Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
You know, whenever I watch that opening video, it brings up a lot of feelings for me.
When we’re kids…we really do dream about changing the world.
And then…the dream dies…somewhere along the way…it seems overwhelming…and we just settle for mediocrity.
Mediocrity is a lot easier goal.
And I think in a lot of ways, churches have done the same.
For many of us…and unfortunately for many churches… “church has merely become a place” where WE:
Meet friends for US…
And come and get “3 tips on improving our marriage” for US
And that’s it.
It’s just a place that helps us improve…us…for our own sake.
But what we’re doing in this series, “1:8,” is we’re going back to Jesus’ original dream for the church.
When the church was just a “kid,” and believed in a BIG God who could do BIG things.
And that all comes out of Acts 1:8… (thus 1:8) for our series.
The book of Acts is the Book in the Bible that chronicles how the early church got started after Jesus ascends back into heaven.
And chapter 1 begins with Jesus’ last words to his disciples.
He gives them their mission. Let’s read Acts 1:8 together
(Acts 1:8) – NIV
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Last week, when we started this series…I mentioned that this is really a mandate for every church.
And that we can divide Jesus’ words into 3 main regions
(SHOW ACTS 1:8 DIAGRAM)
We have Jerusalem (that’s your city)…for us that’s Blaine
Judea & Samaria (that’s your region).
We’ll look more at that in a second (but for us…that’s the greater metro area…and beyond)
And the ends of the earth…for us…that’s the nations…the places we reach through our missions work in places like Haiti & Rwanda
Last week, we took a look at “The ends of the Earth,” and this week, we’ll be looking at the middle circle: Judea & Samaria
(SHOW JUDEA & SAMARIA MAP)
The disciples are starting in Jerusalem, and Judea is simply that tan region on the map that they are already in
Then, Samaria, is the purple region just directly north of it
So Jesus says take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
But we also impact our city…and our region along the way.
So how does a church impact their “Judea & Samaria?”
How do they impact their greater region for Christ?
And specifically, how do they be his witnesses?
Because that’s what he says in Acts 1:8.
We’re to tell people of his good news…not just do good deeds.
So what’s the best way to do that in JUDEA & SAMARIA?
We believe…that is through starting new churches.
Or through, what’s called…church planting.
It’s amazing to me how often I meet family members of attenders here (say on Christmas or Easter)…and they say, “Man, I wish we could put something like this in my city…we need it”
That’s where church planting comes in!
A BIBLICAL CASE FOR CHURCH PLANTING
And we believe church planting is a very Biblical thing.
I mean, this should be a little bit more obvious than people realize.
EVERY CHURCH….EVERY CHURCH…at one point…was a church plant.
Somebody…somewhere…raised some money…got together a handful of people…and started a church.
But let’s look at church planting in the Bible.
When you read through the first 7 chapters of Acts, you see that even though Jesus told them to take the Gospel from Jerusalem…to Judea…to Samaria…to the Ends of the earth………they’re still in Jerusalem.
They didn’t go anywhere.
This shouldn’t really be a surprise.
For the disciples, just like us…the idea of living out the dream of changing the world…is scary.
It’s easier to just stay home.
A lot of people as they get older…get more fearful…and they think it’s safe…it’s easier…to just stay home.
It’s risky to get in a car
Way more so than a plane.
It’s risky to go out in public and meet new people…
Or maybe you could get sick
Let’s just stay home and be safe.
So what convinces them to finally take the Gospel into the rest of Judea and Samaria?
“Home” started to get unsafe.
In Acts chapter 7, Stephen, one of the leaders of the church, is stoned to death for his faith in Jerusalem.
Luke, the author of Acts, tells us what happens next:
(Acts 8:1) – NIV
And Saul approved of their killing him. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.
So what did it take for them to leave Jerusalem and spread the Gospel elsewhere? In Judea & Samaria?
Listen, God will do whatever it takes to get his mission accomplished.
