Synergy, 29 August 2021

Synergy
Series—Getting to the Core (values)
Matthew 18:19-20; John 17:20-23; 1 Corinthians 9:19-23

Series Big Idea:
Our core values guide us in our mission of family restoring God’s masterpieces for His glory.

Big Idea:
We collaborate for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

Why are you here? Why are we here? That’s really the question we’ve been asking for the past several weeks in our series Getting to the Core. As we reboot and prepare for a post-pandemic reality (which is taking longer than any of us expected!), what is God’s unique call for First Alliance Church?

In week one we said one of our core values is

Equipping…the next generation to fulfill the Great Commission

Pastor Donald challenged us to

Faithfulness…to prayer, the Word of God, and following Jesus

We talked about how we are a

Family…a mosaic of people loving God and doing life together

Then Pastor Donald talked about the value of

Generosity…trusting God with open hands and open hearts

Last Sunday we said we are

Missional…taking faith-filled risks in launching new ministries to love our neighbors

And sixth and final word, our final core value in no particular order is

Synergy…collaborating for the sake of the Kingdom of God

The word synergy is derived from the Greek word sunergi which denotes cooperation and is based upon the word sunergos which means working together.

Synergy is
the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects. For all of you mathematics scholar, synergy can be summarized in the following equation:

1 + 1 > 2

Our world is filled with examples. Hydrogen (two unites) plus oxygen equals…water.

Milk plus Nesquik equals…yummy chocolate milk.

If you’ve ever made stew, you know the combination of ingredients is certainly better than eating them one at a time.

Is anyone else getting hungry?!

Before we get into the ways in which we collaborate for the sake of the Kingdom of God, let’s state the obvious:

God + anything > anything without God

That’s the ultimate synergy. Paul famously said,

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

God plus broken masterpieces like us is greater than anything the world can offer. I find it totally amazing that Almighty God wants us on His team, that He chose us to be His sons and daughters, and that He has entrusted His Kingdom to us! After three years of earthly ministry, Jesus passed the baton to His small group of followers who have continued to pass it over the past two thousand years to us. One of the core values of our global family, the Christian & Missionary Alliance, says,

Without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, we can accomplish nothing.

We collaborate first and foremost with God. When we say the heart of our mission is to “
restore God’s masterpieces,” it’s not a work we do, but a work we do with God, with the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, supported by the prayers of Jesus seated at the right hand of the Father. I said it last Sunday, the work we’re trying to accomplish we cannot do…without God. He is the great Restorer, Redeemer, Transformer.

For 133 years, we’ve been collaborating with God to make disciples of Jesus Christ. We’ve seen broken marriages restored, physical bodies healed, addicted people set free, and the lost found. Hallelujah! But we’ve often done that in partnership with others.

One of my favorites quotes says,

It is amazing what can be accomplished when nobody cares about who gets the credit. - Robert Yates

I actually care who gets the credit, but it’s not us. It’s Jesus!

Synergy: We collaborate for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

It’s not for our sake. Our mission is not to be the biggest church in Toledo. You might say that our mission is to serve
the Church in Toledo, the capital C Church. Our competition is not The Tabernacle, the Vineyard Church, Westgate Chapel, or Harvest Lane Alliance. Our competition is the pillow, the screens, and the golf course. We need other churches and ministry partners to bring in the harvest.

Without partnerships with others, our impact will be limited.

We can only do so much as a local church, yet when we collaborate, synergy is the result.

A few weeks ago when we talked about the diversity of our local church family, we said we’re a
mosaic of different, interdependent parts, drawing from 1 Corinthians 12.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. (1 Corinthians 12:7-11)

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. (1 Corinthians 12:12-14)


Every part is important. Some are more visible than others, but each is essential, and each needs to be connected to the body. Years ago my uncle sliced off a part of his finger and though it was a small part, the pain was immense, and once it was detached from his body, it was no longer useful.

I used to think Paul’s metaphor of the body meant one person is the elbow, another is the big toe, someone else is an ear, etc. I still believe that’s what he meant, but what if the body was not a local church but rather a community? What if First Alliance Church is the nose, First Church of God is an ear, Washington Church is an eye, and Cedar Creek is the knee? We need one another. We can’t disciple a city or region on our own. We have different styles and traditions, but one LORD, one faith, and one baptism.
Acts 1:8 is a favorite verse of our Alliance family. Jesus says,

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

Acts 1:8 describes the expansion of God’s Kingdom. We are to be involved in making disciples in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. We have partners in each realm.

