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Proclaim for the Health of the Church (In)

Sermon Series:


Ryan Kimmel
Ryan Kimmel

Lead Pastor

Peace Church

Main Passage:
Colossians 1:3-8


Today is the day that the Lord has made. So let us rejoice and be glad in it. And everyone said, amen. Amen and amen.

Church, as we go through this Proclaim campaign today, we are talking about a topic that is extremely important to me, and that is the health of the church. On the one hand, I'll be honest with you, I don't care how big we get, I don't care how small we grow, I don't care how quote on quote successful we are as a church for whatever that actually means. What I care about is that as a church we are healthy. And I'll just say to you, there's no way I'd be leading our church through a multi-million dollar campaign if I didn't think we were healthy enough to do this. Now listen to me clearly, church, do not confuse health with perfection. If you wait until things are perfect before you move forward, I'm telling you, you'll never move forward. Are we healthy? I do believe so. Are we perfect? Nope. We got a lot of room to grow in many areas. In many areas, we can become more like Jesus, but I won't consider us perfect. One of the best? Yeah. Perfect? No. We're learning as we grow and we are ever becoming more like Jesus. And this Proclaim campaign is many things, but it's at least in part helping us to be even more healthy as a church.

And so as we talk about health, I thought I'd start on a lighter mood to get us in the mood about talking about health. And so what I want to do is take a moment and look at some sort of fun, kind of weird health facts, just to kind of set the tone. Did you know that more germs are transferred from shaking hands than from kissing? So gentlemen, when I shake your hand this morning, me and you swapping more germs than when you kiss your wife goodnight. Did you know that over a full lifetime, a person can shed nearly 50 pounds of skin? Did you know that following that, that 50 to 75% of the dust in your home is actually dead skin. So first service, I think some people actually threw up. They were like, ew, gross. Second service was like, no, that's interesting. You guys are a little in the middle. I'll be honest, that's completely disgusting. One last, one last thing. Did you know that your ears never stop growing? And I think that's because the Lord is reminding us to never stop listening and never stop learning. Amen. Well, there you go. Some sort of fun, kind of weird health facts as we talk about the health of the church today.

And today we do mark the start of a spiritual journey that we're going to continue through as we journey through Colossians chapter 1. So if you have your Bibles, please be bringing your Bibles, please be opening your Bibles. Do that now to Colossians chapter one that's on page 1251. If you do want to use the Bibles that we have provided as you're turning there, quick recap, the book of Colossians in the Bible, we say it's a book. It's actually a letter. It's a letter that the apostle Paul wrote from prison and he church in a town called Colossae or Colossae. That town is located in what is now modern day Turkey. Now the people who lived in Colossae were called Colossians and that's who Paul is writing to. He's writing to this Christian church made up of Colossians.

And so for those of you who like history and context, here's what's going on. This church was mostly Gentile, meaning they were not Jews. They did not come from a Jewish background, meaning this church did not come from a background of learning the Old Testament. They didn't know the Old Testament Bible stories, so they were starting completely fresh with this Christianity thing. They didn't know the stories of the Old Testament to build off of. This was completely fresh for them, which means in a number of ways they were even more susceptible for fault to false teachings because they didn't have the foundation of the Old Testament. If you know me as a preacher, I'd rather preach out of the Old Testament. I'm an Old Testament preacher. I love the Old Testament. Now they needed what they needed, what this church needed because they didn't have that foundation. They needed clarity of doctrine and they needed direction on how to live out this Christian ethic. And that's part of why Paul writes It's Colossians. And so when you read Colossians, bear that weight of the context as you go through it.

Last week, we looked at verses one and two. If you weren't here, I encourage you to go back and hear about those two important first verses. But today, as we continue journeying through Colossians chapter one, we're going to focus on verses three to eight today. And so with your Bibles open to Colossians 1:3-8, would you hear God's word? Colossians chapter one, verses three to eight. Would you hear God's word?

