This is a special Sunday for us this morning as I am going to give our 2nd annual “State of Renovation” Address
Every January, the President of the United States gives his annual “State of the Union Address”
If you’re not familiar with this…this is the time of the year every year, where you turn on the TV to watch “The Amazing Race” or something, and all of a sudden the president is on.
And the people in the audience or standing up and sitting down like they’re at a good Catholic Mass
That’s the “State of the Union” address
But if you are one of those people that’s actually into politics, 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 the NFL than politics, but my hope is that everyone here….is 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, as we are about to embark on a brand new year, is to give a similar address to 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 going to assess ourselves as a church…and determine “The state of Renovation” then we must do so based on our vision for our church.
Are we doing it? Are we getting closer? Are we pulling it off?
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 take a look at our first core value: Community
A little over 3 years ago, when Renovation Church was still just a dream in a few people’s heads, one thing that was so important to us…was that this would be a place where people really found Christian community.
The growing trend in our culture, in our society, is isolation.
We are more isolated from each other than ever before in the history of this country….and in too many of our churches, there is no visible difference.
All over America, Christians walk into a large sea of people on a Sunday morning, they know absolutely no one, they encounter God, and then leave….
Until next Sunday when they do it all over again.
But that’s not the church we see in the Bible.
In the Bible, we see that the people of the church are to:
(Galatians 6:10) – NIV
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
(Galatians 6:2) – NIV
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
(1 Thessalonians 4:18) – NIV
Therefore encourage one another with these words.
But you CAN’T do those things (carry burdens/encourage)…and I would go further…you can’t be an obedient Christian, if you’re simply just coming in and out of a church on Sunday mornings year after year…
..and not functioning as part of the body of Christ.
So from the beginning, we boldly set out to say our community is not going to be here on Sunday mornings…because you can’t know even 100 people well, let alone 250.
Our communities would be in our house groups
And that’s against the trend of what Christianity is looking like in America right now.
Christian Americans have become content with merely just blending in with a large crowd, watching a podcast at home, and living out their faith in isolation.
As we do with so many other parts of our lives.
But the church in America can not function like that and will not thrive like that…
In fact, it will DIE if it continues like that.
We won’t even be able to raise up the next generation of preachers for people to podcast in isolation because there will be no Christian community for those future preachers to grow up in!
And so for us…our community is in house groups.
If you’re not familiar with our house groups, they are groups of 20-30 people that meet every week.
The 1st half of the night is large group time (socializing, get to know other people, a faith story, DVD teaching)
2nd half of the night is small group time w/ 4-7 people.
And we’ve had amazing success w/ our house groups.
In part because, like we say, it’s like comparing a dinner party of 6-8 people to a grill out w/ 25
If you were just going to a dinner party of 6-8 people, where you didn’t know anyone…it could be okay, or it could be super awkward.
But you know at a grill-out at 25, you’ll eventually find someone you can connect w/
And that’s part of the reason why we’ve had so much success with our house groups
If you’re not in a house group yet, this is a perfect time to sign-up!
Our 2nd semester of house groups starts not this week, but next week.
SO get signed up for 1 of our 4 groups today!
Seriously, being an actual part of real Christian community IS the next step for you.
You WILL grow in your faith if you have people supporting you, challenging you, and helping you grow.
Be bold today, and sign-up
So what’s the state of our community?
It’s maybe the thing I’m most proud of this year.
From the beginning of this church, we’ve set out to have at least 80% of our adults in a house group, and we’ve been able to do that. (even though the nat’l avg is only 22%)
In fact, this year we had the highest numbers of people in house groups we’ve ever had (in terms of percentage AND quantity)
Our house groups have been so large, I’m please to officially announce that we will be adding a FIFTH house group this Fall!
But what about the 2nd Core Value? Encountering God?
Are we as a church actually “being changed by God?”
I think 2012 was the year we took the biggest leap forward in this.
I announced last year in THIS message, that we, for our house group members, were going to start offering custom “Personal Renovation Plans” for people to design their own spiritual disciplines plan
This all flows out of a key verse for us
(1 Timothy 4:7) – NIV
Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.
