The Morning Sun, a news site serving central Michigan, published an article about Jim and Mary Jane Ogg, members of Brown Corners UB church in Clare, Mich. It tells about how church people ministered to them during Jim’s lengthy battle with heart problems (culminating in a heart transplant), including taking care of their cattle and crops. A nice example for us all.

Jeff Bleijerveld, Director of Global Ministries
I previously mentioned that we postponed the missionary homecoming, which we had planned for next summer. This is disappointing, because we were looking forward to gathering nearly all of our missionaries in one place at one time. 

But in light of the economic situation in the United States, we felt it was necessary. 

We were well along in our planning. Meeting place, accommodations and meals were in place. Volunteers were lined up. About two-thirds of the money we needed was committed (though not received). 

The next step was to reserve airline tickets. That was the point of no return. 

Finances are tight all around right now. We considered where our churches might be in another six months, and where Global Ministries might be. We felt we could raise enough money for the Homecoming. But was this a good time for asking churches to give above and beyond what they normally do, in order to help fund this major event? 

e didn’t know what churches will be facing by mid-2009. Would they end up “robbing Peter to pay Paul”? It didn’t seem appropriate to put this huge challenge before our churches at this time.

So, we made the call to put the Missionary Homecoming on hold. At the US National Conference, Saturday night will still focus on missions, and we’ll make it a very special evening. We just won’t have dozens of returned missionaries in attendance.

Pat Jones, Director of Healthy Church Ministries
Yesterday, I asked you to consider the question, “Do I feel I have a shared ownership of the church I attend?”

I hope you wrestled with that question and did not easily fluff it off. It is an important question to ask. Your view of what happens at the church is based on your answer to this question. Today, I want to share a Scriptural defense of who truly owns and should control the agenda of the church.

The church belongs to…Jesus Christ.

  • He is the head of the Church (Ephesians 1:22).
  • He died for the Church (Romans 5:8; 1 Thess. 5:10).
  • He determines the gifts each person receives through His Spirit (1 Cor. 12:11).
  • He freely gives us all things we need (Romans 8:32; 2 Peter 1:3).
  • He is the Savior of the church (Ephesians 5:23).
  • He holds every church in His hands (Revelation 3:1).
  • He gives the mission to the church (Matthew 28:19, 20).

We could give many more proofs. But the point is made. It is HIS church. His blood bought it; His Word established it; His Spirit fills it.

So how much do you think about His ownership and seek His direction about what happens at your church?

On Thursday, we will finally look at how we can say, “This is my church.”

Pat Jones, Director of Healthy Church Ministries
I’ve been amazed to see so many people living in deception when it comes to their relationship with their own church. When disgruntlement raises its head, or when people resist change that will bring about greater effectiveness in fulfilling the mission of the church, it’s common to hear statements like these:

  • “But this is my church.”
  • “You’re not going to do that to my church.”

Generally, the term “my” implies not only identification with, but also ownership. My computer. My home. I own them. And I determine what happens with them.

There is the deception. Did you catch it? 

It is the same subtle deception Jesus spoke about in Luke 20. He tells a parable about a man who planted a vineyard, entrusted it to some farmers, and went away. He wanted to collect from his tenants and sent servants to do so. But they beat the servants and finally killed the owner’s son because they deceived themselves into thinking that they owned the vineyard. 

They worked it. They spent the time there. They kept the walls up. They watered it. How dare the owner try and take something from them!

So it is with churches. You can deceive yourself into thinking you can do with the church what you want because:

  • I am a member.
  • I have attended there for a long time.
  • I have given money to buy or build or pay off debts.
  • I have worked there for so long.
  • And no one has the authority or right to do anything without my permission. 

I want to take a couple installments to address ownership of the church and our proper relationship to the church.

To prepare, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I feel I have a shared ownership of the church I attend?
  • Do I see my church as a place of shared responsibility to the Owner?

One last thought. Jesus looked right at the people and asked what they thought the owner would do to the tenants? He told them he would come, kill those tenants, and give the vineyard to others. The people responded, “May it never be.” 

I pray it won’t be so for any of us.