How to be the Family of God

What does it look like to be a family of believers headed to forever together? That’s the question Paul is answering in this text. He’s calling the believers in Thessalonica to walk in a way that pleases God more and more. He’s told them that it’s God’s will for them to be sanctified. And as he finishes his letter, he gives them 17 commands that we’ve grouped under three headings – think of them as three core values for the family of God:

Humbly submit to those who lead us (12-13)

Do good to those around us (14-15)

Trust and Obey the God who saves us (16-22)

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22; Ephesians 2:20, 3:4, 4:11; Matthew 7:15-16; 1 John 4:1

An Ordinary Church

Almost everyone, attenders and non-attenders, have ideas about what the church is and how it should function. Acts 20 gives us the elements of an “ordinary” church: Unshakable Convictions, Spirit-given Elders, Deep Spiritual Friendships.

We might want to say, “I don’t want to be part of an ordinary church, I want to be part of an extraordinary church!” But God means to use the ordinary church to do extraordinary things in making disciples both near and far, for the glory of Jesus!

Scripture: Acts 20-21

A Model Missionary Church

At it’s best, a model is a pattern of something to be made, a design to be followed. You use a model when you want to sew a dress, construct a freeway, or build a new car. So, before you can put on that first tire, or move any earth, or cut that first length of fabric, you start with a model.

Amazon is loaded with books providing churches and pastors with one model after another for starting or building a church. And there’s some helpful information in some of those books.

But as we look at Acts 11:19-30, and 12:25-13:3, we’re introduced to a model church, the church in Antioch. Why is it a model church? What is it about this early church that makes it a model for us today? What aspects of this church are things we should aspire to imitate at Foothills? What aspects of this church should you look for if you are ever relocated to a new city?

Scripture: Acts 11:19-30, 12:25-13:3

Lead Elder Installation Service

After months of searching for the will of God, the church has now affirmed Brian McCoy as the new Lead Elder of Foothills Baptist Church. This is the installation service instating Brian into this new position.

What are the responsibilities that accompany the office of lead elder? What priorities should he establish to serve well in this position?

We can ask the same question of the church. What are the church’s responsibilities to Brian to enable him to serve well?

The ceremony of installation is meant to formally inaugurate Brian’s ministry as the new Lead Pastor and encourage both the church and Brian to thrive in this new and sacred relationship.

Scripture: 1 Peter 5:1-5

The Marks of a Healthy Church

If we were to ask 100 active Christians about their motivations for joining a specific church, we would get a wide variety of answers. Some join for the youth program, others for the music, some join for the convenient location, and others because a friend invited them. The are many reasons why people make that decision.

While all of those factors are important, the Bible reveals the nature of a good church. What is a healthy church? What can we do to build healthy churches?

Acts 2:41-44 is a crucial passage for understanding what healthy church does.

Scripture: Acts 2:41-47

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

Everyone experiences defining moments, times that change the trajectory of your life. The most important is the moment of your salvation! However, other defining moments may include going to college, marriage, the birth of a child, retirement, and others.

One of the most crucial and life-changing moments in the life of the Church is recorded in Acts 2. Everything would change after that experience. What is so important about it? God’s presence and power came to indwell Christ’s followers. From this point on, God would be in us and empower us to serve Him in the person of the Holy Spirit.

This same Spirit comes to live in us when we are saved. What does that mean for our daily lives?

Scripture: Acts 2:1-41

The Message of the Church – The Gospel

What is it that the church has to say? We believe the message of the church is the Gospel. Paul refers to it as “the gospel of God,” “the gospel of His son,” and also “the word of the cross.” Christians are gospel people. We believe that the gospel is the message that saved us. And as followers of Christ, we obey His command to make disciples of all the nations by spreading the gospel to the ends of the earth.

But it’s not always clear what people mean by the word “gospel.” It’s simply “good news,” but what passes for the gospel in some churches, online, etc. is not the good news Paul or the rest of the apostles preached. The pressure is real to “adjust” the gospel to our culture, but eternity is at stake if we get it wrong.

Scripture: Romans 1:1-1

Membership in the Church

The idea of church membership is fading. Many churches are doing away with it altogether. Many people see it as nothing more than a bureaucratic tool for keeping track of people’s attendance and giving. In our culture spirituality has become an individual rather than community pursuit. And even “churched people” often attend more than one church at a time, depending on the speaker, the music, the setting, the programs. We’ve become consumers of spiritual goods and services.

The New Testament paints a different picture. Are there scriptural evidences for why anyone should become a member of a local church? The big idea is this: Local Church membership is the life of committed relationships and responsibilities to which every Christian is called. We are called to identify with and belong to a local church; to follow local church leaders; and want and engage in local church mutuality and accountability.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 1:1-2; Romans 16:3-5; Hebrew 13:17; 1 Peter 5:5; Matthew 18:15-18, 16:18ff; 1 Corinthians 5

The Essential Nature of Baptism

One hazard that we share as believers is that repetition can create inattention. We become so familiar with something that it loses its meaning.

There are no biblical truths that we can afford to overlook. That is particularly true when it comes to worship. Chaucer once wrote that “Familiarity breeds contempt.” Having extensive knowledge of something or a close association with someone can lead to a loss of respect.

To protect ourselves from inattention and “contempt” we need to stop and take stock of the condition of our spiritual lives, particularly the freshness and vitality of our worship.

To help us say spiritually vital, Jesus gave His church two specific acts to remind us of what is most important. We call these acts “ordinances.” We are to repeat these ventures of faith to tell us of what Jesus has done for us.

The message today is about one of those ordinances, baptism.

Scripture: Mark 1:4; Mark 1:9–10; Matthew 3:16; Acts 8:24–36; Matthew 28:16–20; Acts 2:41

Elders and the Church

This message was preached for the Installation of our first Elder Team.

The Elders are responsible to shepherd the flock of God. How are they to do this?

  • They must protect the Church from the onslaught of false teaching and teachers that Christians are exposed to in our culture, though receiving resistance in that ministry.
  • They must feed the flock. Elders aren’t elders if they don’t teach the Gospel to the Church. They must lead the flock. Elders lead the Church, not only to nourishment in the Word, but in a direction that will make for a healthy church for God’s glory.
  • They must care for the flock. Care for them in their hurts and brokenness; in their sickness and needs.
  • They must give oversight to the church – administering the ministry of the church, but pastoring the church first.
  • The heaviest responsibility – be examples to the flock. Live like a Christian in front of the people and the culture, demonstrating what a Christian does when criticized, hurt, or discouraged, or  don’t know what to do. Provide an example in your devotional life. Neglect this and you will strip yourself of the Holy Spirit’s power in ministry.

Scripture: 1 Peter 5:1-4