And last year, we had over 100 people in our church, working out their own spiritual goals plan to encounter God every single day!
I think I saw more spiritual growth last year from our believers than the 1st 2 years combined.
Because SO many people were in the Bible…and talking to God…every day!
I believe we’ve made great strides in this category this year, and I’m anxious to see if we can continue that in 2013.
Will our hearts continue to burn for Jesus and encountering Him…or will we fall into the trap of letting them get caught in routine and grow cold?
I pray it is the former…and that we grow more in love with Him.
But what about our 3rd Core Value: Reaching People.
This whole…”Change the world” stuff.
Again, there are indeed some positive things….
Our church has been on an unbelievably consistent growth curve since we started.
As we’ve grown from 82 people to 115 to 175 to 215 to now almost 250 in just 3 years.
We had 50 people give their lives to Christ last year!
For a church of 250 people, that’s astounding!
35 of those were during April Awakening!
We’re sending another very large group to Haiti
To reach people there…and serve the people of Haiti.
We planted not 1, but 2 new churches this year out of our church.
And those churches have already seen almost 10 people come to Christ at their churches!
I mean it really is amazing stuff if you think about it all together.
It’s the kind of fruit that many churches dream about it…and we’re living in it.
But here’s the deal: It’s not enough.
My greatest fear w/ this church………..is that we would become content.
See, when we first started….when we were just 82 people at the beginning…or 115 people that 1st year…we HAD to grow.
Not JUST because we wanted to reach people…but because well, you can’t really be a church of 100 for long…
For 1, because it’s just an awkward small size in the suburbs
And 2, it’s not financially sustainable.
But now…after quick growth…and reaching a number of new people for Christ…we’re 250 people.
And at 250….we could be content here.
It feels comfortable enough…
There are “enough” people here now that it doesn’t feel awkward or anything
We’re financially viable
We’ve already done enough through missions, evangelism, and church planting, that most churches would call a win even if it took them 10 years to do it.
And I think….because of that…every once in a while…when I look close enough…I see people taking their foot of the gas.
Thinking….”OK…good job everyone…GOOD ENOUGH. We did it! High five.”
Yes, we “did it.” We’re a successful, and sustainable, and even reproducing church plant.
We made it where 80% of other church plants fail.
But I have to question, “Is that good enough? Is that ENOUGH?”
Can we call it a day, hang it up, and just relax here at 250 now??
“Now…let me be theologically clear here. God’s will isn’t always for every church to grow.
Some of the prophets in the OT, like Jeremiah, had incredibly difficult ministries with little-to-no fruit.
And it’s not like they were unfaithful to God or something.
But sometimes people make the mistake of saying, “Well, we don’t know if it’s God’s will for us to keep growing, so let’s not push it”
“But let’s not error on the side of assuming God doesn’t want to use us to reach people anymore
We should be saying, “We might not ever know exactly how many people God will allow us to reach, but we’re going to shoot to save as many people as possible!
We can’t…in anyway…become “content” with this
There are 48,000 people in this city who aren’t in church on an average Sunday.
And I want you to know something…I don’t feel comfortable looking God in the eye at the end of my life and telling him, “God, boy, we knocked it out of the park for 3 years, but then, we felt pretty comfy, so we just sat back and relaxed for a while”
As long as there are non-believers dying around us, there is no time to relax.
Yes, take a Sabbath, but otherwise, you’ve got all of eternity to relax.
For now…we give our all to saving the Lost.
I want to tell you a true story from the 1800’s about a famous missionary named Hudson Taylor.
On one of his many travels, he was on a large ship in China when all of a sudden, he was startled by a huge splash, and someone crying out “Man Overboard!”
He ran up to the deck, and to his great dismay, his Chinese friend, Peter, had fallen overboard.
Thankfully, there were 2 fishermen nearby.
Hudson Taylor yelled out to them, “Please help. Come drag with your net over here. My friend is drowning!”
They responded, “Veh bin”…meaning. “It’s not convenient”
He was shocked and yelled, “Don’t talk of convenience! Hurry or it will be too late!
They said, “We’re busy fishing”
He said, “Nevermind your fishing. He CAN’T Swim. He’s going to drown. I’ll pay you”
They said, “How much”
“I don’t know. Five dollars! Hurry!”
