Good morning. My name is David Sorn, and I am the pastor of Renovation Church
We are finishing our series on Renovation Projects this morning
And today I want to focus on renovation projects where you need help from other people
ISOLATION AND INDIVIDUALISM
Because having a community of people in and surrounding your life…is an important thing
Yet, we live in a country that is one of the, if not THE, most individualized countries in the world
The “culture of community” in this country has drastically changed in the last 100 years
Let’s go back if you will 100 years or so…
100 years ago, the vast majority of people lived in small towns (not big cities)
Small towns where you know people…you knew your neighbors, you knew the barber, the banker, and the doctor
Picture your classic “Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman” town
But a little over 100 years ago there was an invention that started a century of drastic change towards isolation…anyone know what it was?
Now people could start living farther away
You could work in a different town
And not too long after, suburbs were sprawling
However, there still wasn’t a whole lot to do, so people still hung out with their friends and neighbors a lot even though they maybe didn’t work in the same town (back when people used to have porches in their front yards rather than decks in their back)
Until a another ghastly invention changed how people spent their evenings: THE TELEVISION
And now the average American 14 hours of Television a day…I made that up. And then in the 90’s came the real tech revolution
And everything’s digitized…
You can take your phone w/ you…it’s MOBILE
You can’t even talk to a real person on the phone anymore…
T-Mobile voice lady story
And as the cellular technology and the internet exploded with growth our ability to connect w/ people grew with
I can call people whenever from wherever
Now, I can text them too
And w/ the Internet I can do even more
I can get emails all the time
I can get them on my phone if I wanted to
I can video chat w/ someone on Skype
And don’t even get me started about Facebook
You now have, sometimes hundreds of friends, that you weren’t even talking to for the last five years, but now you know every day what they’re having for breakfast, what strange song lyrics they’re currently enjoying, and the gross details of their current illness,
And yet, despite all this supposed connectivity, never in our country’s history, have people felt SO ALONE
We now only have the “illusion” of community and friendship, but often not the real thing
Let me ask you a question…How many people really know you?
Know your deepest passions and ideas…your longings…hopes for your futures…how many ppl are aware of your deep struggles, aware of how your relationship with God is?
How many people really know you?
And for most of us, it’s hardly anyone
BIBLE ASSUMES WE ARE DOING CHRISTIANITY TOGETHER
And this transfers over to our Spiritual lives. Our relationship with God
Because for most of us, even that has become an individualized thing. Sure, we still read our Bibles, pray, and go to church, but mostly in isolation…or maybe just with our families
However, the Bible assumes that we are doing Christianity together…with a multitude of people
Let me just read you some verses to show you what I mean…look for how it’s talking about us doing this Christian thing in a group of people
(Colossians 3:16) – NEW LIVING TRANSLATION
16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives.
(James 5:16) -- NIV
16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
(1 Thessalonians 4:18) -- NIV
18Therefore encourage each other with these words.
We were meant to do this thing together
To pray for other people…and to have people praying for you
To give advice to people in need…and to have people give advice to you
To have people come and visit you in the hospital…and for you to do the same
We were meant to be in this together, but yet so often we try and do it on our own!
I think there are a couple of reasons…let me give you some examples from Renovation and building things
A couple of months ago the part of our AC unit that’s in our laundry room starting leaking all over our fllor…(Maintenance Man at the Meadows Story)
Tried to keep fixing our AC on his own…eventually I made him call the expert
Or, let me give you another example…
Tell story of me failing to build the rocket in 8th grade properly…
It was simply my pride that forced me from letting other people help me…I thought I could do it on my own
And we are so similar with the renovation project of our own lives
We are naturally a stubborn people…
It takes a lot of humility to let a group of Christian people start to actually get into your lives. Be a part of your life.
Because they might after time…notice some places where you need help, where you put the bottles together wrong, and that can be painful and hard…but it’s also a lot better than the results we get when we try and do things on our own
I think another reason why we’ve been so hesitant to get to know other Christians and be in community together is because of the way churches are structured
For one, our churches have made it easier and easier to be anonymous. Which is good and bad.
It’s nice to sometimes visit and not be hounded by everyone, but if you’ve been attending a church for a year and still don’t really know anyone, that’s not church.
