(The message will begin with a 3-minute history video about our beginnings. The video shows footage from when we were just 50 or so people and getting started in our early days. Immediately below this is the script for the voiceover. I’m including it here because the video sets the tone for the rest of the message)
Five years ago, in 2009, Renovation Church began.
But it didn’t begin with hundreds of people…
We had our very first meeting of the Renovation Church Launch Team, on June 23rd of 2009…and 55 people showed up.
It was hard to see how it might all come together in those days…but yet we believed. We believed in a Big Vision and a Big God.
In August and September of 2009, we started gathering for the first time on Sunday mornings as a launch team.
In order to save money, we actually met outside at Aquatore Park in Blaine.
It was still hard to see how small group of Christians that were currently meeting in a park were supposed to start reaching people far from God and change the world…but yet…we believed. We believed in a Big vision & a Big God.
And then, on October 4th, 2009, we had our Grand Opening. We were blown away by the response as 308 people came that very first Sunday.
Over the next few months, the novelty of a new church in town wore off, and we settled in as a church of about 100 people on a Sunday mornings.
And there were times in that first year where it was really hard to imagine how we could ever grow past 100 people.
But yet…we believed. We believed in a Big vision & a Big God.
And in the five years since…God has done literally amazing things.
Over 400 people now call Renovation Church home,
We average around 300 people on a Sunday morning.
And almost 200 people have become Christ-followers at Renovation!
And now…five years after we began…a new chapter is upon us… and in some ways, it’s still hard to see how it might all work. It’s hard to see sometimes how God could use this small group of 400 people to reach thousands for Christ and change the world…but yet…we believe. We believe in a big vision and a Big God!
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Welcome to Renovation Church on this historic Sunday.
As you saw in the video, God has done amazing things through the faith of the people of Renovation Church.
The people who believed in a Big Vision and a Big God…even when it was hard to believe in.
And today, we are going to turn the page to a new chapter in our story.
And it will once again require great faith out of, you, the people of this church.
We are going to be spending 5 weeks talking about this new chapter in our history, as this is going to be a defining moment in the life of our church.
Just like that night on June 23rd, 2009…when our launch team first gathered together…was a defining moment.
Just like on October 4th, 2009, when we first opened our doors…was a defining moment.
I believe…that years from now…we will look back on this day as a defining moment where God began to propel us into the next chapter of our future.
This morning, my aim is to give you a broad overview of what’s happening, and then we are going to get more specific in the subsequent 4 weeks about what God is asking us to do and how each and everyone of us can play a part in this next chapter.
That’s why I’m asking, that as much as possible, that you try and make all 5 weeks of the “Amplify” series.
If you’re unable, please watch or listen online, or through our app, so you can track with what God is doing in this important time.
HE DIDN’T KNOW WHERE HE WAS GOING, BUT HE KNEW HE HAD TO GO
As we take another leap of faith as a church, we’re going to be studying one of the great people of faith in the Bible: Abraham.
You can read about him in the book of Genesis.
Genesis 11 traces his ancestry back to Noah himself.
Let’s get some context on where Abraham lives.
A note: God later gives Abraham the name of “Abraham,” but at first, he was simply called “Abram”
Renovation Church app
(Genesis 11:31) – NIV
Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Harran, they settled there.
Okay, there’s a lot of names and places there, so let’s sort this all out with a map J
Abram (or Abraham as we’ll call him) grows up in Ur…which is most likely in Southern Iraq.
His family thinks about going to the land of Canaan (which is modern-day Israel), but decides to settle in Haran instead (which is by the mountains in Southern Turkey)
Then, as the map gives away, Abraham is going to make another move..
(Genesis 12:1-7) – NIV
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. 2 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” 4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there. 6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
So let’s put up the map again
Abraham moves with him family from Ur (in Iraq) to Haran (in Turkey), and then God comes to him and says: “Leave your family, leave your people…and go to a new land that you’ve never been to”
And there I will make you into a great nation…where you will bless the world.
And he goes…to what is modern day Israel…by faith.
Why does Abraham go?
Because God called him to.
Because it was a part of God’s plan to influence and change the world.
And God wants to do the same with Renovation Church
He wants to use us…to the greatest degree possible…to change the world.
That has always been our big vision: To be a people…being changed by God…to change the world!
But in order to do that…in order to keep doing that…like Abraham, it will require much faith out of us.
Let me show you what I mean:
(Show Attendance Slide)
This is a chart of our growth as a church over the last 5 years.
