it should be the church. If I am a child, it should be the church. If it isn’t, it is just a matter of time until the nose-dive. And then we are called to pick up the pieces.
Don’t you see the genius of God? Don’t you see the mentality of God? Don’t you see the love of God? He is saying, I want you to live on purpose. I want you to be connected to a place where the deep issues of the heart are championed. I want you to make the church your relational base, your community base, with a common source. I have a great plan for you.
Let me throw another one at you. Why the church? It is the true agent of lasting life change. People all the time say that they want to do something that matters, connect with something that produces lasting life change. I cannot tell you of all the lasting life change that we have seen over the last 8 ½ years. We have seen marriages rebuilt. We have seen dating relationships have purpose and meaning and significance. We have seen people who are in the deep weeds financially or emotionally or psychologically really come clean and begin to walk with God. We have seen some incredible life change.
Recently I received this letter and I have permission to share it with you.
I couldn’t let another week go by without telling you what a blessing the Fellowship Church is to my family. My husband was raised Catholic and I wasn’t raised in the church at all. I began attending Bible studies and found the Lord about five years ago.
I felt it was a hopeless case because my husband and I were on totally different paths. A friend brought me to your church and the following week I took my family. We have one son. My husband instantly liked your church and he asked the Lord into his heart with you one Sunday and our lives haven’t been the same since.
We have attended regularly and enjoy this awesome place. I wanted to thank you and tell you personally about one more family that has been touched by the Fellowship Church. Our lives are growing in Christ and I have never felt such peace in my home. Four years ago I never thought this would happen. I even used to think that we wouldn’t make it as a family. But through prayer and the right church I feel so blessed.
I was having lunch with a young man recently. This young man is nearing 40 years of age. He looked at me and said, “I have been successful during the first half of my life. I have the toys and the trinkets and have been successfully doing deals. I have made money. Recently God has been dealing with me over some issues, issues regarding the church and the second half of my life. I began to wonder what is going to happen over the next 20 to 30 years with me. Am I just going to collect more toys and more trinkets, join more country clubs, stockpile more wealth, do deals and die? Or, am I going to move from success to significance.”
Then he began to tell me how he was in the process of leveraging his time, his resources, and his family to get more involved here in the Fellowship Church. What was going on? This man understood that the church is the true agent of lasting life change.
That is the why. I could go on, but that is the why. Now, the how. The how will seem rather paradoxical when I begin to talk about it. But the how is how we can crack the code on this involvement issue. This is how we do it.
First of all, we do it by growing larger and smaller. I am talking about you and about me. The Bible says time and time again that we are called and challenged and literally commanded to worship God in a large venue. Something supernatural and incredible takes place when groups of Christians and seekers gather together to hear a message from God. I don’t know why. I don’t always understand it. I cannot always articulate it or break it down for you, but something great happens.
Over the course of my ministry here at the Fellowship Church, I have had a lot of people walk up to me and say this (I can almost say it with them) “You know, Ed, I was so tired this morning, I almost didn’t come to church, but I am so glad I did.” Whenever we say, “I am not going to attend church. I am not going to make it my priority. I am not going to have the church be just another thing on my To-Do list,” we are missing a connection with the God of the universe.
Now I am not talking about taking vacations or being sick. I am talking about when you have the opportunity to worship God in a corporate fashion and you turn your back on it, you are directly disobeying God’s directives in the Bible. There is no way you can grow and live on purpose if you are not making church a consistent deal. It will not happen. The option is up to you, but I will say it again, something phenomenal takes place when we worship God corporately.
So we are to grow larger and also smaller. The Bible says that the early church met from house to house. They shared meals together. They shared resources together. They did life together. If you just show up here on the weekends and cruise, if you are just a drive-thru person, attending a McChurch, you will just be getting a little McNugget of the Fellowship Church, just a fry. The real life change, the real deal, the walk and the talk translating into life occurs in our small groups. I beg you to get involved in a small group.
If you aren’t involved with a few people who are fellow strugglers, who are dealing with issues that you are dealing with, success and failures, then good luck. What is going to happen when you get the phone call that a loved one has passed away? Where do you turn when you get released from your job? What’s up when you have a relational sticking point? What do you do? Where do you turn? To the armchair experts? To Oprah? You have got to turn to the local church corporately but also individually. We have got to grow larger and smaller at the same time.
Also we have got to go deeper and wider. How many people here are certified divers? Hey, that’s great. Let’s give them a hand. Now I don’t want to speak for all of you but I kind of know the deal. Most people who are certified tell me this. I started by snorkeling, staying on the surface. I could look and barely see the bottom and I got tired of it. So I got certified. Wow. Cool. Neat. Hip. Then they strapped the tanks on, put the fins and the mask on and began to dive. They went from the surface down deep and deeper and deeper. And suddenly they began to see all the magnificent and vibrant colors and the variety of fish they had never seen before. Gone deeper and now the experience base is wider. That is what we are to do in the church. We are to go deeper and wider.
