This sermon was delivered to to congregation at Trinity United Methodist Church in Youngstown, Ohio on January 16, 2000. It is based upon Old Testament scripture from Jeremiah 31:17 and 31-34 and New Testament scripture from Revelations 22:12-13.
Every month I receive several trade magazines. The December, 1999 issue of one of them featured interviews with a number of people with diversified backgrounds. They were asked to look into the new century before us…particularly the first ten years. Here are four of them:
Commenting about work and the family, Dr. John Gray, author of “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus and Children Are From Heaven” commented, “Communications technology and flexible work times will became more common. They will tend to keep the bonds of the family together. Women’s’ earning power will dramatically increase thereby creating new challenges for relationships, and more time for working parents to spend with their families. Internet school assignments will be available to students going on vacation so families can take vacations that do not necessarily correspond with regular school vacation times.”
Concerning travel, Buzz Aldrin, astronaut, moon walker, fighter pilot, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and holder of a Doctorate from M.I.T had this to say, “There is a great desire for civilian space travel. The Internet and the usual earthly travel experiences will not suffice for some. I think it will be a minimum of at least 12 years before we see any space travel of that nature, and that depends on our abilities to educate the people about it. It could be 30 to 40 years before it happens. First, there will be will day orbits, with people joining up into orbit around the earth and coming back down the same day. Then, there will be people who will want to stay in space a while, so there will be orbiting hotels in space as well. That conceivably happen within the next 10 to 15 years.”
J. W. Marriott, Chairman and CEO of Marriott Hotels International commented, “Hotel design will continue to evolve toward maximizing function-ability while incorporating several exciting ideas, designs and decors that are emerging from regions a around the world. We will see the addition of technology that will contribute to more productive business and leisure experiences.”
Concerning the weather…Al Roker, weather caster and feature reporter for NBC’s Today Show commented, “If the past few seasons are any indication, weather systems and their accompanying storms may become increasingly more severe. Periods of drought, flooding and severe weather have become more numerous in the last ten years, and that will probably continue into the next decade.”
Well, so much for those diverse prognostications that could affect our worldly lives, but what will be the future of our spiritual lives in the first ten ears of the new century that stretches out before us. Before we gaze into the future, let’s take a look at the present condition of our Trinity congregation.
All across America there is a growing disinterest in what is happening in most of the main line denominations. Young people, young adults, young families, mid-lifers and seniors are not too concerned about the church beyond their local congregations. Many will, or have changed their denominational commitment if their spiritual needs are not being met. Over 2 million members of the United Methodist Church have done that in the last 20 years. It is interesting to note here that Trinity is the only church of the 56 Methodist churches in the Youngstown District that has had a net gain in membership each year for the past six years. I would venture to say that Trinity is probably one of the few churches in the East Ohio Conference to increase membership each year for the last six years.
So, how should we as a congregation respond to this? Our voices must be heard loud and clear that we intend to work to strengthen the gospel message here in Trinity, our local church. By our actions and activity we demonstrate our willingness to work with our Pastor, Dr. Kline to reach out into our congregation and to others with the gospel message…right here…right now as a strong metropolitan church.
Dr. Kline presented his thoughts concerning this at our charge conference in November of last year. As our pastoral leader, he is hoping that in the year 2000 Trinity’s congregation will decide to make the transition from certain committees to “Ministry Teams.” By doing this we should see a dramatic increase in the number of people participating in the “hands on” ministry here at Trinity. In the weeks ahead Dr. Kline will share with us his vision for a number of ministry teams. There are numerous areas of interest. We will be asked to review the various ministry teams and prayerfully consider the ones in which we wish to participate. Let me share some of his thoughts for ministry teams with you.
Here Dad’s manuscript contains only bullet points. Dad spoke extemporaneously about the various Ministry Teams being conceived for Trinity Church at the time. The AUDIO FILE of this sermon contains his exact words.
The Ministry Teams Dad spoke about include:
- NURSERY CHILD CARE (AGES UP TO 24 MONTHS)
- TODDLER ROOM CARE (AGES 24-36 MONTHS)
- TOTAL SUNDAY SCHOOL PROGRAM GROWTH
- CHILDREN’S SUMMER SUNDAY SCHOOL
- VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL
FOR YOUTH – with adult advisors, enablers and helpers:
- YOUTH LEADER’S TEAM
- CONFIRMATION TEAM
- YOUTH SUNDAY SCHOOL
- YOUTH PRAYER TEAM
- VOLLEYBALL TEAM
- ADVENT CELEBRATION
- COLLEGE OF CHRISTIAN LEARNING
- CHURCH PICNIC PROGRAM
- FAMILY RETREATS
- CHANCEL CHOIR
- YOUTH CHOIR
- SPECIAL MUSIC VOCALS
- SPECIAL MUSIC INSTRUMENTAL
- “CONTAGIOUS CHRISTIANS”
- PRAYER CHAIN
- PRAYER VIGILS
- HEALING SERVICE
- ADULT SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASSES
- SMALL GROUP LEADERS
- “SOUL CARE” TEAM
- “FISHER PERSONS” – Spreadng the Gospel
- CHURCH CONNECTION TEAM
- VISITATION ON FIRST TIMERS
- VISITATION HOSPITALIZED
- HABITAT FOR HUMANITY
- UNITED METHODIST COMMUNITY CENTER – VOLUNTEERS
- WORK MISSION TEAM
- NEIGHBORHOOD BIBLE STUDY- IN HOMES
- HIV AIDS SUPPORT MINISTRY TEAM
SUPPORT SERVICES (PEOPLE):
- ALCOHOLIC’S ANONYMOUS
- OVEREATER’S ANONYMOUS
- UNITED METHODIST WOMEN
- UNITED METHODIST MEN
- THE CHURCH
SUPPORT SERVICES (CHURCH):
- OFFICE MAILING HELPERS – to process, stuff, sort and postage
- OFFICE HELPERS – general filing, copying and typing
- PHOTOGRAPHY TEAM
- COMMUNICATION TEAM
- BABY SITTING TEAM
- ADMINISTRATIVE BOARD
- COORDINATING COMMITTEE
- FINANCE COMMITTEE
- NOMINATING COMMITTEE
- PERMANENT ENDOWMENT COMMITTEE
- PASTOR-PARISH RELATIONS COMMITTEE
When we joined The United Methodist Church we were asked, “Will you be loyal to The United Methodist Church and uphold it with your prayers, your presence, your gifts and your service?” And, you answered, “I will.” Consider what that means.
