Being Changed to Change

March 27, 2011

David Sorn

The story of God's intervention in Paul's life teaches us that one can never be "too far gone."

Being Changed to Change

March 27, 2011

David Sorn

The story of God's intervention in Paul's life teaches us that one can never be "too far gone."


Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor at Renovation Church.

This morning we are doing something different. We are currently in between two series, and I wanted to take a week to talk about our church’s vision.

Gonna talk the history of our church, what this church is all about, and where God is leading us.

If you’re visiting this morning, it’s probably actually a good week to visit.

You’re going to get a good in depth look at what drives this church.

I want to start this morning by taking a quick look back. How did this church come to be? Maybe you know the story, maybe you have no clue.

But I think it’s a necessary starting point.

If we’re going to understand what we’re passionate about, we have to see where we’re coming from.

And even if you know this story, realize that a lot of people don’t.

God has blessed our church with growth, especially in the last few months, and many people know nothing of our church’s history.

IN fact, I’ve had this conversation at least 4 or 5 times in the last few months:

Someone asks me“So, how long have you been meeting in this school?”

I respond: “A little less than a year and a half.”

“And where did you meet before that?”

“We didn’t meet before that.”

“No, like where were your services held in the years before?

“No, like we just started a year and a half ago.”



I suppose, in reality, God’s been working on this church for a really long time. As he worked in the hearts of the many people who helped start this church, preparing them for a task like this. IT’s been a long time in the making.

In my own life, I became a Christian 11 years ago, when I was 18 years old.

I went off to college, got involved with a Bible Study, like I talked about last week, which exploded from 10 to 150 college students in a just a yr

As I started speaking in front of those students and leading the ministry I realized that I wasn’t supposed to be an elementary school teacher after all, but God was calling me into ministry

After college, I moved to the metro, and started my Masters at Bethel Seminary.

While I went to Seminary, I also started as the Youth Pastor for 200 high school students at Constance Free Church in Andover.

Yet, even when I started there at 22, I told my boss at the time, “I’m only going to be here for a few years.”

One of the things I’ve always known really clearly in my life was that God was calling me to lead a church. I’ve just had the blessing that that part has always been crystal clear for me.

I just never knew if it was going to be to plant a church or pastor an established one.

In April of 2008, my good friend from Seminary, Mike Binder, who has now planted Mill City Church in NE Minneapolis, invited me to come w/ him to a huge church planting conference in Orlando.

I said yes, and my life was never the same.

I quickly felt God tugging on my heart to plant a church, and I consistently felt like He was telling me to put it in Blaine.

During that conference I met the pastors of our two eventually parent churches, Kevin Thomas (enCompass) and Dave Reno (GF)

I was having a conversation with another pastor about how I really wanted to start a church in Blaine, and he told me, “Well, you need to go talk to Dave Reno about that because they’ve been hoping to put a church in Blaine for a long time.”

And things took off from there.

After about 9 months of intense evaluation of me, I was finally fully approved to plant a church in January of 2009 and left Constance to start the process of starting this church in April of 2009.

Over the next 6 months, I spent most of my waking hours fundraising, recruiting people, and planning.

My days basically consisted of eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner with people and telling them to come to this church that didn’t exist or at least financially support it.

And in between I ran so I didn’t gain 50 lbs.

We then, with an incredible launch team of people, launched this church on Oct. 4th, 2009. We had an incredibly successful launch. The highest in our network in the last 8 years, and started strong.


And now, here we are, almost a year and a half later, and God is continuing to do great things in our church.

We’re growing, He’s moving, last year we baptized 9 people, which was awesome, and more people are getting to know Him, and know Him better.

So, now you know. And that’s great, but what in the world is this church all about?!?

What drives us?

Well, first of all, our mission drives us.

A lot of churches make this a lot more confusing than it really is.

Here’s why: The MISSION of every church should be the same. Jesus TOLD us what the church’s mission is:

(Matthew 28:19-20) – NIV

9 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

It’s called the great commission. And that commission is the mission for the Church.

