Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor of Renovation Church.
If you are visiting for the first time today, you came on an interesting, but I think…ultimately helpful day
Every year…usually the Sunday after Christmas, I do a message called “The State of Renovation.”
And sort of like the President’s annual State of the Union Address, we take a look at where we’ve been and what we want to change for the future.
This is actually now the 4th year and a row that we’ve done this, and I think it’s quite helpful.
Not only for keeping everyone informed, but for helping us stay on track with what our vision really is: To be a people…being changed by God…to change the world.
This morning…as we do this…we’re going to also look at and study a passage in Ephesians chapter 4.
Which is a letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to a very new church in Ephesus (which is in modern-day Turkey).
VERSES 11-13: HOW THE CHURCH WORKS
We are going to look at 6 verses this morning in chapter 4.
You’re going to want to have this in front of you, because I’m going to draw your attention back to it in a moment.
(Ephesians 4:11-13) – NIV
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
What that is…is 3 great verses on HOW the church works.
Look at it again if you have it in front of you on the app or in the Bible on page 948.
Verse 11 says that Jesus gives gifts to certain types of leaders (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers – these are all leadership gifts
Verse 12 says, that the purpose of God gifting those leaders is to EQUIP the people of the church.
I’m here…our staff is here…our elders/House Leaders are here…our Ministry Leaders are here…to equip you.
That’s the purpose of your leaders.
But equip you for what?
It says, “To equip his people for works of service.”
And those works of service help build up the body of Christ…and help Christians attain spiritual maturity…it says.
It’s a basic flowchart for how the church ought to work
Pastors, Teachers, Leaders equip people to do spiritual work by teaching them the Bible, training them, and giving them tools.
THEN…the body of Christ (the rest of the believers) carry it out
But this is a passage that the church has applied poorly for centuries.
In much of the 1900’s, particularly in the middle of the century, church attenders convinced their pastors that the pastors were to do ALL of the work.
Preach on Sundays, AND Sunday nights…AND Mid-week services…and visit me in the hospital, and run the Organization that is the church, and create the budget, and visit the elderly, and do weddings, do funerals, and don’t forget to scrub the toilets!
And we’ll show up on Sundays and sit in the pews.
For much of the last century, the pastor became more of a hospital chaplain…not a leader like Ephesians 4 describes.
Now, I think we’ve come a long ways from our understanding of this 75 years ago…but I think we have our own unique misunderstandings here…which I’ll expound more on later.
But let me just say something quickly on this point:
THREE times in Six verses today, our passage uses the metaphor “The BODY” for the church.
And it does so here (and in many other places through Scripture) because the church works best when MANY parts work together.
The Church is a BODY… not a one-man band.
There are now over 400 people who attend this church.
I can’t take care of all of them. Not even close!
And in some sense, when you’re hurting, I’m not even the guy you want by your hospital bed.
Sure, I can do it.
But my main spiritual gifts are Leadership, Teaching, Administration, Exhortation.
I’m not a great shepherd.
People don’t look at me and say, “He just oozes the gift of compassion”
And I’m secure enough in myself nowadays to say that
But that’s why, at Renovation, we EQUIP the body to do those things.
And that’s the beauty of our house groups.
And that’s what Scripture has wanted all along anyway.
Not just one person…or 2 or 3 leaders…or 6 staff members doing the work…
No, the leaders equip the body to do the work.
VERSES 14-16 – WHAT MATURITY LOOKS LIKE
Let’s take a look at the next verse
These next 3 verses are going to give us a glimpse into how the Body is actually one of the main factors in your own spiritual maturity…if not THE main factor.
(Ephesians 4:14) – NIV
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.
What is Paul saying?
He started with “THEN we will no longer be infants” (or spiritually immature)
How? It goes back to the last 3 verses.
We will be mature if the BODY of BELIEVERS is building us up.
This is why we are crazy about House Groups here at Renovation and always will be crazy about community.
Our House Groups are our groups of 20-30 people who meet weekly to connect relationally to grow spiritually.
