Worship Together: You Are the Church

2017 Messages

We are the Church; all of us. It's not a particular ministry, program, pastor, or a building. Harrison speaks to us about the importance of being the Church, to raise up the next generation and to be disciple-makers. He gives us real life examples from his life, and Martha Kate shares her story of being raised and discipled by Watermark.

Harrison RossSep 3, 20171 Thessalonians 2:8; 1 Thessalonians 2:8; Matthew 28:19

Exactly a year ago, I looked completely different than I do now, because I broke both of my wrists. I know what you're thinking. "You're a grown man. How could you do such a thing?" That's exactly what my wife thought, too. I was on a trip, and I was playing some basketball. They were going on a fast break, so I was backpedaling to cover the lane, and I caught my heel, feel back, and broke both wrists. I felt like a complete loser, yes.

For twelve weeks, three whole months, I couldn't do anything. I couldn't drive, dress myself, bathe myself, hold my son, or type. I could barely eat. My wife was a saint. She was unbelievable. She loved me, she served me, and she drove me everywhere. She did everything for our son. She'd pick him up out of the crib, put him in the crib, feed him, and play with him, all while she was pregnant. I was super in the doghouse at this point.

Really quickly, we realized there are circumstances we cannot solve as one family. We needed help, so people came around us. They loved us, served us, cared for us, and came alongside us. We had friends who gave us meals. I had coworkers who would give me rides. I had a guy I barely even knew who offered to mow my lawn. That situation reminded us there are certain tasks that, no matter how hard you try, are best accomplished by an army of people, not just one or two people.

You see that in building projects. You can't drive anywhere in Dallas without seeing some sort of construction. It probably locks you up in traffic. You see it in buildings or road work. My son reminds me of it all the time when he's pointing out, "Excavator! Dump truck! Bulldozer!" It's not just one guy who's making all that. It's an army of people and vehicles. They say the Empire State Building took about 3,400 people to build.

We see it in disaster relief when disaster strikes. We saw it in the Gulf with Katrina. We're seeing it with our friends in Houston right now. The recovery and rebuilding of those cities cannot happen by just one person. It's going to take an army of people. There are certain tasks that are better served by an army of people and not just one or two. Another one that cannot be accomplished by one or two people is the building up of the next generation. It takes an army of people, and that army is the church.

As a church, we believe our role as the body of Christ is to come alongside you as parents and be another voice of what you're already teaching your kids. Parents, you're the primary disciplers, but we get to be on your team and serve you by being another voice and example to look to. Wes talked to the parents. I want to talk to the rest of us in the church.

A verse I share with our leaders a lot and that I want to share with you this morning is 1 Thessalonians 2:8. "Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well." The role of the church isn't to just share and tell the gospel but to show the gospel. It's to love and serve the next generation so they will know and love Jesus by the way we love them.

We are the church. That's we as in all of us, not just we in student ministry, we in children's ministry, the programs, and the pastors. The church programs aren't the church. This building isn't the church. The church staff aren't the church. You are the church. You are the expression of hope and love God has in this city and in this generation to come alongside parents, students, and families and to be a source of love and encouragement to raise up the next generation.

I get to tell this to junior high kids all the time, too. You are the church. I tell them the same thing. It's not just when you get older, when you have a family, or when you get a job. It's not just when you don't have to do homework and can watch Netflix all the time. That's what they think adults do. It's not when you're comfortable and you think you have it all figured out. You are the church.

God wants to use you now, and the same is true of all of us. You're the body of Christ, the hands and feet of Christ, the tangible, physical, visible expression of what relationship with Jesus looks like. You're not just called to be at church. You're called to be the church, pouring yourselves out and loving one another, especially the next generation. By God's grace, I had a guy who did this in my life. His name was Ethan Francis. For three years he invested in me every week. I don't remember a thing he said. Ethan, if you're here, sorry, bro. None of it stuck, but I remember he loved me. He cared for me. He consistently kept coming around.

I got to see the way he loved his wife. I got to see the way he asked forgiveness when he blew it. I got to see the way he talked about Jesus. I got to see the way he lived out his faith right in front of me. What's cool is I'm a product of his faithfulness. He wasn't perfect. He wasn't on a church staff. He just was faithful and available, and he loved me. Now, I get to invest in his kids who are here. I get to continue to invest in the next generation in them.

It wasn't just Ethan. I can point to a ton of guys in my life who were influential in helping me become who I was. They weren't professional Christians. They were just people who cared for me. They didn't just sit at church with me. They were the church to me. They loved me, invested in me, invited me into their lives, and showed me Jesus.

The Christian life is not meant to be accomplished by one person or one family but by all of us as the family of God, coming together to raise up men and women of God. All of us have the responsibility to do that. Jesus says in Matthew 28, what we call the Great Commission: "Go make disciples."

