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What Is Church?

Today was Gateway Community Church's 21st Birthday!  So we did some reminiscing and remembering what things were like in 1998.  Then Pastor Ed Allen talked about what's next for Gateway?  Things are going to be the same, only different.

They will be the same, in that the church hasn't changed.  What is the Church? 

The word in Greek is ekklesia and means "called out ones."  We're not here by accident, we're called out by God.

The church is not a building; church is people.

We looked at Acts 2:42-47, reading what the early church was like to see what we should be like today.

They devoted themselves to:

-- the apostles' teaching

The Bible is central to everything we do.

-- fellowship

*Community!  This is especially important to us at Gateway.  In northern Virginia suburbs, where people move frequently, we have lost that sense of community in our neighborhoods.  So we need to be very, very intentional to have it in our church.

"We exist to be used by God to draw others into authentic Christian community."

-- breaking bread

Think more fellowship; think family.  This is also about the special meal remembering the Lord.

-- prayer

Communicating with God.  He's what it's all about.

Church is a Christ-worshiping-God-honoring-all-in-deeply-devoted-to-God-and-to-one-another community.

Church is a network of relationships that rely on the power of God.

This part will stay the same for the next 21 years!

What will be different?

We spent 21 years building an infrastructure to support the kind of ministry God wants.  In some ways, the church body is like a human body going through developmental stages.  It's time for us to be an adult!  Yet we're still working on some of the earlier stages.

We looked back at Acts 2:42-47 to look at ways we need to launch into adulthood.

The Lord extended their ministry with signs and wonders.  The church took care of all who had need.  The Lord added to their numbers greatly.  Reflecting on that:

We will look actively and increasingly to God for Him to do amazing (supernatural) things through us and our ministry.

We expect to see healing of all kinds.  We expect to invest in causes and see God make changes.

We will get better and bolder at telling God's story.

We will give crazy amounts of money, time, and talent away to meet the needs of those around us.

At this point, Ed told about a world-class school we're going to help build in the Dominican Republic through our sponsored missionary Ina York.  This will not be the last school we will build!

We have been given an abundance of resources to share with people in need all over the world.  When we do so -- we end up learning from their faith and joy and end up with the better end of the deal.

As the years go by, we will do more and more of this!

Why Church? Why Is Connection So Important?

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This morning Pastor Ed Allen continued his sermon series "Why Church?" by focusing on why Connection is so important, looking at Ephesians 2:13-22.

[First, he did a commercial for an effort we'll be doing this year called "Deeper Higher."  We will be reading through the New Testament together, using a one-page daily devotional along with it.]

Last week, we learned that our character is a community project.  We are concentrating on building connections.

Why is connection so important?  We read Ephesians 2:13-22

Don't Miss This Principle #1:

Our connection to one another is a central part of God's purpose through Christ.

The central idea of Ephesians is unity, connection, community.  We need to be reminded of our need for connection and our calling to connection.

Notice what Paul asserts here:

Bringing unity to relationships is part of what God did through the cross.

This has always been God's purpose -- the cross was the high point.

In Jesus' prayer before his death, given in John 17, Jesus prays for us.  What does he pray for?  For unity.  "That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you."

The most important issue to Jesus was that we would be one.

Don't Miss This Principle #2:

Our connection to one another is fundamental to who we are.

See verses 19-22.  Together, WE are God's temple.

You don't have Christianity if you don't have WE.

We're like an atom -- not like a lone electron spinning around Jesus.

Connection is fundamental to who we are -- especially as followers of Christ.

I'm in Christ.  Because of that, I'm in community.

What if God's main purpose in having me in NoVa isn't my job or home -- but my connections?

Church isn't a building.  It's a network of connections between people who love and follow Christ.

We all have a church.  (Your family is the most important part of your church.)  Is it a God-honoring one?

Because of this, we plead with you:  Step in!

Let Gateway Community Church feel the whole weight of you.  Even your weirdness or hardness or faults.

We're becoming a dwelling in which God lives.  When we get together, God's Spirit is here.