Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
I’m guessing by the fact that you are here at 9:30 you stayed in last night and played a rousing game of Parcheesi
I’m guessing by the fact that you are here at 11:00 means you were incredibly entertained last night by watching a giant ball drop from the sky.
Hope you had a great New Years Eve and welcome to RenovationChurch in 2012
I’m sure it’s going to be a great year
Speaking of, I’d like to do something really different this morning. Is that ok?
You know, every year in January, the President of the United States makes an address to congress and the people of America about the country’s strengths, weaknesses, and his plan for the future.
It’s called the State of the Union Address.
If that’s not ringing a bell for you it’s the time every January when you’re about to watch your favorite show and the president interrupts it
Maybe that helps.
But if you’re into politics or America, it’s an interesting thing to listen to. Where are we headed? Where do our leaders want to take us? What are we up against? What are our goals?
Now, maybe you’re more into “People Magazine” than politics, but my hope is you’re into Renovation Church.
I hope that’s why you go here.
You love Jesus and Renovation Church.
And what I would like to do this morning is to take this first Sunday in January, and give a similar address about our church.
To talk about what God’s done in the last year, what are our weaknesses, what are our challenges, and what do we feel like God is stretching us to next.
If you’re visiting today, this is obviously a different sort of Sunday, but I think it’s actually a great Sunday to visit.
Because you’re gonna get a great idea of what this church is really all about.
If we’re gonna assess ourselves and look forward at the same time, the rubric in which we must do so is our vision.
Our vision is “To be a people being changed by God to what???”
Change the world!
Here it is. Let’s put it on the screen:
Our vision: “To be a people being changed by God to change the world”
And this is both how we as leaders assess ourselves and its what we look at to propel us forward as well.
But really, it breaks down further than that.
Out of our vision, we have three core values:
Community, Encountering God, and Reaching People.
And each of those core values come out of our Vision Statement.
It looks like this:
To be a people (community), being changed by God (encountering God), to change the world (reaching people)
And if you look around, you’ll see these around here.
The combination of the core values and our vision it’s on the banners when you walk in, every one of our ministry teams talks about the vision in their momentum meetings, they’re on the posters by the hallway table.
Because everything we do flows out of our vision.
We are united by a vision and a purpose
So let’s look at the first core value: Community. Or, “to be a people”
We’re borderline crazy about community around here.
When we planted this church just over two years ago, one of the main things we set out to do was to start a church where people didn’t get lost in the crowd
Where they could actually know people in the church and have community.
Yet, how do you do that if you want to reach a lot of people at the same time and grow?
Well, from the beginning we defined what community was here.
I stood up, even when there were 100 people here and said, “THIS is not our community”
You can’t KNOW even 100 people well.
Community, true community has to happen elsewhere.
A true form of community like we see happening in the book of Acts:
(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, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
And for us…that kind of community is in House Groups.
House Groups are groups of 20-30 people that meet every week, so you can really have a “small church” feel here at Renovation.
Half the night is large group time of getting to know each other, eating some good food together, hearing someone’s faith story, and then watching a DVD that we make about Sunday morning’s passage or topic.
Then, the 2nd half of the night, we split up throughout the house in small groups of 4-7 people and grow closer together, learn more about God’s word, challenge each other, support each other, and so on.
And I have to say, I’m so proud of our House Groups.
Now over two years in, we still have over 80% of our adults in a House Group.
If you’ve been coming to this church for a little while, and you’re not in a House Group…sign-up for one (we have 4 different ones) today.
They start up again next week. This is a perfect time to sign up.
So, are we getting people in community well? Yes, we are. Incredibly well.
Yet, Not everything is always rosy. In fact, the more I’ve watched community in this church….
I’ve begun to see something we need to address:
See, we have a unique community of people here. Because this is a church that is reaching people for Jesus…a number of the people in our church, in our House Groups, are brand new Christians.
Some of them aren’t even Christians yet…
Let me speak to those of you that have believers for a little while now
Because for the vast majority of you, you’ve never experienced anything like this before in a church.
