We are served ALL THE TIME in our culture. We are some of the most over-served people on the planet.
For example, where would you experience something like this? You walk into a certain restaurant, and you’re immediately treated like a rockstar.
“How can I serve you today?”
You order a chicken sandwich and waffle fries, and when you say thank you, the person behind the counter responds by saying, “My pleasure!”
And then as you’re eating, you are approached 2-3 times by restaurant employees, just to see if you need anything.
“Can I refill that sweet tea for you?”
Somebody tell me where you are. You’re at Chick-fil-A! This company is built on the foundation of going above and beyond to serve their customers.
And I see a lot of other companies doing the same thing. For example, I don’t know what has happened with the employee training at Kroger, but now I can’t walk through the store without at least 2-3 employees saying, “Are you finding everything you need? Is there anything I can do to help you? Have a great day!”
More and more companies are going above and beyond to serve their customers. And don’t get me wrong…I think it’s awesome. It’s a nice change of pace from some other store that will remain nameless…a store that never has what I need and is filled with employees that act like they’re annoyed because I walked in. I love companies that put a strong emphasis on customer service.
But if we’re not careful, it can have a backlash effect in our lives. Think about it…in our culture today, we are served everywhere we go, everyday of our lives. It’s becoming so common that we can start feeling like we’re entitled to it.
I am served when I go grocery shopping. I am served when I go to eat some Christian chicken. I am served everywhere I go everyday of my life, and it’s pretty easy to start thinking, “People everywhere serve me, because dang it, that’s what they SHOULD do! I deserve to be served!”
But today as our series called This Is How We Roll continues on, we’re going to flip this around.
In this series, we’re listening as God tells us who He has called us to be and what He has called us to do as people and as a church that follows Jesus. In this series, God is telling us, “This is how My people roll.”
And today in week #8 of this series, God is going to show us that His people serve. That’s how we roll as Christ-followers. We serve.
Today might be uncomfortable for some of us, and that’s a good thing. Because some of us look at the church just like we look at Chick-fil-A. We come EXPECTING to be served.
And we are. You are served every Sunday. If you are sitting in this room right now, you are being served.
The people who set all this gear up served you. When our setup team arrives, this room is completely empty. And believe it or not, this stuff doesn’t appear by magic. It’s here because someone served you.
There are people who are serving you right now because they are caring for your kids. You are being served by our media technicians in the back of this room. You are being served by our security team that makes sure all our environments are safe. You were served by our Connect Team who gave you a warm greeting and made you feel welcome. You were served by our band, who put in hours and hours of work this week so they could lead us all in worship today. You are being served by everyone who is generous to our church. Their tithes and offerings are the only way we can pay the rent to even be in this place today.
You are being served right now. But here’s what we’re all going to realize today. This isn’t Chick-fil-A. This is church! And God has called His people in His church to live differently.
A lot of people come into the church with the mentality of “serve us.” And I want you to hear me…if you’re checking out our church for the first time, or maybe you’ve only been here a few Sundays, I want you to know how excited we are that you’re here. And we absolutely want to serve you. When you go home today, I hope you feel like our church put Chick-fil-A to shame. I hope you leave with something better than a chicken sandwich, and I hope you walk out feeling like we served you very, very well.
But the problem comes into play when we stay there. We’ve been coming to a church for 6 months, maybe a year, maybe a lot longer than that…and yet we still come expecting to be served every week.
In our walk with Jesus, we have to progress from “serve us” to “service.” If that shift never happens, we’ll never experience the life that God wants for us. We’ll never understand what it really means to follow Jesus. Our faith will get stagnant and boring, and it may even wither away. Sitting in a room for an hour on Sundays and expecting to be served is not what Jesus had in mind when He started His church.
Let me prove it to you. We’re going to look at a conversation between Jesus and His disciples in Mark 9. It’s only a few verses long, but this short interaction between Jesus and His followers tells us so much about what it means to follow Jesus.
In Mark 9, starting in verse 33, here’s what Mark wrote. “They came to Capernaum. When [Jesus] was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.” (Mark 9:33-34, NIV)
Can’t you just picture this in your mind? Jesus calls His disciples together and asks them, “What were you arguing about?”
And His question is met with silence. You could have heard a pin drop. Nothing but crickets, because the disciples all knew they were about to get busted.
Parents, does that ever happen in your house? It definitely happens in mine!
We have two boys, which means that I break up a fight everyday. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. When you have one child, you’re a parent. When you have more than one child, you’re a referee.