We started as a group of 80 or so people in 2009, grew to 120, to 160, to 220, to 240, and now, present day are around 290 (in fact, it’s actually closer to 300+ at this point)
We’ve been growing consistently at 20% a year.
And that’s not a 6-month thing either.
It’s been large & fast, but consistent and steady as well…for years!
We’ve established quite the trend by now.
So, in light of that trend, for some time now, we’ve been forecasting out the future.
We know that if we continue to grow at 20% a year, in just 3 and a half years, we will run out of space at Northpoint Elementary.
There are some small things we can do (wrap parking around the side…add a 3rd service), but we feel the limit for growth here is around 600.
So picture this: In just 3.5 years from now, when a family of 4 who doesn’t know Christ…drives up to Renovation Church to find out more about Jesus…our parking lot will be full…and there will be no more open chairs.
That brings up a lot of emotion.
On the one hand…it IS amazing.
God is going things here that I think few of us thought possible!
But on the other hand, we want to be wise in our leadership.
None of us want to get to the Spring of 2018 and say, “Huh, we’re out of room, we should probably get started on that!”
We have to start now.
We need start working now towards getting in a space where we can amplify our impact and reach even more people for Christ.
I realize this is new to many of you, but our Board and many of our leaders have been working hard on this for well over a year now.
And here is what’s been happening:
Over the last 8 months, we have been actively looking for our next home.
There is a massive shortage of temporary facilities to rent in the area, and even if we found one, it doesn’t really solve any long-term problems for us.
We are of the belief that the way that we can reach the most amount of people for Christ (not over the next 5 years, but over the next 25 years)….
the way we can change the world to the highest degree…is to purchase land for Renovation Church…and then to build a church building on it.
That is our goal.
I do want to say though as a quick asterisk…that we don’t want to completely shut the door on anything.
Although we do desire to purchase land, if the perfect existing building somehow comes available in the near future…we don’t want to be closed to anything.
However…our sights have been consistently on purchasing land for our church.
We have been actively looking for land and are narrowing it down, but as you might imagine, it’s not a quick process.
And it’s something that we absolutely want to do diligently and thorougly.
And as you might also imagine, it’s hard to go shopping without money in your pocket.
If we want to be able to purchase land when it’s available, we need to be able to financially secure it.
So in light of all of those factors, we have set a goal to raise $500,000 in additional giving over the next 3 years.
We believe that an amount like this would be enough to purchase the right size piece of land, or at least allow us to secure the land with an additional small loan.
At this point, I’m going to ask our Ushers to hand out our Amplify Brochure that our staff has put together for you.
(Ushers hand out brochures)
I believe at defining moments like this, it’s important to communicate clearly.
So we’ve personally put together this guide to help you understand this exciting next step.
I would ask that every single person in this room read through this booklet today…or sometime this week at the latest…so you can be informed.
I’m coming to all 5 house groups this week to do Q&A’s, so perhaps try and get it read before I come to your group
You will notice, that towards the back, there is a Frequently Asked Questions page as well on pages 18 & 19
In some ways, it feels like a scary time.
Northpoint Elementary is all we’ve ever known.
And in some ways…we’re not even exactly sure where we are going to precisely end up…but here’s what we DO know….we need to go. We need to start.
And isn’t that the exact same place Abraham was in?
We tend to associate Biblical figures with the land of Israel, but keep in mind…Abraham has never been there.
The Book of Hebrews, in the New Testament, has a great chapter on all the people of faith in the Old Testament.
It says this about Abraham:
(Hebrews 11:8) – NIV
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.
I love this summary:
“He didn’t know where he was going, but he knew he had to go”
That’s us…even though we’re not exactly sure where that piece of land is yet…we know that God is calling us to go.
We know that now is the time to start.
We know that we can’t stay here forever.
Just like Abraham couldn’t just stay in Haran.
Sure, it would have been WAY easier for him to stay there with his family…in his home…with all he’d ever really known.
But God was calling him to something greater.
And God is calling us to something greater.
And you can read more in depth about that this week in your Amplify Brochures
This morning, my aim was for you to get a feel for what our brochures are like…but at this point, I’m actually going to ask you to put it under your chair for a bit.
Because what we’re talking about in this defining day is so important that I want your full attention.
And let me make something clear here:
This isn’t about fixing a broken past
This is about taking a great past…to the next level.
It’s why we’re calling this 5-week series: Amplify
See, even in an elementary school gym, God has done amazing things!
We’ve grown substantially
74 people have been baptized.
2 churches started. 4 international missions trip!
