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Why Church? Why Give?

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Today Pastor Ed Allen continued his series on "Why Church?" by looking at another question:  Why Give to the Church?

When Gateway started 20 years ago, Pastor Ed avoided preaching about giving, because he didn't want to feed people's perception that the church is always asking for money.

We're not talking about money because we need it -- God will provide.  And our congregation has historically been vry generous.

We're talking about money because Jesus talked about money.  He said, "Where your treasure is, your heart will be also."  We want to talk about this way of diving in and becoming a part of the community.

We looked at the Scripture passage Acts 2:41-47.  This passage happened after Peter's preaching at Pentecost, when 3000 people became part of the new church.

"Devoted" means to occupy oneself diligently with.  Those new Christians were devoted to the apostles' teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer.

They met together regularly.  

"The apostles' teaching" is now in the Bible for us.  When we come to Christ, we make Jesus and His word the highest authority.

We're a well-educated congregation, and it's normal for us to make our own reason the highest authority.  Coming to Jesus gives authority to Him.

The word "fellowship" can also be translated "community."  This is what the church is!

They met in homes and were devoting themselves to each other.

Devoting ourselves to those same four things -- the apostles' teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer -- is a path to effective living.

Why did the first Christians give?

First of all, they gave because of their commitment to one another.

The church is a network of relationships.  We're "organized" because it helps us be there for each other.

We give to create an environment to facilitate community.

"Glad and sincere hearts" can be translated as "glad and generous hearts."

We encourage you without apology to give and give generously.

If you're a long-time Gateway member who has been giving, we encourage you "don't grow weary in doing good."  Keep on giving!

If you haven't been giving, step in and give.  (But do seek God first.)  Let's go deeper this year and seek God -- you'll be expanded.

If you're new to Gateway, step in and give.  You're not here by accident, but you're also not here to be a casual observer.

"Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  We'd love your heart to be among us here in this network of believers.

Why Church? The Body of Christ

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This morning, Pastor Ed Allen continued his sermon series "Why Church?" by looking at I Corinthians 12:12-27, where the church is described as the Body of Christ.

He began with an anecdote that Facebook friends have been legally declared to not be your actual friends.  Though the issue is still in doubt (from a different court ruling) and may some day go to the Supreme Court.  [I perked up at this, having taken the precaution to "unfriend" most of my author Facebook friends when I got on the Newbery committee -- except it turned out I missed a couple of published authors, which could be a problem.  So I'm going to say they're not legally my actual friends!]

The Bible doesn't talk much about friendship.  We're supposed to be Church with one another.  And the church is the body of Christ.  Here we read the passage, I Corinthians 12:12-27.

-- This means we actually represent Jesus to the world.

-- This also means the church is an organic, living organism.

Five things that govern how we think about the church and how we engage with it from this passage:

1)  The church is composed of many different parts.

There's diversity in our unity.  One Spirit and one body, but many parts.

2)  All of the parts of the body are needed.

There's not much conflict here at Gateway -- we don't know each other well enough yet!  Conflict is easy -- from different values, hurt feelings, and arrogance.

3)  All of the parts of the body are ordered and arranged by God.

We're not here by accident.  God arranged for us to be here.

That has implications for how we treat each other:

4)  We give honor to one another.  In fact, special honor goes to the parts of our body that seem most modest.

When it comes to our body, looks can be deceiving.

As an example, the reason we can sit down during the service is because of the people on set-up team.

*5)  We are all part of the body of Christ!

What if I don't know where I belong?  You are part of the body.

What if I don't know anyone?  You are part of the body.

What if nobody likes me?  You are part of the body.

What if I don't get it?  You are part of the body.

What if I'm super busy?  You are part of the body.

Therefore (because of all the points above), what we do here matters. 

What we do in the midst of these relationships matters.

Every contact leaves a trace.  How we engage here matters.

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