Colossians 1:3-8

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

Amen, this is God's Word. Let's pray and we'll continue. Let's pray Father God we come before you on this day and we know that you are doing something amazing in our midst and we are thankful Father we want to confess with one voice proclaim is not about what we are doing It's about what you are doing through us you get the glory and so father we ask that by the power and the presence of your Holy Spirit that you would keep this church healthy Firstly father for your glory. But also for our joy and that by the health of this church, it would produce more good for our neighbor And Lord we pray these things in the power of the Holy Spirit in the presence in his perfection that he's calling us to We pray these things in Jesus name in his name we pray and everyone said amen.

So church if you haven't yet in the devotional packets that that's a gift to you. Would you please turn to page 5 and that you'll see the outline? I encourage you to take notes on today's message fill in the outlines that will help you as you do your devotional packets Throughout the week so Colossians chapter 1 page 5 in your devotions. Let's get going. Today, the title of our sermon is, we are to proclaim for the health of the church. There's many reasons and many good things that we do when we proclaim the gospel, we proclaim God's truth, but today we're talking about, we proclaim for the health of the church. And as we look at verses three to eight today, here's your main point. We won't be effective in our mission if our church isn't healthy.

We won't be effective in our mission if our church isn't healthy.

And listen, listen, listen, church, I know you want this church to be healthy. So do I. I'm here to tell you, I believe we are a healthy church. Not perfect. Yes, we got room to grow. But I think we're largely a healthy church. We glorify God. We seek to preach the Bible, we're baptizing people, families are getting discipled, people are getting connected, our membership is growing, we're multiplying as a church. Our first campus over in Wayland, week five, doing phenomenal. Financially as a church, we are ahead of the game, we're healthy financially, and that's because we have such a faithful and generous church. God is leading and guiding us and he's blessing us and we stand thankful to him. But let's dive into what this means.

There are many things we could say about what it means to be a healthy church. But if we just focus on our verses 3 to 8 today, we're going to pick up some important themes. So as we walk through this text together, here is what we're going to be looking at as we talk about to be a healthy church.

To be a healthy church means:

1. Before we pray for the world, we must pray for each other.

2. Before we love the world, we must love each other.

3. Before we share the gospel, we must adhere to the gospel.

1. Before we pray for the world, we must pray for each other

So let's get into it. Number one, look at verse three. Paul writes and he says, we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you. So number one, before we pray for the world, we must pray for each other. I know for many people immediately that's going to sound very self-serving, if not fully selfish. But here's the context. Remember the context here. Let me put it this way. How good is a man who takes care of his neighbor but won't take care of his own family. See, the Christian faith is a family. And the fact that the Bible, the fact that God has revealed family language to talk about the Christian faith, that should mean something. God is our father. Other Christians are brothers and sisters in Christ, we have every opportunity, let us do good to everyone and especially to those who are of the household of faith, the household of faith.

Now, I know this may sound weird coming from a pastor of a fairly large church, but I want you to hear me clearly. Church should feel like a family Because we are a family We're the household of faith And if we don't have the heart to take care of each other, how can we say we are a family and I dare say that the integrity of the testimony of the gospel that we profess rings hollow if People don't see us taking care of one another loving one another praying for one another. Look back to our verse, verse three. It says, we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you. And the words when we pray for you has the implication that this is an ongoing thing. And so church, there is no change without challenge. And so let me lay down a challenge for you here. And let me just say real quick, this challenge is for the Christians in the house. If you're not a Christian and you're joining us, number one, bless you. I'm so thankful that you're here.

This is for the Christians in the house. Is prayer such a regular part of your life that when people ask you, what have you been up to? You can honestly say with one of your first responses is, well, praying actually.