Our Jerusalem is obviously Toledo. It’s our epicenter, our base of operations. One of our partners here is a group of pastors and ministry leaders called MERGE.

Jerusalem First Alliance and MERGE

Our Judea is beyond our immediate neighborhood and includes the Great Lakes District of the Christian & Missionary Alliance as well as our Home Missions partners.

Judea : Home Missions Partners and the Great Lakes District of the C&MA

You will hear from five of our ten Home Missions partners in two weeks, but I want to say thank you on behalf of the Toledo Public School teachers who have been impacted by your generous Showers of Blessings contributions to the Teacher School Supplies Pantry and the support of Rosa Parks Elementary teachers. This past week, Sue Trumbull had an amazing time of prayer and conversation with several of them. One teacher was considering quitting and had asked God for a sign and felt our coming to her room to pray for her was her sign!

If we stayed huddled in this building waiting for people to come to us, that never would’ve happened. In the Great Commission in the last chapter of the book of Matthew, Jesus said to “go” and make disciples. We do ministry with the Great Lakes District and our Home Missions partners all across our city and region. It’s a joy to participate in the Kingdom of God with groups such as Cherry Street Mission, the Pregnancy Center, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and Water for Ishmael.

Samaria: Faith Missions Partners

Ends of the Earth: Alliance Missions

Jesus’ prayer for us in John 17 was unity.

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:20-23)

We have a real enemy who loves to divide and conquer, and he has done a great job, especially during this pandemic. When we all argue, fight, and cancel each other, nothing productive can be accomplished. A dismembered body can accomplish nothing. A house divided cannot stand.

But when we come together, beautiful things are created. Sure, it’s messy. It’s challenging. It takes time and communication. But it’s worth it. Jesus said,

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:19)

There’s an old saying that if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.

One of our core values and something that makes us distinct from some churches is

Synergy…collaborating for the sake of the Kingdom of God

We play well with others! One of my favorite recent examples of this was our Sports & Arts Camp last month, done in partnership with The Tabernacle. Pastors Dr. Calvin and Christine Sweeney sent me a note which says,

Thank you so much for your friendship and for your partnership not only for this past month, but for this past year. Through your generosity and the generosity of your congregation, we have invested countless hours of love, attention and assistance to more than 150 children and their families. The effects of our efforts, I believe, will yield an eternal return and we’re so thankful we could do it with you. We love and appreciate you!

It's been said that a single draft horse can pull up to 8000 pounds. You would think two draft horses together would be able to pull 16,000 pounds, but it’s actually 24,000 pounds. When they’re trained together, they can pull 32,000 pounds! That’s synergy. That’s the value of collaboration.

Synergy: We collaborate for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

You can watch this video and others at the First Alliance Church Video Library
here.

Missional, 22 August 2021

Missional
Series—Getting to the Core (values)
Isaiah 43:19; Luke 5:36-39, Luke 15

Series Big Idea: Our core values guide us in our mission of family restoring God’s masterpieces for His glory.

Big Idea: We take faith-filled risks in launching new ministries to love our neighbors.

Why are you here? Why are
we here? That’s really the question we’ve been asking for the past several weeks in our series Getting to the Core. As we reboot and prepare for a post-pandemic reality (which is taking longer than any of us expected!), what is God’s unique call for First Alliance Church?

In week one we said one of our core values is

Equipping…the next generation to fulfill the Great Commission

Pastor Donald challenged us to

Faithfulness…to prayer, the Word of God, and following Jesus

We talked about how we are a

Family…a mosaic of people loving God and doing life together

Last Sunday Pastor Donald talked about the value of

Generosity…trusting God with open hands and open hearts

We have two left. Before I introduce today’s word, I want to share a story with you.

I’m a member of Truth at Work, a group of local Christian leaders who meet once a month for roundtable discussions of personal, professional, and spiritual matters. Because First Alliance Church has been a pillar in the city for more than a century, I shared with my group what was five proposed core values when more than one person said, “You’re missing one!” I was so surprised, but I quickly discovered they were correct. Today’s core value is

Missional…taking faith-filled risks in launching new ministries to love our neighbors

Jesus summarized the entire Bible with two simple commands:

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” (Mark 12:28)

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)

Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself.

