Church on Purpose: Serving

Church on Purpose: Serving

Our series is called “Church on Purpose” where we are exploring what it means to be the Church and on a more personal level, what it means to be an intentional member of it. Church membership is more than just coming to worship on Sundays from time to time or even every week and more than getting your name on the rolls. Church membership is about showing up, building relationships with each other, serving each other and serving the world around us together, giving, witnessing to those who are lost, praying together.

See Christians are not consumers. We are contributors. We don’t watch. We engage. We give. We sacrifice. We encourage. We pray by laying hands on the hurting. We do life together. We move. We are the Church, a Church on purpose.

So far in this series, we’ve talked about church being a gathering of God’s people. We’ve talked about the church being unified around one simple idea with a simple mission and with a very simple focus – Jesus, and we’ve talked about being present and accounted for when the church gathers which really has everything to do with relationships – with God and the others in the gathering. If you’ve missed any of these weeks, I highly encourage you to watch or listen at


Today, we’re taking a deeper look at serving, reaching outward beyond ourselves.

In the New Testament, the Greek word doulos is translated as either servant or slave, depending on the Bible translation. It’s easy to see the challenge in translating this word. Servant is often the preferred alternative to the word slave because of the image of bonding, cruelty, and suffering associated with slavery in world history. Translators are hesitant to use a word so closely associated with such oppression.

However, the word servant may not adequately communicate the depth of the meaning of doulos. Though human history has been stained by involuntary slavery, those who become a doulos to Christ, take on that role freely and with joy. They choose to come under the ownership of a master who is totally loving and giving. Slaves to Christ are not coerced. Far from it. Rather, we are compelled by joy to freely and fully submit ourselves to Him.

Point #1 – Freely Choosing to be Last

Our Master, Jesus Christ purchased us with the high price of his own life (1 Corinthians 6:20). So, we who have become doulos’ to Jesus have chosen to abandon our own lives and rights in order to serve our King faithfully and joyfully. This kind of servant mindset is totally counterintuitive in our culture today. This mindset of a servant is not just choosing to be last, but desiring to be last.

In the Bible, the 12 disciples learned this lesson when James and John made an unthinkable request of Jesus believing they were worthy of the honor.

Mark 10:35-45

35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.”

36 “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”

The seats next to a king are not only seats of honor, but also seats of power. These two were making a totally unreasonable request.

38 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”

His cup is a cup of suffering as He stated in His prayer just before being arrested in Matthew 26:38-39. “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.” “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

39 “We can,” they answered.

I image the tone in Jesus’ voice changing at this point to a tone of concern and a broken heart.

Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, 40 but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”

When the other disciples heard about this request, they were not happy.

41 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. 42 Jesus called them together (gets to the real problem in their hearts and explained what they were missing) and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them.

I wonder if Jesus paused for a moment after this sentence and left His disciples absorb those words before He told them they must take a different path.

43 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

And there it is. Do you want to be like Jesus? Serve others. Do you want to be like Jesus? Choose to be last. Be willing to sacrifice.

Mark 9:35

“Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”

God placed you in a local church to live out your servanthood to Jesus. He put you in the congregation where you are now so that you can put others first. Regardless of the words or actions of other church members, you can choose to be a servant. Be willing to set aside your preferences and desires for the sake of others.

Point #2 – Seek to Please the Master

A true servant wants to please his or her master. A true servant will do whatever it takes to follow both the teachings and commands of the master. Do you remember when the acronym WWJD was popular in the 1990s? It meant ‘What Would Jesus Do.’ This essentially captures what would happen if Christians were to actually live out their faith.

It is not uncommon to hear people at church say that they have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. The title Savior is pretty easy to proclaim. Jesus saved us from our sins, He saved us from our condemnation, and saved us for eternal life. But do we truly grasp the meaning of the title “Lord?”

It means that we confess that Jesus is God, the one true God, and that there are absolutely no other gods. Acknowledging Jesus as Lord also means that we recognize that He has all authority. It is His kingdom, and He reigns over all creation and eternity. Confessing Jesus as Lord also defines the posture of our relationship to Him. To say that Jesus is our Lord means that we willingly subject ourselves to His authority.

Jesus challenged those who would take His lordship lightly.

