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It's Not Thinking Less of Yourself; It's Thinking of Yourself Less

How to maintain harmony in the church
This sermon is part of the sermon series "Harmony and Humility in the Church". See series.


A few years ago, one of my students was speaking to our class about his denominational background. He told the class that the average church in his denomination lasts about 8 years, and then it splits because of some disagreement or dissension among the members or the leadership. He mentioned one instance in which a pastor and the elders were at great odds with each other. The elders met in secret to vote to have the pastor fired. The pastor heard about the meeting and retaliated. He had church members sign a petition denouncing the elders as disruptive, and then got a judge to issue a restraining order so that the elders couldn't come within 500 yards of the church building. Shortly thereafter, the elders started their own church and took almost half the congregation with them.

In light of that story, I thought of titling the message today, "How to Bring Joy to Your Pastor." I thought of that title because of something Paul wrote to a small church. He said to them: Let me tell how you can bring me great joy, what would make me completely happy.

Paul was writing under house arrest in Rome, awaiting a trial before Caesar. The church he was writing was 800 miles away in the city of Philippi. He and the church had a long history together; he loved them, and they loved him. They had just sent him some money so that Paul could pay the rent for the house he was staying in rather than be thrown in a dungeon while he awaited his trial.

Paul was so grateful to them; their gift brought him great joy. Another thing that brought him joy was seeing his guards come to Christ. Over the past months, every six hours, day and night, another of Caesar's personal bodyguards would strap on the other end of Paul's four-foot chain, and ...

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Donald R. Sunukjian is professor of homiletics and chair of the Christian Ministry and Leadership Department at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, California.

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Sermon Outline:


I. Be one in spirit.

II. Be humble.