And it goes the same way almost every time. I walk in to break up the fight. I ask what’s going on. What’s the fight about? Who started it?
Silence. Stone cold silence. It’s amazing that fights happen in my house almost everyday, and nobody starts them! It’s nobody’s fault! We don’t know what happened! I still haven’t figured out how that works.
But that’s exactly what’s going on with Jesus and His disciples. The disciples knew they were busted, because they knew their argument was really stupid. They were arguing about which one of them was the greatest. And while they didn’t really understand everything about Jesus at this point, they knew enough to realize that He wasn’t going to be happy with this kind of argument. So they just didn’t tell Him what the argument was about. But they overlooked one little detail…He’s Jesus! He already knew what was going on.
So here’s what happened next. “Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35, NIV)
The disciples were arguing about who was the greatest. Who was first. Who deserved to be served.
But Jesus flipped it upside down and said, “If you want to be first, you’ve got to be last. Instead of looking to be served, you have to become a servant. Instead of “serve us,” you’ve got to shift to “service.”
That’s why one of our core values here at Connect is saved people serve people. Christ-followers serve. That’s just how we roll. We serve. Saved people serve people.
All you Bengals fans know that the Bengals play the Patriots tonight. I’m kind of a Bengals fan. I’ve lived in the Cincinnati area for most of my life, so I’ve always followed the Bengals. But I also lived near Indianapolis for a while. And the year that I moved to Indy, the Bengals won 2 games that year, and I think half of them were in jail…so migrating to the Colts was not that difficult. But now, it seems like the Colts are the ones going to jail and the Bengals are the model franchise. I know some people say that I can’t do this, but my loyalties really are divided between the Bengals and the Colts.
But there is one thing that is not divided…my absolute hatred for the Patriots. “But you’re a pastor. You’re not supposed to hate anybody.” I hate that Patriots!
If you’re a Patriots fan, I didn’t say I hate you. In fact, we’ll be offering an invitation at the end of the service. We’d love to introduce you to Jesus, because you really need Him!
When you’re watching an NFL game, even if you don’t know anything about football at all, it’s easy to differentiate the two teams. All you have to do is look at their uniforms. It’s not going to be hard to tell the difference between the Bengals and the Patriots tonight. The uniforms tell you who’s who.
And beyond that, it’s not hard to look into the stands and see which fans are cheering for which team, because all the fans will be wearing the colors of their team.
A lot of people seem to take that same approach when it comes to following Jesus. How do we tell people that we are on Team Jesus?
Well, you go to a Christian bookstore and you buy a fish to put on your car. (Or if you’re like the person who drives this van, you buy 25 fish and put them on your car.) And if you’re really hardcore, you’ll get a Jesus fish eating a smaller Darwin fish. That’s real devotion right there. You’re not just on Team Jesus. You’re in the starting lineup.
And then you have to buy a cheesy Christian t-shirt. Here are some awesome examples for you. You’ve got to have a closet full of those kinds of shirts. That tells everyone that you’re Team Jesus.
Look, I’m not saying any of these things are bad. (Well, actually, I am. These shirts are pretty bad.) But they are not the uniform that we wear to announce to the world that we are on Team Jesus. This stuff isn’t what differentiates us as Christ-followers. And it’s not what’s going to attract other people to Jesus through us.
Here’s how Jesus said that people would know that we are on His team. In John 13, Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35, NIV)
He said that people will know that we are His disciples by our love. Not by our bumper stickers or our t-shirts. Not by our political parties and opinions. Not by our picket signs and pamphlets. Not by our judgment and condemnation. Not by our posts and tweets on social media. Not by so many things that Christians use to define themselves today.
Jesus said that people would know that we are His disciples by our love. But look a little closer. He said that people would know we are His disciples if we reflect His kind of love.
He said, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
It’s important to know the context of this statement. Jesus had just washed His disciples’ feet.
Here’s how John describes it for us. Go back to verse 1. “It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.
The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.
After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” (John 13:1-5, NIV 1984)
I can’t even imagine how stunned the disciples were when Jesus washed their feet. This was a common social custom in the first century. Guests would arrive at a home and their feet were dirty. Walking was the mode of transportation. Sandals were the shoes that were worn. And so walking through the filthy streets, with all the dust and trash and animal manure, would make your feet filthy.