Luke 6:46-47

46 “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? 47 I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it.”

We cannot be servants of Jesus unless we submit to His authority and follow Him as Lord. Calling Him Lord means surrendering to Him as our master, we strive to live for Him, and we seek to answer the question, what would Jesus do in all of our actions and thoughts.

Point #3 – Love By Serving Others

We know the Christian faith requires us to demonstrate love, first to Christ and then to others. We can show our love for others in countless ways, but one of the most obvious is by serving.

In John 13, Jesus does something that shocks His disciples. At the Passover meal, a celebration for the freedom that God gave His people nearly 2,000 years earlier, Jesus gets up, wraps a towel around His waist, pours water into a basin, and begins washing the disciple’s feet one by one. That is, until He gets to Peter. And keeping with his impulsive temperament, Peter objects, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” (John 13:6)

Jesus calmly responds, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will (John 13:7). When Peter still objects, Jesus doesn’t mess around and says, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me” (John 13:8).

Foot washing was dirty work, usually delegated to a house servant who would have been the lowest of low, not just in the house but in society. This was the lowest of tasks. Yet it is an example of what it means to love other people by serving them. After Jesus washed His disciples’ feet He said:

John 13:14

14 “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”

Today, we can’t really understand the magnitude of this like the disciples did. Jesus was basically saying, there is no more slave and master, no more one greater than the other. So much that even I, the Son of God, your Lord and Teacher, who you are to learn to imitate, have done the servant’s job of washing your feet. This whole act of service was to prepare these men for the work ahead. The work that they would get to join Jesus on.

Jesus came to earth not to be served, but to serve. (Mark 10:45). In one sense, the posture of servant should describe how Jesus’ disciples should act towards everyone. But in another sense, being a servant like Jesus, has a particular focus on disciples serving disciples. “Let us do good to everyone,” Paul said, “and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).

Jesus says just after the Passover Meal and the Lord’s Supper as we know it today, it’s how we will witness to the world. Just a little further down in John 13:35 Jesus said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” In other words, it starts with how we love each other. We will show the world Jesus’ love by how we love each other. And how do we do that.

Paul says this about Jesus in Philippians 2:5-8

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature God,

did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

7 rather, he made himself nothing

by taking the very nature of a servant,

being made in human likeness.

8 And being found in appearance as a man,

he humbled himself

by becoming obedient to death—

even death on a cross!

Death on a cross was shameful, it was torture. Jesus came as nothing, then humbled Himself to obedience all the way to the point of death. Now let’s back up a bit. Paul also said the reason we serve is…

Philippians 2:1-4

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

The motivating factor for serving is Christ’s love. If you love Jesus, then you will be compelled to serve others through His church. I understand you may be new to church and serving is a new concept. Or perhaps you were raised in the church, but never considered serving because it was not emphasized. But belonging to a church means serving through the church.

Five Steps to Serving Through Your Church

1. Look for opportunities.

Especially if you are new to this church, but even if you’re not, notice what is going on in the church and what the church may be lacking in. The more you are aware, the more quickly you will find your fit and the better you can help others find their fit.

2. Volunteer where needed.

Listen to the Ministry Team and the Leadership Team and what they say are the areas where more help is needed. When we have a posture of service, that’s just what we do.

3. Take the initiative! Please don’t wait for some to ask you to volunteer. If the leaders put a sign up sheet out, sign up before they ask you personally. Tell the leadership you are ready to serve. I don’t believe I have ever met a church member that said her or she regretted taking the initiative to serve.

4. Invite your neighbors to church.

Serving always compels you outward. One of the best ways to serve Jesus is to invite others to be part of His body. 80% of people are receptive to coining to church if invited. Of course, not everyone will come each time you invited, but they are willing to listen to you.

5. Share Jesus with people.

If you know Jesus, then you have the best news anyone can hear. People need to hear the gospel from you! Sharing how Jesus saves is the reason why you serve. Of course, every church should want to help people who have physical needs, but the reason we serve others is to share how they can be saved eternally.

The King of kings serves. If God Himself expects to serve, then you should as well. The call of every Christian is to be selfless (others first), not selfish (ourselves first), and do all for the sake of Jesus.

Colossians 3:23-24

23 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. 24 Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. (our Lord)