Even the church in China has spread in a similar way…it’s not easy have a government approved, Biblical megachurch there…
But you can keep planting house churches!
And it appears that God’s plan for persecution works. Look at what else chapter 8 has to say:
(Acts 8:4-6) – NIV
4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said.
So they begin to take the Good News (The Gospel) to new regions!
But the hope is that EACH church takes the Gospel to its city, its region, and the ends of the earth.
Let me tell you about perhaps the most influential church in the New Testament that you’ve maybe never heard of.
It’s called Antioch Church. It’s an awesome church.
Show Antioch map
The beginnings of this amazing church are told in Acts 11
(Acts 11:19-26) – NIV
19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. 22 News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. 25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, (EXPLAIN) 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
So this is an AMAZING church. For a couple of reasons:
It’s one of the first places they were really reaching Gentiles (non-Jews)
And they had Barnabas AND the Apostle Paul (one of the greatest Christians of all time) teaching them for a whole year.
AND…this church gets even better…
(Acts 13:1-3) – NIV
Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
And Antioch Church sends out some of their best people to go reach people for Christ and start new churches in their region.
In fact, if you have a Bible at home, have you ever looked at the maps in the back of them?
A lot of them are maps of Paul’s journeys.
Have you ever noticed that in ALL of them…he starts at Antioch?
(Show Journey #1)
(Show Journey #2)
Antioch is his home church.
They send him out…they supply him for the journey.
And they help start churches in the region…and beyond.
Because when you read the rest of Acts…that’s what Paul does.
He goes into the city…reaches a bunch of people for Christ…and they start churches.
When you read the Great Commission in Matthew 28, it’s not just saying do evangelism, it’s…start churches.
(Matthew 28:19-20) – 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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
It’s not just GO and tell them.
It’s GO …baptize…teach them to obey…help them become disciples.
That’s the function of a Church…not just an outreach ministry.
And that’s why Paul starts CHURCHES…everywhere he goes.
He’s a church planter!
It’s the same in Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost…when 3,000 people come to Christ in Jerusalem.
Within days…they’re meeting in homes…studying the Scriptures.
They’re starting new churches.
A CASE FOR CHURCH PLANTING
And I think, when we read these stories in Acts…to most of us…it makes sense.
They had the good news in Antioch…the people in the rest of their region did not.
The logical conclusion is: Go tell them about it.
Go start churches!
But today in America…we see churches on every corner…and we think, “Church planting?!? What’s the point? We don’t need to start more churches in our region! In our Judea or Samaria!”
But when people say that, they’re going off of just their eyes…not actual statistics.
There’s no math or science to that statement.
So let’s look at some math.
Because I hear this kind of thinking (even herein the Twin Cities suburbs) all the time!
In fact, when I was looking at starting Renovation Church in 2009, I found out that there were 17 churches already in Blaine.
17 churches! Wow!
Why would I start a church here?! That’s a ton!
Here’s why: In 2009, the attendance of those 17 churches added up to 2,500 people.
Do you know how many people live in this city?
Think about that!
One day…maybe we’ll plant another church just RIGHT in this city…just to make a point.
We need more churches here.
We need more churches EVERYWHERE in America.
The Catholic church is shrinking in every State in America except 4 right now.
Mainline Protestant churches…are evaporating before are very eyes…many of them losing hundreds of thousands of people by the decade
Evangelical churches (like this one) and charismatic churches are growing…but the growth is not large.
But here’s the real problem…we’re not actually holding steady.
I’m going to give you a ton of stats…if you have a pen…and you love stats…write this down.
The evangelical church is growing slightly…but the American population is not holding steady.
It’s growing. Quickly. To the tune of 6,000 people a day.
Meanwhile…3,700 churches close their door every year.
Now, thankfully, thanks to some visionary churches and organizations, 4,000 churches START every year.
So, that means, we’re plus 300 churches a year. We’re adding 300 churches a year in America.
6 per state. That’s not a lot.
And certainly not enough to keep up with population growth.
