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Sermon Illustrations: Church - The Body, Its Mission and Growth

Anecdotes

A woman was getting ready for church when her son said, "I'm not feeling well". "You just don't want to go to church," said the woman. "Now get ready as quickly as possible." Part way through the service, she noticed that he was groaning. "What's wrong?" she asked. "I think I'm going to throw up," he replied. "Well don't do it here. Go outside." The boy stood up and ran for the back door. He was back within a few seconds. "So you didn't throw up, after all?" "Oh yes, but I didn't have to go outside. When I got to the back, there was a box there with a label on it saying, 'For The Sick.'"



There were three buildings in the same street that had a problem with possums - a shop, a shoe shop, and a church. The shop owner got some cats and the possums left. But after he saw the mess the cats left behind, he got rid of them and the possums returned. The owner of the shoe shop trapped the possums and let them go outside the city limits, but after a few days, they returned. The church had a much better idea. They caught the possums, baptised them, and made them members of the church. Now they only turn up at Christmas and Easter.


Many members can accomplish collectively what the same numbers cannot do individually - an aeroplane is a machine that consists of 100% non-flying parts.


How To Flog A Dead Horse. The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from generation to generation, says that when you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount. Our modern bureaucrats, however, have a whole range of far more advanced strategies such as: Buying a stronger whip. Finding lighter riders. Harnessing several dead horses together to improve performance. Arranging an overseas visit to study dead horses. Reclassifying the horse as living impaired. Rewriting the performance requirements for dead horses. Providing additional funding to improve the performance of dead horses. Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position. What a shame when churches behave like that!


An Australian biologist has exploded the myth that bees are a hive of order, finding them to be scheming and factional. Dr Ben Oldroyd, a senior lecturer at Sydney University's School of Biological Sciences, says a genetic mutation can make usually sterile female worker bees rebel and lay counterfeit queen bee eggs, causing chaos and destruction in the colony. Normally, only the queen is allowed to lay eggs. If a worker produces any, they are quickly eaten by "police" workers. But in anarchist colonies, rebelling workers lay eggs that are indistinguishable from the queen's. Her power is lessened, workers stop working and the colony - "a scheming mass of conflict with factions trying to outdo each other" - rapidly disintegrates. (Readers Digest June 2004 p 139 - Original source: Sydney Morning Herald) This is a great lesson for the church.


When they're dying, people pray about (or think about) what's important. They're not thinking about whether the garbage was put out. In John 17, Jesus is praying about things that are important to Him. What does He pray for? Community in the church.


Hands are wonderful things. They can type, play the piano, break a piece of wood, or caress someone's hair. But imagine a hand that wants to be a foot. This wonderful work of engineering and design would have to perform a totally different function. You would have to spend all your time walking on your hands. Or imagine a foot that wants to be a hand. Could it ever hope to play the violin? Each member of the body is uniquely designed by God for its particular function.


Imagine this: Jesus has come to earth on a special mission. And one day God speaks to Him and says, "Lay hands on this blind man and heal him." But there's a problem - Jesus has two withered hands. Then God says, "I want you to go and raise Lazarus from the dead." But suddenly, Jesus collapses and can't control His legs. Every time God tells Him to do something, something goes wrong. You're probably thinking that that would never happen. But the church is the body of Christ on earth today. I wonder if God feels a little bit like that's the way it is with the Church.


Did you know that you can live without your hands? Your legs? Your eyes? Ears? One kidney? Interesting isn't it? Because the body of Christ - the church - can live without certain parts too. But it works so much better when all the parts are present and functioning.


Can you imagine the heart sulking and saying, "It's not fair. I want to be the eyes. They get to do two things - see things and help determine distances. All I get to do is pump blood. Sometimes I just feel like a work horse."


The eyes see the food; the hands pick it up; the mouth chews it; the swallowing mechanism swallows it; the stomach digests. Any failure by any of these parts and you have problems. God is counting on every member of the body of Christ to do their job.


What's the point in the hands saying, "It's not fair. How come the mouth gets to do all the eating? How come I never get to taste any food?" Who benefits when the mouth eats? Is it just the mouth? Or what's the point in the big toe saying, "How come the eyes get to see everything? And I don't get to see nothin'?" Who benefits when the eyes see? Is it just the eyes? Of course not, everyone benefits, and especially the big toe, because if the eyes are doing their job, it doesn't get stubbed.


One of the young men in our youth group got an ingrown toenail. He was hobbling around everywhere, suffering immensely. Eventually, it got so bad that it had to be operated on. Unfortunately, someone was clowning around jumping off a chair, and accidentally landed on top of it. Now do you think that any other part of his body was affected besides his big toe? You better believe it! It affected the way he walked, whether he wore shoes, how he got dressed. Everything was affected. His whole body was influenced by one little part that was in pain.


It's unrealistic to expect that everyone in a church will want to have close fellowship with one another. After all, it's a good thing that my nose and my armpit don't have close fellowship.


A man was marooned on an uninhabited island. 25 years later, he was rescued, but the rescuer noticed that there were three huts on the island. "What's that one for?" he asked. "That's where I live," said the rescued man. "And what's that one for?" asked the rescuer. "That's where I go to church." "What's that one for?" he asked. "That's where I used to go to church."


How do you eat a banana? First, you separate it from the rest of the bunch. And that's how the devil destroys Christians too.


Leopards and pumas are in danger of extinction because they always hunt alone, a fact that emphasises the danger of being a solitary Christian.


Back in 1925, an evolutionist stated at the Tennessee Scopes Trial, that there were no less than 180 vestigial structures in the human body. They believed that all of those structures no longer served a useful purpose, but were leftovers of the evolutionary process. Today we know better. That list has shrunk to almost zero. Even the mysterious appendix is now known to help produce antibodies and prevent bacteria in the colon reaching the blood stream. No body part is useless.


A bar is a counterfeit church. The bartender is the pastor. People go to have fellowship, get counsel, and get filled with a spirit.


Quotes


Robert Louis Stevenson wrote in his diary, "I have been to church today, and am not depressed."


Commenting on the fact that flamingos survive because they are part of a flock, the narrator on the documentary series Massive Nature said, "Be an individual, step out of the flock, and life could be over very quickly." See 1 Pet 5:8


The church is a body. No part of my body is part-time.


Christianity in Palestine operated out of relationship. When it got to Greece it became a philosophy. When it reached Rome it became an institution. When it took Europe it became an institution. And when it reached America it became an enterprise. Doug Stringer


Christianity is the only relationship where people will stab you in the back and say, "God told me to do it". James deMelo


Organisations that are built on the preaching, teaching, thinking, entertaining, fund-raising charisma of one person - of which there are many in Christendom are built contrary to Scripture. These are not bodies. These are grotesque mutations. Paths of Leadership - Andrew Le Peau


Henry Ford once wryly remarked that he took the church's survival as a sign of God's existence - no other enterprise run so poorly could stay in business. Pastors Under Pressure by Paul Beasley-Murray


Why put a live chick under a dead hen? Derek Prince on proper nurture of new Christians and the church they go to.


The way you leave is the way you'll be remembered.


We are called the Body of Christ, not the collection of Christ's body parts.1


People who say they don't want to go to church because they went once and someone hurt them, are like the person with diarrhoea who says, "I had a bad experience in a toilet once, and I'll never darken the door of a toilet again."


1 Cordeiro, Wayne Doing Church as a Team p159