State of Renovation 2013

December 29, 2013

David Sorn

Pastor David gives his current assessment of the "State of Renovation" and what he believes God can do in the future.

State of Renovation 2013

December 29, 2013

David Sorn

Pastor David gives his current assessment of the "State of Renovation" and what he believes God can do in the future.


Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.

Anyone ever done a Renovation project on something they own? Or where you live?

I’m assuming a good number of you have.

And you know that before you start it…you’ve got to do some assessments.

You’ve got to see where things are at…and decide where you want them to go.

For instance, let’s say the cupboards in your kitchen are from 1965, and you’ve decided it’s time to Renovate and make a change.

You’re going to sit down, and get a list of what you exactly need to change.

Do you just need to paint the cupboards?

Or do you need all new cupboards?

What about the hinges? Do you need knew ones?

What about the knobs?

And where would you get these cupboards from?

Can you afford the cost?

How will you install them?

Will you ask for help?

What will it look like when it’s all done?

Whenever you’re doing a Renovation project, assessing the state you’re in and determining where you’re going is integral.

You can’t just walk into the kitchen with a sledgehammer and start breaking stuff.

So thus, today, I’m going to give my third annual “State of Renovation” address

It’s an address I’ve given after Christmas, now each of the last 3 years.

Just as the President annually gives his “state of the union” address on where our country has been and where we are going

I think it’s important, that I address you, the people of Renovation, on where we’ve been and where we’re going.

Just like if you were to look at doing a project in your kitchen, we as RENOVATION CHURCH, need to assess what’s happening and what we want to do.

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

But really, it breaks down further than that.

Our vision is based upon our 3 core values.

Community, Encountering God, and Reaching People.

And you can see how each of those 3 core values built 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 our vision and values.


So I want to take a look at our 3 core values. If we really value these things. How are we doing with them?

I want to point out a few things that I think are growth areas today. Things we need to get better at.

And some other areas we’ve excelled in.

And of course, what I think we could look like in the future.

Let’s start with our core value of community.

This day and age, in America, while megachurches are continuing to grow and small churches are continuing to die…our value of community makes us quite unique…especially for a growing church.

From the very beginning, we set out to be a church that would fight against the trend of being okay with people coming week in and week out…and getting lost in the crowd.

We believe, with all of our heart, that the greatest place for spiritual growth happens in community, not just on Sunday mornings

Community is where you can dive deeper into the Bible…ask questions…be encourage when you’re down…be challenged when you’re falling away…and do the same for others.

And almost none of that happens, if were just a mob of people coming in and out on Sundays…giving fake smiles to each other as if we know each other, but we really don’t.

From the very beginning of this church, we’ve been able to average (up & down) somewhere between 70 (to as high as 85%) of our adults in house groups.

Our House Groups are our unique groups of 20-30 (closer to 40 on a roster) adults who meet every week to grow in their faith.

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.

They are SUCH a good way to meet other people and really grow in your faith.

And we’ve seen that over and over and over again at our church, as now 200 adults are involved this year…and so many have grown so much in their faith.

So, on the one hand, you may be thinking, “What more could we ask for? We’ve got almost 80% of our people involved in community (the avg. church is 22%). People are growing, meeting new friends, being cared for, and more)!”

But I believe our house groups can improve. And I believe they can do more.

In fact, I believe they have to do more.

Do you know churches die?

In America, 3,707 churches now close their doors every year.

Do you know why?

There are all sorts of reasons…but the number one reason is that they grow inward

They decide that church is for them. And how THEY like it. And the ministries THEY need…and the music THEY like.

And pretty soon, it’s just for them…and no one else.

And no one else feels welcome or even understands what they’re doing.

And it goes on and on like that…often for 80 years, until enough people die off that they close.

But it all starts back at the decision to say, “This is for me”

Now, if you’ve spent anytime around this church…you know we’re borderline insane about reaching unbelievers…people who DON’T attend church for Christ (more on that later)

So I don’t believe that’s the culture of our church…at all.

But could it become the culture of our house groups?

Maybe…if we’re not careful.

See, community can be a confusing thing.

It might be intutitive on a Sunday morning that this is for you AND unbelievers.

But what about when you’re in a house group? Or in your small group?

Isn’t that just for you? And the other people there with you? Isn’t that the purpose of it?!?

Isn’t your small group supposed to just be your small group…so you can grow in community?

We start to think… “I pray for other people…I see new people on Sundays…but when I get to my house group…that’s for Christians…that’s for me…I don’t have to think about evangelism or that other stuff there…that’s different. House Groups is MY time!”