If we wanted to keep up with population growth in America, we’d need to plant closer to an additional 3,000 churches a year.
Instead of starting 4,000 a year, we need to start 7,000.
And by the way, if we got to that goal of 7,000…that would just MAINTAIN the percentage of Christians in America. MAINTAIN.
It’s already slipping.
Only 17.5% of Americans are in church on an average Sunday.
We need to plant 3,000 more churches a year…just to maintain.
God can do this by the way.
It is possible that we can see a great movement of church planting.
We’ve seen it in the past in America.
Check out this graph
This is “Churches started per 1 million residents”
So, it shows how fast our rate for starting churches is every year.
We’ve had great surges of church planting in the past…in the 1800’s (Oregon trail), and in the 40’s and 50’s
God can do that again! GOD CAN DO THAT AGAIN!
But we need more churches to take on the mantle of church planting!
If every church is just focused on themselves (which most are), it’ll never be enough.
It’s not enough for churches just to try and grow from 100 to 125. Or 400 to 500.
We need to think exponentially!
To this thought…a lot of people say, “That’s not true! What we REALLY need to do…is to put more effort into revitalizing the churches we already have…not just start new ones.”
But again, we can’t just think emotionally, but we have to be logical about this.
Even if every church in the city experienced revival and maxed out to capacity, we STILL wouldn’t have room for almost 30,000-40,000 of the people who live here!!
Revitalization of existing churches IS important.
We should work on making our existing churches healthier…and stronger…and better at reaching new believers.
But we also need to be practical and wise.
We have 2,000 years of church data here.
And we know, that once a church is dying…the chances of turning around and thriving (and reaching new people) again…are not high.
That’s why we like to say in church planting, it’s easier to give birth…than it is to raise the dead.
That’s why our focus in bringing Christ to the nation has to be more on church planting than JUST revitalization.
One of the latest trends to affect church planting is the multi-site movement.
The movement where churches merely add campuses by videoing in their pastors sermons.
It’s not…in and of itself…a bad thing. And I wouldn’t say a bad thing against it.
But I will say this: “If people think it’s a good replacement for church planting…I think that’s quite short sited.”
Multi-sites all come back to the same point of origin…the main campus.
Through multi-site…some churches can add maybe 1 extra campus…maybe 2…some even as high as 5 or 7.
But that’s addition.
And that’s fine. But let’s not replace multiplication (which is what church planting is) with addition.
Let me give you an example of what I mean.
One of my mentors and personal heroes is Pastor Dave Reno of Grace Fellowship in Brooklyn Park.
Grace Fellowship, as many of you know, is one of our parent churches.
Grace, was started by Dave, 25 years ago…and has grown to a church of about 1,200 people.
Over the last 25 years, Grace has started 20 churches. That’s right….20.
The attendance of those 20 churches: 7,000 people.
In fact, it’s even more exponential than you think.
And here’s why it’s multiplication…and not just addition.
Those 20 churches are now starting to plant churches of their own!
In fact, Grace Fellowship, now has 7 “granddaughter churches” (churches their church plants have started)
Those 7 churches (many of them less than 5 years old) add up to an additional 1,600 people.
So because, Dave Reno started a “church planting church” (not just a church) 25 years ago, almost 10,000 people are in church today.
Now, that doesn’t get the fame and notoriety as some of the megachurches…but that’s not the point anyway.
The point is to go therefore and make disciples…in Jerusalem…AND in Judea and Samaria.
And I just think…what if every church in America was thinking like that?
How much faster could we reach this country for Christ?!
We need to think Exponential!
We think to think beyond just Jerusalem!
This is how we can curb the trend of decline.
Think outside of ourselves!
New churches will always reach people that existing churches can not (from their new methods…and new locations…and new innovations)
Our church plants won’t always look just like Renovation. And that’s okay.
New churches reach new centers of population growth
New churches, statistically, always reach more non-Christians than established churches.