Because that's kind of what we see Paul here. He leads off with talking about how much they pray for the Colossian church. Or let's put it this way. Let's say you're sending someone a text in the church. Could you honestly start by saying, hey, I've been praying for you. We need to be praying. We need to be a praying church and we need to be praying for each other. I've never met a Christian who shouldn't be praying more than what they do. That's not to guilt you, that's to invite you into something amazing. Pray before you send that heated email or that fiery text. Pray before you cast judgment. Pray, pray, and pray. I'm telling you right now, you probably have picked up that I definitely wanna be someone walking in step with the Holy Spirit, but no one's gonna label me a hyper charismatic Christian. And I'll also tell you, I know people in this church are praying for me. In a very real spiritual sense, I can feel it. And I can't even begin to tell you how much of an encouragement that is to me. It gives me the strength to continue to do what God has called me to do.

And so we need to follow Paul's example and be praying for each other as well. So let's just do that right now. You already swapped a bunch of germs as you sat down with other people, so here's what I'm going to invite you to do. Would you grab the hand of the person next to you? The people next to you. And we're going to spend just a short, brief couple moments, and you are going to pray for the people next to you. You can do this out loud, you can do this in your heart, you can do this in your head, you can do this however you want, just for a brief couple moments, as a church, we're going to pray for one another. So go ahead and do that now. Let's pray. Go ahead. Thank you. Thank you, Lord. Let me pray these things in Jesus' name. Amen. Let's, what you just did right there, continue to do that. Less time on your phone, more time in prayer. Go ahead, I just said it. Before we pray for the world, we must pray for each other. At least the second thing. To be a healthy church, We must love each other before we love the world.

2. Before we love the world, we must love each other

We must love each other go to verse 4. Paul continues verse 4. It says since we've heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for what to say for all the Saints We talked about this last week. Remember Saints just means Christians. It means it means holy ones It means people who are being made holy by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit and the truth of God's word. The love that you have for all the saints, verse five, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven of this, you have heard before in the word of truth, the gospel. So what I love about this is that Paul acknowledges the love this church has for one another and for other Christians. And what's the defining, the defining feature of their love. It's the love they have for one another. That's what Paul commends here. They have love for each other. Listen here. They have love for their church.

On the night that Jesus was to be trade he had his last supper with his disciples and after his last supper before he was arrested tortured and crucified when he knew that was coming he was literally giving his disciples some final teaching. And I want to read to you what he says in John chapter 13: 34-35. Again, this is after the Last Supper, but right before his arrest, torture, and crucifixion. He says this, he says, a new commandment I give to you that you love one another just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another." Church, this is so important to our Lord that he makes it a commandment. You know, it doesn't say this, but I'm guessing it's because Jesus doesn't want our excuses getting in the way of our love for one another. He doesn't want our grudges or our opinions getting in the way. He's just like, nope, you are to love one another if you want to be my disciples.

Because when you think about it, what is the world to think if we come and we say how much we love them, but they don't see how much we love each other? Think about that testimony. If we come and say, hey, we're Christians, we want to love you, but then the world looks at the church and they don't see the church loving one another, how much, what are they supposed to think about the so-called love that we have? It's like this, the love that we have as a church for one another, listen here, like, that's the love that we are inviting the world to join into. That we have God's love and we love one another and we put this on display and we go to the world and we say, hey, we want you to come and join and have faith in Jesus and join the love that we have for one another. Now what if they look at us and they say, I don't see love for one another, I see a bunch of fighting and opinions being thrown around. Like what sort of testimony is that? The love that we are to have for one another is God's love that's selfless as we give our love to one another. Now Paul acknowledges, and I love this, he says, Paul acknowledges that the Colossians, yo, they are doing it right. They love one another and they're showing it.

But listen, listen to their motivation. Because I think this is so key for us. Listen to their motivation. It's not because they are such wonderful and lovable people. They had their problems just like anyone else did. But look at verses 4 and 5. He says, since we've heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the saints because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of this you have heard before in the word of truth, what's the word there? The gospel. Our motivation is this common hope that we have, that we share in our faith in the gospel. Church, church, would you, this is going to be awkward, but look around. I want you to look around for a minute. Look at the other people in the room here. If you are a confessing Christian, these are the people you'll be spending an eternity with in heaven. You best start learning to like them now. Best start learning to love them now. This is kind of a trial run, practice run for heaven. Before we love the world, which we most certainly should do, before we love the world, we must love each other. And with the gospel being our motivating factor, this leads to the final point.