Half the night is large group time (hang out some, get to know people, hear a faith story, DVD teaching by me)
Half the night is small group time (where you can dive deeper into your faith, application, and study of the Bible)
And it doesn’t matter if you know A LOT or A LITTLE…it’s for you.
And you’ll find the groups are an amazing mix of new and mature Christians.
But notice that it’s the Body that helps us “no longer be tossed back and forth” by the waves.
For instance, last year, I observed a newer believer who started reading a book that pretty much said, “God was just going to make his life happy”
And I watched as a more seasoned believer was able to speak into his life…and share some more Biblical truth with Him.
And therefore, he didn’t just get tossed around by the waves from one new idea to the next.
He grew in spiritual maturity that day.
How? Because the body of Christ was in his life.
And that kind of stuff happens ALL THE TIME when you let other Christians into YOUR LIFE.
Look at verse 15
(Ephesians 4:15) – NIV
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.
There’s that direct connection again.
When the body of Christ (other Christian believers) are speaking the truth in love into your life…you will mature
But that’s not going to happen if they’re not in your life.
It’s not going to happen if you’re expecting a pastoral figure to do it for you.
Not unless you attend a church of 45 people or less
You need people who see you every week.
People who know you…know your spouse…know your kids…know your struggles.
But a lot of us nowadays…we say, “Nah, I don’t need that. I just need a really good church service, and I can do the rest by myself or online”
“That House Group stuff…that’s just for the people who have a lot of extra time.
“I’ll just get the right podcast…buy the latest Christian books…watch the greatest speakers through their church’s facebook page…and I’ll grow in Christ just fine.
The Bible would say, “Good luck with that”
The Bible specifically links Spiritual Maturity with the Body of Christ multiple times for a reason.
It’s like in the 80’s and early 90’s, there were a lot of people writing books and articles about “The TV” being a bad parent.
Because more and more latchkey kids (as they were called) were spending most of their time sitting in front of the TV instead of Mom or Dad.
And a TV is just going to raise an immature child.
It can’t give you feedback, discipline, or encouragement or praise.
It’s the same thing with many of today’s American Christians
I would dare even say that the megachurch and the internet are raising immature Christians.
Now…before you gasp…there are outliers in the megachurch.
I think of Larry Osborne’s North Coast Church in San Diego.
Where over 10,000 people attend weekly, and yet 80% of their people are in small groups.
But often, that’s not the case.
Most megachurches struggle to hit 10%.
And Christians in America think that they’re just going to grow spiritually by attending a great service and finding other resources by themselves.
The Bible would say…that’s not even remotely how spiritual maturity works.
Read the beginning of Acts.
The Christians went (in massive crowds by the thousands I might add) to go listen to Peter preach, but then they all met in small groups in homes.
Because the body builds maturity.
It’s like any crop that needs a certain environment to really grow in.
You’re not going to grow oranges in the desert or the tundra.
And you’re not going to grow Christians in isolation.
But why all this talk about the body and community?
What does this have to do with the State of Renovation?
Well, I think it’s critical that we as a church understand that this is what our church is about.
We’ve had a lot of growth in the last two years…and when you grow…it’s all the harder to keep your vision focused.
Because all of a sudden you have a lot of new people who DON’T know the vision.
So even though you feel like you’ve only been talking about the vision all the time, now there’s 75 more people who have no idea what our church is about.
And we’ve slipped some in our fulfillment of this part of this vision in the last 9 months or so.
From the very beginning of this church, we’ve been able to average (up & down of course) somewhere between as low as 70% to as high as 90% of our adults in house groups.
We typically average around 80%, but this fall we’ve slipped to 70%.
We’ve always known that this was going to be a challenge as we grew.
Always known that.
But we will not settle.
We want to be like that anomaly church like I mentioned earlier.
Reaching hundreds…maybe thousands for Christ…and yet having 80% of our people in community…functioning as the body.
It IS possible.
But if it’s going to be possible, we have to continue to make it an emphasis.
If you’re not in a House Group yet…then you’re missing what this church is truly about.