“Previous to Renovation, for most of you, almost every Bible Study you’ve ever been in, or small group, or whatever…. has been you and other seasoned believers, not brand new believers”
Well, that’s not the case here at Renovation, and nor will it probably ever be the case as I want to lead us to continue to reach new believers
Otherwise, what in the world are we doing?
If we’re not reaching people, we’re a club or a seminary…not a church.
And, although I’ve always felt that all of our seasoned believers would be overjoyed to finally be in a group with a new believer that they could teach, and disciple and help them learn about Jesus……
(I mean what an opportunity!!) Finally you get an opportunity to be around new believers! Isn’t that what church is about??
But yet, we continue to have people come to us and say…..
And let me preface…this is not everyone…not even a majority. But enough of a pattern…that it’s worth addressing and speaking truth to
Because we’re having people coming to us and saying…
, “I’m just not being challenged enough by my small group”
“Everyone’s so new in their faith.” “They’re not teaching me.” Or “They don’t even know what I’m talking about when I mention the Old Testament or whatever”
Or “I’m just bothered at the lack of maturity in faith and need people to challenge me, so I don’t think I can do this”
And here’s where I think the church in America is reaping what it sowed.
For so long, we’ve bended to people’s consumerism, that we have churches full of people that SOMEHOW think that church is about them.
That community was just about THEM.
That the only way to judge a group is to say, “What am I getting out of it?”
But Church…community…is about everyone. And helping everyone.
And let me be brutally honest, which I usually am, I’ve had some conversations with people this year when people have expressed frustrations and others have even said, “Yeah, I’m moving on so I can be around more seasoned believers” where I’ve just wept…wept for our flock
Wept, and looked up to God and said, “If everyone’s just in it for what they can get out of it, who’s gonna help us take care of all of these new sheep? New believers? Who will teach them about You God?? Who will disciple them?
God, bring me people who want to teach others, and not just themselves, about you.
And let me be as forward as I possibly can.
If you’re only concerned about your own spiritual development and surrounding yourself with only those more mature than you who can feed you, then this isn’t the church for you.
90% of other churches in this county are almost 100% full of ONLY believers. And people who have believers for quite some time. They’re not reaching people.
If that’s what you want...to be surrounded by believers… There are plenty of places to go.
But if you want to be a part of something. A part of a movement. A part of God radically changing lives. If you want to be at a place where you can, most of you, for the first time ever, be around people who are just learning about God, just opening a Bible…
If you want to be around that…and you want to help people get closer to God…
If you want to see the church in America alive and well again…
Then I can’t think of a better place for you to be.
But it’s going to require something of you.
If we’re going to change the world together…we have to serve… It just aint gonna happen by us consuming from our chairs…
But that’s COMMUNITY. We get…and we give.
And don’t hear me wrong, this isn’t just a Seeker Church either. We’re not about simplifying everything to only reach new believers and that’s all we do.
I mean, yes, we are reaching new believers for Christ.
But, at the same time, we are just as concerned about helping YOU grow in your relationship with Christ.
Even if you’ve been a believer for 50 years.
The difference is…it’s just not ALL about you. Yes, we want you to grow, but we also want you to help others grow.
That’s how a church works!!
This is not consumerism. This is a CHURCH.
And our vision entails people not only being in community but growing with God
Our vision is…to be a people…a people that come together almost every week in community…supporting each other…but then to be a people BEING CHANGED BY GOD.
We want to encounter Him in such a way that He is radically changing us
Because it’s not enough to just be in community. To just be around other Christians.
We’ve got to encounter God. Both corporately and on our own.
This is all a part of our plan to create passionate disciples of Jesus Christ here at Renovation.
See…step number one is to have you in a group.
A place where you’re surrounded by other Christians helping you along.
But step number two in discipleship is encountering God in your own life more.
And we believe it works best in that order.
Too many Christians in America have been living in an “isolated spirituality” where they attend a church, maybe even read the Bible on their own, but they know absolutely no one.
And to be a disciple of Jesus, we need both.
We need a community around us to support us.
AND we need to encounter Him.
Because HE’S the one who will change us
And I think we’ve been doing an “okay” job at this here at Renovation.
I love what we do here on a Sunday morning for worship.