And Yes, it’s nice that our churches are bigger nowadays and we can offer so much more, but that’s only part of what church is
There has to be an element of community too
But for too long we’ve been pretending that this is the same thing as the church the Bible describes where all the believers were meeting together, praying together, and in each other’s lives
I think another reason, we as Christians have been so hesitant to get involved in community, in fellowship, w/ each other is because the type of community that churches have offered people in the past has often been too intimidating…
Typical churches have offered small groups of 6-10 people where you are randomly assigned. However, for many people, it feels too forced. Too intimidating.
I believe SO strongly in Christians getting together in community, but I also realize it has to be done well.
Which is why we created House Groups for our small group system
We are offering House Groups on multiple different nights, and each House will have 25 people in it.
Half large group time. Half small group time.
But we allow you time to sort out who you actually want to be with
In fact, when we do sign-ups (which start today), you can even put down some names of people you want to be w/ in your house to start w/
And because HG’s have 25-30 ppl in a house, it’s not as intimidating.
(dangerous to say) If you don’t come back the next wk, you won’t be shunned.
You can even try a diff. house
At the end of the day, we just basically want you to connect with other Christians
And also to encourage other people to connect with you…
(Hebrews 10:24-25) - NIV
24And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching
HELPING OTHER PEOPLE
Because in reality, it’s not all about us needing help from other people.
It’s ALSO about US helping other people
Sometimes the best reason for you to be a part of a small group (or in this case a House Group) isn’t because you desperately need one, but because other people need you. Each one of you has something to offer…We each are uniquely gifted, not just to help ourselves, but other people
I have gifts and talents that are different than yours
If your car breaks down, don’t call me…I can’t do anything except maybe give you a ride
Actually, someone from this church did call me… (jumper cables
If you need help building some new cabinets, don’t call me
But there are things I can help people w/
I mean the first obvious one is that I’m a pastor and can do pastorly things
But there are other things I’m ok at…For instance, I’m decent w/ computers…
Before we got printer, went to Kinkos and UPS a lot
Helped 2 people, 2 days in a row
Felt good walking out to car
In our isolationist lifestyles and in our own (and MY own) selfishness, I forget (and we forget), how good it feels to help other people
But that’s how God created us.
He created us to be in community together. Fixing Life Together
We each have something to give, and Christian Community works best when everyone is giving their talents.
It’s like an episode of Extreme Home Make Over
For 7 days, they bring in expert electricians, builders, carpenters, etc. and everyone does their part
It’s just one person trying to do it by themselves
We’re to help each other… To bring to the table what we have
The Bible says this in Romans
(Romans 15:1-3) - NIV
1We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3For even Christ did not please himself
In the book of Galatians, it tell us to “Carry each other’s burdens.” Elsewhere in Romans, it tells us to honor one another above ourselves
The first couple of years after I became a Christian, I kept hearing people say, “Every Christian needs, a Paul, Timothy, and Barnabas in their life.”
(I asked 3 people earlier to come on stage for to help out in this illustration)
The idea was this:
Everyone needs a Paul (elder, wisdom, teacher)
Everyone needs a Timothy (someone younger, someone you’re training)
Everyone needs a Barnabas (people like them…to encourage you on)
(let them sit down)
And this is part of the reason we decided to make our House Groups somewhat intergenerational
We don’t house groups where everyone must be 31-33 and have 1.3 kids to join
Because we need people who are different than us to help spur us on AND for us to help spur others on to growth in their faith
Now, at the same time, people tend to gravitate to people who are like themselves…and I’m expecting that when you actually pick who you want in your SMALL groups within the house, the ppl in the group might look like you (your Barnabas’ if you will)
But, at least you’re in a place where you are meeting and developing relationships with all sorts of different people. Which I think will be a neat dynamic that a lot of other Christians groups are missing out on
And maybe you already have a great community of Christian friends where you meet together and you challenge each other and study God’s word together.
Or maybe you don’t.
And if you don’t, because I believe that Christian community is so integral to our faiths and to us impacting the world for Christ, that’s why we are starting HGs.
And that’s why we’re starting them right away…some churches wait
But we believe that they are that important
I believe they are that important.
My wife and I are going to be in a House Group
I too want to be a part of a group of people
The reality is this: House Groups are not THE answer (it’s just a method)…maybe you have community, or you find it somewhere else…
But being in community is THE ANSWER.
Being in community with other Christians is what God is calling us to do, and it’s time that we actually started owning up to it and admitting that that is true, and then taking those scary, but incredibly worthwhile steps towards community.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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