Order of Worship

  • first speaker: Isaiah 1:1-l7 followed by prayer
  • second speaker: John 4:7-26 followed by prayer
  • third speaker: Romans 12:1-8 followed by prayer
  • fourth speaker: Galatians 5:19-26 followed by prayer
  • songs
  • sermon

    This evening I want to express my personal appreciation for your being part of this gathering. My life is richly blessed by my relationship with this congregation. My wife and I have a real sense of love for all of you.

    The things I share with you this evening are intended as a challenge. That challenge is issued as much to me as it is to you.

    With all I am, I want our coming together in this auditorium on Sunday evening to be something we look forward to, to be our "place of priority," to be our anticipation, not our obligation. I want all of us to work together to make that happen.

    1. This congregation has a lot of things happening on Sunday evening.
      1. Life groups are meeting in homes.
      2. The campus ministry conducts a class in their area.
      3. The youth group has a combination class and worship in their area.
      4. Kids for Christ assembles upstairs under the direction and guidance of the Browns and a large group of adult helpers.
      5. And, we have this assembly in this auditorium.
      6. All this occurs in a serious attempt to help everyone grow and develop spiritually. Please focus with me on Paul's statement in Ephesians 4:11-16:
        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. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
        1. Let me call these things to your attention:
          1. The whole leadership structure in the first century Christian community [apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers] had the objective in the church of maturing Christians. These roles served evangelistic purposes, but they did not serve just evangelistic purposes. Christians had two responsibilities: one was evangelistic, and one was their responsibility as a part of the Christian community.
          2. Within the Christian community they wanted to (a) equip Christians to serve, (b) generate maturity in the body of Christ, (c) learn and pursue God's concept of unity, and (d) challenge Christians to mature in the image of Christ.
          3. The results:
            1. Christians will stop being like impressionable children.
            2. They will accept the responsibility of maturing in Christ.
            3. They will bond with others who are in Christ.
          4. Paul said they were responsible to mature in their Christian life!
      7. How would you answer this question: "How can we add meaning and life and fervor to our Sunday night assemblies?"
        1. "Get everybody back into one assembly!"
          1. I personally disagree.
          2. We do not all learn in the same ways.
          3. We are not in competition.
          4. We must not forget the objective: to help everyone mature spiritually.
        2. May I call your attention to one thing.
          1. If your suggestion for improvement lies primarily in what someone else does, I hope you will reconsider.
          2. Each of us needs to say, "The spiritual improvement of this assembly begins with me!"

    2. This evening, I want to share with you some rather obvious observations.
      1. Our Sunday evening assembly is not:
        1. A "spectator" event in which those who are leading try to challenge or touch you.
        2. A "performance" in which I or another speaker tries to force you to listen.
        3. A "mark of faithfulness" in which any of us receive some form of special credit from God for being here.
        4. A "godliness by attendance" occasion: we come so we can show whose side we are on.
      2. Being a part of this group must contain a sense of spiritual commitment: a commitment to who I am and what I am about, and a commitment to each other.
        1. Two illustrations used by New Testament writers to present the kind of commitment we are discussing is household [family] and body.
        2. There is a relationship bond in our commitment.
        3. Because each of us is in Christ, we owe each other something.
        4. We are here for two reasons: one is to receive a benefit from God's people, and the other is to benefit God's people--I come here both to receive a blessing and to be a blessing.
          1. I need to feel a part.
          2. Others need to be encouraged from me.
          3. Something is horribly wrong with my concept of Christianity if I feel no responsibility to other Christians.
          4. The first sign that we are walking with God, according to 1 John 1:6, is that we enter a bond of fellowship in the Christian community.

    3. This is the first Sunday evening of 2005, and I ask you to make a serious resolution.
      1. My request for a resolution is not a gimmick--I am weary of gimmicks.
        1. This is a huge room.
        2. No, I have no interest in putting up ropes to make it smaller.
        3. No, I do not plan to ask you to stand up and after you are standing ask you to move forward.
        4. No, I do not plan to ask you to help me.
      2. My resolution has nothing to do with me gaining a sense of control.
      3. My resolution has to do with:
        1. A sense of personal commitment to each other.
        2. Being a part as I learn to love and be loved.
      4. "What is your resolution?" It has four parts.
        1. Part one: "I am going to sing instead of listening to others sing."
        2. Part two: "I am going to pray with all my heart."
        3. Part three: "I am going to listen to learn."
        4. Part four: "I am going to sit in the center toward the front and help generate a feeling of congregation."

    We live in a very real, truly anti-spiritual, hard world. I deeply want this assembly to strengthen us to live for God in the week ahead of us.

  • invitation song
  • dismissal prayer

    David Chadwell

    West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
    Evening Sermon, 2 January 2005

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