Or, like Jesus said…his mission was in Luke 19:10

(Luke 19:10) –NIV

10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

This, in it’s most basic, fundamental, and foundational form is the MISSION of the church. Helping save lost people. And should be the mission of any church.

Now, each church might go about that mission VERY, VERY differently (some might use music from the 1700’s, some might use rap, some might meet in Cathedrals, others meet in Bars), but if that’s not your core mission, what you are trying to accomplish, you’re not on track with Jesus’ church

The mission is not to create a new “club” in town or a new place where we can all learn a lot. The mission, what drives us, is to reach lost people AND (this is important, a lot of churches miss this), AND disciple them (as it said in MT 28)

That is, to make them more like Jesus.

Now, that is the foundational thing that every church has in common, but from there, how we accomplish it can look very different.

A church in the ghetto of Chicago is going to look very different from a church that meets in Northern MN and that is going to look very different from a church that meets in China.

And how they do ministry is going to look very different.

But their overall MISSION should be the same.

So, what does ministry look like at Renovation Church?

HOW are we trying to accomplish the mission of the church?

We call this our vision. IT’s how WE want to see God use us.

And our vision is this:

To be a people being changed by God to change the world. (put on screen)

Say that with me.

And it lines up right with our Core Values. We only have 3 of them. It’s simple.

If you’ve been here a lot, you hear us talk about our Core Values a lot, but for many of you this might be new.


The first one is this: Community

Community (“To be a people”) (put on screen)

And you’ll notice it lines up w/ the first part of our vision statement

Our vision for this church is that we would be passionate about being a church where people highly value being in community with each other. Being in house groups, developing deep spiritual friendships, challenging one another, supporting one another and so on.

The great thing about church planting is you get to start from scratch. You don’t have to try and slowly change a broken system over time.

And one of the things that’s very, very broken in the modern church in America is community-life.

Our churches have become merely large rooms where people gather together to consume.

People love the service. Love the music. Love the pastor. But often they don’t know a soul. And let’s stop kidding ourselves, that’s not church.

It’s a great time of personal spiritual enrichment, but it’s not church.

Church, is about the BODY of Christ coming together and doing something together.

AND we said from the very beginning of this church that we were never going to pretend (as different as this sounds), that THIS is community.

Especially by now, you can blend in here. No one has to know you here.

This, Sunday morning, is good. It’s important. But it’s not community.

So from the beginning we’ve set out to do everything we can to get people in our house groups.

We created an entirely different system of small groups (groups of 20-30 that break down to smaller groups) where people can actually get connected with a “Community” of people rather than just being assigned by the church to a group of 7 or 8 that will last for 2 years and then dissipate.

We wanted to create communities like we see in Acts chapter 2

And it’s working. Praise God it’s working. I was a little nervous at first, I gotta be honest. I got told by a number of pastors that this wouldn’t work.

And yet, a stat we tell often here, 80% of our adults are involved in a House Group.

Nat’l avg for small group involvement in churches: 22%.

We’ve already had our unique House Groups system copied by two other churches in our area and more are in line.

Now we contacted by other churches saying they want to copy our system but they’re not sure if their people will buy in.

And I always tell them the same thing, “Unless you’re willing to make community front and central in your church, they probably won’t.”

For far too long the American church has been too accepting of community just being another item on the buffet table at churches.

But I’ve got news for you. Community is not an “option” in Christianity.

It’s just not. “We’ve just been tricked into believing that by our American culture.” I mean, can you really picture the early believers in Acts trying to sneak into a house church and go unnoticed for 5 years just so they could hear a good speaker?

I mean, seriously? We’ve got to get back to the core of what Christianity is about.

So yeah, we’re a little crazy about community here. I’m guessing you might even feel uncomfortable after a while if you’re not a part of a smaller community like a House Group here.

And I’m okay with that. J

I want you to feel a little bit uncomfortable. As your pastor I want you to be in a community where people can challenge you, support you, and encourage you.

And that’s not going to change. It’s rooted in the DNA of our church. It’s part of what makes us unique.

