Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Thanks to a few of the guys from Connections Church in Ramsey for helping fill in for our worship pastor Zach Foty today who is leading worship for hundreds of students up at Camp Shamineau (including our own youth group!)
This morning I want to talk about a topic that makes everyone nervous.
And no it’s not “sex”
Although…it’s kind of like sex.
It’s really important…and no one’s very good at talking about it.
It’s evangelism. It’s talking to other people about Jesus.
Before we go any further, we already have to stop.
Cuz I want to clarify what I mean when I’m going to say evangelism today.
Because when I say evangelism, and some of you picture people going door to door on bicycles to people’s houses.
Other’s picture people on a box with a megaphone yelling at passerbys
Or someone handing out tracts about Jesus
Or a huge crusade
Evangelism is simply just talking to other people about God.
And when I talk about it today…I’m not expecting any of you to go out with a megaphone and a “The End is Near” sign.
Think of evangelism more like talking to people who are already in your life (who know and trust you) about what God’s doing in your life.
Casual conversation w/ people you know.
IT’S THE CULUMINATION
With that as a framework…let me go back to making everyone feel uncomfortable. J
I’m going to make a statement that doesn’t sound crazy in other parts of the Christian world.
No one would bat an eye at this in the underground church in China…or in the exploding evangelical church in South America.
But it sounds borderline offensive here:
“You can’t really be a mature Christian and not evangelize.”
“You can’t really be a mature disciple and not talk to other people about Jesus.”
A lot of you just went to your “yeah, buts”
Yeah, but I know a ton about the Bible!
Yeah, but I have my quiet time every day!
Yeah, but I serve the poor in Haiti!
Yeah, but that’s not my gift.
And that is exactly what our series we are wrapping up today speaks to.
Because being a disciple of Jesus…someone who follows His teachings and wants to be like Him…must be a well-rounded endeavor.
We, must be a disciple of the head (learn…Bible Knowledge)
Of the heart (spend time w/ Him…let Him change us on the inside)
Of the hands (serve people)
And of the feet (which is what we’ll talk about today…which is sharing the Good News of Jesus w/ other people)
But to just be one…or two…or even 3…is not full maturity as a disciple.
As we’ve been saying, it’s like the guys at the gyms, who have nice pecs, nice biceps and nice triceps (a great upper body), but then have itty bitty legs.
And some of you last week we’re feeling like you were maybe the quintessential disciple…you know the Bible…you talk to God everyday…and you serve at church.
And then we got to this week. And I had to bring it here. J
But what I want to show you this morning is that evangelism is THE TRUE culmination of discipleship.
(Matthew 4:18-20) – NEW LIVING TRANSLATION
18 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. 19 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 20 And they left their nets at once and followed him.
Look at those words of Jesus!
Come and follow me (in other words, be my disciple)
And if you do…and if you hang out with me, learn my teachings, try to become like me…I will make you really, really smart (not what he says)
(I’ll make you…the end product will be…you’ll never swear again)…not what he says
I’ll make you “fishers of people”
In other words, if you God is truly discipling you, a natural extension of that discipleship should be you talking to the people around you about what’s most important in your life (God)
And that’s why this theory of discipleship isn’t crazy.
It should never be crazy to talk about the most important thing in your life.
Mark Driscoll says it this way, “Evangelism is the natural overflow of a life lived in joy as a worshiper of God. Sadly, evangelism is often portrayed as something that Christians must do as a duty, rather than something that they get to do as a delight.”
If you really love something…you talk about it.
Nowadays, it’s tough to justify going out to an actual movie theater to watch a movie when you can watch it on an HD TV at home.
Lots of time it takes the really big blockbusters to get people out of their homes nowadays.
Like…in a few weeks…I’m sure EVERYONE will be talking about the new Hunger Games movie.
And people will leave their homes…and go see it.
But why is everyone talking about it?
