Two years ago, several preachers came together to start IMPACT Work Camp which allows teens to paint homes and do yard work for needy families. IMPACT is a rotating event that will be held in Valdosta, GA this July, and anyone reading this is invited to attend (IMPACT Work Camp). Our first camp was in Columbus, GA, and last year we hosted the event at my home congregation in Ellijay. In the future, we will look to hold camps in Atlanta, Augusta, Montgomery, and beyond as the work continues to grow. IMPACT is an exciting time because it allows youth groups to do something that teenagers don’t do anymore – work with their hands to do good for others. The theme verse last year came from Psalm 90:17 where Moses prays and asks God to “establish the work of his hands.”
Similarly, building things for ourselves can provide a tremendous sense of accomplishment, but we seem more content to hire someone to complete our projects rather than use our own hands. This is a trait of our changing society, but we often miss out on both the relaxing nature of work and the pride that comes with viewing the finished product. The world needs more people that are willing to build – and God’s Church needs builders too.
We seem far too content in our churches to cruise into maintenance mode and manage our membership. We lack the desire to challenge our church families to do more, and we only give lip service to our modest evangelism programs. In the Bible, God’s people were always building something and working towards something greater. We should be doing the same thing. Below are a few ways for us to become the builders that God would have us to be.
I. Follow the Plan
Many people reject the idea of “pattern theology,” but every good builder knows that projects require detailed plans. In Genesis, God is explicit in his instructions to Noah about how to build the one object that could save Noah and his family from the destruction of the world. In the same way, we are given clear directives on how we are saved, how to worship, and how to live! If Noah had decided to stray from God’s design for the ark, he and his family would have most certainly drowned in the waters of the flood. While our own “common sense” may tell us that it is acceptable to stray from the New Testament examples, we must simply follow the plan. Nadab and Abihu (Lev. 10:1-2) and Uzzah (2 Sam. 6:1-7) lost their lives because they were disobedient to God’s commands. Similarly, we can lose our souls if we choose not to follow the pattern, and when we build we must only build on the foundation of the truth found in Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 3:11).
II. Use the Right Materials
In the concluding verses of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warned the listeners about building on the right foundation (rock vs. sand). This parable, usually shared in song during VBS classes, is reinforced by Paul in his first letter to the church at Corinth. In 1 Corinthians 3:9 Paul seemingly runs wild with metaphors before settling on the church as God’s building. The foundation, of course, is Jesus Christ, but as builders, we must all contribute to the formation of a strong structure. In verse 12 he compares materials that will last and materials that will be burned up. None of us would dare build a house out of straw (looking at you three little pigs), but we try to build a church on teachings that are weaker than straw and will be burned up if they are ever tested. A church that is built to last will be shaped by God’s Word!
III. Defend What We Build
Nehemiah is known as the Bible’s first-class builder and one of the key passages in the Book of Nehemiah is found in chapter 4:
“From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.”
– Nehemiah 4:16-18
We must always be defending God’s church against the temptations and lusts that the world has to offer. Far too often our members fall through the cracks and nothing is done to bring them back home. We should have one eye towards the future and what the church CAN be and the other defending what she already is.
IV. Build With Diligence
Two more verses in Nehemiah immediately jump out as it pertains to work ethic:
Nehemiah 2:18 – “And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king’s words that he had spoken to me. So they said, ‘Let us rise up and build.’ Then they set their hands to this good work.”
Nehemiah 4:6 – “So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work”
Our society has developed a culture where we “go to church” to be served rather than being a productive part of the body. With the right outlook, we can contribute to changing the culture and developing a mind to work. Cultures do not change overnight, and a work ethic takes time to be engrained within us. Still, by following God’s plan, using scripture as our material, and defending the church from the influence of the world, we can have that mind to work and allow God to give the increase!