One of the ways we love God is by loving our neighbors, so we can actually kill two birds with one stone (but let’s not kill birds!).

Missional…taking faith-filled risks in launching new ministries to love our neighbors

There are many ways we can love our neighbors, but perhaps the greatest thing we can do is introduce them to Jesus. The Great Commission, which we’ve looked at repeatedly, contains the mission.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

We are missional. We are on a mission. God’s mission has a church. The mission is to make disciples. It’s to join God in seeking and saving the lost (Luke 15; 19:10). As we focus on that, new ministries and churches will be the result. Faith is required. Faith-filled risks are required.

Missional…taking faith-filled risks in launching new ministries to love our neighbors

Throughout our history, we have had an entrepreneurial spirit that has produced church plants, sent international workers, trained pastors, and launched organizations such as Proclaim FM, Toledo Christian Schools, WLMB-TV, and Cherry Street Mission, just to name a few.

I hate to say it, but many churches are exclusively inward focused, seeking to make the members comfortable with little regard for what is going on outside of the four walls. Their focus may be on survival, maintaining the status quo, idolizing tradition. The future of such cultures is always the same…decline and death. There’s actually a place in our city where we preserve things from the past…a museum!

We are not called to be a museum of the past. We are called to be a hospital restoring masterpieces today and tomorrow.

That can be intimidating. It can be scary. We like what we can control. But let’s never seek to control God! He said in the book of Isaiah,

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19)

God is always doing a new thing. Our world is changing. Our world is growing
. We must always be changing our methods, but never change our message.

There are two ways to reach a changing world. One is to adapt.

My wife recently discovered she was allergic to dairy. This made me troubled as an
ice cream lover. Who wants to eat alone? Fortunately, Dairy Queen and other ice cream vendors have realized others are allergic to dairy, too, and have created dairy-free ice cream (often using coconut cream). They adapted.

We must always be adapting. Today we have a parking lot, air conditioning, video projection, livestreaming, a podcast, a website, an e-newsletter, and many other things that were not present a hundred years ago. In fact, I’ve been told our use of radio was cutting-edge…in 1966!

The other way to reach a changing world is to
launch something new. Sometimes it’s more effective to start from scratch than it is to remodel or adapt.

Our global family, the Christian & Missionary Alliance, has had its US headquarters in Colorado Springs since the late 1980s. Recently, they decided to relocate to Reynoldsburg, Ohio near Columbus to be more effective in their mission. They finalized a deal on property containing a closed Kmart store and have determined it would be better to demolish and build new than to retrofit the building for the new headquarters.

Sometimes we adapt. Sometimes we start fresh and launch. We plant new churches. We start new ministries. Jesus once told his followers a story

He told them this parable: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’ ” (Luke 5:36-39)

God is always doing a new thing. We need to adapt and also launch new endeavors, new wineskins for new wine. I’m honored to be a part of church with such a rich history of launch new churches and ministries…and I’m certain that legacy must continue. The Kingdom of God is advancing at First Alliance Church…and will soon be advancing through the church plant we will help Mykel & Jeanine Pollock launch next year. I’ve had conversations with others who are interested in planting churches or ministries or even Christ-centered businesses. The marketplace calls these pioneers entrepreneurs. The Bible refers to them as apostles.

There are actually two types of apostles. The capital-A Apostles are generally thought to be only those early church leaders who spent time with Jesus, including. Obviously, they all died two thousand years ago.

A small-a apostle, however, is an emissary, literally “one who is sent off,” a messenger.

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up (Ephesians 4:11-12)

This text from Paul to the church in Ephesus is often called the five-fold ministry or APEST: apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers. Many lump them together under the title “pastor,” but they are each unique. I like to think of apostles as the spiritual entrepreneurs launching new works.

There are few apostles greater than our church and denomination’s founder,
A.B. Simpson. With such an apostle as our founder, it’s not surprising one of the core values of the alliance states

Achieving God’s purposes involves taking faithful-filled risks. This always involves change.

