Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Right now…just a few miles from here in Blaine there’s a single mom.
She’s got 3 kids under 10…and her husband isn’t there anymore.
He left. They’re divorced. He passed away…
The details don’t matter.
But she’s stressed. She’s exhausted. And no one’s helping her.
She’s to the point where she’s not sure how much longer she can go on…
And what’s the point of it anyway?
Just across the street…there’s a man. In his 30’s.
Along with over 48,000 other people in Blaine…He’s not in any sort of church this morning.
In fact, he hasn’t darkened the doors of a church in over 15 years.
This morning he is in the dark though.
As we sit here enjoying God, he’s just waking up from another night of drinking.
It’s to the point now where he can’t stop.
The first thing he did when his alarm went off this morning was look for another bottle. Right under his bed.
It’s to the point now where he too is wondering…what’s the point anyway?
On the other side of Blaine, there’s a married couple.
Well…as of this morning…they’re still married, but that might not be the case this afternoon.
See last night, for what feels like the 5th time in 5 nights, they got in another massive fight. A shouting match this time.
This time it got so loud that their two daughters, both under six went and hid in their rooms.
It ended when the wife yelled, “Get out of here. I just can’t look at your face anymore.”
And so the husband left.
This morning…as you and I are sitting here rejoicing in Jesus as our answer…that man has just crept back into the house.
And he’s deciding if he should just quietly pack up his stuff…should he just ask for a divorce now?
What is he supposed to do?
And they both start to wonder…and what’s the point of it all anyway?
What a pointless, painful life.
A pointless, painful life, with virtually no answers.
No answers for the exhausted single mom. No answers for the alcoholic. No answers for the nearly divorced couple.
EXCEPT….EXCEPT….Here we sit…in these walls…and we have the answer.
We HAVE the answer. And his name is Jesus Christ.
This is a God that can radically change lives. He can save us from our sin…He offers us forgiveness…and offers us eternal life in heaven.
And he can radically change lives NOW. Right Now.
He can free the alcoholic, he can restore the most broken of marriages, he can provide the single mom with an incredible community of support.
And it’s not just as simple as He CAN do this…this is the very heart of our God.
This is what Jesus is all about in the Bible.
Jesus spent so much of his time pursuing the hurting, the broken, the outcasts, the prostitutes, the sinners.
Those who felt like life was pointless and there was no answer.
But the ANSWER HIMSELF came to them.
(Luke 5:27-32) – NIV
27 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, 28 and Levi got up, left everything and followed him. 29 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. 30 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners? 31 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
God’s heart is to Renovate the lives of the broken.
Not just to hang out in a holy huddle with the redeemed.
Right now roughly 48,000 people in this city alone aren’t in church.
It’s the summer, so that number is actually probably even higher.
Many of you live in the surrounding cities: In Coon Rapids, Andover, Ham Lake.
If we broaden that number to Anoka County…it’s roughly 275,000 people.
Maybe you didn’t hear what I just said.
Just in our county, 275,000 people aren’t in church on an average week
And God wants to reach every single one of them with His Good news.
He wants to come in and renovate and make them new.
And guess what His plan is to do it?
He wants to use you.
This morning is the beginning of a 3-week series that I pray shapes the very heart of our church.
We’re calling this series “Radical Normalcy”
See because if you were to ACTUALLY do what Jesus says in the Bible, the world would call you a radical.
This is the same Jesus that says: Anyone who doesn’t value and love me more than their own family cannot be my disciple. Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple or anyone who does not give up everything, can not be my disciple.
If we really lived out the words of Christ…we’d be radical…even to most Christians.
But most of us live out more of a Sesame Street version of Christianity.
But what this series seeks to do is to redefine to you what is normal Christianity.
And that in fact, what seems radical to you is actually normal, Biblical Christianity.
And God’s call on your life is Radical Normalcy.
That “radical” would be normal for you.
Because we truly are most normal when we’re fully living in God’s will
This series IS going to challenge you.