And 188 people have given their lives to Christ since we started!
ONE HUNDRED EIGHTY EIGHT!!
See…we don’t need to change what we’re doing.
We don’t need to change our identity.
We aren’t going to change our philosophy.
God is already moving through Renovation Church in mighty ways!
We just need to AMPLIFY what we’re already doing.
And in order to do that…in order to reach more people for Christ…we are going to eventually need a bigger space.
And what we’re trying to do here is not motivated by “space.”
It involves space. It involves a building.
But it’s not motivated by a “building.”
It’s motivated by people. By vision. By God.
This is a vision issue, not a space issue.
Space is just a tool. A building is a tool.
That’s why we haven’t spent the past 5 years constantly talking about “how someday we can be in a building and life will finally be good!”
No, life already is good!
God already is moving!
And He’s moving like crazy.
And we just want Him to continue to be able to move like crazy!
Not just for 3.5 more years, but for 25 more years.
We can’t stay here.
Just like Abraham couldn’t stay in haran.
God wants to amplify our vision.
God has bigger plans for this church!
A MOVE FOR INFLUENCE AND IMPACT
It’s interesting when you read Abraham’s life story.
Unlike so many men & women in the Bible, he doesn’t have one of those, “Go and sin no more” calls.
His call…is a move for IMPACT.
It’s a move for God’s plan to be glorified and carried out.
I want you to think with me for a moment about what God’s doing in history with Abraham.
Why does it even matter that Abraham follows God in faith and moves to a new land?
Why can’t God just use Abraham in Iraq? Or in Turkey?
What’s the difference?
It’s a move to amplify God’s impact.
See, Israel, the promised land, is one of the most strategic geographic locations on the entire globe.
If you want to talk about influence, this is where we begin.
Israel is the link to Europe, Africa, and Asia (think about that!)
It’s the connecting point of 3 continents!
So much of the world’s trade and traveler’s went through there.
I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about this: But Jesus could have showed up anywhere. He could have came to Minnesota, Australia, Brazil, England…
But why did he come to Israel?
Well, first of all, he had to come where the Jews were.
He was the Jewish messiah.
They would be the only people able to interpret the prophecies and know WHY he was coming…so they could tell the world.
So in light of that, where God decides to place the Jewish people is one of the most defining moments of history.
And Abraham is the father of the Jewish nation!
And God puts Abraham, and consequently the Jewish people, at the center of the world.
At a place where one day…the Good News of Jesus…would quickly spring forth with ease:
Into North Africa…where Christianity thrived for centuries
Into Asia…and India…in the first centuries…
And through Turkey…to Europe…where Europeans would first take the Gospel…to the world.
God called Abraham to move in faith.
And that move…amplifies impact…and actually changes the world.
See, God has a plan for Renovation Church.
He also wants to amplify OUR impact.
He knows our future.
And while these next steps will be scary…God knows what He’s doing.
Even if we’re like Abraham, and we don’t yet know “exactly where we’re going,” we know we need to go.
And we know that if we go in faith, that God knows what He’s doing.
And that God will know where and how to amplify our impact.
And we need Him to do just that.
God has had great impact here in the last 5 years.
I can think of family after family…that did not know Jesus.
But then their friend invited them to Renovation…or they saw a street sign…or got a postcard…
And they heard about Jesus…
And now…God has gotten into their life…and brought them joy & peace & life.
And often times their spouse has met Jesus too.
And even better, their children, who previously knew nothing about God…are now going to grow up in a Christian home.
And it’s not just that one person’s life is now different…their family is different!
Their family NAME is going to be different!
The generations after them are going to be different!
Because they met Jesus at Renovation Church.
But for every family like that, there are THOUSANDS just like it…that are still in our city and beyond…that are facing a Christ-less eternity.
They are facing…an eternity in hell…because they have not given their lives to Jesus.
And we CAN NOT…and we WILL NOT be satisfied with just “this” (point to gym)
It’s great…but it’s time to Amplify our reach.
God is calling us on a faith journey to greater impact this city and this region.
I can not sleep at night if we allow ourselves to say that this is “good enough” while thousands of our neighbors (right in our midst!) walk towards hell with NO hope or knowledge of Jesus.
No, we will do WHATEVER it takes…for however long it takes…to be a people being changed by God to change the world.
IT PROBABLY SEEMED IMPOSSIBLE/CRAZY
And maybe this idea of raising something like a half a million dollars in ADDITIONAL giving to what people are already giving…over 3 years…seems crazy to you.
