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 our 5th annual “State of Renovation Address”
My hope in this message is to download a bit more to you regarding what God has been doing in my heart regarding our shortcomings, strengths, and hopes as a church.
And we always do this under the lens of our vision:
Which is: “To be a people, being changed by God, to change the world”
And that comes out of 3 Core Values
To be a people (Community) being changed by God (encountering God) to change the world (Reaching people)
It was these 3 Core Values that we came up with first.
We started with WHAT IS THIS CHURCH GOING TO REALLY VALUE?
And out of that, the vision was born for who we wanted to be.
But before I walk you through an analysis of those, let me start with where my heart for this church really is right now:
My heart for 2016 is that we would be a people that put Jesus first.
That we could say of our personal lives: Jesus first.
Jesus comes first.
That we could say of our priorities: Jesus first.
That we could say of our time, our heart, of the decisions we make: Jesus first.
That’s what it means when you call him your Savior and your LORD
This is the heart of God for his followers.
Look at the words of Christ:
(Matthew 6:28-33) – NIV
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
If we seek God first…
We put Jesus first…then all of the others things that we’re putting before him (our activities, our family, our desires, many of them will come anyway)
Now, contextually, Jesus is talking about the basics in Matthew 6.
So He’s not saying that if you put him first, you’ll be rolling in a Mercedes.
But He IS saying that if you put Him first…life will work…you’ll be okay.
Trust the process.
Okay…keep that with you as we walk through our values and the State of Renovation.
Our first core value is Community.
I know many of you are new here at Renovation.
We actually added 50 people to our church, just over the summer.
It was crazy.
But even if you’ve been coming here for 3 months now, I imagine that you already know that one of the ways this church is really different from others…is that we’re really serious (I mean REALLY serious about community)
And for us, that’s in our House Groups.
I just had this conversation with some other pastors last week, but I think too many churches try too hard to make “community” something that happens within the whole church body.
But that’s just not attainable if your church is any bigger than say, 50 people.
Let alone a church like this with 300 on the weekends, and close to 450 people who call Renovation “home”
So for us, our community is in our House Groups, and always has been.
That’s where we believe you can be cared for and people can help you grow spiritually.
AND…you can do that for others too.
Our ideal goal has always been to have around 80% of our adults in House Groups.
It’s a really, really high goal.
For two reasons:
1. The average church has 22% of its people in small groups
2. You just can’t statistically get much higher than that…due to the fact that you always have new people who obviously aren’t in yet because they’ve only been there for 2 weeks, etc.
12 months ago, our percentage had dipped from 80% to 70%.
This year, it’s back up to 76%, which is awesome.
And we’ve been able to start a brand new House Group, which has been going really well.
And House Groups are so important to us because of what they accomplish.
Pastor Lee Eclov, who’s a writer that I enjoy, once shared a personal story about growing up in the tiny town of Britton, South Dakota
As you can imagine, out in the middle of nowhere South Dakota, they get their fair share of blizzards
And it was a town where many of the kids who went to the school in town didn’t actually live in town.
They lived out on the farms and houses in “the country” as we used to call it growing up.
Eclov writes that in the 1940s and 50s, the local school district had a creative way for keeping kids safe when a blizzard hit on a school day.
On a normal day, the students would take one of the eight school busses directly to their house.
But occasionally a blizzard would descend during the school day and it wasn't safe to bus the kids' home.
So the school devised a system where every farm kid had a family in town who would be prepared to take them in.
That way their parents would know they were fed and cared for
And these assigned houses were called “Storm homes”
And every country kid had a city “storm home”
A refuge for when the storm came.
And that’s a window into what our House Groups are: Storm Homes
Life is hard.
And when the storm hits, you need the family of God around you.
I’ve been saying to my friends and our leaders a lot lately, “Can you even imagine what our church would be like if we didn’t have House Groups?”
Try and imagine it.
Most of your best friends here…you wouldn’t know them.
The people that have been helped in crisis, wouldn’t have gotten help
Marriages have been fixed
People have felt supported and loved in some of their darkest hours.