A new church of 100 people, statistically, reaches 6 to 8 times more people for Christ than an established church of 100 people.
And because of Jesus’ command of Acts 1:8…and because of all these things about church planting being true…we strive to…not just be a church…but a church planting church.
A multiplication center.
We want to be the “Antioch Church” of Minneapolis / St. Paul
Two years ago, we set a goal of planting 10 new churches out of Renovation in 10 years.
Or 10 churches by 2022.
We’ve started two already (Hope Bridge Church in Plymouth and Ignite church in Oakdale), and we’ll be starting our 3rd church next year.
Which you’ll hear more about in the coming months.
In fact, one of our church planters, Nick Whittenhall from Ignite Church…wanted to check in with you…and say a little something about church planting
(PLAY VIDEO FROM NICK WHITTENHALL)
Many of you know, but we work hand-in-hand with enCompass Church of Roseville to start these churches.
Their Pastor, and my great friend, Kevin Thomas, has been here many times to speak.
We put 5% of all of our offerings directly into helping fund these new churches.
I also put time into coaching the pastors on how to start a church.
And…I know many of you are new in the past two years since we started our last church (so you might not know this part)..but we send some of our own people out to start the churches as well
In 2012, we sent 11 of our people out to go with the launch teams of our new churches.
Our hope is to be able to send even more the next time.
These people make a 9-month commitment to go, to serve, to give, and to be a huge part of helping the new church get off the ground.
Some of them come back here after 9 months, but many stay…and we bless them for that.
Because we believe the mission is bigger than ourselves.
Can you imagine what it was like for Antioch church to give up Paul and Barnabas?? WOW! Ouch!
But was not the world better for it?
Also, notice that Jesus tells the disciple to take the Gospel, not just to their immediate region, but to the region just beyond them as well.
To a region they’re familiar with…it’s not super far away…but in other ways…it’s not all that familiar to them.
And as we continue to expand rapidly as a church, we’re praying through what this looks like for us.
Although we still believe that many of our church planting endeavors will be right here in the metro…we’re also slowly hearing God calling us to Samaria.
And maybe we begin to help start churches in greater MN as well.
Or in Iowa…or even in troubled states like Wisconsin J
So what can you do right now? How can you get involved with church planting?
Pray for our church plants. And our future church plants.
Talk about church planting
Talk about it with your Christian friends who don’t go to our church.
Let’s starting spreading interest in church planting.
Tell them to talk with their pastor about it
And pray about if God would ever send you out from here.
One of the great things about church plants, is that they all need a ton of leaders…right away!
Ministry leaders…team leaders…small group leaders…
And maybe God will use you in this way.
It seems crazy to think about…
Maybe it seems crazy to hear your pastor talk about how he wants some of you to leave here someday.
But we’re going to be a church that thinks exponentially…and thinks bigger than ourselves.
And we will take the Gospel…to Jerusalem…to Judea…to Samaria…and the ends of the earth.
This morning, we are going to take communion together as well. Communion is always a great time for us to remember what our faith is all about.
In the NT, Paul writes this about the reason for communion:
(1 Corinthians 11:23-26) – NIV
23For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 25In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
And that is what we will do. But Paul also writes in this passage that we ought to examine ourselves before taking communion.
To 1) not do it in vain. To only do it if we truly believe it. And if you’re still just seeking, that’s ok. You’re on a journey. 2) Communion is an opportunity for believers to examine themselves (ask yourself some tough questions)
In the back, there are 2 tables….with pieces of bread and a bowl of juice. When you’re ready, you can get up take an individual piece of bread and dip it in the juice.
However, take some time to examine yourself before you go back.
Sometime to remember what He’s done and what He will do
And when you’re ready, at any time during the next few songs (if you need to wait, wait), you can go back and take communion.
If you would like to pray while you’re back there, we encourage you to do so. With each other, by yourself, or our prayer team will be in the back to pray for you as well (POINT THEM OUT)
We really just want you to encounter God during our service.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.