We borrowed liberally from this Alliance value when crafting today’s First Alliance core value:

Missional…taking faith-filled risks in launching new ministries to love our neighbors

We are missional. God has given us a mission…to love Him, our neighbors, and make disciples. There are plenty of churches in Toledo, but I believe most people in our city are not fully engaged in one. Why? Maybe they’re looking for something unique that has yet to be created. Research has repeatedly shown the average new church gains most of its new members (60-80%) from the unchurched, while churches more than 15 years old get 80-90% of their new members from other congregations. (https://www.acts29.com/why-church-planting/)

Every generation needs new churches, new wineskins for new wine. I’m not suggesting every church should be mono-generational, but I am saying we need fresh expressions of the gospel to reach the unchurched.

That’s why we started
Dinner Church! From the beginning, we said Dinner Church was for the unchurched, not you! Dinner Church was a faith-filled risk to love our neighbors who aren’t here on Sunday morning, for whatever reason. It’s one of our primary “out” movements, serving our community. Honestly, it wasn’t a huge risk for us, but it has been remarkably fruitful, praise God!

In the coming days, we will take more faith-filled risks, not for the sake of change or simply for the fun of it, but because God’s mission requires it to love our neighbors who are not yet in a faith community, following Jesus.

Imagine Toledo without Cherry Street Mission, without the Toledo Gospel Rescue Mission, without Proclaim FM or WLMB-TV or Toledo Christians or…First Alliance Church. We were a church plant once upon a time! We were a faith-filled risk…in 1887! The book of Hebrews tells us,

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

Do you love God? Do you seek to please God? Faith is required. You believe in God? Prove it! Trust Him! Take a step of faith (not necessarily a leap of faith). As a church, we’ve done that repeatedly. Some of our initiatives have lasted for generations. Others, like Claro Coffee Bar, were short-lived, yet the provided outstanding opportunities to learn, build relationships, and grow. There’s no guarantee that every Life Group, church, or ministry we launch will last for a century, but then again, they might! Everything has a life cycle, whether it’s short or long. The key is to be obedient, to be faithful, to be missional, living out God’s mission in our world.

We are a Jesus-centered family restoring God’s masterpieces in Toledo and beyond for His glory.

Why are you here? Why are we here? We’re on a mission from God! One of the things that makes us unique is we are

Missional…taking faith-filled risks in launching new ministries to love our neighbors

W
e’re all unique. Some are entrepreneurial pioneers—apostles—who God has called to launch new things. Others join later in the process, helping to build and maintain. Still others are cautious and wait until there is more certainty.

As a church, we want to be on the cutting edge of what God is doing. The Kingdom requires it. Our neighbors need it. Our world is desperate for it.

Missional…taking faith-filled risks in launching new ministries to love our neighbors

What faith-filled risks do YOU need to take to love your neighbors?

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

You can watch this video and others at the First Alliance Church Video Library
here.

Family, 8 August 2021

Family
Series—Getting to the Core (values)
1 Corinthians 12:4-31; Romans 12:10; Revelation 7:9

Series Big Idea:
Our core values guide us in our mission of family restoring God’s masterpieces for His glory.

Big Idea: We are a mosaic of people loving God and doing life together.

Alliance Core Value: Completing the Great Commission will require the mobilization of every fully-devoted disciple. Matthew 28:19

What is the first thing you think of when I say…family? Some of you may picture a husband and wife, their 1.96 children, and a dog! Others may imagine a large family reunion with dozens of people gathered together. Still others think of a broken family tree, perhaps an abusive childhood and great pain. Regardless of your family, I believe most of us can at least imagine a healthy family filled with love, acceptance, and respect…a family that does life together…a family that works through conflict and is there for one another…a family that is safe and promotes flourishing.

We are all a part of a family. Actually, we’re all a part of several different families…a biological family, a community at work or school or play, and a spiritual family.

We’re in the middle of series called
Getting to the Core After years of research, conversations, and prayer, our staff and elders have gotten clarity around what we believe is God’s direction for First Alliance, including our core values:

Equipping…the next generation to fulfill the Great Commission
Faithfulness…to prayer, the Word of God, and following Jesus
Family…a mosaic of people loving God and doing life together
Generosity…trusting God with open hands and open hearts
Missional…taking faith-filled risks in launching new ministries to love our neighbors
Synergy…collaborating for the sake of the Kingdom of God

It’s who we’ve been.
It’s who we are.
It’s where we’re going.

We are a Jesus-centered family restoring God’s masterpieces in Toledo and beyond for His glory.