Without House Groups…without community…Renovation Church isn’t even remotely the same the church.
And certainly not even remotely as effective
One of my favorite things in the world right now is listening to faith stories at House Groups (those are the testimonies one person gives every week to the large group of 20-30 in the house)
Here’s why I love them.
Because I can SEE change in them.
I see people…that met Jesus in our church…talking about something that someone else taught them in their House Group…and how God is using that truth to help them help their children…or their co-workers.
And I smile so big when I see it.
That is being a PEOPLE changed by God to change the world.
For just a moment, let me talk to those of you who did NOT come to Christ at our church.
But you’re newer to our church…and you’re already a Christian…you’ve been one for a while.
And you’ve switched to our church (from another church)
I hope you’re not coming here to retire.
I don’t know if YOU know this, but this has become a massive and new trend in America in the 21st century.
People all over the place are leaving their old church…to find a new one…and to essentially…retire.
To sit back…get to know no one…and just enjoy the message.
Let me just be up front with you right now, this isn’t the most comfortable church in the world to retire in.
I’m not sure you’ll like it J
Be on mission with us.
Put Jesus first. Not your time…or your comfort.
Put His mission first.
Remember his two greatest commandments:
(Matthew 22:36-40) – NIV
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Put Jesus first.
And love his people.
If you’re living in “retired Christianity,” I must tell you, it’s a version of your faith where you’re really going to struggle to carry out many of the basic tenets of your faith.
It’s hard to love your neighbor if you don’t know your neighbor.
So help us change even more of the world in 2016…join with us “to be a people”
The second Core Value of our Church is Encountering God.
It’s that part of the vision that says “Being changed by God”
It’s the idea that if we encounter the Living God, THAT is what’s going to produce the most amount of change in us, out of us, and through us…to change the world.
This is still a hallmark of our church, but there are times I worry that it gets pushed further to the back page.
Which I suppose is nobody’s fault but by own.
But if we’re going to be this amazing community that reaches people, it simply will not work if we forget the middle ingredient: It’s through God’s strength and transformation that we’ll be able to have power to change the world.
Forgetting the “Encountering God part” is like eating a sandwich with just the bread.
It’s the stuff in the middle that “makes it happen”
I’m grateful for what happens here during Encounters…our “Worship Nights” where people come to Encounter God…those kind of times really matter.
My hope for 2016 is that even more people discover how amazing they are.
I think Encounters are one of the best kept secrets at Renovation.
Listen people, there is nothing like coming and meeting with Jesus for 75 minutes.
I’m also really grateful that we were able to start the 4th and final (for now anyway J) final class of The School of Theology this past summer.
We saw 17 students take their fourth and final class in the school.
And over a period of 4 years these students learned:
The basics in Christianity
How to study and interpret the Bible
And studied the deep tenets of Christian Theology for 2 summers
We had over 80 adults taking classes this last summer.
And I’m proud of it because it’s taking a “spiritually young church,” and helping them Encounter God in the Word…
And it’s giving us some maturity…it’s giving our leaders (and future leaders) grounding in good doctrine.
And it’s doing wonders for the future of this church.
I also want to publically say how grateful I am to John McCormick who has sweat more blood and tears to make the School of Theology happen than anyone else.
Okay. Let’s take a look at Reaching People….our 3rd Core value.
This is our hope to help lost people start a relationship with Jesus Christ.
To be saved from their sin and a future eternal life in hell.
I think it’s been another great year for this.
We just saw another 8 people give their lives to Christ at Christmas Eve
We saw 54 people total commit their lives to Christ at one of our services this year.
It’s been a great year… but you know me…
My heart is for this: So we can always do more…and we should do more.
I want to share with you some of those ways in a moment
We started another church this year (our 3rd), which is amazing.
Revision Church, in Des Moines launched in late September, and they’re doing great!
Attendance-wise, they’re actually ahead of where we were as a church a few months in, and they are having around 120 people on a Sunday.
It’s amazing to think that a little over 6 years ago, there was no one in the Renovation network of churches…
but now, if we include our 3 church plants in the numbers with us, there are over 600 people in church every Sunday because we started this church in Blaine
In just a few more years, that number is likely to hit 1,000 people. Amazing!