Maybe the idea of getting enough money…to get our own land, so we could one day put a building on it where we could reach…not hundreds…but maybe thousands for Christ…
Maybe that seems just crazy to you.
But I assure you…God majors in crazy.
God is famous for making the impossible…possible.
God is famous for making ALL THINGS possible.
But in all of those things…He always USES His people.
He doesn’t just “do it” without our faith and participation.
He doesn’t’ just “teleport” Abraham
Abraham has to decide to go in faith…and then he makes the long hard journey.
And God wants to use this church like crazy, but in order to get there, it will take ALL of us.
Nothing is going to appear out of thin air here. No one’s just going to “hand us something.”
Our denomination doesn’t write checks for this sort of thing.
There’s no millionaire (that I know of) at Renovation Church that will cover it.
If we’re actually going to do this…if we’re actually going to get to a place where God can use to reach hundreds and thousands of more people for Christ….it will take every one of us participating.
I’m dead serious. Every single one of us.
Every single person in this room getting on their knees and asking God how He wants to use them.
I don’t want anything on this journey to be hidden or be a surprise.
Four weeks from today (on Nov. 16th), our journey will end with a financial commitment.
But please hear me...this is a spiritual journey first.
Do not start locking in on the financial commitment piece yet.
I believe all financial decisions should be spiritual
This is spiritual before it’s financial.
What I am asking every single one of you to do now…when you leave here today…is to pray. To seek God.
To pray about this vision to amplify the impact of Renovation Church.
To pray that the right piece of land would be revealed to us.
To pray for the people of Blaine and our surrounding areas
And to pray about how God would use you to help make this vision become a reality.
Let me also share this: Over the last month, I’ve met with some of our leaders and shared this vision with them.
And they are SO excited about it.
And they BELIEVE IN IT.
In fact, so much so, that many of our leaders have already pledged their “above & beyond giving” for the “Amplify Project” for the next 3 years.
I mentioned that our goal is to raise $500,000 total over 3 years.
Our leaders have already pledged $140,000!!
And there’s no one large gift in there either.
They all believe in this.
So, now, we’re just at $360,000 to go.
Think of it this way…I assure you…that the call to “bless the whole world” probably felt crazy and impossible to Abraham too.
Look again at what verses 6 & 7 said
(Genesis 12:6-7) – NIV
6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
Abraham shows up in the promised land…and whoops, it’s not empty!
Can you imagine buying a house, and the owners have no clue about the sale?!
You show up with all of your stuff…and they’re eating their TV dinners watching reruns of Law & Order…Awkward.
Abraham gets to the promised land…and it’s already full!
Yet God says…I’m going to give it to you and your descendants, and yet if you read Genesis…is wife is barren!
She hasn’t been able to have kids.
So Abraham shows up…there are already people there…and he can’t even have kids to inhabit the land!
And yet, God is still faithful to His promise to Him.
This all might seem crazy…but we know what God has done in our past…we know what He’s even doing in our present.
And we KNOW that He wants to do more of it in our future.
We know that he’s been so FAITHFUL to us, Renovation Church, and we want to be faithful to Him!
We want to be faithful to allow Him to graciously still use us in such a dynamic way.
We want to see enormous change in this city and beyond.
The first 3-4 years of this church, when I would meet people in the city and tell them where I pastored, they would always say, “Never heard of it.”
Now they say, “Oh yeah… I’ve heard of it.”
10 years from now, we want them to say, “This area…will never be the same because of Renovation Church”
“God is using Renovation Church to change the world!”
That’s what we want!
And even if this all still seems crazy to you…I assure you…it is no crazier than when I called my wife from a conference in Florida in 2008 and said, “I think God wants us to start a church”
There were 2 of us. TWO OF US.
Like now…we didn’t even know for sure where we were going!
But we knew God was calling us to GO!
So like Abraham, we obeyed, and we followed.
We followed a big Vision…because we had a Big God!
And soon there were 50 of us…meeting in another church on Tuesday nights…and then in a park on Sunday mornings…
We didn’t know how it was going to all work out!
I think people thought we were weird and crazy (maybe they still do)…but we knew God wanted to use us….so in FAITH…we obeyed…we followed…
And God moved.
See…what I want you to see…is this has always been our story.
This has always been our story.
Listen to God…trust God…follow in faith…AND LET HIM USE US TO CHANGE THE WORLD.
We aren’t doing anything different.
It’s just the next chapter.
We’re just amplifying what we’ve always done.
It’s time to take it to the next level!
May God do the impossible through us.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.
OCTOBER 19, 2014