We want “to be A PEOPLE being changed by God to change the world”

It’s not just about individuals coming and learning about God and doing their own thing.

Again, nice…but not church.

Change happens when people function together as a body to change the world. To help reach people. To help disciple people.

Otherwise we’re just a bunch of amputated arms and legs hoping to win the race.

We need to be together. This is 1 Corinthians 12: The BODY has to function TOGETHER!

And honestly, if you’re new to this church, I want to challenge you to go to a House Group now, even though they end in mid-May.

Start meeting people now and get entrenched in the incredible community here. Why wait to the Fall? New people are joining every single week.

“And our desire to create authentic Christian community is uncompromising.” If this church grows to 400 people, then we better have 10+ house groups.

I don’t care if we have 1,000 people. There’s no reason we can’t keep 80% of our people in House Groups. Our desire to keep people in community has to be uncompromising.


But it’s not just about community.

Because a community that is not being changed by God is powerless. And kind of boring. J

Our 2nd Core Value is Encountering God

Encountering God (being changed by God) (put on screen)

So the vision continues: To be a people (that was community) being changed by God (that’s encountering God)

If we’re NOT serious about loving our God and letting him change us, then what are we doing?

Our vision is to always create a space (HERE and in your lives) where you can encounter God…and, like we say a lot, not just “watch.”

We talked about this a lot in our teeter totter series in January…but somehow, much of our American church has turned into entertainment.

People just come to church and….watch.

We’ve somehow learned in America how to put a nice show on Sunday mornings with entertaining guitar solos and pastors who only say friendly things.

But our VISION is that you encounter God here. Not watch a show.

And that starts right with our worship.

When I was praying heavily about starting a church, I made one of those vow you probably shouldn’t to God, but I made it anyway.

I told him if I was going to start this church, He better get me two things.

And the 1st one was an incredible worship leader.

One who was incredibly serious about letting God be the star.

And then he showed me Zach Foty.

Honestly if you haven’t met Zach, our worship leader yet, you need to meet Him.

He is a man after God’s heart and is honestly one of the most humble people I have ever met, and it shows.

He allows this to be a place where people can just get rid of the distractions and encounter God.

And we really, really value that.

In fact, 3 days from now, we are having our first-ever Worship Night on Wednesday night from 7-8pm right here.

Why? Because we are dead serious about being a place where you can passionately encounter your God in worship and in prayer.

The 2nd thing I told God he better get me was a good name for a church.

I love the word Renovation because it implies a process. A process of being changed from old to new.

That’s why in our vision statement it doesn’t say, “to be a people changed by God to change the world”

It’s, “To be a people BEING changed by God to change the world”

We are currently in repair. Forgiven. Empowered. But still in repair. He’s not done with us yet.

But He’s changing us. And He’s changing us for a reason. A purpose.


Which is the last part of our vision. We exist to reach people with the good news of Jesus Christ. That He died for them and wants to forgive them and love them.

So our third core value is:

Reaching People (to change the world) (put on screen)

So we want “To be a people” “being changed by God” “to change the world”

And here’s how it all works together

Community (“to be a people”) Encountering God (“being changed by God”) Reaching People (“to change the world”) (put on screen)

Before I say more about what this means for the future of our church let me talk a little bit more about how this all works together.

The shortest way to remember this is what you’ve been staring at all morning.

When people ask you, What’s Renovation about? You just look in them in the eye and say, We’re about “Being changed to change”

Not, I’M about. IT’s a “WE!” We’re in this together.

Cuz if we can be a PEOPLE, not just individuals, striving together to let God to great things in us, guess what He’ll do: He’s gonna do great things.

And what’s the greatest thing He could possibly do through us?

It’s to accomplish His original mission.

To reach people with His good news. It’s the great commission.

That’s the greatest thing he could do through us.

And here’s where we gotta be careful. Lot’s of churches get trapped here.

Maybe they even get the community part. Heck, maybe even get the part about encountering God. But they mistakenly let that be an end in itself.