Except there’s a problem with that sort of thinking.

A) Evangelism never stops. There’s never a time where we go…”Oh…I don’t do that here. I stop thinking about others knowing Jesus here.”

B) That type of thinking isn’t even Biblical.

It’s a Western, consumeristic concept of church small groups

See, a community that exists just for relationships…is not a true Biblical community.

A true Biblical community…is a community where discipleship happens and a community that’s ALWAYS on mission.

A true Biblical community is a group of people that are concerned about growing their own faith AND reaching people for Christ.

Our vision of being a people being changed by God to change the world…

God’s charge to us to go therefore and reach more people for Christ and disciple them…doesn’t somehow disappear in house groups

Communities can not be both selfish and Biblical.

They must be missional.

They must believe that part of their mission is to show others Jesus. As a COMMUNITY.

If God is going to continue to put his hand on this church in an exponential way (like He has), then we’ve got to start thinking more seriously about reaching people for Christ in our house groups as well.

For two reasons:

One, we’re constantly having an influx of people that are signing up here on Sunday mornings that we’re sending to our house groups.

Just this year alone SIXTY brand new people have signed up for a house group.

Not all of them even believers in Christ yet.

And secondly, we need to be exhausting every avenue we can to reach people for Christ.

And our prayer is that we would start to see more and more people come through the doors of Renovation Church…first…not through those doors out there…but through a house group.

You know…you can get almost anything from the world nowadays…

Any entertainment you want…a world of knowledge at your fingertips…and Amazon’s even working on using flying drones to deliver packages to your doorstep within 30 minutes of when you order it.

But one thing that the church can offer…one thing we’ve totally got on our culture…a culture full of lonely and depressed people…is community. WE HAVE IT!

And we need to start looking at that as an evangelistic opportunity.

The Bible calls us to be missionaries to our culture.

(1 Corinthians 9:19-22) - NIV

19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.

We are tasked with knowing what the culture around us is like…where people are hurting…and to use that knowledge to show God’s love and truth

One of the best ways we can show people how amazing Jesus is…is to surround them with people following Jesus!

People who’ve been changed by Him and are on a mission to change the world.

One of the best ways we can reach people for Christ is to invite people into a community of people where they don’t have to be alone or depressed, but every week they can be around people who care for them…and tell them about Jesus.

And in the year to come, our hope is that many of you take some bold steps forward and start inviting your unbeliever friends…the people you know might feel more comfortable in a house group first…to house groups.

Which I know isn’t everyone. Probably not even the majority. But it’s a growing subset of people.

But some of us…feel in our hearts…think in our minds, “But if people started doing that in my house group …then what about me? Can I have community if there are always new people? Will my small group be the same if new people are coming in?”

But I want to challenge you…gently but firmly…that that’s the same sort of thinking that is killing 3,707 churches a year in America.

It’s the “What about me?” thinking

We should be asking, “But what about the 48,000 people in Blaine who aren’t in church today? And who don’t know Jesus today…who don’t have a great Christian community? Who don’t have Christ?

What about them?

Community is not a dead-end to the mission of God. It is merely another extension to the mission of God.

The Bible tells us so. Look at the story of the early church.

(Acts 2:41-47) – NIV

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

So the people met in a way that isn’t all that different from what we do.

They met in the temple courts it said.

There they heard the teaching (in large crowds) of the apostles…people like James & Peter

But look at the last verse of 47 again

(Acts 2:47) – NIV

47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

They…the people in homes…enjoyed the favor of the people. And the Lord added to their number daily.

See, it wasn’t just that people were coming to Christ from the preaching of Peter in front of the large crowds…God was giving favor to all the people…and people were becoming new Christians because of the conversations they were having w/ people.

Because of people coming into their houses…seeing how they love each other and how they treat each other…being amazed…and saying, “I WANT TO KNOW THIS JESUS!”

And I pray God would do the same with us!

We see this elsewhere in the Bible.

The apostle Paul, often on his journeys would often start in Jewish synagogues and then would move to houses.

(Acts 18:7-8) – NIV

Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. 8 Crispus, the synagogue leader, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul believed and were baptized.

People were coming to houses and then coming to faith.

It wasn’t just hearing speakers at the temple…or in lecture halls (like Paul was in while he was in Ephesus)

In fact, when Paul writes to the church in Corinth in 1 Corinthians, in chapter 14 he gives them instructions for how to act in their house church gatherings…and even mentions that they oughta to think about the unbelievers who are PRESENT!

