Message 5
Vern Yoder
February 17, 2008
Goshen, Indiana

[00:00] We want to continue this morning to have fellowship. The conference…I know you all came here because there’s a topic about who we are and where we’re going. I’m not sure we answered everything that you had in your heart, but I do feel that we have spoken to you out of our hearts. I know I can testify for myself and John and Nigel, that we’ve spoken to you what the Lord has been speaking to us and revealing to us.

[00:33] This morning I think we want to continue to speak to you maybe a little bit more in a practical side of our considerations. So as Nigel has been covering Peter in the book of Acts and what they did there, I’ve been covering Paul and his epistles and his revelation. John has been covering the apostle John in the book of Revelation. We are continuing this same line, so this morning we’ll talk about Paul again.

[01:11] So I just want to consider again, we have been through a storm, a hard time. We have to consider. We have to sort out things and discern where we are and what we have. To, as many brothers put it, throw out the baby with the bath water, to get rid of all our past, to try to deny everything that’s happened, to try to say we must do everything new is not profitable. Although you have to say we have entered into a new era. There is a new experience and there is a new kind of fellowship that we have among the churches, and there’s something wonderful that the Lord is doing among us. We have to consider this where we are.

[02:01] We are not where we were two years ago. If you’ll forgive me to say, two or three years ago John Myer and I were here in Goshen. We gave a conference, and the effect of that conference was pretty negative. I mean positive toward all the brothers and sisters who were there, but negative to some others who were upset that even it was recorded. I say that. It was a big mess and it caused a lot of stir. Well, praise the Lord. That’s no longer with us today. Our environment is peaceful, we all enjoy we’re all brothers and sisters together and there’s a lot of understanding among us in the churches. So it’s good that we can consider a little bit what we have and where we’re going together. We don’t need to keep looking over our shoulders, that there’s someone who’s going to bear down on every word that we say. I’m happy for that.

[02:58] In Paul’s writings, as I shared yesterday, he took the word ekklesia, the word for church, the called-out ones, and he brought it to a level in the book of Ephesians and in his other epistles—in Corinthians and in Romans—he took it to a level where it was something uplifted, beyond just a gathering of people, but a church, something that fulfills God’s eternal desire. He took that word church and he put a label on it: eternal purpose of God; made it very, very important, made it stand out beyond everything.

[03:45] So when the believers in the book of Acts were meeting together, and they were the church in that city and the church in this city, and they were the church of God here, and the church of Christ, these were just talking about all the believers. But Paul stepped back…I don’t know if he had this in mind, but for sure he continued what the Lord began in Matthew 16, and that was that, Christ said, “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” He was not talking simply about a temporary church in the city of Jerusalem. He was talking about an eternal purpose, a pleasure that was on His heart, something that He had from all eternity been concerned about, something that He was determined to fulfill by His coming to the earth. And it’s no wonder in Ephesians that Paul said that even His death on the cross, Ephesians 5 tells us, even His death on the cross was for the purpose of the church. This is what it was for. Yes, it was for our sins and to take care of our sins, but there it’s His death was for the church, His resurrection for the church, His ascension for the church. Everything He did and everything on His heart was for the church and for the purpose of building up this church.

[05:04] And this is something that many of us—and if we had time today I’m pretty sure we could go row by row, person by person, and we would all testify how convicted we were at one time in our life that God wants the church, convicted enough that it made us ruined and wrecked for anything else, so that when someone would come up to us and say to us, “No, what God wants is for you to be perfected as an individual, to be a good believer before God.” And you in your heart would just feel, “No, that’s just empty. I could never give myself to that because I saw something concerning the church.” Right Sid? Didn’t you have that conviction at one point in your life? We all have had that kind of experience where we just felt, this is what I have given my life to. And sorry to say, it kind of wrecked us for anything else, and for any other kind of purpose, and for any other kind of goal. It made us peculiar in a sense, because we realized there’s something God is after, and until I line myself up with what God is after, I can never be happy in my life. So Paul is one that made it extremely clear to us in the book of Ephesians.

