From Darkness to Light

February 12, 2023

David Sorn

Our mission is to lead people from darkness to light.

From Darkness to Light

February 12, 2023

David Sorn

Our mission is to lead people from darkness to light.



(Illuminate Series Slide)

Morning! How’s everybody doing?

My name is David Sorn and I’m the Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.

Welcome to Week 2 of our Illuminate Series

This is a really defining moment in the life of our church as we’re spending 4 weeks talking about our future.

If you weren’t here last week, I would ask that you watch last week’s message online where we explain everything that’s happening…

But since I obviously can’t wait for you to do that right now, let me quickly sum it up for you

(Show Attendance Graph #2)

Our church moved over from renting at Northpoint Elementary in February of 2021 with 500 people, and we did our official Grand Opening of this building in September of 2021

In the last 18 months or so since our Grand Opening, we’ve grown to the point where almost 1,300 people are here worshipping on an average Sunday

And so we know, that we’re going to that we’re going to run out of room in our building.

Even if the growth really slows down, we’d still be out of room in 18 months

If things continue at the pace they’re at now, we could run out of room as fast as 6-8 months

And so we’ve been working behind the scenes the last 9-12 months on the details of our building expansion plan

This was always our hope and prayer (as we even built phase 1..this was designed with a phase 2 expansion in mind)

…but the rate at which we arrived to this moment is something only God could do!

(Show Floorplan)

Our building would increase from 21,000 square feet to 45,000 square feet.

The lobby, will pop out into the parking lot and double in size

Our children’s wing will go from 6 classrooms to 11 classrooms

Our Worship Center will increase from 480 seats to 800 seats

And we’ll add multiple adult classrooms for Renovation U and Sunday morning meeting space.

And our offices will expand for our fast-growing staff as well.

If you’re just hearing about this for the first time, I really want to encourage you to take home one of the Illuminate Booklets that was on your chair when you walked in so you can learn even more about the project.

This building expansion project will cost a total of 8.75 million dollars

In order for the bank to give us a loan to start construction, we will need to have pledges come in for 4 million dollars in giving over the next 3 years.

That’s a lot!

And if we’re going to break ground this summer, like we would need to do if we’re going to keep up with all the people who are coming to hear about Jesus…

…then we’re going to need to raise over 4 million dollars.


And we’re doing this because we want to illuminate the darkness for the lost people around us…right here in our city, and our county.

In fact, let me show you what the Bible says about this:

John 1:1-5

Page 723

Let’s look at how the disciple John’s Book about Jesus begins:

And when John writes the Word, he means Jesus.

(John 1:1-5) – NIV

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Later in John chapter 8, Jesus declares to His listeners that HE is the light of the world, and whoever follows Him will not walk in darkness.

In other words, they can be saved, know the truth, have life!

(Illuminate series slide)

And this is such an important metaphor in the Bible.

I think of the Apostle Paul, the great missionary.

Just a couple of days ago, in my morning Bible reading, I was reading about how He was in prison, and he was sharing his testimony with King Agrippa.

And in Paul’s testimony, he shares how Jesus said this to him:

(Acts 26:17-18) – NIV

17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

(From Darkness to Light Slide)

All of these verses are saying this:

Jesus and His good news are like a lamp being carried into a dark room.

And as the gospel lamp (the truth that Jesus can save & transform), as that truth shines into the darkness, it cannot be stopped.

It will, it WILL, illuminate the darkness.

And this is our mission.

To be lamps in our city…

To carry the light of Jesus and lead people from darkness to light.

The mission statement of our church is to follow Jesus and help others do the same.

And my prayer is that we all understand something very important.

As we’re talking about doing more of this, we’re not just talking about numbers here.

When we talk of reaching hundreds more for Christ in our area…

We’re not just talking about numbers…or chairs…or buildings.

We’re talking about people…real people.

In fact, I want you to show you Blake’s story, and you can see what I mean:

(Play Blake’s TESTIMONY Video).

(From Darkness to Light Slide)

I believe that.

That you’re making “a bigger difference than you may ever know”

See, we’re not just talking about numbers…these are real people and real stories.

That’s what we’re sacrificing for.


But as we talk about the future, let me take some time to talk about a really common question that I heard often this week as I visited all 17 of our House Groups for Q&A’s

This question is, in many ways, I think the elephant in the room.