We’ve also continued to reach people and make an impact internationally
Our church continues to do amazing things in Haiti, and we’re taking yet another great-sized team of 15 there in just over 5 weeks!
Also, you’re going to hear a lot about this next Sunday, but we are going back to Rwanda in 2016!
(Show Rwanda Slide)
If you want to see God on the move like you’ve never seen him before, I mean NEVER seen him before…you have to go with us in August.
When we sent a team in 2014, our team helped lead over 200 people to Christ.
I don’t know if you’ve ever got to witness hundreds of people coming to faith in Christ at once before…but it is absolutely amazing.
I want a number of you to go with us this August.
God is really using us there…and I want you to be a part of it.
We’ll talk more about this next week, but applications are available for the first time TODAY actually and they’re in the hallway.
Pick on out on your way out today.
There will be an Informational meeting regarding the Rwanda Trip on January 10th after 2nd service.
We are now one year into our Amplify project…our project to raise money to purchase land for our fast-growing church.
We originally had $613,000 pledged in December of 2014
We’ve seen about $185,000 come in so far.
Which puts us at about 85% of where we were expecting to be.
About 15% short…or about $35,000 short of where we were hoping to be at this time.
We know that God will move no matter what happens.
But if you’ve forgotten about your pledge for a little bit, we encourage you to keep up.
Remember what you felt when you started.
The tax year ends in a few days, now is a great time to get caught up.
Or even start a pledge for those of you that are new.
As we mentioned in the services last month…we are still looking for land.
We have our eye on two pieces of land on the same intersection in Blaine, but are waiting for a Developer to purchase it first, so we can buy a parcel of it.
Please, please be praying that God moves in this and shows us His will.
And we’re doing all of these things to reach people…first and foremost…because Jesus is FIRST for us.
We care deeply about seeing God use us to reach as many people as possible for Christ.
And we know that we’re going to run out of space here in the next 3-5 years, so we want to be ready to Amplify what God wants to do through this church.
You know, last year, during this “address” I talked to you about how everyone at Renovation has been so pumped about seeing new people meet Christ…and yet…I felt like too many of us were content to just WATCH it happen…and not be a personal part of making it happen.
And I warned…if we all just watch it happen…pretty soon, it’ll stop happening
And I have to say…I’ve seen more people invite their friends and be a witness for Christ this year than I think I ever have before.
I’ve had MULTIPLE people come up to me…just crying after a service…and say, “David, my friend, who I never thought would come, came today, and stood up and gave their life to Christ!”
So thanks for stepping up your boldness this past year.
It’s changing lives.
This Easter is going to be even bigger than last year’s where we had almost 300 visitors.
I think God’s going to use us to expose even more people to the amazing Gospel of Christ this year.
But I think we can take “reaching people” even a step further.
Listen, inviting people to church is a great introduction to evangelism.
We all should be getting bold in that.
Our church does a great job of providing you with easy invites to do that (Free cheese curds, or Chipotle, or Easter Egg Hunts)
But more than anything, I want your heart to just bleed for lost people.
All the time.
Not just a few times a year.
This oughta be the heart that defines us as a church.
I’m reminded of one of my favorite stories about Christian author and speaker, Tony Campolo
Years ago, he was at a conference in Hawaii
And as a result of the time difference, he was wide a wake at 3am.
So he got up at 3am one morning, and went to get something to eat.
He found a seedy diner and sat down to eat at the counter
And while he was eating, he couldn’t help but overhear the conversation between, surprising enough, a few prostitutes that happened to come in after him and sat up at the same counter he was at near the front.
One of the women, named Agnes, mentioned that tomorrow was her birthday.
Her friend sarcastically said, “What do I care? You want me to throw you a birthday party? Sing you happy birthday?”
And Agnes said, “No. I was just telling you it’s my birthday. I’ve never had a birthday party in my life. Why should I have one now?”
Soon after they left.
So Tony (the speaker) went to the owner, Harry, and he said, “Do you know these women? ‘
And said, “Sure, they come in almost every night”
And Tony said, “You know what…Let’s throw Agnes a party!”