[06:26] What I want to share this morning is concerning the church. Let’s not just talk about it in a theoretical way, but let’s talk it a little more practical concerning what we see regarding the church, because the truth of the church should have an impact on people’s lives. And if it is not having an impact on this world, then something is wrong along the way of what we have. We have truth. It’s very good. But truth is reality. It’s something we should step into; it’s something we should be able to say, “Not only I see it, but I’m in it. I experience it. It’s part of my life.” And not only am I in it, but my church life has impact on other lives. There’s something that’s happening in the world based on my view of the church. It’s not for me to sit in a room and to criticize the whole world concerning that they’re wrong concerning the church and I’m right. Then the church is a doctrine; it’s not a reality that should have impact on people’s lives.

[07:37] I’ve flown on an airplane a good amount. It never ceases to amaze me when that airplane takes off from the ground. It is unbelievable. And I know there is truth behind it. There’s facts there. They have calculated fully. That’s why I’m even sitting in that airplane seat. Otherwise I wouldn’t sit there. And you’re on the runway, and every single time you just feel, “This big hunk of metal is not going to get off the ground. How can this thing get off the ground?” But it’s amazing, not only am I experiencing, but eventually gas is injected into this airplane, something happens and that airplane just…shooom…flies off the ground like there’s nothing holding it, like it’s a helium balloon. It is amazing, and it stays up there for hours. When you get to a destination it comes down again. But I’m so glad there’s not just a truth of aerodynamics and there’s not just an experience, but when there’s something that happens, gas is injected into the engines, the propellers or whatever goes, the turbines go, and the fuel is coming in, and all the sudden that airplane takes off, there is a reality and there is an impact on the earth. Well, sometimes I feel like I’m sitting in the airplane waiting for it to go, and nothing is happening. There’s no impact, and there’s nothing going on. That’s when truth becomes something of doctrine and teaching, but there’s not a reality that has an impact on people’s lives.

[09:12] I’d like to refer you to Acts chapter 20 when Paul talked to the Ephesians. This is what church meant to him. He told them all, “I know that there are wolves among you not sparing the flock.” And verse 30, “Men will rise up, speaking perverted things, and draw their disciples away from them.” In 31 he says, “Therefore watch, remembering this,” he told them. “Remembering that for three years, night and day, I did not cease admonishing each one with tears.” When Paul had a view of the church, it had an impact by his daily existence of visiting the brothers and sisters night and day with tears, shepherding, being with the saints, and raising them up in life. This is what church meant to him. It was not some kind of stand, just some kind of stand, or some kind of thought, or some kind of view. It was an action that happened in his life, that caused an impact on other people’s lives. And then of course he told them, “You do the same thing. If you see the church like I see the church, you would be laboring and exercising in exactly the same way.” When Paul was on the earth, he saw a vision of the church, what did he do? He went to city, to city, to city, to city. Wherever he went, activity was there, and the result was testimonies were raised up. This is what church meant to him. He wasn’t just having some inspirational word for everybody to stand up and say, “I see it,” and then walk back to their home and lived their life the way they lived before. No, what he saw should change the daily lives of the people.

[11:12] I want to take you to Ephesians 4 and let’s take a look at this. This is a teaching again that we all know. Please open your ears, because these are verses that we have read so many times. Probably there’s few in this room that couldn’t recite it. Ephesians chapter 4 verse 11. Paul said, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as shepherds and teachers for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of the ministry, unto the building up of the Body of Christ.” And I want to read verse 16: “Out from whom all the Body, being joined together and being knit together through each joint of the rich supply, and through the operation in the measure of each one part causes the growth of the Body unto the building up of itself in love.”

[12:05] I want to give you, based on these verses, three practical points concerning church, concerning this view of the church; not just a group of people, but the view of the church. Number one practical point is that the church is each one part (verse 16), each one part. This is crucial. This is something we see, saints, that is very special: each one part. And what is helping the church in the each one part are the ministries. So in verse 11, God makes it clear that there are these big gifted ministries. These ministries are for the purpose, because if they weren’t there, the church would have trouble. They are there for the purpose of perfecting all these parts so that every single part can have their ministry to build up the church. So the practical outworking of the church, the building up of the church, must be all the parts that are perfected by the ministries.