So let’s just talk about it

“If Renovation Church continues to really grow and reach people, doesn’t that mean, mathematically at least, that we will become a large church?

And for many people, if we’re totally honest, when we think of large churches, many of us tend to have a number of reservations.

I think the two main fears could be summarized as:

#1: We worry that large churches sometimes aren’t as effective in making disciples…or that some of them just tickle people’s ears as Paul says in 2 Timothy

#2: We worry that we personally won’t like the experience of being at a bigger church, or will feel lost in the crowd

And so I just think it’s really important at this critical juncture in our church’s history to talk about this question

And I want to start by addressing that first worry about effectiveness.

But to do so, let’s go back to our guide…

Not the culture, not what other churches are like, but to our guide, the Word of God.

Acts 2:38-47

Page 744

I want to you show you a church in the Bible, one that many Christians hold up as the “gold standard,”

This is what we call “The early church”

The first church in Jerusalem.

We’ll join the story on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit fell on the disciples, and Peter stood up and spoke to an enormous crowd that had come running.

Watch how Peter is not holding back in his teaching.

Right from the beginning of this church, nothing is watered-down.

(Acts 2:38-40) – NIV

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”

Now, watch what happens next…there is nothing small about God is doing when He brings the light here

(Acts 2:41) – NIV

Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

Shortly thereafter, in Acts 4, we read the church has grown by another 2,000 people, in a very short time

And yet, we ALSO read that their community and fellowship was deep, and it was rich

Look at verse 42 now

(Acts 2:42-47) – NIV

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

(From Darkness to Light Slide)

So we see a number of things worth mentioning here in this Biblical church

They met together, in homes, so they could know each other.

They took communion together in their homes

They saw miracles

They were discipling people and seeing new believers so fast, that it was happening EVERY DAY even

But also notice that they didn’t just meet in homes.

And I think some people miss this when they talk about the early church.

It says they devoted themselves to the disciples, the apostles’ teaching (v. 42)

It says in verse 46 that these early Christians all met together in the temple courts

And Acts chapter 5 also tells us that all the believers gathered together in Solomon’s Colonnade in the temple, and the Apostles taught them, by the thousands, God’s Word.

And so here we have an example from Scripture of a large church.

And not every church in the New Testament was a large church.

Most of Paul’s church plants around Turkey and Greece were quite small actually…and that’s okay too.

There is no such thing as a Biblical right or wrong when it comes to church size.

But the Book of Acts does give us an example here of what a church should like it, if in indeed its influence it grows to the point where it becomes a large church…

…and notice that it looks quite different of how we might stereotype large churches today.

This church in Acts is still teaching hard truths, discipling people, strong community…

But we need study Scripture closely here.

Before we write off “large” as bad or infective or unbiblical…

…we DO notice here in the Scriptures that people are gathered together in one large group to hear their leaders teach them the Scriptures…

And THEN people broke out in homes to discuss what they were learning, go deeper, and meet for fellowship

And my friends, that is exactly what we’re doing at this church.

And will continue to do.

And yet, I understand that, especially if you’re newer around here, and just getting to know us, you may still feel a bit uncertain about that.

So let me tell you something that I hope will put your nerves at east a little bit.

At one of our House Groups this week, when this question about the stereotypical large church was asked, a man raised his hand and said, “Can I just comment on that?”

And I said, “Sure.”

And he said, “I came to this church a LONG time ago…when it was only about 150 people. And I just want to say to all of you that are new, that what we are doing right now, the things that you like about it (how we teach the Bible, outreach, house groups,) that’s exactly what we were doing at 150 people….

“…and if we can keep our culture from a little church of 150 people to 1300 people, then you better believe we can keep it from 1300 to 1700, or wherever the Lord sees fit to take this church”

And this is important because I think if we look deeper into our own thoughts, I think for us many of us, our fears about larger churches have a lot more to do with ministry philosophy than ministry size.

…because I don’t think you were reading about that Jerusalem church in Acts and saying it was a “terrible church” even though it was a large church.

And so I just want to reiterate that what we’re doing here is indeed so different than the stereotypical, caricature (kar-i-kuh-cher) of the large church

And by the way, there are some awesome, Bible-Teaching larege churches in this country as well.