“I’ll go get the cake and the decorations. Do you know any of her friends??”
Harry said, “Sure. I know all of her friends.”
Tony said, “ Well, you invite them”
So the next night at 2:30am, they began to decorate the diner, and all of Agnes’ friends came in at 3:15.
And as Tony looked around he began to notice that all of her friends were prostitutes.
SO there he was a Christian speaker in the middle of a diner filled with what felt like all the prostitutes of Honolulu
And at 3:30am Agnes walks in and everybody screams, “Happy Birthday!!”
The account goes like this: “Agnes was utterly utterly stunned. She couldn’t stand up. She sat down and just started crying. She looked at the cake and was crying too much to blow the candles out”
Then she said, “Is it all right…is it okay if I just keep the cake a little while? Is it okay if we don’t eat it right away?”
Tony & Harry said, “well, sure”
And she then carried it out the door like it was the holy grail, and ran it home to her apartment (which was just done the street)
So Tony, while they were waiting, said, “What do you say, we pray for Agnes?”
SO he did.
And when he finished, Harry leaned over and said, “You never told me you were a preacher! What kind of church do you belong to?!”
And he answered, “I belong to the kind of church that throws birthday parties for prostitutes at 3:30am”
Harry thought for a second, and said, “No you don’t. There is no church like that. If there was, I’d join it. It’d join a church like that!”
Can we be a church like that?
Can we be a people that are so changed by God…that we’re changing the world for God…everywhere we go?
That we just bleed for lost people at all times.
That’s my heart for 2016.
That not just on Sundays, but every day of the week we just bleed for lost people
That Jesus is first for us…at all times.
That we could say, as Paul says,
(Galatians 2:20) – NIV
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
That’s a “Jesus First” sort of attitude.
I NO LONGER live.
I’ve been crucified…
I’ve put my selfish thoughts to death.
I’m living for Jesus.
Which means…I’m living for Jesus everywhere…every day.
(2 Corinthians 2:14) – NIV
But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.
So we want God to use us not just as Renovation Church…and the things that happen here…we want God to use ALL OF US…to be Renovators.
Each one of us…renovating the city and beyond for Jesus…everywhere we go.
That has to be our heart.
We must step out of the mind-numbing rat race and into reality.
People are dying. All over the city.
50,000 aren’t in church today.
It’s the Sunday after Christmas. There’s probably 500 people in church in the whole city this weekend. J
50,000 people just in this city aren’t in church.
That’s 5 out of 6 homes.
When you drive into your neighborhood today…I want you to count. I’m serious.
Count the houses.
5 out of every 6 houses is a family that doesn’t go to church.
And most likely…for the vast majority of those people, they don’t have a saving relationship with Jesus.
And without that they will go to hell.
To suffer. For eternity.
Let’s get courageous about reaching people
Courage comes when you know that the situation is so dire that you must overcome your fears anyway.
So when you’re at war…and you see your friend is wounded in the middle of the battlefield…
You run out to save him (overcoming all of your fear) because the REALITY of the situation dictates that you must go.
And so must we.
We must be a church that is serious…ALL THE TIME…about spreading the aroma of Christ.
Because it’s a beautiful fragrance.
It saves the soul.
It changes a life…for eternity.
And the situation is dire.
So as we turn the page on 2015, and walk into 2016…
May this be a year where we get more serious than ever about reaching our friends and family for Christ.
Let’s take advantage of every opportunity to invite our friends to the great services here.
But let’s also be a church made up of people that…if the opportunity arose…would throw a birthday party for prostitutes at 3:30am”
Be a renovator.
If we all renovate together…God will use us to change the world.
This morning, I want to close my message with a video we showed you a little over a year ago during our Amplify series.
It’s a video that is close to our heart for our community.
And I want to show it to you again (even if you’ve seen it before) to take you back to a place to help you see and feel our heart for the lost.
Let’s put Jesus first…and may God use us to keep changing the world.
(SHOW AMPLIFY SACRFICE VIDEO)
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.