[13:16] I want to present this to you: In the past some of our issue was we did not know how to separate ministry and church. Now, I know a lot of you are thinking, “Yeah, that’s right, LSM ministry, we didn’t know how to separate that.” No, I mean among us we did not know how to separate ministry and church. We, number one, do not know how to honor the gifts that God has given to the church. We don’t know how to develop the gifts that God has given to the church. For some reason when we get each one part we feel everybody is a gift to the church, everybody is an apostle, everybody is a prophet, everybody is an evangelist, everybody is a shepherd and teacher, and we’re all perfecting one another in some kind of big blob. No, there’s no order here. That’s not how God said it. As God said, there are gifts. There are gifts. Now, how do you locate the gifts. Well, number one, do they have talent in those areas. You cannot be an evangelist if you’re not a good speaker or you don’t know how to talk to people, you know, you’re afraid to talk to people, you’re really shy. You’re probably not an evangelist. If you’re a person that you can walk up to people, you can speak messages that convict people, yeah, maybe you’re on track, maybe you’re an evangelist. But with us, it is difficult for us to be peaceful that there are gifts. And we need to let those gifts perfect the church, perfect all the brothers and sisters so that every one of us is building up the church. Of course, we also need to be clear that God’s eternal purpose is not the ministry. God’s eternal purpose, the goal, is the church. So if the ministries are strong, but the church is not strong, if the “each one parts” are not strong, God’s eternal purpose can never be accomplished. That’s why the ministers should have in their mind, the gifts to the church should have in their mind, the growth and perfection of everybody to function.

[15:24] Well, I want to approach this matter of function a little bit. We use this word. Of course, Paul makes this very clear. In Romans, we’re all members of the Body. We all have different functions, but it’s all one Body. And in 1 Corinthians he does the same. He makes sure we understand there’s different ministries and functions. But it’s easy for us, and we’ve done this in the past, in our history, to cheapen function, especially the worst thing that we’ve done, is somehow feel like when you come to a big meeting or a church meeting, function means I stand up and say something or I stand up and pray. That’s cheap. An unbeliever can come to the meeting and stand up and say something. Does that mean they’re a member of the Body functioning? It does not mean that. Someone should tell them to sit down, but that definitely doesn’t mean that they are functioning in the Body. So we used to have these statements: “When the church comes together, 92% of everybody functioned in the meeting.” No, that’s not 92% functioned. 92% said something. Maybe only one of them actually functioned. There’s not that need. And of course there has been that history among us that we would prepare during the week, and we would get into something, we’d write down what we call a prophecy, then we would all come up. I think a lot of you know this. We have our Holy Word for Morning Revival, someone’s speaking there what they want to say, and you’re there looking, you could care less what that person’s saying, you’re looking to make sure three minutes are up, then you stand up and you give yours, then you sit down and then you just want to walk out of the meeting, you don’t care. We had these kind of meetings. They just were not normal. What should be normal? Well, where is the gifted member that can prophecy to the church and build up the church and stir up all the brothers and sisters so that each one part would be functioning in the Body of Christ? That was not happening. We cheapened the whole thing to if I stand up and say something. One brother said, “If I don’t get that chance to give my prophecy on Sunday morning, I have no church life.” When I heard that, I was stunned. That was a big wake-up call for me because I realized this thing has gone down a road a long way. We’ve taken this idea down a long way, and now it’s just really ruining us to think that our church life is three minutes on Sunday morning when we can speak something. That is not functioning.