If you’re looking for a church to just sneak in and out of…and hear a decent message…that’s fine at the beginning…
But know that this is not our goal for you.
Our goal is to do everything we can to get you in a House Group.
Well, because of what we see in these verses.
Look at verse 16 now
(Ephesians 4:16) – NIV
From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Do you see the picture?
You grow spiritually…you mature spiritually…because it says every supporting LIGAMENT of the body is helping to build you up.
Let me show you how this actually works:
In 2014, I saw our House Groups do some amazing things for each other
I saw them help each other move
I saw them attend funerals of loved ones
I saw them support other members financially when they were going through a rough time
I saw as some met one on one with each other as they were going through a difficult patch in their marriage or spiritual life
I saw people bring meals to new mom’s, bring meals to future mom’s on bedrest, or share a meal and hold the hand of those just trying to become mom’s.
I saw some open up their homes to let other members come live with them for a time when they needed a place to stay.
I saw small groups go away on fun weekend retreats together
I saw some go away on prayer retreats together
I saw our elders step in and offer incredible support and counsel during difficult times
And honestly….my heart hurts for the people who aren’t yet in a House Group.
Because all of that…that’s the church. That’s the body.
“THIS..” This is a nice service. But it isn’t really “the church”
And if we’re going to continue to BE Renovation Church in the years to come…we need to continue to emphasize perhaps what makes us the most unique: A fast-growing church with a TON of people in AMAZING communities.
And if you’re part of the now 30% that isn’t in a house group yet.
Take that step forward TODAY. This is what our church is about.
We want to help you grow in your faith and be there for you.
I’d love to see 5, 10, maybe even more of you sign-up today!
You can sign-up in the hallway, or through the Renovation App.
But of course all of this spiritual maturation isn’t just for ourselves, right?
That’s not our vision.
Our vision is “To be a people (That’s our focus on community)…being changed by God… (For what?!) …to change the world!
We do all of this:
We serve on Sunday mornings
We go to our House Groups
In our House Groups we do our Personal renovation Plans (which we’re starting again in just a few weeks), so we can grow in the Bible and prayer…and thus spiritually
We do all it, not just for our own sake…but to change the world.
To reach people for Christ!
And it’s all linked together.
Spiritual maturity comes from being in the body and growing in Christ.
Think of it this way:
D.L. Moody, the Billy Graham of the 1800’s, was once visiting with a prominent Chicago citizen when the idea of church involvement came up
They guy said, “I believe I can be just as good of a Christian outside the church (or not really involved in the church) as I can be inside and involved in it”
Moody, who was brilliant, didn’t say anything.
He just moved over to the fireplace, and removed one burning coal, placing it on the hearth.
The two men sat together and watched the ember die out.
He had made his point.
“The body” is what gives you a fire.
But the fire isn’t just for you.
It’s a fire to bring that love of God, that change God is bringing in your life…to other people.
And, as we close out 2014, I think we’re in a weird spot here.
In some ways, I think we intellectually believe in “reaching people for Christ” more than ever.
It was just in October & November, that we set out to raise a half a million dollars for land, and saw $613,000 in pledges come in!
And people…over and over…responded with… “I want to do this…I’m going to sacrifice…so we can reach more people for Christ!”
So I think we get it.
I think the people of Renovation Church even want it.
But as we close out one year, and look forward to another, here’s where I think the problem is:
I think for many of us (certainly not everyone), but for many, we want badly for evangelism to happen (for people to come to faith), but we aren’t going to do it personally…and you’re not really striving to do anything about it…personally.
And I think that goes back to Ephesians 4:11-13:
Where Paul emphasizes that the leaders are to equip the body to do the work of the ministry.
I don’t think hardly anyone in this church is expecting me to do all of the visitations, all of the pastoral care, and scrub all of the toilets…
But I do think that many are expecting that I do all of the work of evangelism.
I think the people of Renovation are beyond pumped about seeing this church continue to grow and seeing new people meet Jesus Christ…
But I think right now, too many of us are excited merely just to WATCH that happen…not be a personal part of making it happen.