All followers of Jesus are part of the global family of God, sons and daughters of the Most High God. We’re related by blood…the blood of Jesus.

Our denomination, the Christian & Missionary Alliance, calls itself a Christ-centered, Acts 1:8 family. Acts 1:8 is a reference to Jesus’ words before leaving our planet.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

The Alliance is a family. First Alliance Church Toledo is also a family. Being family is one of our core values:

Family…a mosaic of people loving God and doing life together

One definition of
family calls it a group of one or more parents and their children living together as a unit. If you look at the end of our statement, it says doing life together. First Alliance Church is a group of people doing life together. If we are truly living out this value, last year’s lockdown wouldn’t be a big deal. After all, the Church is the people of God, wherever they are. Pandemic or not, the people of First Alliance not only worship together on Sunday mornings, they pray for one another, pray with one another, eat with one another, serve with one another, study the Bible with one another, encourage one another, take trips with one another, and most of all love one another.

That last one is critical. We love one another. Or we
should! The thing about family is when it’s good, it’s really good…and when it’s bad, it’s really bad. Although I’ve been a part of some not-so-great church families, I must say as we head toward our fall kickoff at the end of the month, I’m really encouraged by what I see in First Alliance. There is a growing sense of unity and love for one another. God has even used COVID-19 to draw us together through things like Zoom Prayer. I recently called one family to see how they were doing in the midst of a difficult trial and was told, “Pastor, we’re doing fine. The people of First Alliance have been praying, delivering meals, and calling. We’re so blessed.”

Heather and I are blessed to call this church family. I believe we are the only Schneemanns in the state of Ohio and it’s a special thing to do life together with you. Sundays are great, but the real action takes place outside of this room…in coffee shops, dining rooms, businesses, and car rides. I love hearing stories of family members visiting shut-ins together. Our worship team serves together. Our elected officers meet together. We do life together.

Perhaps as I say that, you feel left out. Lonely. Disconnected. On the margin. I have three invitations for you:

  1. 1. Join a Life Group.
  2. 2. Join a serving team.
  3. 3. Attend FAC 101 on October 3 at noon

To truly be a part of a family, you have to participate. You must engage. For decades I’ve heard people say, “Nobody cares about me” only to discover they’ve never made an effort to care about or even get to know others. Friendship is a two-way street. You can’t hide and complain that nobody sees you!

I urge you to join a Life Group. Join a serving team. Attend FAC 101 on October 3.

Family…a mosaic of people loving God and doing life together

We are a family doing life together but also a family loving God. That’s what brings us together. We are united at the foot of the cross, children of God. We love God. Together. That’s the primary reason we gather on Sunday mornings online and on campus. We like to say our focus is “up.” Our strategy is quite simple:

Up-In-Out

We gather to worship, to pray, to study the Bible, to connect with God. Up.

We also gather to get to know one another, to do life together. This is done in Life Groups, but ideally a Life Group is more than just a weekly meeting. A healthy Life Group does all of the “one anothers” I mentioned…they serve one another, visit one another, deliver meals to one another, call or text one another, love God together, love one another. We call this “In.”

The final piece of our strategy is “Out.” We reach out and serve, whether it’s through Sports & Art Camp, Dinner Church, Celebrate Recovery, or student ministry, working with one of our Home Missions partners, or some other community engagement.

Ideally, everyone in the family is connecting up, in, and out…worshipping together on Sunday mornings, doing life together during the week, and serving together. Nobody worships alone. Nobody serves alone. We are family. We are people loving God and doing life together. But there’s one more vital element to our core value of family.

We are a mosaic. We are a diverse family. This is significant. Many churches are homogeneous, meaning they are filled with people all alike, whether it be ethnicity, age, or socio-economic. We all understand the global family of God is diverse, but First Alliance Church Toledo is diverse…and growing in its diversity.

Diversity is not without its challenges, but our different help us grow…while uniting around what brings us together…our mission, our core values, the Word of God and the Testimony of Jesus Christ. I truly love that our family looks different. We have whites, blacks, and browns in our family. We have people with black hair, brown hair, gray hair, …and some with no hair! Our First Alliance family is filled with Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. We have Buckeyes and Wolverines, suburbanites and city-dwellers, and even theologically we have Arminians and Calvinists (if you don’t know what that means, look it up…or ask me later!). Again, our differences can get messy, but at a time in our culture where everyone seems to be cancelling one another and dividing over the silliest things, the Church is formed around a person…Jesus Christ. We have different incomes, educational backgrounds, musical preferences, hobbies, and zip codes, but one LORD, one faith, one baptism.