How do we go deeper? Connection classes. Commitment classes. Home Teams. Men’s ministry small groups. Women’s ministry small groups. We get certified. Then do we just stand on the shore and walk around in our flip-flops? No. We strap on the tank and put on the mask to go deep. Now how do we widen our spiritual experience? Well, we do it through relationships. We do it through serving. We do it through a lot of different venues here. As I said last weekend, spiritual maturity is not just an information thing; it is a multifaceted, multidimensional thing. And it is time for a lot of us to go deep and to get wide.
Do most of you know our Associate Pastor, Owen Goff? Well, about a month ago we had the Owen cam going on. I want to bring the Owen cam back right now. Owen is over in our Children’s Church and I want to show you what is going on in the children’s ministry because we are going deep and wide and they are too.
ED: Are you there, Owen?
OWEN: Yes, sir, I am right here.
ED: Owen, you are looking really good. Let’s give it up for Owen Goff right here. I like that shirt, Owen. Would you mind opening up the door and showing us what is going on in Children’s Church because that is where it is really happening in an age-appropriate way.
OWEN: They are making a little noise, but let’s go right in.
ED: Is that cool or what? What a great church we have to be able to worship God here in Children’s Church.
OWEN: We have quite a group here. They love to sing songs.
ED: I want to ask you one quick question. You know I am talking right now about going deep and getting wide. Do you know that song, Owen?
OWEN: Yes, sir, I sure do.
ED: Would you might leading the children in a short rendition of “Deep and Wide” for everyone.
OWEN: Okay, children. We are going to learn a new song. I bet you have never heard this song before, so just follow along with me. It goes like this, “Deep and wide, deep and wide, there’s a fountain flowing deep and wide. Deep and wide, deep and wide, there’s a fountain flowing deep and wide.”
ED: Excellent. Owen we really appreciate you doing this for us. Let’s pan out there and show the children. That is our future right there.
So as a church, we are to grow larger and smaller and deeper and wider. How do we do the latter? Do we just stand up and sing that song? How do we get involved? Every time we talk about involvement, people wonder if we could possibly mean them since the church is so big and so many are already involved. Yet, we need you more than a small church needs you to be involved. We have so many programs and so many opportunities to get involved. Even if you say that you are not gifted and have nothing to give, I say, “Yes, you do.” Every time we say we are not that gifted, we are making a mockery of God’s creative genius. You have a place to serve here if God calls you here. And we want to get you involved.
Others do the triple option thing. Remember the triple option? I am talking about football now. The quarterback has some options after a certain call. He can either hand it off, pitch it out, or turn it up field. A lot of us treat involvement in God’s church like the triple option. We say that we will serve in the hospitality area, be involved in the home team. We take the ball and then suddenly we are going down the line. We say we want to get involved, we say we are going to, but you know what we do? We hand the ball off for a pleasure activity. Or we might option it off for a trip or some other thing that encroaches upon our involvement in the local church.
I am going to challenge you to sign up. But don’t just sign up and then not show up. Sign up and make it. One of the biggest frustrations our leadership deals with is people who sign up but don’t show up. Most of us would rather bail out than commit. We would rather quit than follow through.
I am talking tonight about no-holds-barred commitment. I am talking about a life change. And to do what I am talking about, you have to do without some activities, without some recreational pursuits, without some things that give you pleasure for awhile. But I am talking about true fulfillment. I like that word. You have “full” in it and you are filled. If your purposes don’t coalesce and coordinate with it, it is not going to happen for you.
Let me just show you all the ways you can get involved. Every weekend we give you a bulletin. On the Welcome page you can skip down to the listing of areas in this church where you can serve. If you say you could work in the preschool, let me tell you something about that. If you have a child in preschool, and you haven’t worked in the preschool area, whoa, don’t even go there. Don’t give me that weak stuff. My wife works there and so do all the other staff wives. So, I am talking about full-fledged commitment. Let’s go back to Owen here. He is over in the nursery area.
ED: Owen, do we have a lot of volunteers in there.
OWEN: Yes, sir, we have a lot of volunteers here. And we also have a lot of great babies. Would you like to see one?
OWEN: Look at this baby right here. Now that is a beautiful baby. What is this baby’s name? Blake Proctor.
ED: Are Blake’s parents here?
OWEN: Yes, Tim Proctor is our head usher. Where is Tim? And where is his lovely wife?
ED: Hey, thank you guys for serving and having the man over there.