“Not enough. They said. We will not come for less than 30 dollars!”
“I don’t have that much money. I’ll give you all I have. Please!
Finally, they begrudgingly went over…but it was too late. His friend Peter had already drowned.
When Hudson Taylor first told that story to his listening audience back home in England in the 1800’s, a sense of rage dripped over the audience
They said, “How dare they! The selfishness and callousness of these people must be unparalleled.”
But Hudson Taylor rightfully challenged them back, and his words still ring true today.
He remarked to them, let me ask you a question?
What’s more important? The body or the soul?
We SO quickly condemn those non-believing fishermen.
We say they’re guilty of that man’s death! Because they easily could have saved him, and yet did nothing.
But what about us? What about the tens, and twenties, maybe even hundreds of people all around us….whose SOULS are drowning in a life that will lead to eternal death and suffering…and we SO easily could reach out and help….and yet we do nothing.
We simply CAN NOT let contentment creep into this church.
We can’t say…. “Meh, this is a big enough. I wouldn’t want to be any bigger”
I will not pastor a church that will put their own “comfort of size” before saving their neighbors from hell.
The main task of any church is the Great Commission:
(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
And anything else we do…is just icing on the cake to assist us in carrying out this foundational task.
Besides…I think one of the great geniuses of this church is that our fast growth in no way hinders our community.
From the beginning, we’ve had 80% of people in house groups, and that is the vision for the future.
There is no vision for this church, no scenario, in which we imagine being a large church that lacks community.
Our vision is: If we’re 400, we want 80% of people in house groups, if we’re 700, 80% of house groups.
So in a sense…growth, in no way, hinders community in this church…because our community is not in Sunday mornings, but in house groups!
So yes, the State of Renovation is good. It’s very good.
We’re planting churches (in the works of meeting w/ possible “Church Planter #3”), and we’re reaching a lot of people for Christ.
But let’s also not sit back and pretend like 250 people in a city where 48,000 don’t know Jesus is a job complete.
We have work to do.
And God can do it through us.
And I believe, if we will CONTINUE to focus our hearts on that…and not grow lazy…and not grow inward…then God will continue to use us in exponential ways!
So what does this mean for 2013? For the weeks to come?
We want to have our 3rd church planter identified this year
We want to send another large group to Haiti in a year…hopefully you’re included this time J
We’re going to add another house group in the fall to support our growth
And most of all, we’re going to continue to do whatever it takes to be a people being changed by God to change the world….and reach people for Christ.
Two weeks from today, We are starting an amazing new series called, “I Need a Sign”
It’s going to be a very practical series about how to Hear From God.
We’re doing a lot to get the word out about this series:
Signs in the community, sending out postcards, video promo on facebook, movie theater commercials, and even a billboard on Hwy 10 in Blaine!
Our billboard, like our postcard and invite cards, goes w/ the series and simply says, “Need a Sign from God? Here it is.”
You can see a mini-version of it in the hallway
But the most important thing…the way we’re going to make the biggest difference…is if you’re a part of this too.
Next week, we’re going to give you a packet of stuff, where you can help “Be a sign from God” to people.
And be their sign…that He loves them…and wants to be in a relationship with Him.
Earlier this week…on Christmas Eve…we had 7 people give their lives to Christ at Renovation
Many of those people…were people that we’re brought to church by their friends. By their family.
And that’s our heart and prayer for YOU over this next month…This next year.
That YOU would “be a sign”…be part of the process…of bringing your friends and family to Christ in 2013.
Wouldn’t that be amazing?!?
So next week, we’ll give you more ways, you can be a part of this in mid-January.
But for now, I want you to seriously begin praying about this.
If we’re going to make even a dent in this county, in this area, of the people who don’t know Christ…then EVERY Single one of us here at Renovation…needs heart for the lost.
So start praying.
Pray for a lost person every day.
We’re going to have an all-church fast day, on the 9th and 10th which we’ll tell you more about
But let’s pray…and let’s be a people…that will do anything to see more people be saved by Jesus Christ.
And if we do that…I believe that 2013 will be even more amazing than 2012.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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