I’d be remiss to not say that

But let me show you what it is that so many of you love about our church, and I hope this summarizes why our future is SO different than what some of you may possibly be fearing

The Uniqueness of Renovation Church

House Groups

No Livestream

Pick Up An Oar

Church Planting

Renovation U

Bible Teaching

Gospel Invitations

Discipling New Believers

What we do with 40 people in a House Group is more like a House Church than a typical church small group

And we have 80% of our adults in groups, where the average church has something like 30% in groups

We’re one of the only churches in the state not doing a livestream on Sunday mornings because we want people here, experiencing our powerful worship…and staying relationally connected.

Our “pick up an oar” philosophy has close to 75% of our people serving

We’re planting autonomous church plants all around the metro

We’re not trying to build the Kingdom of Renovation, but the Kingdom of God.

We’re teaching hundreds and hundreds of people how to study the Bible and Theology every summer in Renovation U

We’re teaching right through the Bible…even through its hardest passages…in an age where sermons in most churches feel more like life hacks instead of a teaching on God’s Word

We’ve brought back gospel invitations, altar calls, and more, and we are seeing hundreds come to Christ

And we’re discipling these new believers, relationally 1-on-1


What we’re doing here is incredibly unique, and different, and EFFECTIVE,” and the last thing that we want to do is water it down and watch it lose its effectiveness! 😊

(From Darkness to Light Slide)

And so I hope you hear my heart on this…and how passionate we are about keeping our culture as we reach and disciple more and more people with the Light of Jesus Christ.

But I also know that some people may worry that they personally won’t feel as comfortable or as happy at a bigger church

And so let me touch on that 2nd worry as well.

As you saw on our graph earlier, there are already 1,300 people here on a Sunday.

And I know this may shock you, but not everybody comes every week 😊

Which means, there are probably something like 1,800 people who already attend Renovation Church.

And so, if you’re worried about what it will feel like when it’s a large church, I want to tell you that it’s already a large church.

And here’s why that’s important to point out:

How you will personally experience this church in the future…isn’t really going to feel different than how you experience it right now.

The big leap from small to large has already happened.

And you know, even when our church was just 200 people, I used to always stand on our portable stage and say, “You can’t know 200 people! Our community, is in House Groups”

And that’s just as true today.

And so you’re not going to lose what you already have by us continuing to grow and reaching more people for Christ…because your community IS, and will still be, in House Groups.

You know, over 60% of you are NEW since we moved in here.

And for so many of you, you love this place.

You’re getting connected…

You’re maybe even serving already.

You’ve gotten in a House Group.

And that’s awesome!

But, perhaps with your finances, you’re not in yet.

I’m telling you, this is the time to get committed financially as well.

To trust God with that part of your life too

We need you. And our lost friends & family members they need you

We need you to pick up an oar with us.

Like we say all the time, “We’re not a cruise ship, we’re a row boat, and so we need everybody to pick up an oar”

And nowhere is that more true than with Illuminate.

If we’re going to raise over 4 million dollars so we can keep lighting up the darkness, we’re going to all have to pick up an oar, and do this together.

(Commitment Sunday slide)

Please be praying for our commitment Sunday when we will hand in our 3 year pledges

We are now only 14 days away from that important day in our church’s life, on February 26th.

Please, seek on the Lord on how you can be a part of it

(From Darkness to Light Slide)

Think back a moment to Blake’s video, and his story…and the other 190 people who have come to Christ since we opened the doors here.

God is moving among us right now in a way that is rarely seen these days in our country

It’s happening! In OUR midst!

And so it is CRITICAL, at this important juncture, that we move our eyes off of our own preferences

We have got to keep our eyes on God’s MISSION.

And His MISSION, as we see in His Word, is to illuminate the darkness of our city, and our county with the light of Jesus Christ.

There are lost people, all around us, by the thousands, that don’t know Jesus, they are living in the darkness…they are walking towards hell

…and we can reach them.

What you saw in Blake’s story, we want to do that for hundreds more people just like Blake.

We sit on the doorstep of being able to make, not just a little, but a massive difference in this city.

Before you know it, there will be Renovation Church House Groups practically in every neighborhood of the city.

So one could just invite their neighbor to a group right in their neighborhood

It won’t be long until we’re training over 500 adults at once in the Bible & Theology every summer

Training people that we can send out from here…to church plants, and mission fields across the globe

I can see a future where we’re baptizing new believers, not just once a month, but a future where we could literally do it every week if we wanted to

God is MOVING in our midst

The light is pushing back the darkness and the darkness cannot, and will not overcome it!

And I want you to be a part of it

Let me pray.

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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