3. Before we share the gospel, we must adhere to the gospel

So let's finish our passage. Let's go verse by verse. Let's take it real quick. The gospel, verse six, which has come to you and is indeed in the whole world, it is bearing fruit and increasing." Real quick, let's make note of this. This is not just an American thing. This is not an American thing. This is a worldwide thing. We talk about the church being unified, but did you know that the gospel is the thing that can unite the world? And if we want to see the world united by the gospel, then that better start here in the local church, that we are united by the gospel, that it's our motivation, it's our focus. Verse six continues, in the world, the gospel is bearing fruit and increasing as it also does among you since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth. Grace, look up last week if you weren't here, talk about that word. So Christians, I'm gonna ask you a big, bold question here, right? Ready to be challenged?

Christians in the house, can you say that the gospel is bearing fruit in your life?

Or do you take some sort of self-deprecating approach and just say, yeah, well, you know what? We're all sinners. Listen to me. Stop that. We have to stop that. If we're going to tell the world that the gospel has the power to change, then we must be the living demonstration of that. Does that mean we're perfect? No, but it means that we are living demonstrations of the truth that the gospel changes hearts and lives. And we people need to see that in us. So stop saying, I'm a sinner like everyone else. No, you're not. You're a redeemed saint who's been saved by the blood of Jesus. That should mean something in your life. That should mean something when you show the world your life and your marriage and your love and the way you raise your kids. That should show something different. Not that we're better, but that we're distinct because that's what the gospel does. It sets us aside as something other. And the world needs to see that.

Before we think as a church, we can get out there to share the gospel. The gospel is something we must adhere to in here, in our own lives, just like this awesome guy, Epaphras. Look at verse 7. It goes on to say, just as you learn this from Epaphras, our beloved and fellow servant, he is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit. So this man, Epaphras, I wish we knew more about him. But here's what we do know. He was the pastor and probably the church planter of this Colossian church. He started this church and then he traveled to go meet Paul in prison and told Paul about this church that he started in Jesus' name. He taught this church in Colossae. He taught them the gospel because he was a living example of it. He demonstrated the power and the beauty of the gospel in his own changed life and now this church is a living example of it and Paul commends them for this.

I'm gonna say something that I know some that probably rub some people the wrong way and theologically I understand some of the implications here but I think you'll get what I'm saying. Before we share the gospel with others, others need to see the gospel in us. Meaning whether or not they have the language to say, oh you've been changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ, they need to see how the gospel has changed us. And the gospel won't change us if we're not adhering to it, we're not following it. Again, the gospel needs to be represented in our lives, in our marriage, how we go about our jobs, how it's bearing fruit in our lives, how it creates in us a life where love is the defining feature.

Just as it says in verse 8, it says, he's a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf. And has made known to us your love in the Spirit. So this pastor Epaphras was able to testify that the Colossian church was a clear example of the love in the Spirit. They were showing the world the gospel because they were demonstrating a love infused by God's love through the Holy Spirit. That, my friends, for however healthy of a church we are, that's an example we can live into. Before we share the gospel, we must adhere to the gospel.

And just so we're clear on this, what is the gospel? That Jesus Christ lived and died on our behalf paying the penalty for our sins on the cross and they killed him dead. And when he was placed in a tomb, he lay there for three days and on the third day he rose again from the dead. And when he resurrected from the dead that was the guarantee of not just our eternal life but how we can be reconciled with God and have a relationship with God again where sin is no longer breaking that relationship and we can have that relationship starting now when we place faith in Jesus and that's a relationship that will extend through the rest of our life and into the life eternal that's the gospel that's the power to change lives that you are no longer a wretched sinner. You are a redeemed saint that God calls into his kingdom as he adopts us again as his sons and daughters. And until that becomes the root core of our identity, man, I don't know how much the world's going to see in us. For whatever political statements we want to make, I don't know if the world's going to see the right things until the gospel is taken root in our hearts.