You’re going to feel uncomfortable at times. Even today.
See we’ve watered down following Jesus so much that when we truly look at the Biblical call of following Him …that gap between our lives and what the Bible calls us to…might feel intimidating.
You might feel uncomfortable.
And I want you to know I’m okay with that.
If you just want to feel comfortable, this isn’t the church for you.
But if you want to passionately follow the God that came to rescue you…you’ve come to a great place.
FOUND PEOPLE FIND PEOPLE
This morning I want to look at one of the cornerstone pieces of Christianity.
The very mission of Christ-followers.
And it’s so connected with the heart of our VISION.
It flows out of a verse in the Bible that you should memorize if you haven’t already:
(Matthew 28:19) – NIV
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,
Our main task on earth…our main purpose on earth is to partner with God to make more disciples of Jesus.
And that right there is what should be radical normalcy…but it is not.
It’s far from normal for us.
I mean you know it…you can tell me about it…but 95% of Christians have never led another person to Christ.
It’s THE main task for our lives. It’s the main purpose of Christianity.
Yet to 95% of Christians, what should be normal, is somehow radical.
And I think part of it is lost in translation…and the church is partly to blame.
For the last 25 years in America, we’ve overly catered to people when they become Christians.
“Oh you want a softball team…we could start that for you!”
“You want a class that will answer a question that probably only you have…we can do that!”
And we have an entire generation now of believers who think the church exists to cater to their spiritual development.
And if we need to reach more people…that’s the church’s job!
But the church exists to make disciples…WHO in turn…will help make more disciples.
See…found people…find people. It’s quite Biblical actually.
Like when Jesus is speaking with the woman at the well in John 4, and he tells her everything about her life.
She’s so struck when she finds out that he’s the messiah, this happens:
(John 4:28-30) – NIV
28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people,29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.
It later tells us that a TON of Samaritans believed BECAUSE of the woman’s testimony about Jesus.
Found people…find people. They go out and tell others and make more disciples. That’s just what they do.
Or look at what happens with Peter’s brother Andrew:
(John 1:40-42) – NIV
40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon (Peter) and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.
THE FIRST THING HE DID…the first thing he did…was go tell his brother.
Because Found people…find people.
That’s what we do. It’s the most basic purpose of being a Christian.
We could say the same about Levi, who we read about earlier.
He became a follower of Christ, and just like that he invites Jesus over to his house for a huge banquet with all of his non-believing friends.
But for most of us…that’s not on our radar.
I mean it is…sort of.
But not really.
We’re certainly more concerned about how WE can grow in our faith. And who’s going to teach ME? And who’s going to help ME? And what program are you going to have for ME? And MY Kids? Etc.
Rather than thinking about the lonely mom or the thousands of families and their kids in this city that don’t even know Jesus yet
We’re like the lepers in 2 Kings 7 who discover all the gold and plunder in the empty camp of the Arameans.
Meanwhile, all the people in their own city are still dying of famine.
For a while these lepers just eat, drink, and hide the money for themselves.
You can imagine them just rolling around in their discovered riches.
But finally their moral compass get the best of them:
(2 Kings 7:9) – NIV
Then they said to each other, “What we’re doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.”
And we’ve unfortunately created this new normal…where it’s normal for Christians to just roll around in the riches of Christ while 275,000 people in their own county are dying on the path to hell.
Without an answer. Without hope. With NO idea that Jesus loves them so much and died for them. AND HE CAN SAVE THEM.
And let me just be blunt. A Christian faith that only exists for us and our benefit is not a Biblical faith.
In fact, think of it this way: If the church was just for us...and we were all just supposed to keep our thoughts on faith private…with that attitude, the church would never have gotten out of Jerusalem 2,000 years ago.
The very fact that the most basic mission of the church is to reach and disciple MORE people is THE ONLY reason YOU know Jesus today.
If wasn’t for someone telling you about Jesus…or your parents about Jesus…or your grandparents about Jesus…How would YOU know Him?