“I WILL UPHOLD THE CHURCH WITH MY PRAYERS…”
From the very beginning earnest followers of Jesus Christ experienced, and bore witness to the power of prayer. The disciples and others who were committed followers of Jesus continued in steadfast prayer and supplication. Like all the saints before us – those who let the light, love, and the power of God radiate from them, we must strive to continually acknowledge our dependence upon God. We must always be mindful that this church – Trinity Church as “The children of God” must bear witness to our relationship with God…our Creator, our Heavenly Father, and in doing so become instruments of His peace and power. Keep this in mind.
A praying church is a strong church. When we pray for ourselves and our families, when we pray for each other, when we pray for our pastor, his wife and family, when we pray for all the work committed to our church -God’s church…then and only then, does Trinity become a vital and effective part of the total Church of Christ. Upholding Trinity church by prayer is something everyone can do. Circumstances may prohibit some of our members from total participation in our activities, but everyone, from the youngest toddler to those of us who are senior in age, can uphold this dear church with our prayers.
“I WILL UPHOLD THE CHURCH WITH MY PRESENCE…”
This vow calls for dedication of all three areas of our being…body, mind and spirit. By being present at the services in God’s Church we strengthen our own individual relationships with God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit in us. By being present in this church, God’s Church, we extend this life-transforming influence into the lives of others who attend services here. I should mention here that there is an experience that we feel when this sanctuary is comfortably filled which simply does not occur when it is only partially filled. There is a lift to the soul when we are a part of a congregation filling this church, joining in the singing of hymns, listening to the Scriptures being read and the offering of unison and pastoral prayers. It’s a feeling we do not experience in a half filled sanctuary, in a small group or alone. In addition, it’s a fact that a preacher preaches with more emphasis and gusto when the sanctuary is full.
“I WILL UPHOLD THE CHURCH WITH MY GIFTS…”
Having come through a three-year capital funds campaign and having a continuing sizable budget raised every year, we can readily appreciate why we should nurture our lives through prayer and participation in worship services, and keep our ministry here in downtown Youngstown vital and real. We know that this takes our financial support and demands our particular continuing attention at all times. The Apostle Paul considered that effective, responsible stewardship is the individual and congregational way of acknowledging our partnership and indebtedness to God for His generous spiritual gift given in Jesus Christ.
When we acknowledge that God is the sovereign owner of all things, including our lives…When we give real evidence of our gratitude to God for His immeasurable gift of salvation in Jesus Christ…When we present an actual part of ourselves in the form our financial support of His Church both here and around the world, we are responding to God’s love as we experience it from day to day…then we are upholding this church by our financial giving…we are investing in the total ministry of His Church.
“I WILL UPHOLD THE CHURCH WITH MY SERVICE…”
The most distinctive mark of the early followers of “The Way” which would later become “The Christian Church” was their eagerness to be of Christ-like service to others. They had heard Jesus say, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”. They had learned from Jesus that, “Whosoever seeks to save his life shall lose it, but whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.” What does this mean? Well, we all have our individual crosses to bear in our daily lives. When we dwell on them excessively we become almost to a point of paralyzation. But, when our minds are focused on the workings of this, or any other church, our crosses seem easier to bear. Paul said it well in his letter to the Corinthian church. He wrote, “There are different ways of serving, but it is the same Lord who is being served. There are different abilities to perform service, but it is the same God who imparts those abilities to us…” Then Paul goes on to list some of the needs of the church. A few minutes ago you heard me go down Dr. Kline’ s “Vision List” . There are numerous ways to serve Trinity in that list.
When we uphold the church by our service, we are upholding our very Lord who said, “In as much as you did it unto the least of these my brethren you did it unto me.” God is asking us today as He did in the days of the Prophet Isaiah, “Whom shall I send, and who will
go for us?” And He expects us to respond, “Here I am Lord. Send me.”
Dr. Kline wrote this in his pastoral report at our charge conference last November. Commenting on his vision for Trinity for the year 2000 and beyond, he wrote, “Our goal and ministry is to study, share and serve. Our role as a congregation can be summed up in the words of St. Paul. ‘Each has his/her own special gift from God. One of one kind and one of another.’ Our concern is for our people within the walls of Trinity Church as well as those outside her walls.” In our service to all of God’s children whom God dearly loves, we find ourselves in the mission of our church. The church is most assuredly the means of God’s salvation to the world and we are His instruments of service…just as we are, with warts and all, with our own special talents big or small. It is a cause and purpose for which we must organize now and in the years to come in the 21st Century.
Let us bow in thoughtful prayer…
Father, as we approach this new year 2000, and the years that come after, grant that by all of us praying together, giving together and serving together we will build Your Church, this church to Your Service. Grant that by using the gifts and graces you have given each one of us we will truly be a church filled with Your Holy Spiritual Power, able to minister to ourselves and to others in so many ways.
In Jesus name we thankfully pray.