I'm here to tell you the gospel has the power not just to change the world, but the power to save the world.

And the gospel has the power to make any church healthy. And so as we continue through this Proclaim campaign, I want to talk about, as we have been, the health of our church.

And to do that, I want to invite up a man to have a conversation with, and his name is Hal Eisenhoff. Hal is the vice president of our Elder Board. And so, would you please welcome up your Elder, Hal.

Hal, thank you for coming up here. I know this isn't probably the first thing you'd sign up to do any day. But you're here.


We're here. It's not my first choice.


Let me ask you just a few questions about health and Proclaim and things like this. So Hal, what would you say are the markers of a healthy church and does peace pass the test?


So we have some time to think about this. And a healthy church is not guaranteed by numbers and attendance as we are experiencing here at Peace Church. It goes beyond that. Health of church is best measured by proclaiming God's biblical truths without compromise. I think day to day we see and experience the spiritual battles in the world where the world is trying to tell us what the definition of truth is. It doesn't line up with the Bible. So I believe we're a witness to a hunger for biblical, God-centered spiritual truth. An uncompromised gospel message is our focus and as a result we are growing in numbers.


So as we as we think about this and as we enter into Proclaim which is a spiritual journey and in all honesty it's a multi-million dollar capital campaign. Let me ask you what are some areas that maybe we're not necessarily weak but as a church we should be mindful of as we embark through proclaim?


So this is going to be a busy load and I think patience on our part and burnout is something we have to avoid. The campaign will be taxing on us as a congregation, its leaders and volunteers. We're in a two to three year process of managing some challenges and complications. We need to stay focused on reaching the goals we have set in place with our time, our resources, and with prayers for God's help.


Amen. Amen. Yeah, Proclaim is getting us healthy for the future in ministry. It's about expanding our facility. But between A and B, between now and when we get to inaugurate this new building, we're going to have to hold hands and walk across this bridge together, and we need to be healthy as we do that. And so let's just get specific here. What do you think is the number one thing a Christian does that contributes to the unhealth of a church?


I think you brought it up earlier. It's not making time daily for a serious relationship with God. We should all discipline our time in prayer and strengthen our relationship with God by reading and studying the Bible every day.


I love that answer. And, you know, we talked about some of these questions beforehand. And when I was thinking about the answer to that question, you helped me realize that I immediately went to the fruit of things. You went to the root of things. You talked about the state of the inner man, who we are before Lord and in our daily discipline, I immediately went to things like, oh, people contribute to unhealth when they lead with cynicism, when they're negative, when they gossip. And those are all fruits of a root. Those are all symptoms of something deeper going on. And I love that you said it starts with your daily devotional to God. Are you walking with Jesus on a daily basis, praying and reading scripture? So those are some negative things. Let's talk about some of the exciting things real quick. What are you most excited about for this spiritual journey that we are on as a church?


So, I've been in this for about two years, and obviously every day seems to be growing and growing. And the most exciting part of this journey is watching God help us solve problems. We have examples of answered prayer, getting us to this peach church moment that is just that. God answering our prayers.


Amen. Amen. Thank you, Hal, for coming up and taking time to answer some questions. Would you mind, as the vice president of our elder board, would you mind praying for our church right now?


Sure. Let's pray. Our Lord and Savior, we are so blessed, grateful, and humbled by the work you are doing at Peace Church. Continue to watch over us as we proclaim your love and biblical truths. The world is at war with you, your followers, and the message of your salvation. Christians are being persecuted around the world for believing and following your message of truth. Please comfort them. Watch over the nation of Israel during this time of crisis. May we all be blessed with your love as we continue to grow our relationship with you. Hear our prayer. We love you and adore you. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.


