There is an old story told by ministers concerning a wedding ceremony that describes a rather tense and nervous moment. The tension was not so much during the ceremony but afterward. The groom rather sheepishly comes to the pastor half way apologizing for not giving him an honorarium. He says “I just don’t know how much to give you.” The minister decides to have some fun with the young man and says as he looks at the bride “well how much do you think she is worth?”.
I have thought about that question considerably in light of what Paul said about the church in Ephesians chapter five. You remember he called the church “the bride of Christ” and declared that “Christ gave Himself for her.”
If the church is “the bride of Christ” and worth the sacrifice of Christ then how much is your church worth to you? I realize Paul is speaking of the church universal or the total body of Christ, but I still believe the question is applicable to the local church. I contend that this church is worth something.
We know the land is valuable. Any developer would love to have ownership of the property. We also know the replacement costs on the facilities would be in the multiple millions. But that is not the substance of the question. This question is a personal one. What is this church worth to you?
I would like to help you answer that pertinent and personal question. The best way for me to be of help to you is to pose a series of four or five questions for you to answer. These questions will provide the answer to the overall question before us.
1. Is this church worth your loving it?
I know we are supposed to love God first and foremost, and I realize that we should not let the church become our god, but if this church is worth the love of Christ for it, then isn’t it also worthy of our love?
Some years ago a layman in a church in our state said to me. “I know our church has hit some hard times and it may be that our best days numerically are behind us, but I still love my church and I am going to be loyal to it.”
2. Is this church worth your praying for it?
Every person needs prayer and every church needs prayer too. Sometimes we can take for our church for granted when it comes to prayer. It is the duty and the privilege of every believer to pray for his or her church.
3. Is this church worth your sharing it with others?
Sometimes when I am traveling, I will ask people “what are people around here saying about the churches?” You can imagine some of the responses I hear. Perhaps the most common response is “well people aren’t saying much about the churches here except those which are having trouble–like running off the preacher”.
That is a tragedy indeed. Christians ought to be the public relations representatives for their churches. We should be bragging on our churches and sharing the good news about what God is doing here.
4. Is this church worth your serving in it and through it?
Every member ought to be a minister in the sense of serving the Lord through the life of the church. If you can sing, then sing for the Lord. If you can teach, then teach God’s Word. Every one of us should be sharing the gospel. You can use LIFE or FAITH or just give your personal testimony for the Lord.
5. Is this church worth your giving to it and through it?
Stewardship is not a four-letter word. In fact, it is a biblical description of believers and disciples. Giving is a vital part of our stewardship responsibilities. When you give to this church, you are essentially giving through it, because Vaughn Forrest supports a multitude of ministries. Your life and legacy can outlive your years by giving to and through this church.
The Wall Street Journal recently featured the story of a man who left himself 10 million dollars. How did he give himself 10 million dollars? He developed a will and trust that left his estate to himself, which would become effective 100 years from his death. He then had himself frozen and placed in a futuristic laboratory. His goal is allow the money to earn interest and then make him one of the richest people in the world in a hundred years.
The End of the Spear is a Christian film which tells the story of the martyrdom of several American missionaries at the hands of the Auca Indians in South America. Nate Saint, Jim Elliot and other missionaries went to share the gospel with this tribe, knowing that these people had never made contact with outsiders. The tribal people killed them.
Following their deaths the wives of these men went to live with the tribe and led many of the to Christ. In fact, the very ones who murdered their husbands became their new family. Later, the son of Nate Saint, Steve, also went to live with the people. He taught them how to become self sufficient.
There is a rather well known quote by Jim Elliot which appeared in several international magazines following these deaths 50 years ago: “He is no fool to give what he cannot keep in order to gain what he cannot lose”.