[18:12] Well, as a result, when we do that, when a gift comes to our meeting, if there was a prophet from out of town and he walks into our meeting and he has a burden from the Lord, we’d probably say, “Brother, sit down, please, sit down. We want all the brothers and sisters here to function. We’ll give you three minutes.” That’s probably what we would do, based on our…because everybody…that’s what we think is the church life. Well, our teaching is good; our practice is off. There’s a difference between the two. It does not mean that, oh, that teaching that everyone should function is wrong. No, that’s not the wrong part. The wrong part is to think that we can cheapen it, that it can just happen on a Sunday morning.

[18:56] Well then, what should we feel? Number one, we should honor the gifts that God has given to the church. And number two, we should honor the ministry that God has given us. And it’s not that I stand up in a meeting and do public speaking. How did that ever get among us, that my function is public speaking? A wrong application of what we have. When we consider gifts, saints, this is something we should be very sober about. If there’s something that the Lord has given us, it should be developed, it should be used, it should be perfected, it should be something that becomes a blessing to the Body. If we have something that’s there, we should be very sober before the Lord.

[19:50] Last night—I’m sorry, I’m observing—I saw some very special gifts in music to the Body. But my question is, firstly, do we as an audience honor the gift? Will we allow the gift to be used among the churches. And number two is, do the gifts themselves honor themselves? And do they realize the perfecting needed among the churches? Could you imagine a singing like last night begin to infuse all the churches? Could you imagine if the brothers and sisters who were singing and the things that were done could have an impact on all the churches, isn’t this what it means that there are gifted members that the Lord has given to the Body? One kind of prophesying is speaking, another kind of prophesying is music. I think a lot of you have heard Del Martin point this out in the Old Testament that there is a prophesying that is by music, by playing instruments. There is a gift. Well, if you have this, then you have to be sober before the Lord. Can you face the Lord one day and say, “Lord, the gift You gave me, the talent you gave me, I invested, and I got five more talents, because look at all the churches that had impact, or look at all the people that have impact based on what I have.” This is something that should happen among…and then, for the brothers and sisters, we need to allow…when we have this concept, “Well, we don’t want you to get a big head—boy you’re something special, aren’t you; you think you’re something up there, yeah, look at your performance…” and so on. We can act like that and quench everything.

[21:45] I want to give you a testimony. I think Keith Miller won’t mind. He’s not the Keith Miller in Goshen; he’s the Keith Miller in Uganda, Africa. He has some music experience in his life, but he would be the first to tell you he would not really call himself a musician. But in the church in Cincinnati, at some point, you saw the group up here, the way they sing, they put out a song tape, and Keith, he must have practiced and practiced and practiced, because he has strums on the guitar that fit every one of those Cincinnati songs—(singing) “Oh what a wonderful great salvation”—and all the songs they have. He told me that that’s what he knows how to do. And his strum is great, his singing is great, and his wife also has a very good voice. Well, they went to Uganda not feeling that they have some extra special music talent or something that would blow you away, but they went with an acoustic guitar and two voices. I went with them, John was there too, he saw this, and Nigel, he saw this, he would go—well, especially in the early years when you were there—he would go into a dorm room, get together with a group of young African men, and they would all be stuffed in this room, and it would smell terrible, and they would all take off their shoes and I wish they wouldn’t do that, but they did that. It would really smell. And they would be all in this room, and Keith would take out his guitar. He would say, “What do you want to sing?” And they would say, “Just taste and see.” (singing) Just taste and see. We’d go to the next room, we’d go to the next dorm, “What do you want to sing?” “Just taste and see.” (singing) Just taste and see. We did this all week long. I said, “Keith, I’m tired of this. Don’t you have any new songs? Can’t you do something else?” He said, “Vern, I don’t know. This is all I know. It’s all I have. I just have a few songs and I just sing them again and again.” And you know, until today when I go to Uganda, these young people that were there in the beginning, they still call these songs in the meeting whenever…”What do you want to sing?” (singing) “Oh what a wonderful…” And I’m, “No!” Keith just laughs at me, but he did it again and again and again. I said, “Keith, do you ever get tired of this?” He said, “Vern, I don’t know. I don’t know if I get tired of it or not. All I know is that they like it.” This last time I was there, a young man said, “When I first met Keith Miller, I was so moved by his guitar playing that I said, ‘I want to know the Lord like this man.’” And I just thought, “Wow, that was really something.” And now that brother is in a training, and he is the lead piano player—he went from guitar to piano—he’s like the lead musician. For those who went there, it’s Mark Mangow. He’s a lead musician there, and he is just on fire for the Lord. But because a brother went there, he had a little gift, I don’t know what you call it, he had a little gift, he used it to the uttermost. I never saw anyone use a set of fifteen songs like he did. Whatever he had he used to the nth degree, and it was very effective.