What are you doing to invest in someone? What are you doing to invest in the next generation? Look around you. You see kids and students. That's the future of our country. Those are our teachers, mayors, doctors, and dentists. They're going to be accountants, artists, athletes, entrepreneurs, tech developers, and role models. That's the future of the church. Why wouldn't you want to invest in that? Why wouldn't you want to give your life to them?

What do you have that you can give away? Some of you guys hear that question, and even here as we're talking, you go, "I'm not equipped enough. I don't think I have something I could impart to somebody." You don't have to be perfect. You don't have to have it all figured out. You don't have to be a scholar or have the New Testament memorized or be a pastor. We're all ministers of the gospel as believers in Jesus Christ.

Take what God has given you, your life, your gifts, your time, and your testimony, and share it with others, just as we have been seeing all week in Houston. People have been coming from all over the country. They've been bringing their fishing boats, flat-bottom boats, canoes… I saw a guy out there on a paddleboard. He was like, "I'm coming to help." They're bringing trucks, supplies, and anything they had to come and love and serve others because they were hurting and in need.

We live in a world that's flooded with hurt, sin, busyness, and brokenness. People feel stranded, helpless, and hopeless. Families are doing all they can to point their kids to Jesus, and you get to come alongside them, love them, and encourage them to raise up the next generation for the glory of God.

Discipleship is not a solo sport. It's a team sport, and I get to be on your team as the junior high director here. I get to partner with and equip young adult leaders who come alongside families to love and encourage them. I see leaders use their gifts and give of their time. Most of them will stay with the same small group from sixth grade through twelfth grade, for seven years or even longer, and that's normal here.

I hear emails and phone calls from parents who are exasperated and feel alone and helpless, and now they feel encouraged, because they have someone who has come and partnered with them. They don't just tell the gospel, but they give of their lives, also. We're seeing students' lives transformed because people are living out the call of discipleship and giving of themselves.

We believe in junior high kids here. High school kids, college kids, kid kids, and the next generation… We believe in how God is going to use them in the future, and we believe God wants to use them now. We believe in them so much that we're willing to give of our lives to love them and call others to do the same, because that's what Jesus did for us.

He came and dwelt among us. He spent three and a half years hanging out with 12 knuckleheads. He taught them, ate with them, laughed with them, cried with them, lived with them, and died for them because he loved them and wanted them to have a relationship with a God who was crazy about them.

While he was here, his disciples got to watch the way he lived his life, and they got to model their lives after him. We as the church get to live out our lives and faiths in front of the next generation so they can model it after God working powerfully through us. That's the call of discipleship. That's the role of the church, and you are the church.

When we all come together to invest in the next generation, they are strengthened, the church is strengthened, and lives are transformed. The needs are here. We're bursting at the seams. Kids are looking for someone they can look up to, and they're watching you. I hope you jump in with us. I hope you take the call to make disciples, to be the church and not just be at church.

I want to close with the story of a girl who grew up here. We saw this thing happen. She grew up in children's ministry and then student ministry. She had great parents and great leaders, but it's because all of us as the church came around her to help love her that she is who she is today. When we all take that call together to rise up and invest in the next generation, amazing things can happen. Check this out.

Martha Kate McJunkin: Hi, I'm Martha Kate McJunkin, and I have been at Watermark since 1999. My parents were a part of the first group that began meeting together with a couple of other families. We had no idea what our parents were committed to. We didn't know what was going to come from those gatherings, but what we did know is they were committed.

My time in student ministries and the children's ministry surely reshaped fun. I don't remember anything about the programs. I don't remember the 36 characteristics. I don't remember the crafts, games, or any of that. All I remember is you guys loved me and taught me about Jesus. Church was where I wanted to be. This was the highlight of my week. This was the place where I knew the most fun, laughter, and silliness was going to be had, yet also love, vulnerability, and trust would be experienced at church. This was the place I ran to.

One night when I was in the student ministry, I was having a hard time. I had had a really hard week, and a leader came up to me and started asking normal questions and getting to know how I was doing and what was going on. She loved me well, and she did what was ultimately best for me when she reminded me of what is true and how much God loves me. It was a pivotal moment when I was growing up.

The fact that I am here today is a complete surprise to me. I had no intentions when I was growing up of working in ministry, much less here at Watermark. It is really neat that the Lord spent all those years developing me into this place that I might come back.

Thank you to all the leaders who have spent time loving on God's children. There are so many of you guys who have spent time loving me and loving kids, and it's just incredible to see what the Lord can do through you. Thank you, Watermark family, for the passion with which you follow Christ, and for showing me church is not a place you just come to, but a place you live on mission and care about people like me.