We don’t want to press our beliefs on others anymore…but if it wasn’t for someone sharing Hope when we were lost…or when your parents were in a dark place…wondering what’s the point??
If it wasn’t for that…you would be in that place right now.
Without hope. Without Jesus.
But you do have it.
Because someone somewhere decided that radical is normal.
That normal Christ-followers tell people about the best news this world has ever seen.
This brings to mind the vision of our church.
The vision of our church is what?? (shout it out)
To be a people…being changed by God…to change the world.
And this is how it works.
(Show Wheel diagram)
We believe that we come together as people…as the body of Christ…in things like House Groups (sign-ups start in 3 weeks by the way)…
And we encounter God…by passionately engaging him in prayer, in reading the Bible…in worship.
And then God changes us…
But here’s where most of the church misses it.
We think: God changes me TO make ME a better/nicer person.
Maybe (that’s a nice secondary benefit)…but God is changing you TO change the world.
That is your purpose. To reach others for Christ!
Who then can get in community, encounter God, and Change the World!
YOU ARE CALLED TO THIS
And God is calling YOU to this radical followership
He wants to use You to reach your friends and family for Christ.
And God can do this through you!
I see Him doing it through people just like you all over our church.
We’ve got people our church is supporting now to go reach people for Christ in China…in California on a college campus.
People who are moving to our area and saying…before I buy a house, I want to use one that can be used for ministry.
People that are inviting their unsaved friends from work, from the gym, from their neighborhood to come here and hear about Jesus.
People who are on their knees everyday praying for their close friends who don’t know God to be rocked by God.
Because they’ve come to realize that there is no greater purpose than the purpose you were created for.
As I said in June…it should be your prayer that at one of our next baptisms (and we’re doing another one this winter…a polar plunge…j/k)…
But it should be your prayer that you are standing next to one of your friends as their sponsor. That God would use you in that way.
However, let’s acknowledge that for most people…sharing your faith has become pretty intimidating.
And in acknowledging that, WE want to step up our efforts to help you talk to your friends about God this year.
We’re going to step our prayer efforts with some creative ideas…when you join a house group this year (notice I didn’t say if J ), we’re going to train you sometime during the fall to better do this.
There’s so many ways to share about God and share the love of God with your friends…and we want to assist you in it.
One of those ways…and I actually believe it’s a minor way…but it is a way…one of those ways is inviting people here to hear about God.
In fact, I want you to start praying about who you can invite when we kick off our Fall series about the promises of God in 3 weeks on September 8th.
You’ve got 3 weeks to pray about it and ask someone J
If you’re not rubbing shoulders with non-believers…I encourage you to make that a priority this year.
If you went to a Christian school, Christian college, and work with a bunch of Christians…it’s going to be difficult for you to carry out your most important task.
If that’s where you’re at, I encourage you to take a cue from some of the people in our church that have joined a gym to start meeting non-Christians.
Signed up for a softball team that WASN’T a church team. A local mom’s group. A runner’s club.
I talked to someone in our church who needed to pick up a part-time job and she said, “I just don’t want to work with a bunch of Christians. I want to work at a place where I can meet a bunch of ppl who don’t know Him yet.” - and I thought “YES! That’s it!”
Or, here’s another example I’ve seen some of you do successfully lately:
We have amazing community in this church. There are some really close friendships because of house groups.
And when 4 of you hang out from house groups, you go to the mall, or to a Twins game, whatever…invite your non-Christian friend to come along.
It can be a powerful testimony of what God can look like when He’s alive in a group of people.
And then much easier to then later invite that person to church w/ the 4 of you!
Or…make a commitment…like I’m making this year…not to rush so fast into your garage this year. To take time to go over and talk to your neighbors when they’re outside.
We can’t start talking to people about God…or inviting them to church…if we’re not even taking the time to know them.
If you want a pretty big jump-start on this sort of radical normalcy…sign-up for one of our two missions trips to Haiti or Rwanda.