So when a guest arrived, they would have their feet washed. But it was always a job reserved for a servant or a slave. It was not a job for someone with any prominence or position. It definitely wasn’t a job for someone like Jesus.
John even says that Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power. Jesus knew who He was. He was secure in His authority. And yet He set an incredible example of service.
And then, John tells us this. Go to verse 12. “When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.
Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” (John 13:12-15, NIV 1984)
Now that we know the context…now that we know what was happening in this scene…go back to what Jesus said in verses 34-35 again.
Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35, NIV)
Jesus loved His disciples by washing their feet. He loved them by serving them. And then He told us to follow His example. He said that everyone will know that we are His disciples by this kind of serving love.
That’s why saved people serve people. It’s because saved people want the world to know about Jesus, and Jesus said that our greatest witness happens when we serve. We are never more like Jesus than when we serve.
And that’s why we embrace this truth at Connect. Partners are servants. If you’ve been here for any of this series, you know that we’re moving away from church membership and toward the more biblical idea of church partnership here at Connect. At the end of this series, we’ll all have the opportunity to sign on and say, “Yes! I want to partner with Connect on our vision and mission!”
This is an integral piece of our partnership. Partners are servants. Saved people serve people, which means that our partners here at Connect are servants.
We have so many people who serve week in and week out here at Connect. They are the lifeblood of our church.
You want to know who Connect is? Don’t look at me. I may be the guy who stands on this platform every week, but don’t look at me and think that I’m Connect.
If you want to see who Connect really is, walk over to the nursery and you’ll see servants rocking babies and changing diapers. Go to the rooms behind me and you’ll see servants teaching kids about Jesus. That’s who Connect is.
Hang around after church and you’ll see a group of servants busting out a sweat as they tear down all our gear. That’s who Connect is.
Go to our Amelia building tonight and you’ll see servants hanging out with students and sharing their lives with them. That’s who Connect is.
Go to the houses of some of our partners this week, and you’ll see servants editing videos, working on our finances, printing bulletins, etc. You’ll see servants visiting people, sending cards, making phone calls, and delivering meals. That’s who Connect is.
That’s our church. Don’t you dare look at me and think that I’m what Connect is all about. The lifeblood of our church is our servants.
If you serve in any way here at Connect, you ARE Connect. You are our church. And I love and appreciate you more than you know. And I am humbled and honored to be your pastor. I’m humbled to be part of leading a church who really owns the truth that saved people serve people.
And I’m really excited about what’s going to happen today. All the directors of our volunteer teams are going to be hanging out at a table after church, and you’ll have an opportunity to sign on to start serving. If you’ve been wondering how to get more involved here at Connect, today is your day. There are a ton of immediate serving opportunities that are available. If you aren’t serving here at Connect yet, you can change that today. Saved people serve people. You can get in the game today.
I asked our team directors to give me some of their immediate needs. A growing church is always going to have a need for people to step up and serve. Connect is growing, and we need more servants.
So here’s what our directors told me.
Tish is the director for Connect Kids, and she told me that we have several openings for both adults and teens. We need both adults and teens who will serve in our nursery and our toddler room. We need adults who will serve in our elementary teaching room, and we need teens who will serve as media techs in our kids worship room.
“Wow, that’s a lot of needs.” It’s because we have a lot of kids! I did some research this week. Do you realize when you look at the percentage of our weekly attendance that is made up of kids 5th grade and under, we’re almost in the top 10% of churches in the nation! And we LOVE that! Kids matter to God, and they matter to us. And we say they matter to us when we’re willing to serve them. So how about it? Tish is going to be at the table in the foyer after church. Stop by and tell her that you’re in.
Jay and Melissa are the directors of our Care Team. This is the newest team here at Connect, and it’s one that I’m really excited about. Our Care Team does just that…they care for our church family. They send cards, make calls, visit, and make meals for people who need a helping hand. They are also laser-focused on praying with and for the people of our church.
If you want to love people in a way that really matters, Melissa is going to be at the table after church. You need to stop by and sign on for this team.
Nicki is the director of our Connect Team. You know them…they are the green shirt army that greets you every Sunday. They are the ones that meet you in the parking lot, hold the door for you, get your kids checked in, hand you a bulletin, and just go above and beyond to make you feel welcome. They are the first impression that people have of our church. Studies show that when people visit a church, they make up their mind within the first 7 minutes whether or not they are going to come back. And that 7 minute clock starts in the parking lot. So by the time the band gets on stage…and definitely by the time I get up to preach…the decision has usually already been made. Our Connect Team preaches the sermon that helps people decide whether they’ll be back or not. It’s that important. And if you’re a smiling, fun person who loves your church, you need to be on this team. We need a few more people who can meet our first-time guests. We have an opening for the check-in computer for our kids. Nicki is going to be at the table after church. Stop by and tell her that you’re in.