We’ve been blessed with an incredible worship leader in Zach Foty who has a gifted ability to lead people in worship without a hint of performance unlike anyone I’ve ever seen.
God just gave Him this gift where when he leads, people see God and not Zach.
That’s something you can’t teach someone. He just has it. And we get to be blessed by it.
And because of that…This is a place where people really can encounter God in worship.
And that changes people. When God meets you here on a Sunday morning and speaks to your heart…that changes you
Watching a “performance on stage” does almost nothing for people…besides help someone say…”Church is cool”
But from the beginning, we’ve strived to move beyond having people saying, “Church is cool.” We want people to say, “I encountered God today…and that messed with me”
We want people to encounter God, not just “coolness”
10 months ago, for the first time, we had a Worship Night at our church. We had people come and just worship, pray, journal, you name it for an hour…just to encounter God.
And the reaction we’ve gotten from people on these nights has only pushed us to offer than more and more
To me…it’s the faces.
It’s people coming up to me after an hour of worship…with a hint of tears in their eyes…and just saying, “That…was awesome.”
And yeah, if you submit yourself to God and to be in His presence for an hour, it will be awesome.
And I believe nothing is as powerful as that. If we want to be “CHANGED TO CHANGE”…if we want God to use us to change this world. Then we have to sit at his feet first
Look at the story of Mary and Martha…
(Luke 10:38-42) – NIV
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Sometimes, we feel like the best way we can change the world is just to do stuff. Get out there and do it.
But really, the best thing you can do is sit at the feet of Jesus.
And let Him change you to change.
Because when I do that. When I can convince myself to just stop…and just sit in His presence, it’s after those moments, when I’m like, “Somebody better hold me back because I’m ready to change the entire world for Christ!!!”
That’s being CHANGED to CHANGE
That’s having God supercharge you to change.
Not just you out there by yourself.
And so we’re striving to offer more opportunities for people to Encounter God…through things like a Worship Night.
In fact, we’re having another one this Tuesday night.
If you’ve never come, trust me, come.
But there’s another thing God’s been messing with me on.
Sunday morning Church is important. House Groups are important.
But really, that’s just two meals a week. And if we’re really going to create disciples here at Renovation, we have to teach people how to grow spiritually on their own.
& I truly do not believe the answer is for our church to just start offering program after program and discipleship class after discipleship class.
And we’ll do some different things like that in the summer
But ultimately, we don’t want to create a welfare state, we want to create disciples who learn to encounter Jesus every single day on their own.
And I have to be honest…God’s been bugging me about this a lot. “David, raise the level of Encountering God at Renovation. David…raise the level”
I actually went on a 3 day prayer retreat this Fall at Wilderness Fellowship…in part just to get away and figure out what God was saying to me on this.
And I believe He’s going to help us do that.
Two weeks from today, we are starting a new series called, “Resolution Regret.”
And in that series, we are going to unveil something called a “Personal Renovation Plan”
It’s basically a spiritual goals sheet where you can pick between all sorts of options for how you want to grow spiritually over the next 4 months.
You can set goals on how often you want to read the Bible, pray, or add on other spiritual disciplines.
Then, we will have people submit their plans to their small group leaders who will help keep them accountable to staying in God’s word and encountering Him as often as they can.
And I seriously think God’s going to help us really raise the bar of discipleship in this church
Because listen, if we can be a church, where 80% of people are in a House Group every week (nat’l avg is 22%), and not only that, but everyday they are on their own, studying God’s word, talking to Him, encountering Him and letting Him change them..
Then look out…God’s gonna change the WORLD through this church!
Which is our goal. It’s the point of our vision.
To be a people being changed by God…to what???? Change the world!
See, far too many churches only do the first two.
They get together…do some Bible studies together…but the point is always, like I said earlier, for the self.
It’s, “I come to a Bible study or to church.” Why? “To grow spiritually.” Why? “ To grow spiritually.” But why? “I guess, so I can improve MY life.
See, it’s a dead end to the cycle.
It’s a dead end at ourselves. And like I’ve been saying, to be a spiritual dead end at yourself is not the CHURCH
We see this clearly when Jesus states his own mission in Luke
(Luke 19:10) – NIV
10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
But here, we not only want to be in community, and grow spiritually, (Which yes, you personally will benefit from ), but our purpose in doing so is to change the world around us.
