Of all the characteristics of worship, the one that seemed to please Jesus the most was when that worship came from the heart. One time, Jesus noted the financial gift that a destitute widow made to the temple when she chose to give away her last couple of pennies, and he was more moved by this by the much larger gifts of others who had money to spare. The widow was all in, and Jesus commended her for it.
On another occcasion, Jesus was invited for dinner at the house of a Pharisee named Simon, and the party was crashed by a woman who had a reputation for immorality. Though Simon was hosting Jesus, he didn’t give Jesus water for his feet, he didn’t greet him with a kiss and he didn’t anoint his head with oil – all of which would be expected in that culture. Simon was a respected religious man, who was offering the bare minimum to Jesus. Contrast this with the woman. She washed Jesus’ feet with tears and dried them with her hair. She kissed those feet and she anointed them with ointment. She may not have looked as respectable as Simon, but she was giving everything that she had to make a big deal of Jesus, and once again it is this woman the receives the commendation of Jesus rather than Simon the Pharisee.
In both of these cases, it is wholeheartedness that moves Jesus, and at Christ Church Manchester, we talk about having a wholehearted culture which means that we give our all in our worship of Jesus. As Paul writes, “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
Wholehearted Culture at CCM
As a church, we describe our foundations as DEVOTION, COMMUNITY and MISSION, and we want to be wholehearted in all three. Wholeheartedness in our devotion means that we take our worship of God seriously, and it can be expressed both through the extravagant praise that we give him in our Sunday meetings and the extravagant lives of love and devotion that we live for him. Wholeheartedness in our community means that we go the extra mile for one another, and do what we can to serve and help each other even when doing so is hard. Wholeheartedness in our mission means we are actively engaged in sharing the love of God, praying for those around us, sharing the good news with others and starting new sites and churches to reach other communities for Jesus.
Having a wholehearted culture means that:
People are enthusiastic. When the Holy Spirit fills people with the joy of knowing Jesus and being part of what he is doing in the world, it is hard to keep a smile off their face. At CCM you will find lots of people who are living enthusiastically, excited about what God has done in their lives and eager to see what is next. This sparks creative ideas, loving friendships, a positive atmosphere and vibrant praise, and it is a wonderful thing to experience.
There is commitment that is willingly given. CCM has got where it is because of the hard work of lots of people who have gone above and beyond, volunteering their time out of a commitment to see God’s kingdom come. At CCM, we love seeing the commitment that people show to Jesus, and we want to do our best to serve and honour people who are playing their part, particularly those who are doing so in roles that may not often be as prominent as others.
There’s a lot of encouragement. Whole hearted people are nourished in an environment of encouragement. Encouragement is about recognising people’s work, appreciating their heart and bringing out the best in them. It is often the case that encouragement flows both ways, as when somebody serves wholeheartedly, the rest of the church can take encouragement in the ministry of that person, and then offer that encouragement back to that person through words of thanks and affirmation.
It’s loads of fun. There is something beautiful about people serving whole-heartedly, showing their joy on their on their faces. As a church, we don’t take ourselves too seriously and rather than always driving for more, we recognise there is a time to say ‘good enough is good enough’. We want to care well for the people who work hard in the church and enjoy having lots of fun and good food together as we serve Jesus.