Why are they telling their friends about it? Texting them about it? Posting on facebook about it?
Because they LOVE it!
And if we really, really are that in love with Jesus…it should be no different…
If we really believe His love is so amazing, but tell no one, I’m convinced we don’t really think His love is that amazing.
Goodness, if I tell people how amazing Culver’s is, I can tell them how amazing Jesus is.
Our love and excitement for Jesus…should be so contagious that it’s, like a blockbuster, getting people out of their homes to come hear more about Him.
And that’s why Driscoll is right. It’s not about duty. It’s not about “Good Christians” do this.
It’s more about…if you’re really growing as a disciple….you’re really learning about Him…He’s really changing your heart…you can’t HELP but talk about Him to the people you love.
And you don’t have to be a Christian for 5 years for this to happen.
Often newer Christians are even better at this!
In fact, how most of us live as Christians literally makes no sense
Paul W. Powell, describes it this way:
He says, many churches today are like a laboring crew trying to gather in a harvest, but they sit in the tool shed.
Oh they go the to the tool shed to get ready for the Harvest every Sunday…
And they study bigger and better methods of agriculture, they sharpen their hoes, they grease up their tractors to get ready to go…but instead of going out to harvest…they just go home again.
Until NEXT Sunday…when they come again…study about agriculture, sharpen up their hoes, grease up their tractors…and then go home again.
They do this week in and week out, year in and year out…but no one actually goes out and gathers in a harvest.
But, Matthew tells us this about Jesus:
(Matthew 9:35-38) – NIV
35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
God needs workers for the harvest.
God needs American Christians that will say, “Okay…I KNOW…I’ve read my Bible…I’ve spent time with Jesus…I KNOW…this isn’t all just for me…God…send me into the fields. Send me!”
Based on some of George Barna’s research about the number of Americans who have a personal relationship with jesus…we now know that there are roughly 2.8 million people…just in the MSP metro that don’t personally know Jesus. Times have changed. This isn’t the 1950’s.
And apart from Him, those 2.8 million….will not enter eternal life in heaven.
Listen, we cannot afford to let our spiritual maturity…our discipleship…end at just our heart and mind.
Jesus isn’t just for you.
Did you see His heart in that passage?
It said…he saw the crowds…the diseased…the sick…the helpless…the broken…and he had compassion on them
This is God’s heart.
If you’ve never read Luke 15, read it.
It’s one of the greatest windows we get into God’s heart.
He says, “which of you if he had 99 sheep, would not leave them to find the one who was lost?”
And when he finds it, joyfully put it on his shoulders and call his friends to celebrate with him!
THAT’S GOD’S HEART!
Or he says, “Suppose a woman has 10 silver coins and loses one, doesn’t she tear apart her house until she finds the lost coin…and then celebrate when she does!”
THAT’S GOD’S HEART!
And then Jesus tells the story of the lost son…the son who squandered his life in wild living and sin…but when he came back to the father, the father RAN at Him…arms open wide.
THAT’S GOD’S HEART.
This is the Father’s heart. He’ll do anything to see lost people find Him.
God looks at the 48,000 people who don’t know Him in Blaine this morning…the 275,000 in Anoka County…. And his heart is BROKEN.
And the question is: Will we go? Will YOU go? Into the fields. To the harvest?
Will you start talking about this God who is hypothetically the most important thing in your life…and yet most people around us have no idea.
OR….OR…will we continue to let our Christian maturity…our discipleship process stop at our head and heart…but never get to our feet.
And why call it the feet anyway?
It comes from a passage in Romans 10
(Romans 10:9-15) – NIV
9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”[e] 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Well, there’s actually even more behind that passage.
Because Paul writes in verse 15, “AS IT IS WRITTEN, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news”
Which means, he’s actually quoting a verse from the Old Testament.
And it’s a verse from Prophet Isaiah.
(Isaiah 52:7) – NIV
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
In this particular case, in context in chapter 52, Isaiah is prophesying that one day his people are going to be exiled.