That God would motivate us to go out and do great things.
Like our Haiti Team who is leaving in 3 days to serve at a Children’s Home and tell people about Jesus.
And THAT, telling people about Jesus, is the greatest change we can bring.
And that is the goal of our vision and our third core value: Reaching People.
Because being in community and having God change you personally is great. It’s a great thing. Don’t get me wrong.
But what about the other 85% of people in this town that aren’t in church today…the ones’ that don’t’ know Jesus…and right now are on the path to hell instead of Heaven?
What about them?
It’s ultimately for them that we strive to grow in God.
We come in community to change.
We encounter God to change.
Why? So He would someday help us to change this world and reach more people with his unbelievable grace.
And we want to do this exponentially.
Through our missions. Like in Haiti.
And through church planting.
If you haven’t heard, we are planting two churches this Fall out of our church.
One in Plymouth and one in the East / NE metro
So that a year from now, we would not only be a growing church, but there would be two growing churches that now ALSO exist because of Renovation.
My goal is to be able to plant 10 churches in 10 years out of Renovation Church.
So that God would not only be moving in Blaine, but exponentially around this entire metro.
I don’t believe in mediocrity in life, and I especially don’t believe in it when it comes to reaching people for Christ.
I’ve all got a limited time to live, and I made a promise to Jesus Christ to help Him reach as many people as I possibly can before I die…
And part of that is through planting other churches so we can exponentially change this world for Christ.
And we also want to keep reaching people here in Blaine.
Listen, God has used this church in incredible ways in the past 12 months.
What we’re experiencing here is not normal for a church. At all.
3 years ago…there was no such thing as Renovation Church
2 years ago…we were a small church of 100 people
12 months ago…this was a church of 125 people.
And in the last 12 months, we have doubled to a church of almost 250.
We grew at a 100% rate last year. Even for a church to grow at 20% is almost unheard of.
But you have to know something…all of this growth means absolutely nothing if we’re not reaching people for Jesus.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, if we’re just growing because other Christians are coming to our church because it’s the next cool thing, then I don’t want to do this anymore
Even if we’re 400 people at this time next year…if it’s just 150 more Christians…than we’re wasting our time.
Is that great that there are Christians in church that really like their church? Yes. It’s good.
But there are already plenty of churches for them
And by my estimations, there are 48,000 people in this city that don’t even have a church.
I just said 48,000. In just this city alone.
And most of them don’t know Jesus.
And, so our vision has to compel us to take this city and turn it from the easiest city to get lost in, to the easiest city to get found in.
And so, as we move into this next year…we’ve got work to do.
Has God done astounding things at this church in the last year?
Oh yeah! Amazing things.
But at the same time, we’ve barely made a dent in this city of lost people.
So we’ve got work to do.
And that work requires each and every one of us getting serious about working the whole vision.
About not just handing out an invite card or asking a person here or there.
But about taking your own walk with God seriously in this short life.
By taking the risk and getting in a community of believers.
By taking your relationship with God seriously and committing to growing with Him each day on your own.
And then, may He change our hearts, as a matter of fact, may He ignite our hearts.
Ignite our hearts with a spark. A spark to get out and speak of his love to those around us.
That we would speak of God’s love to our friends.
And not just our already churched friends
That we would bring people even far from God here to hear of His grace.
That He would use us to start churches all around this metro, and even to go to different countries to bring help and His Word.
Trust me on this. No, you know what, trust God on this.
Look at His work. Two and a half years ago…
There was no team going to make a difference in Haiti. No churches about to start in Plymouth or the in the Oakdale area
Two and half years ago…this was an empty gym on Sunday mornings.
Today, 250 people come every week to worship an incredible God
2 and half years ago,
Some of the very people in this room, we’re at home on a Sunday morning. And not just at home.
They were stuck. Stuck in drugs, bitterness, unaware of God or maybe just angry at Him.
And now, today, those same people sit in these chairs with you. Forgiven, changed, and free.
If He can do that in just over 2 years…what in the world could He possibly do this next year?
Let’s trust Him for amazing things!
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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