For much for the first 2 centuries of the church…believers almost exclusively met in homes…and yet Christianity flourished.

How? Because people invited unbelievers into their house gatherings, and they saw Jesus in them, had the Gospel explained to them…and started following God.

Even now…in China…where there is nothing short of a revival of Christianity going on over the last few decades…

In a place where religion was outlawed for much of the last century, there are now over 100 million Christians in the underground church.

Meeting…almost exclusively…in houses.

Not just in big churches where one person on stage talks about God.

But living it out…where everybody talks about God…where they all see it as their role to go and make disciples and bring others into their fellowship.

I’m not saying we really change our model here. Don’t hear me wrong.

I’m not saying that what we do here on Sundays isn’t really important (it is)…that’s why they went to the temple to hear Peter preach or to the lecture hall to hear Paul speak.

But what I am saying…is if we think that there is a time that we shouldn’t be thinking about reaching others for Christ…

If we think there is a place that’s just for us…or just for our development…where we don’t have to think about new Christians or unbelievers…

Then we’ve got a concept in our head that is simply not Biblical…nor God’s heart.

And that’s my challenge to us on the topic of community this year.

We are to be “on mission” for Christ…everywhere. Let’s use every opportunity to reach people for Him.

And I want to start hearing more and more stories of people being invited to your amazing house groups and becoming followers of Jesus.


What about our second Core Value? Encountering God? What about this part of “being changed by God?”

Once again…I think we made great strides in this area this year.

This is an area that’s really important to us.

One, because we believe that we can’t really change the world unless God is changing us.

And Two, because we don’t believe our mission is to go out and make new believers for Christ.

The great commission states that we are to go therefore and make disciples (people who follow God…not just believe in Him)…teaching them to obey everything He has commanded

We continue to see more and more people on Personal Renovation Plans.

Which is another reason you need to sign-up for a house group

It’s a plan where we help you set goals for how you want to meet with God…and then help you…like a physical trainer…achieve those goals so you can grow spiritually.

It’s been so cool to hear so many stories of people reading the Bible for the first time…or those who’ve been meeting with God for decades get new insights or meet w/ God in new ways this year.

Two of the things I’m most proud of this year in this area are the follow-up team, started by Karis DeFelice…

Our team that follows up with our new believers and helps them get started in their faith

By the way, if you raised your hand and gave your life to God this month and haven’t let us know about it, check that box on the connection card today.

We want to help you take next steps.

And the other thing, I’m really proud of our church for is our brand new Renovation School of Theology…

Where in the summers, you can now take courses in the basics of Christianity, or how to study the Bible, and starting this summer, Theology 101 (On the 1st half of the major doctrines of Christianity)

The idea for the school came out of a need. A struggle we face in helping people encounter God and grow as disciples.

Often when other people hear about our staggering growth and all of the people coming to Christ…I get asked this question: “So is anything not going well? What problems do you face?”

And I’ll usually respond: We need more leaders. More mature Christians. More people who know their Bible and really know Jesus.

To help lead and shepherd all of our new believers.

And unless a bunch of Christians from other churches come here (which I’m not really interested in)…then we have to train our people.

And by the way…for those of you that are Christians…and have come from other churches…because you’re excited about what God is doing here…let me issue a stern challenge to you:

If you’ve been a Christian for a while and you know your Bible…don’t just come here and consume because you think it’s the cool new place.

God can use you here. There are so many that would benefit from being around you.

Get involved in a house group. Serve. Become a leader if asked. And let God use you to help grow people for His kingdom.


And that’s ultimately what it’s all about. That’s our 3rd Core Value: Reaching People.

It’s the part of our vision that says “TO change the World”

We exist…to come together in community…be changed by God…TO…not just change for our own sake…but to change the world…and tell people about Jesus.

And then help them grow in Christ.

First…a little bit about where we’ve been in this department.

In 2012, we started two new churches out of our church.

Hope Bridge Church in Plymouth and Ignite Church in Oakdale.

Although we didn’t plant a new church this year, our goal is still firmly to plant 10 churches in 10 years, or by 2022.

We expanded our efforts to reach people for Christ globally this year.

We are again sending a team to Haiti in 6 weeks or so

And are also sending a team to Rwanda, Africa this summer!

We’ve continued to see exponential growth at our church.

Depending on which expert you talk to, 80-94% of churches in America are either declining or plateaued.

So, just to grow nowadays is a big deal.

After our church launched, we averaged about 115 people in the early days.