To different parts of what is now modern day Iraq and Iran.
And some of those areas…especially in Iran are quite hilly…even mountainous.
And Isaiah says…how amazing will it be…is there a thing more beautiful for these captives…that have been held in a foreign land for SO long…to see the feet of those running down the mountain shouting out the beautiful news that they’ve been set free!
AT LAST...they can go home!!
It’s powerful imagery.
And that’s the imagery Paul is drawing upon in Romans when he says how beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. They can be forgiven! Set free!
But let me take the imagery a step further.
Because YOU and I, if you’re a believer, have been saved.
We’ve gone back over the mountain. We’re home with God now.
We experience his forgiveness. His love. He speaks tenderly to us. He answers prayer. He moves in our lives.
It’s incredible really when you step back from it.
HOWEVER…people are still left on the other side of the mountain. Not free. Not home. Without God.
48,000 just in this city.
48,000 on the other side of the mountain.
But God has a plan.
And His plan is you.
He wants to use you…to do your most basic and foundational task as a disciple.
To share his good news.
That people can be free.
That God can set them free. That he died for messed up people like us.
That all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.
That if people as messy as you and I…with a sin list as long as you and I can be forgiven…that you’ve got some great news.
And that’s what he called you to do.
He came to make you fishers of men. To be people with beautiful feet bringing beautiful news!
The goal of discipleship is not to make the best and most insightful points in a house group discussion.
The goal of discipleship is not to have the best wisdom to dole out when someone’s hurting.
Those are great things…but The REAL goal, in fact, is embedded in the very vision of this church.
I know we’ve shown it before, but I’ll show it again.
(SHOW VISION CYCLE)
Our vision is to be a people…(coming together in community)…being changed by God (being discipled)…TO (which is the most important word in our vision)…change the world.
That’s what well-rounded discipleship is.
And if I can be honest, I think 90% of Christians live under dead-end discipleship.
Their vision (whether it’s stated or not) for their life…is to be a person…being changed by God…TO better…MYSELF.
But that kind of American, consumeristic take on Christianity misses TWO of the most important things from the Bible.
ONE: God’s heart for people.
And TWO: Jesus’ mission.
Do you remember God’s heart for people?
This is the God that goes racing after the lost sheep. That tears his house apart for the lost coin.
When we make 100% of our Christian faith about US or even about the other 99 sheep we already hang out with…we’re not even on the same page as the God we purportedly worship.
Our heart is not aligned with His heart.
God is looking at your family member that doesn’t know Him…a
He’s looking at your neighbor…your co-worker…your friend…
And he aches for them to know His love.
(2 peter 3:9) – NIV
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
“But because God desires LOVE above all things, and love has to be a free act of the will…
He will not force the people in your life to love Him.
And that’s where WE come in.
YOU and I…because we know the very heart of God …we race back over that mountain with Good News.
About what Jesus can do.
I mentioned that our selfish perspective on discipleship misses out on two really important teaching of the Bible.
The heart of God…AND…the mission of Jesus.
Look at what Jesus said his MISSION was on earth.
(Luke 19:10) – NIV
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
This is one of my favorite verses of all time.
If I got myself tatted up, I think I’d go for this. J
This is why Jesus came!
Not to make us “more proper” not to make us smarter, he came because our sin had separated us from God.
And He came on a rescue mission to find us, and save us.
Our mission is Jesus’ mission!
That’s what we’ve been saying this whole series.
That’s the definition of a disciple, right?
To imitate one’s teacher.
So our mission…is his mission!
As his disciples, as people found by Him, we find people.
Found people, find people.
See, being a disciple that never finds anyone…that never tells anyone about Jesus…is like being trained as EMT to save lives…but then just sitting at the hospital and never going out with the ambulance.
You wouldn’t be fulfilling the basic purpose of your training.
But we were found…to go back over the mountain and help find more..