[25:11] Well, I’m glad he didn’t sit there and say, “Boy, I wish I could play piano like Mary. Wow, if I could just play piano like Mary, then I know they would all be touched by the Lord.” He would never accomplish anything. He just took out his guitar…”Just taste and see.” And they’re all there, and they are all replicates of him. Now they’re beginning to sing a few new songs. I appreciate so much that whatever he had, he used fully to the Lord. This is what needs to happen among us with gifts given to the church.

[25:54] Yes, there are speaking gifts, music gifts, there are many kinds of special gifts, even young people that are among us. Some of us are older. We may not be able to be trained that well in our gift, but, boy, when we have young people in our locality, we had better be really concerned that if they have some special gift for the church, they should be trained, they should be perfected, they should be given full freedom, and they should be allowed to practice in many kinds of ways and forms so that they can be a blessing to the church.

[26:28] That’s what I’d like to propose to you, that if we see the vision of the church, we honor ministry. You know, even on Sunday morning we would not be bothered if a good ministering brother gives us a good, strong message, and then we have a good music team bring us into music ministry and fully causes us to love the Lord, and then we all go home. That is a good ministry meeting. Of course, we could have a Lord’s table meeting as a church meeting where we could all participate, but there’s also a good ministry meeting. It doesn’t mean that we have to stand up and give a testimony. If we feel this way, we are misunderstanding the view of everyone functioning. So a lot of times we try to mix that. If someone speaks, we feel there has to be an allotted time of testimonies. Why? Because we feel this fits our vision. When there is a need for testimonies, let’s have testimonies; and when there’s not a need for testimonies, let’s not have testimonies. When the testimonies help the ministry, let it help the ministry. But when it’s not a help to the ministry, then let’s just not have it, just to make everybody happy. The church is not a democracy. The church is a place where there should be ministering gifts given to the church.

[27:59] At the same time, the church should have each one part. The church is not ministry. That’s where, if you’ll forgive me, in Christianity sometimes there is this, groups that are built on ministry. They have a ministry for this, they have a ministry for that. And of course, their ministries put us to shame. Their ministries we can learn from very, very much. But a lot of times, that’s all there is. If you’re a widow, there’s a ministry for you. If you’re a young person, there’s a ministry for you. If there’s music, there’s ministry for you. There’s a whole list of ministries, but if you take away the ministries, which means the New Jerusalem—New Jerusalem is a place without ministries, except for the ministries of all the Body; it’s not the gifts being developed anymore—you take away all the ministries, do you have church? What is left is the church. And brothers and sisters, that’s what we see. That’s what’s caught us, because we realize how crucial is the functioning of all the members in the Body. In many Christian circles today, there’s no thought or concept or consideration about the functioning of all the members in the Body. If you are zealous, you get plugged into somebody’s ministry to help them build up their ministry, but you’re not plugged into your own ministering or functioning in the Body of Christ.

[29:32] So I would like to give point two then. Point one is on each one part. Point two is if we see this, we should realize that church is not something we go to on Sunday; church is a lifestyle. Church is a daily existence. We need to pull away church from Sunday morning. I’m not saying that we should not have some functioning of members on Sunday morning, but if Sunday morning to us, if that’s church, then we’ve completely missed; where do we function. All we can do with function is be part of somebody’s ministry. Even I give a testimony, all I am doing is helping out the ministering brother’s ministry. What I need to be concerned about is my lifestyle needs to be church.

