I have known about the elders' thinking from the beginning. In fact, I was a part of the first "brain storming" session that discussed our spiritual future. Before any sense of direction was explored, the elders wanted my thoughts and input. In fact, the idea of a co-minister was my suggestion. I deeply appreciate their thinking, and I felt a sense of privilege to be a part of that thinking.

Tuesday I was 63 years old. Some of you look at that number and say, "That's young!" Some of you look at that number and say, "That's ancient!" I look at that number and say, "I cannot believe it!"

My mind thinks it is forty. But my body tells my mind it is deceiving itself.

I love this congregation very much. I much enjoy living in Fort Smith. I feel a real sense of privilege in being part of God's work happening here. I am deeply grateful that the elders consider me an asset to this congregation and this work. I am deeply thankful they wish to create a situation that will let me work with you for years.

The person we seek will share my work as a co-minister. Yes, I have worked in a co-minister situation before, and yes, it should be a desirable, workable situation. What does having a co-minister mean? It means he will share lessons with you as he shares pulpit time with me. It means we will be flexible as we assess our needs, our opportunities, and God's purposes. And it means, in time, I will transition to a primary emphasis on giving spiritual guidance, teaching classes, and writing.

There are a few things I want to stress about the man we seek.

  1. Each one of us needs a real sense of who we are spiritually as we seek God's purposes in our lives and in this congregation.
    1. I want you to pay close attention to Paul's desire for the Christians at Colossae.
      Colossians 1:28 We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.
      1. I ask you to place your attention on Paul's desire.
      2. He wanted the effect of his team's teaching and their personal influence to cause these Christians to be complete in Christ.
        1. What does that mean?
        2. It means Paul wanted them to become spiritual grown-ups.
    2. It is very easy for us to get distracted from God's purposes, or to substitute our purposes for God's purposes, or to mistake our priorities for God's priorities.
      1. We need to be very careful about saying, "Well, what I think we ought to stress is . . .!"
        1. What I feel should be stressed and what God wants stressed may not be the same thing.
        2. Too often when our feelings are stressed God's desires are forgotten.
        3. We each have our likes and dislike--and that is fine--we just do not need to confuse them with God's purposes.
      2. We need to be very careful about pushing our own agendas.
        1. The first thing we need to do is to recognize that each of us have agendas.
        2. The second thing we need to realize is that my agenda may not reflect God's complete purposes.
        3. Many times God's word has taught me, "David, your agendas, your focus, your priorities are far too small, or are far to limited, or are just plain off base."
        4. When you discover that, if you love God, you abandon your agenda for God's purposes.
      3. We need to be very careful not to place our faith in a religious system instead of placing it in God.
        1. That is a very real problem in the Church of Christ.
        2. We can be so committed to our history, so committed to our ways, so committed to our past, that we easily adopt a defensive, confrontational mode instead of a desire to learn all God says.
        3. It is too easy to learn for the sake of confronting instead of learning for the sake of growing.
        4. It is too easy to sit down on the banks of baptism and never get up.
    3. Paul told Christians who believed, Christians who had turned their lives away from past evils, Christians who had been baptized that his goal was to challenge them to become spiritual adults.
      1. They believed that Jesus Christ was God's resurrected son, but they had a lot of spiritual growing to do.
      2. They had learned that their past, the time when they did not know God or Jesus Christ, was evil, but they had a lot of spiritual growing to do.
      3. They were baptized into Christ, but they had a lot of spiritual growing to do.
      4. How much growing did they have to do?
        1. Jesus Christ was the standard.
        2. Jesus Christ was the example.
        3. There were two realities:
          1. There was the reality of what God's grace did every day in forgiving them.
          2. There was the reality of their accepting the responsibility to grow toward what God's forgiveness made them.
        4. It was being an obedient people who accepted that responsibility that allowed them to mature into the completeness found in Christ.

  2. I have a simple question to ask all of us: do we really want to be spiritual grown-ups?
    1. Do you want to be a spiritual grown-up?
      1. Or do you want to try to slip around on your Father?
      2. Or do you want to dishonor your oldest brother's death--a death that lets you live?
      3. Or do you want to disgrace your family's name among those who have no respect for your family?
      4. Or do you want all the blessings your family can give while you live and act like you don't know your family?
    2. We have a lot of people in our society who do not want to grow up and do not want to accept responsibility.
      1. We have a lot of people in the church who do not want to grow up and do not want to accept spiritual responsibility.
      2. What about you? Spiritually, do you want to grow up?

Please read with me as we focus on a statement Paul made to the Christians at Ephesus:

Ephesians 4:11-13 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

Please grow spiritually in your life! The blessings of a spiritual grown-up are God's incredible gifts to all who accept the responsibilities to become a spiritual grown up in Jesus Christ.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 8 June 2003

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