WE ARE AMBASSADORS
The Bible is bent on teaching us this principle…that our mission as disciples…is our teacher’s mission…to seek and save the lost…and it uses a number of metaphors to get this across
(2 Corinthians 5:20) – NIV
20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
That we, like an ambassador in a foreign country representing the United States…
We are ambassadors for Jesus…running back across the mountains…and with beautiful feet bringing the good news that we…despite all we’ve done…can be forgiven…and God can change our lives.
And what I think is so important that you get, today in 2013, is that this is YOUR life-mission as a disciple.
That Jesus is discipling YOU (yes you)…TO become fishers of people
Just like he did with his original disciples.
His goal for you as a disciple is no different than his goal was for them.
Be wary of making the mistake of just looking at the person next to you.
“Oh yeah, that person next to me…he’s super outgoing…he can be the fisherman. I’ll just make the cookies…or print the invitations”
Not everyone’s called to be a teacher up front, but every single one of us is called to share with the people that God has already strategically put in our lives.
And don’t just look to the church…the organization that is. Or to a Sunday morning service.
In fact, let me paint a scenario for you on why that’s true.
What if…there were 400 Christians that all decided to move across the country and move to Blaine.?
And these people all wanted to be what Christians call “tentmakers?”
You ever heard that phrase?
It comes from the fact that the apostle Paul would often go to cities…get a job MAKING TENTS…so he could eat and have lodging, etc….and then used his relationships etc. to share about Jesus w/ people.
So what if 400 people moved here with the express purpose of getting jobs and sharing Jesus with the people they met?
Don’t you just feel like this city would probably see a revival?
400 people dedicated to sharing about the love of God with their neighbors, new friends, and co-workers
Man…think of what God could do!
Here’s the reality: On an average Sunday…Renovation has now grown from a church of 100…to 275…probably 300 people as we cross into the new year.
So in reality, there are about 400 people who call this church home.
400 people. WE’RE ALREADY HERE.
God’s already put us here.
He’s already, strategically, put people around you…so you could carry out the very basic, and fundamental task of discipleship…speaking of his love.
Your mission is His mission.
Your missions is the disciples’ mission.
Found people, find people.
And I think we…and so many churches as well…sell the movement of God short…when we think evangelism should just happen on Sunday mornings.
I heard a speaker say the other day that he thinks personal evangelism (you sharing about God w/ your friends) doesn’t really work anymore.
He said it primarily just works at Sunday morning church services.
I can’t tell you how mad I was when I heard that.
If that’s true…then let’s just pack up the church now and sell out to the world.
Sure, we’ve seen a ton of people put their faith in Jesus here on a Sunday…and that’s GREAT…and God really uses that. He does!
But I submit to you…here’s my vision for how true world-changing will happen through Renovation Church:
We’ve seen 120 people make decisions to follow Christ in 4 years.
Yet I think, if we as a church, can ALL really own this PERSONALLY…that it’s EVERYONE’S job as a disciple (not just the pastor’s) to be talking about God w/ people…I think we could see 120 people come to Christ even by 2015.
I think we could see in 14 months what we’ve seen in 4 years.
If we, as 400 people, own what our mission as a disciple is.
That’s EXPONENTIALLY more powerful than just a Sunday morning service.
That’s how we’re going to change the world.
And that’s always how God has seen it.
He has a vision for developing each and every one of you as a disciple that speaks of his love
As a disciple that changes the world around them
That’s why he already put people around you in your life.
They are not there by accident.
I’m SO serious when I say that.
You do not live where you live by accident.
You do not work where you work by accident.
GOD PUT YOU THERE. So you could, out of the overflow of your heart, speak of how awesome He is….to the people around you.
So start talking about God with people.
It’s really the most natural thing.
And it doesn’t have to be as scary as we make it out to be.
I think we make it so scary because we feel like we have to say it perfectly…or present some really holy picture of ourselves.