Isn’t it great to have Owen just kind of walking around like this? This is incredible. Anyway, look at this Welcome page. You can sign up for a number of activities, maybe preschool, maybe Children’s Church is you. Maybe you want to go with the Junior High, that is called the Wild Side. The Senior High is the Edge ministries. How about the singles, or the men’s ministry? We have bible study right here on Tuesday evening at 7pm. How about women’s ministry? There are bible studies for women on Tuesdays, AM and PM. We also have some weight loss programs going on for everyone. We have Home Teams and Connection Classes. We have every team and sport you can think of in our athletic ministry. If you just sign up right now and drop it in the offering plate a little later, we will process the cards and get back to you and you can get involved.
If you have not gone to Newcomers Class, if you are doing the flu shot thing, you need to join the church. If you have never gone to the rest of the Commitment Classes, you need to do that. Maybe you are not involved in Home Teams or Connection Classes, you need to do that. I am telling you, if you could see what God has for you, you would not believe it. But it is up to you. So larger and smaller, deeper and wider, and finally we have got to flow with openness and closure. The Bible commands us that if we are going to get involved, to be open. In other words, we are to use our relational contacts and our influence to invite others to the church. And if God has called you to the Fellowship Church, do so. If He has called you somewhere else, invite someone to that church.
And I want to tell you something, that you all are doing an incredible job of. For the last two years I have been taking a survey of people who have joined our church. In the last six months we have had over 1,000 people join the Fellowship Church. Ninety percent of them, over 900 of them, came to our church because of direct mail. No. Because of slides we show before the movies at the AMC? No. Because you invited them. Give yourself a hand. That is great. But we don’t want to stop. We have got to continue opening, opening, and opening the door. I challenge you to pray for someone to invite to the church daily. About 70% of unchurched people would show up at church if a friend invited them. We are commanded to be open.
As you flow with openness, you also flow with closure. The church brings true closure to the true questions of life. It brings true answers. I think of Solomon. He had it all. He searched for everything and thought that he was really fulfilled. But he wasn’t full and he wasn’t filled. And at the end of his life, he looked back and realized that he had never had closure. He said that you have got to get closure during the days of your youth. The church is a place for closure. It is the last word, on the future, in relationships, for vocational perspective.
How does this play out? Let’s say a family of three was invited to attend a weekend service here at the Fellowship Church. Let’s say they began to really connect. Let’s say that they attended our Newcomers Class and joined the church. What if they decided that they were going to get involved? Let’s say they got involved along with their six-year-old son. Now, let’s press the pause button and look over the shoulder of the six-year-old. Let’s follow him and see what happens to him as he coalesces his purposes with the purposes of the church.
We just saw what will happen to him in Children’s Church. He is learning at his level that God outrageously loves him. He is learning that he matters to God and that he is made in the unique image of God. He is getting this and experiencing it through camps, retreats, and even playing children’s basketball.
And as he grows, he understands that he needs a Savior. At nine years of age during Children’s Church, he prays to ask Jesus Christ into his life. And after a First Wednesday service he is baptized and his parents watch with tears streaming down their cheeks as their son goes public. From there he moves into the tumultuous teenage years. He connects with our student ministry. In the student ministry he sees how to really develop his relationship with the Lord. He sees that his parents and other authority figures were put there by God Himself. He sees sex as a gift from God that needs to be put on hold until the marriage bed. And he discovers that the Bible is the rock, the key in a world that is moving along with the tides of relativism.
From there he goes to college and gets involved in our singles ministry. He is building homes for the needy, ushering on the weekends. He is involved in a small group of guys that who keep him teachable and accountable. He is playing some softball, co-ed softball, you know. He is having a blast. All the while he is attending the weekend services, inviting his friends from work who don’t know Christ. He has seen several of them come to the Lord.
One day he goes to a volleyball tournament sponsored by our church and he meets that special someone. I am talking about “love is in the air.” They have the chemistry thing going. After a while they get engaged. They listen to a sermon series like “Rating Your Dating While Waiting for Mating” or “Finding the Ulti-mate.” Then they attend our “Nearly Wed-Newly Wed” class, and before long they are walking down the wedding runner. They involve themselves in the young married’s area, become part of a married home team. They are even attending a Saturday night Connection Class.
One afternoon, though, the young man receives a call that changes the course of his life. His Mom, in a hysterical voice, tells him that his father has died suddenly of a massive heart attack. He doesn’t know what to do, his whole world is spinning. Yet the people in his Home Team surround him, pray for him and his wife. They take meals over to them, reach out to them. They bring him through this dark valley.
A couple of years pass and they find out they are expecting. They are so thrilled. They discover it is a boy. They are clueless about children as we were. They enroll in three difference parenting seminars that we offer here. So they are equipped.