And the church becomes a great new “Club” you are a part of. Where you meet great Christian friends. And learn great things you can apply to your life.

And that’s neat, and that’s wonderful, but ultimately if that’s where we end up, we’ve missed the entire point.

There are plenty of good clubs all around that you can join. Some of them even are meant to be Christian clubs.

But we are on a MISSION here. A MISSION.

And our Vision to accomplish that mission is “To be a people being changed by God TO CHANGE THE WORLD”

Listen to me. Blaine has 17 churches. And you might think, “Wow. That’s wonderful. But here’s the kicker. The attendance of those 17 churches adds up to roughly 2500.

The 2010 census just came out last week for Blaine. Want to know what the population is? 57,186. It’s now the 15th biggest city in the state. 3rd fastest growing in the metro.

Wait a second. Did you hear what I said? 57,186 people live in this city. 2,500 in church on a Sunday.

Or, as we often say here, in Blaine on any given Sunday, 15% of people are in a church somewhere.

So even if we account for the fact that some people go to church outside the city, that still means that over 48.000 people in this city are not in church this morning.

48,000 people within a few mile radius of here.

For this church to be about anything else than being completely sold out on being a people being changed TO CHANGE…to reach this city is a misguided mission.

To not seek to complete God’s mission here, would be like going to Japan immediately after the earthquake and setting up a camp just for ourselves while ignoring death all around us.

We’ve got work to do. And what we’ve started is just the beginning.

In fact, as we look to the future, I would even say we are at a Crossroads.

We’ve got a choice. We can continue on as usual. Or we can start to get really serious about our vision and make a serious DENT in this city for Jesus.

Let me explain the choice by telling you how God’s been convicting me lately.

When we started this church, we had to rely on God…like crazy. You can’t just start a church from nothing and say, “Don’t worry God, we got this.”

And as we launched this church, what felt scary and impossible became possible through God.

And now here’s where I feel we’ve slightly mis-stepped. And I’ll take the blame.

In some ways, not completely, but in some ways I feel like once we got past our launch, we looked to God and said, “We’ll take it from here.”

And I mean, sure, we still prayed, we still worshipped him, trusted in Him, but not for anything big.

It was as if we could just say, “Wow. This is a healthy church. And not only that, a growing one. People visit here, and they stick here, and we’re growing. That’s great. We got this.”

There wasn’t a massive gap anymore between what we were doing and where we needed to really rely on God

I’ve heard a lot of people passing around this quote lately and it’s been messing with my heart. It goes like this…and this applies to your own life AND churches:

“If the size of your vision isn’t intimidating to you, there’s a good chance it’s insulting to God.”

I gotta admit. When we started this church. It was intimidating. I’m not intimidated anymore. And that’s causing me to lose sleep at night.

Let’s not downplay what God has done. Like we said at the beginning, what He’s done here is anything but ordinary, in fact, it’s extraordinary.

But, I gotta believe that if we get SERIOUS about being a people being changed by God, He’s going to use us to change the world. Starting right here in this city.

For goodness sakes, 48,000 people.

Let’s dream big. With the God we worship, it’s foolish of us, and ironically even prideful, to do anything but dream big.

Let’s dream a dream so big that only way it could get done is if we radically trusted in Him to make it happen.

Let’s dream a dream like this: I don’t know if you’ve heard this before, but among pastors and statisticians the last 10 years, Blaine is always been called “The least churched city in the metro.”

I mean 48,000 people within a couple mile radius of here aren’t even in church this morning. 48,000.

In fact, this is the easiest city to get LOST in (to not know Jesus) in the metro.

We think, no, that would have to be Minneapolis or something…have you seen how many churches are in Minneapolis?

We think, but this is just a nice suburb…

Nice city, but incredibly hard to find Jesus here.

Easiest city to get lost in in the metro.

And our prayer, with our vision, oughta be this: “That God would use us to turn Blaine from being the easiest city to get lost in to the easiest city to get found in

The easiest city in the metro to meet Jesus Christ.