Lucas is the director of our security team. This team is vital to our church, especially as a portable church that meets in a very public place like a hotel. They are responsible for keeping all our environments safe and distraction-free. Parents, tell me how much better you feel knowing that this team is watching over things in Connect Kids. It lets you come into the worship center, ready to worship. Ready to focus. Ready to listen to what God has to say to you, because you know your kids are safe. This team makes that happen. Lucas told me that we have some immediate needs on our security team. If you love your church and you can serve us by watching over things and keeping our environments secure, stop by and talk to Lucas at the table in the foyer after church. This team is crucial, and you need to stop by and tell him that you’re in.
James is the director of our setup team. This team is responsible for the setup and teardown of all our gear each week. And as a portable church, it’s really simple…we don’t have church if this team doesn’t make it happen. Like I said earlier, this stuff doesn’t just magically appear every week.
Our setup team is one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen. Our church is set up and ready to go, usually in 2-2 ½ hours. And it is all torn down and put away in just over an hour. But we need people to continue to make it happen. Our setup team is broken down into 4 individual teams. You serve one month, and then you’re off for 3. You serve 4 months out of the year. That is very doable, and it’s absolutely critical. Stop by to tell James that you’re ready to jump onboard this team that makes Connect a reality every single week. And if you have a truck that is capable of towing our trailers, let him know that, too. We currently store our stuff here at the hotel, but as we look for our next location, we may have to haul it in our trailers. That makes truckers essential. Stop by and talk to James after church today.
Brian leads our worship team. You know Brian because he’s on our stage every week. He’s on our staff as our Worship and Teaching Pastor. Brian told me that his greatest needs right now are on the media side of things. We have immediate opportunities for a computer tech to run the song slides and the sermon slides in our services. These awesome HD screens don’t run themselves. We need some more people to serve our church by running this media.
We also have an opening for a couple of camera techs. They are responsible for videoing the sermon each week.
We have an opening for a soundboard tech. If you have an ear for music and are willing to learn our board, talk with Brian afterward.
And one of our biggest needs is more people who are willing to edit and upload sermon videos each week. Our sermon videos are viewed by people all over the globe. It never ceases to amaze me how our videos are viewed all around the world, even in countries where Christianity is illegal. Through technology, we’re still pumping the gospel into those countries. But if we don’t have servants who edit and upload those videos, we lose that opportunity.
All of these are critically important roles. Stop by and talk to Brian afterward. Tell him where you want to jump in.
All our directors are going to be available after church today. Stop by and talk with them about how you can be part of these teams that help make Connect what it is. (And by the way, I didn’t even mention our Connect Students team. We have an amazing ministry to Jr./Sr. High students, and Dan does an amazing job as the director of that team. But we are fully staffed on that team right now, which is awesome.)
Now, for the last 10 minutes, I’ve just told you about all kinds of ways that you can start serving here at Connect. Am I up here, pleading poverty? Am I up here begging for volunteers, because we’re going to close up shop if you don’t sign up? Nope. I’m up here telling you that saved people serve people. I’m up here telling you that growing churches will always need more servants. I’m up here telling you that you can make a difference. That you can serve in ways that really matter. That God can use you to help our church reach more and more and more people for Jesus. That’s what I’m telling you.
I haven’t even mentioned the ways we serve our community. Like the way we serve hundreds of kids and families through Sports Camp every year. I haven’t even mentioned how we’re going to serve our community before Thanksgiving this year through the Christian Help Center in Batavia. We’re going to be part of distributing a ton of Thanksgiving dinners on Sunday, November 23…all because of this simple truth: saved people serve people.
That’s how we roll here at Connect. We serve. We serve because Jesus has served us so well.
In Philippians 2, Paul reminds us, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:3-8, NIV)
Jesus became our servant. Even though He was God, He sacrificed His life for ours. That’s why we serve. It’s not to earn God’s favor or to deserve God’s forgiveness. We have God’s favor and God’s forgiveness because Jesus died for us. Period.
The reason we serve is out of joy and gratitude for what Jesus has done for us. As with everything else in our church and in our lives, it’s all about Jesus.