Amen. Amen. Thank you, Hal. Can we give Hal a round of applause? So, church, this spiritual journey that starts today, it ends on November 5th when we all conclude this campaign by making a financial commitment to this two-year campaign. Let me specify, we're asking you to seek the Lord's face on how much he's calling you to give, not just on November 5th, but over a two-year commitment. What's the commitment God's calling you and your family to make that will be fulfilled through a two-year giving pledge? Part of what we're doing is seeking the Lord's face in this as we prepare and grow to be more healthy, to prepare for expanded ministry in the years to come. And so today let me leave you with a spiritual and financial challenge. I'm going to tell you right now, every financial challenge I'm going to bring during this series is intimately a spiritual issue as well. And so let me give you a spiritual and financial challenge for you to think about this week. Do you give, I'm speaking financially, do you give in a way that keeps our church healthy?

Now, here's another way you can think about it. Someone once posed it like this that I thought was a really profound way to think about it. He said, if everyone gave like you do, would the church be financially healthy? Now, that's not speaking about a dollar amount because we all have different capacities, but we're talking about a faith based, generous, sacrificial gift where we seek the Lord's face and His guiding on that, if everyone gave like you did, would the church be healthy? Or would we be starving? Church, I just want to affirm how generous of a church you have demonstrated to be, or at least most of you. I think some of us have room to grow, and so I'm going to call on every person who calls Peace Church home to investigate and go deep into the resources of your heart and really discern can you say that you are given in a way that God's called you to give that is joyous and sacrificial and generous before you before some of you think about giving to the campaign. Maybe you just need to start thinking about giving to the ministry and mission of the church so that our local area can be blessed.

I want to say you have demonstrated to be such a wonderfully faithful and generous church. And I have no fear of saying that that would result in like, well, if we're so good that I'm going to stop giving. I don't believe that's the heart of a Christian. I think the heart of a church is when I say, Hey, we're financially healthy. A church wants to give to can maintain that. I am thankful that the church is so faithful and generous that I don't have to spend my time going around doing a bunch of side gig fundraising to make sure that we can keep our lights on as a church. I don't necessarily have to quote on quote worry about the finances because God is blessing us through the faithfulness of this church. I'm telling you right now, I think you would rather me spend my time on preaching, leading, ministering, shepherding. Wouldn't you rather me be doing that than trying to do. So let me give you another, let me just hammer this challenge home.

Do you give in a way that keeps our church healthy?

Church, again, I would not and the elders would not be bringing our church through Proclaim if we did not believe that God had brought us to a point where he's ready to bring us through Proclaim to see our goals met. Peace Church, Proclaim is our great response to God's great work these last few years, and this is our moment in the life of our church to do something that the next generation will be thankful for. This is about our collective effort and collective generosity to see, proclaim, be what we believe God is calling it to be as we journey through this spiritual journey together. And I wanna stress that. I am asking every single person who calls Peace Church their home church to do this devotion daily together and not just you doing it individually, but that you would know that as you do it spiritually, we are doing this together.

Church, even though we're big, let's be one church doing one thing together. I'm asking you to do this devotion with us. I'm going to try and do it daily. I'll jump on social media and do this live. And you want to join me on social media. We can go through the devotion together, be watching for that. But here's what I'm asking. If you call this church home, if you love this church, then let's journey together. Let's journey together because we need to be healthy because we won't be effective in our mission if our church isn't healthy. And one of the other ways the church demonstrates health is in the response to worship. So let's do that. Please stand. I heard a couple of people do it. Let's all do it. Let's all clear our throats and be ready to sing. That was awesome. Let's pray.

Father, we come before you. Lord, we ask that by the power and presence of your Holy Spirit, you'd fill this place, you'd fill these people, you'd fill this church, that we would respond to, respond in worship to the good things you are doing, to respond to who you are because you are good and you're good to us. So I pray Lord here and now, your church, both who are those who are seated to the front of the stage and those who are on the way back Lord, we would lift up our voices as one singing your praises because you are worthy. Father, you are good. We pray these things in Jesus' powerful name and everyone said, Amen.

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