Let me give you a couple of examples of what I mean:
When we give the Gospel here, I’ll often have people come up to me and excitedly say, “How many people committed their lives to Christ today?!?”
And yet I know, that they haven’t personally invited anyone to hear the Gospel or (better yet) shared the Gospel with someone in 10 years probably.
They believe in it!
They’re excited for it!
But they’re more excited to watch it than they are to actually do it.
But that’s the same trap the church got in 75 years ago…
They were okay with just WATCHING the pastors do the work.
And those churches today…most of them are dead.
In some ways, I think God has sent us some warning signals in the past month
For the first time in our existence…we gave people a chance to give their lives to Christ...and two times in a row in December…ZERO people responded.
And it’s not because there weren’t people in the room.
The question was: Were there enough unbelievers in the room?
And I had a lot of our people talk to me about that.
And say, “Wow that was so weird! We usually see, 5, 7, even 10 people stand up at a time!”
But where do they come from?
Sure, some do come from postcards, billboards, and street signs.
But the rest come from you.
From relationships you’ve been praying over for a long time.
From relationships where you’ve already been talking about how amazing Jesus is.
And a Sunday morning service is often just a last step.
And I don’t know…it’s certainly possible that those two times of ZERO PEOPLE responding was just a statistical anomaly.
But either way, God has used it to open my eyes.
We put up that attendance chart during Amplify that showed our projected growth to 600 over the next 3 to 4 years.
But hear me Renovation Church, if we lose our passion (as individuals) for evangelism…
Even if we just settle for hoping to WATCH it happen instead of helping to MAKE it happen…It WON’T HAPPEN.
No, we must be a people being changed by God to change the world.
And changing the world requires that WE get out in the world!
That WE’RE rubbing shoulders with non-believers.
That we’re praying every day for people to meet Jesus.
That we’re talking about God and doing what the church was always meant to do:
Change the world.
And we want to, as your leaders, give you lots of opportunities to do that.
Our staff, has worked really hard (this last year in particular) to give you easier opportunities to invite friends to hear the Gospel
(whether that be Free Cheese Curds, or a Birthday party, or your kids singing)
And we are going to continue to do that.
In February, we’re praying that we see A TON of your friends and family meet Jesus.
We’re going to be doing a 3-week series called “Real Love,” where we’re going to give an invitation for people to accept Christ…3 weeks in a row.
It’s going to be an amazing series that’s going to involve International Evangelist Sammy Wanyonyi one week, and it’ll culminate on Valentine’s Day weekend with a wedding during the service.
More on that later.
But you don’t need us to lead your friends to Christ!
Sure, that’s one way to do it. It’s one method.
But honestly, every single person here could do a better job of leading your friends to Christ than I can.
Because they’re YOUR friends.
They trust you.
And it’s our job to equip you to do that…which we want to get better at.
But it’s your job…to courageously believe in God…and boldly carry it out.
So my prayer is that God keeps our momentum going.
That we learn from bumps in the road.
That we use them as well-timed course corrections.
And I pray that God does incredible things through us in 2015!
We have another amazing team of people going to Haiti in just a little over a month
We are starting to see funds come in for our Amplify Fund, which is exciting!
Our Land Search Team is continuing to meet and work hard on potential leads…despite the many roadblocks we continue to encounter.
We are exhausting every avenue we can to find a good piece of land for our church…ideally here in Blaine.
Please pray for us. Seriously, pray!
Pray that God would open doors in seller’s hearts
And if you haven’t heard yet, we are going to be planting our THIRD church out of Renovation this upcoming year.
Well on our way to hit our goal to plant 10 churches by 2022.
We should be able to let you know the location of that church sometime in the next 4 to 8 weeks or so.
So God is continuing to do amazing things.
But we have to beware of getting stuck on auto-pilot and just assuming it’s going to happen.
Let’s continue to stick to our vision.
And let’s come together in amazing groups…TO BE A PEOPLE…let’s meet with Jesus every day…TO BE CHANGED BY GOD…and let’s share Jesus with our friends family…and let’s CHANGE THE WORLD
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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