[30:24] Church is—and this is my third point—in the home. Church is a lifestyle, and church is in the home. Church is a daily existence. What is the vision of the Body of Christ that Paul portrayed? It is “night and day.” Did you catch that in those verses? Night and day. He did not say, “Every Sunday morning I was laboring in tears with you.” No, it was night and day, day after day after day. He was with the brothers and sisters. This is what we need to consider. If we are always looking for what is my part on Sunday morning, then our whole existence will be miserable. We’ll never find a satisfying part on Sunday morning, but if we can realize church is every day of my life, then there are many chances and opportunities to have a ministering kind of time.

[31:18] Church is a lifestyle change. When we see the matter of the Body of Christ, it should affect how we live starting Monday morning and then all through the week. It is just like having children. The biggest change is children. You change your whole lifestyle: the way you drive, what you care about, how you think about things, what you spend your time on. Everything in your life changes when you have children. Likewise, everything should change when we have church. A degraded situation among us or among Christian groups is when church is departmentalized to Sunday and Wednesday of our week, and then that’s just church. That’s a degraded kind of situation. Church should be every day of the week and all the time.

[32:10] I want to get more specific in this. If church is every day and all the time, then church should be in our setting, and especially in our home. I know the American concept is, when I get a home, that’s my home. That’s my castle. It’s going to be the way I want it, and I will invite who I want to invite, and I will have what I want to have, and I will have the schedule that I want to have. This is an American concept, and so it is difficult for us to consider church in our home. And especially over the last few years, it’s been difficult to consider how precious our home is for church. I’m saying church specific just so we can kind of understand. It’s an experience that we should have in our home. Through our home, through our family, church should have impact on the world. No doubt Sunday morning ministry has impact on the world, and there’s no doubt that a good Sunday morning meeting can attract people from the world, convict them, and cause them to love the Lord. But the experience of church can never be full on Sunday morning. The experience of church is in the homes.

[33:44] I want some of you to really think about years ago. And please forgive me for bringing up the good old days. I’m not into good old days stuff. But I think we can all have a time in our life when we considered we had a weekly type of church life where doors of homes were open. You walked into homes, and you had fellowship with the saints, and you had prayer with the saints, and you had time with the saints, and when you consider those experiences, you realize maybe you didn’t know what was happening, but there’s something you did realize that you were beginning to touch, something of God’s purpose. It’s like some electricity there that was so invigorating to your life because you touched something that God was doing on the earth.

[34:33] Some of you may be thinking, “Yes, homes, we were told this, we were trained this, we were…all this,” but I would just like to…how about now? Is our home having an impact on people’s lives? And if it’s not our home, are we associated with a home, or if we’re a student, our dorm, or if we’re a single person, along with another home, whatever kind of way. Do we have a church life that is a place where I can function?

[35:04] Now, when I’m in the home, then function is immeasurable; it’s unsearchable what you can do. You can bring someone to Christ. You can shepherd someone in their growth in life. You can help someone read the Bible. You can conduct a small group; a sister can conduct a small group Bible study for young women or sisters and help them go step by step by step in their Christian life. It’s endless; it’s unsearchable what kind of functions and things that we can do as the Body of Christ. We have to realize that if every single one in this room had this kind of exercise and function to go out and during the week, Monday through Friday, begin to consider how the home can preach the gospel, can shepherd people, can labor with people, and can be with people, then the whole church life will be different.

[36:07] Now when I’m saying this you may say, “Well, now you’re denouncing, we don’t need ministries.” I’m not saying that. What I’m saying is we need to separate ministries and church, not confuse the things. When we have ministry, let’s have really good ministry; and when we have church, let’s have really good church. Isn’t this the vision when Paul told us, the apostles, the prophets, [the evangelists,] the shepherds and teachers for the perfecting of the saints, but it is the “each one part” in the homes that builds up the Body of Christ. I give this practical word to all of you to encourage you. Have church. If the title of the conference is “Go!” then this message is, “Go Have Church.”