We are a Jesus-centered family restoring God’s masterpieces in Toledo and beyond for His glory.

What brings us together is Jesus and His mission. But we’re all different. We’re a mosaic…and beautiful collection of broken pieces assembled together so light can shine through. Isn’t that a perfect description of what the Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, the Church is supposed to be? We are all broken, yet God assembles us together and the light of Jesus shines through us creating a beautiful masterpiece.

Paul wrote this to the church in Corinth in modern-day Greece:

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. (1 Corinthians 12:4-6)

God has created each of us unique and special. He has given all of us different kinds of gifts.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. (1 Corinthians 12:7-10)

This is not the only list of spiritual gifts, but it’s a good one! We believe in all of the gifts even though not everyone necessarily knows or uses their gifts. We’ll get to that in a moment.

All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines. (1 Corinthians 12:11)

If you don’t like your gift, blame God! He has created each of us different. Some have a supernatural gift of wisdom, others knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, tongues, and interpretation. Other gifts include helps, preaching, leadership, teaching, and the creative arts. God has gifted some with the gift of evangelism, others mercy. The key is to discover, develop, and deploy your gift(s) for God’s glory.

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. (1 Corinthians 12:12-14)

One body, many parts. All different. Each part is critical. If you’ve ever stubbed your toe, you know the importance of every part of your body!

Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. (1 Corinthians 12:15-20)

Do you get the picture? If not, Paul will make sure you understand!

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. (1 Corinthians 12:21-26)

That’s family. You need me. I need you. My gifts aren’t better than yours. Every gift is necessary. And there should be no division. We should have equal concern for one another. When one of us suffers, we all suffer. When one of us is honored, we all rejoice. That’s the Body. That’s the Church. That’s family.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

And yet I will show you the most excellent way. (1 Corinthians 12:27-31)

What follows is the love chapter of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13. Love is the hallmark of family. Romans 12:10 says,

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:10)

That’s the kind of family God is building at First Alliance. Do you want to see what it will look like in the future?

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. (Revelation 7:9)

That’s the global family. Jesus didn’t come to earth to start a white religion or even an American movement. The Body of Christ is a mosaic from every nation, tribe, people, and language and we’ll spend eternity together. We might as well celebrate our differences and unite around Jesus now! I love Toledo because it allows us to do life together with different people, even people from other nations!

You’re invited

Maybe you’re not a part of the family. I don’t mean the First Alliance family. I mean the family of God. I want to invite you to join the family. The table is a beautiful symbol of family. It’s the gathering place. It’s home. No matter who you are or what you’ve done, you are welcome to join the family. Come to the table.

One more thing…

One of the core values of the Christian & Missionary Alliance states,

Completing the Great Commission will require the mobilization of every fully-devoted disciple. Matthew 28:19

We looked at that scripture two weeks ago where we saw the Great Commission is essentially the mission of the Church…to go and make disciples of all nations, reproducing the life of Jesus. It requires all of us, every fully-devoted disciple. I hope that includes you! I can’t stress this enough…get connected.

  1. 1. Join a Life Group.
  2. 2. Join a serving team.
  3. 3. Attend FAC 101 on October 3 at noon

You’re not going to feel part of the family until you participate with the family, until you engage. I know some of you are introverts and that’s great. Join us on Facebook and Instagram. Send me an e-mail with your questions or comments. Take a risk and ask someone out for a cup of coffee…or let our office know you’re interested in connecting with a new friend.

I want to end with one final challenge: get in SHAPE. No, I don’t mean go to the gym. Go to
FreeShapeTest.com. Don’t worry, this is one test you can’t fail! It’s a free assessment that will help you better understand how God’s wired you up, your spiritual gifts, your passion and heart. If you send the results to our office (office@factoledo.org), we can help you get connected to a serving team where you can worship God, bless others, and experience the joy of doing life together. We’ll talk more about SHAPE this fall, but if you’d like to get a head-start, check it out.

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

You can watch this video and others at the First Alliance Church Video Library
here.
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