Because there would be just Christians everywhere. & they have great community, and would be serious about God and continuing to reach more people

Our goal is to make this city come ALIVE. Sure, people could say the city is alive. Look how much it’s growing!

But right now, we’re just mostly adding even MORE lost people to our city.

In another year it’ll be 50,000 people who don’t know Jesus.

So what are you going to do about it??

We gotta be changed…to change. So we can change. We need to bring change. We need to bring Jesus!

And God can do it through us. He can RENOVATE this city. And that, after all, is the vision, right?

Not just that we would come together and He would renovate us and make us new. That He, would use us, to renovate an entire city…and entire area.

To turn this city from being the easiest city to be lost in to the easiest city to be found in.

Listen, God is starting to really move in this church. If we can reach out and grab onto Him moving with this vision, there’s no reason why we won’t double in the next year even.

And start to reach A LOT MORE people for Christ.

If we grab on to God’s movement, there’s no reason why 5 years from now, we can’t be so present in this community, ppl will be saying, “Yeah, I’ve heard about Renovation…from a lot of ppl. Haven’t been there yet, but I’m thinking about it.”

If we grab on to God’s movement, there’s no reason that 10 yeas from now we’ve begun to turn this area from just another Midwestern county full of young, lost, and broken families, but to a place FULL of people who are trusting in Jesus to heal their broken lives.

If we grab on to God’s movement here, there’s no reason why some of the people you’ve prayed so hard about knowing Christ…your family members, your friends..that some of them won’t be sitting right next to you, worshipping God w/ you.

If we grab on to God’s movement here, there’s no reason why that 20 years from now I would stop hearing people say to me, “I’m on the only Christian on my entire street,” that they would say, “I can’t walk down my street and think of someone who doesn’t know Jesus on our street.”

Let’s make this the easiest place in the metro to get found in!

And if we don’t believe God can do that, then I gotta believe we’re either wasting our time or have no idea of the greatness of God.

(Ephesians 3:20-21) – NIV

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

So the option is before us. We can coast… or we can trust.

Let’s trust. But if we’re going to do that. I want you to know that it’s going to take all of us. It doesn’t have much to do with just the church putting on a good show.

It’s about YOU, the church, because YOU ARE THE CHURCH, it’s not this, it’s not a building, we’re in a gym for goodness sake’s.

It about YOU the church being serious about being people being changed by God, AND getting serious about trusting in Him to use you to change the world around you.


And this is why we’ve been talking a lot lately about you praying about who you can invite to come hear about Jesus.

Yes, we want you to get serious about telling your friends about Jesus and sharing the gospel with them, but #1 way God is moving in the Midwest right now is by people simply inviting their friends to church to hear about Jesus.

Next week, in fact, we are starting a new series called “God’s Gym” where we are going to be talking about practical ways to get closer to God or even find out about Him in the first place.

It’s a great place to start inviting friends to.

In fact, look under your chair right now.

Do me a favor and leave the white card underneath there for now, but pick up those 2 black cards.

These are invitation cards to Renovation Church. Here’s what I need you to do:

This might be intimidating, but remember, a God sized-vision is actually that. You might have to trust in Him for this.

I need every single regular-attender in this room to get rid of them by next Sunday.

Preferably to someone who doesn’t know Jesus. If not, hand them to someone else. To a stranger. But get rid of them by Sunday. Even if you have to throw them out the window, and if you’re going to throw them out the window, at least do it in Blaine. j/k Except not really.

JARED’s going to talk about some more ways you can help us start Renovating our community in announcements as well.

But the point is this: We want to be a people being changed TO change.

And honestly, I think most of you know that, if you’ve been around here a while especially, you know that. You…KNOW that.

But will you accept it?

This is YOUR mission …will you accept it?

Your mission…to be a people…seeking desperately to be changed by God so we can better Renovate and change an entire community and beyond?

Will you accept that? Will you trust in Him to do the impossible through you? Maybe even bring your friend, your family member to Christ at this church?

Let’s start trusting in Him for the impossible, and I believe that you and I will indeed be ground-floor, eyewitnesses to the impossible.

Let’s pray.

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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