But the real story is: “You and I…we’re a mess.”
Sure God’s working…but I’m still pretty messy.
And I’m telling you this story about God…because I’m NOT perfect (not because I’m perfect)
I’m NOT perfect…and He died for me anyway.
And that same God loves you that much too.
But if we’re really going to be disciples, we’ve got to start boldly bringing up God more in conversations.
Too many Christians have this false belief that people are just going to look at them and say, “WOW! You’re so different. I’m so impressed. Will you tell me how to become a Christian?”
Sorry, there’s about a 1/1,000 chance that’s gonna happen.
You’ve got to talk. You’ve got to put context to what they’re seeing in your life.
Even if it’s just as simple as inviting someone to church.
Now, I believe we can do a lot more than that…because people trust you more than they trust me…but inviting someone IS a start.
In fact, would you seriously pray about inviting someone to Renovation w/ you next week?
We’re going to be getting into our “Gift vs. Reward” series on the Book of Galatians.
And talking about what “real freedom” in life is really like.
And Pastor Zach will be back with us leading worship next week.
I think it’s going to be really powerful Sunday.
Would you pray about inviting someone next week?
And I don’t mean just tell me you’re pray…but then not really?
Would you pray this prayer: “God, who is it that you’ve already put around me, that I could invite?”
“Or, even more boldly, pray, “God, who is it, that you’ve already put around me, that I could start talking to about you.
I know a lot of you are asking the MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION…”BUT WHAT DO I ACTUALLY SAY?!?”
This week, in house groups, we are going to do something really different.
So do whatever it takes to make sure you’re there.
I’m actually going to give a 15 minute teaching on the DVD about how to talk to your friends about God.
And go over 5 tips for what you can actually say.
If you’re not in a house group yet, I can’t encourage you enough to sign-up.
Around 80% of our adults are involved.
And new people are signing up every week.
Stop by in the hallway this week and make this the week you sign-up.
And as we wrap up this series…I want to go back to what Jesus frames as the very purpose and mission for his disciples.
It is, I believe, one of the top 2 or 3 most important verses in the entire Bible.
And that’s why I share so much that some of you should have it memorized.
After Jesus had worked this master plan of discipleship with his 12 disciples for 3 years…
For 3 years…He taught them brilliantly… and they became disciples of the head.
For 3 years…He loved them deeply…and they became disciples of the heart.
For 3 years…He taught them how to serve those in need…and they became disciples of the hands.
And then…after all that…in his parting words…he gives them their mission.
(Matthew 28:19-20) – NIV
19 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. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
SO right before Jesus departs them, He gives them, what I believe is one of the greatest markers of a truly well-rounded disciple.
See, it’s not just that they should know a lot of the Bible…or spend a lot of time with Jesus…
How odd would it have been if their goal after 3 years was just to make themselves better people.
That would be a pretty short-sighted move by Jesus.
But Jesus’ plans are to take this thing global.
He’s going to change the world.
And so are we!
By bringing discipleship back to its original purpose.
Jesus’ plan is that his disciples…that true disciples…don’t let it just end at themselves.
True disciples…make more disciples.
True disciples…make more disciples.
And notice it’s not just get people to say they believe in Jesus…it’s to help them actually follow Him…and obey Him.
But true disciples…make disciples.
That’s the culmination of discipleship. That’s the goal. That’s the mission.
And that’s why it can’t ultimately just be the role of a church staff on Sunday morning to bring people to Jesus.
It’s everybody’s role as a disciple.
And listen…I’m really excited about this.
Because I believe every year…the people of our church are getting a greater grasp on this. Seriously.
I believe…that YOU are starting to believe…that God wants to use YOU to change the world.
I believe that you are starting to believe that God is GOING to use you to change the world.
So seriously…as a disciple that loves Jesus…step out in faith this week…and start letting that love out.
And let’s watch God transform this community.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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