Nothing will kickstart your ability to share your faith by seeing God move through you in another country.
And it’s actually easier to share your faith in Haiti than it is here. It’s a great place to start.
So many of us are stuck in excuses here.
We think sharing our faith is just for crazy people. Or professional pastors and missionaries. Or for outgoing people.
We think, it must have been different back in the day when Christianity exploded out of Jerusalem. They must have had it easier.
Their neighbors wouldn’t have look at them funny like mine would. They wouldn’t have gotten fired at work for talking about “religious things” by HR
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The risk they took to share their faith was sometimes daunting.
The very fabric of most societies where Paul went and shared the Gospel were built on the local gods.
Their social customs, their economies and more.
People went to the temples, made money on the temples…hung out at the temples.
The whole riot in Ephesus in Acts 19 was all about this!
The early Christians were asking people to forsake the false gods they were giving their lives to, basically undo their entire lives, and follow Christ.
All at the risk of being an outcast…or even worse…killed.
Yet Christianity exploded there!
Because God is real. This is real.
And they KNEW that radical is normal.
That this was their purpose.
God wants nothing more to use you to share that “good news”…the Gospel with other people…so He can love them to.
So he can forgive them to.
And to do that…to share good news…should be normal.
Listen…YOU are God’s plan for this.
That person in Coon Rapids that’s sitting at home today…trying to decide whether today’s the day they should just end their life…
You are God’s plan for them!
That person in Andover that’s sitting at home this morning…struggling with whether God is real or not, but has no one to ask.
YOU are God’s plan for them!
Every single one of us is called to share our faith.
And it shouldn’t be radical. It should be normal.
“It’s what people found by Jesus do.
Found people find people.
And you don’t have to be a street evangelist.
Let’s take a poll: How many people in here have at least one friend or acquaintance? Raise your hand? (keep it up)
Okay…I want you to keep your hand up if that person at least half-likes you.
Look…you are all ready to share the Gospel. J
God has not only called, commanded, and commissioned you for this…he’s even already put people in your life for you.
You are God’s plan for reaching people.
His plan isn’t just a Sunday service.
Yes people can get saved here. Many are.
But we won’t exponentially reach the 48,000 in Blaine this way.
And, many of your friends would never come here. Not yet anyway.
But they would listen to you. They trust you.
And let me tell you what’s going to happen:
God is going to use you.
God is going to use us.
I often look back at my time at St. John’s University, where I was a part of a Bible study that grew from 10 to almost 200 students in just a year and a half …and say…we were 18 & 19 year old kids who had NO idea what we were doing.
But the campus at the time was almost completely spiritually dead, and I think God said, “Hey…these young punks want to reach people for me and my name…so I guess I’ll use them”
And He did.
And today…as so many churches and so many Christians have turned Christianity into a convenient, consumeristic club instead of a rescue mission…
I think once again God looks us to saying… “Hey…these folks at Renovation want to reach people for my name. They may have just started…They may have no idea what they’re doing…they may be terrified…but I can work with a willing heart.”
Where you are weak…I am strong.
So I tell you…He will use you.
God can do more than you can ever imagine with a willing, prayerful heart!
He will use you!
And He will use us!
What are you are looking at today, I tell you, is only the beginning of the exponential impact of this church.
I want you to take a serious look around right now. Go ahead a do it.
There are a ton of people here today.
We’ve had 116 new believers in under 4 years.
A little over 4 years ago…this was a church of 2 people. My wife and I.
Dreaming up what we would even call this future church.
And thanks to the willing hearts of so many to boldly share about Jesus: Lives…families…children…generations…are being changed for Christ!
And what you see right now…is just a glimpse of the vision. It’s only the beginning.
In future years…multiple services will be filled like this.
With people growing in God, discipling new believers, and people all over the place meeting Jesus for the very first time.
Because we WILL BE…a people…being changed by God…with the sole purpose of doing nothing short of changing the world.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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