Grew to around 160 by the end of the school year in 2011

Jumped into the low 200’s last year

And now are averaging 260-270 people a Sunday…

We’re seeing exponential growth at the rate of about 20%

And should surge past 300 people on a Sunday by the end of the school year…with well over 400 people who now call Renovation home.

Crazy to think that 4 years ago…it was my wife and I thinking about starting a church.

God has done amazing things.

The truly amazing things, for me, are actually in some other numbers.

Like the fact, that a little over 4 years ago, there was no one in the Renovation network of churches…but now, with our church plants, there are now around 400 people in church every Sunday because we started this church.

OR, how about this number…the fact that even though we continue to have this great growth, that we’ve stuck to our vision…and we still see the same percentage of people in house groups that we saw when we started.

See, this is our vision… (and this where I think we’re SO different from so many churches)…

Our vision is to reach a ton of people for Christ…but not change into a place where no one knows anyone.

But to always be a place where you have this group of 30-40 people around you…who know you…love you…love your kids…and care for you…despite how large the church grows.


But, as a person who bows at the idol of statistics, this next stat is far and away the most important Renovation Church stat to me:

Since we started Renovation, 147 people have made a commitment to follow Jesus through Renovation Church.

147. 147.

Here’s where it gets crazier.

75 out of the 147, did so in the last 12 months. Over half.

We saw 75 people come to Christ in 2013. Wow.

We’ve saw 14 people come to Christ on Christmas Eve…25 in just the last 3 weeks.

The average church in America sees 1 salvation a year. One.

If I can be honest…there were moments in our history…especially early on in our second year…where I would ask God, “Is this thing going anywhere?”

We had grown only from about 116 to 125 in a little over a year and only seen 9 decisions for Christ in 12 months.

For the fall of that year, it looked as we had maybe even stalled out already.

Maybe we were going to be like the 80% of church plants…and never make it.

I’ve confessed now to so many of my pastor friends and church planters that I mentor that we spent so much of the first year just “playing church”

I think I ignorantly thought that if we just put a church in a city where so few went to church…did a nice job…hired Zach Foty as our worship pastor…then “everything would just work out”

But that’s not how God works.

See, God doesn’t want us to just set up a nice church in Blaine…with modern music…and some nice teaching.

God doesn’t need another church.

He needs a people who have great faith in Him…and a people who want to do everything it takes to be changed by Him to change the world.

God wants a people who are willing to do whatever, whenever, however, to reach thousands and thousands and thousands of people in our area that are hurting, in pain, depressed, without Him…and on the path to hell.

God wants a people…who are willing to say…this isn’t about me…and if any part is about me…it’s only so I can be changed TO change

So I could better glorify Him…and tell others

Because God’s heart is for the lost sheep.

And I think we’ve started to get a hold of that as a church.

But I think we’re just grabbing on the tail of the coat at this point.

We’re inviting more and more friends every week to hear about Christ.

I heard from SO MANY of you that you invited people to Christmas Eve, but it didn’t work out because of schedules

So on the way out today, we’re going to give you invite cards for our brand new series that starts next week called “Meology” …

We’re calling it “Meology” because too often our favorite subject to study is ourselves.

So we want to help you learn how to better live for God and others…

We’re kicking off the series next week with a talk on relationships…

So it’s a GREAT week to invite back those people you already talked to about Christmas

But as I said…I can feel the momentum changing and growing in evangelism at this church.

We are starting to pray for others salvation more and more

We’re thinking about personal evangelism more and more.

And God is using us.


And let me tell you something I’ve never said out loud before.

I know deep in my heart now…God is going to use this church…this crazy group of people…to reach 1,000’s of people for Christ.

It’s going to happen.

You are going to see lives changed all over the place here. GOD WILL DO IT!

We just need faith…and to be faithful…

I believe we WILL see:

Services full of people standing and giving their lives to Christ.

House Groups full of new believers

Theology classes full of people studying the Bible for the first time.

Lives changed

Families changed

Future generations of kids that will now grow up with hope in Christ instead of the despair of atheism

And He’s going to do it through us.

If we rely on Him. If we believe in Him. If we put our faith in Him.

He wants to reach people infinitely more than we do.

And I am watching this church…before my very eyes…become a people of faith who believe that….

And it’s amazing!

And I wish I could tell you more right now…but I can’t….but 2014 is going to be the most amazing year in the history of this church so far.

There will be moments this year where you will sit up straight in your chair and say, “Oh my…this is a church of great faith…I’M a part of a church of great faith…And Wow…God WILL use us ( I know it)…to reach thousands for Christ”

Now let’s go do it.

We’ve got some world-changing to do

Let’s pray.

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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