INTRODUCTION – PURCHASE OF LAND
Morning. My name is David Sorn. I’m the Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Let’s mix it up a bit, and start this morning with a reading from Scripture.
(Matthew 9:35-38) – NIV
35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
That is our prayer…that God would use US to be a massive part of His harvest…
Of reaching lost people for Christ.
We are going to be taking a break from the Book of Exodus this morning (we’ll resume next week).
And we’re taking a break today because… every year at Renovation, usually around the turn of the new year, we take one Sunday to talk about the “State of Renovation”
Just as the President of the United States delivers his State of the Union Address every year…about what he thinks the state of our country currently is…
We like to take a Sunday each year to talk about what’s happening at Renovation.
Normally, we do this message at the end of December, or the first week of January, but we put it off this year…for good reason.
We were hoping that we would soon (like say today)…have some good news to share with you.
But first, let’s go back in our history a bit.
When I, and our launch team, started this church a little over 7 years ago…our goal was simple: To reach more people for Christ…and make disciples.
Blaine was, and still is, one of the least churched cities in MN.
There are over 50,000 people in Blaine alone today…not in church.
And since we started this church, God has been abundantly gracious, and blessed our vision.
Back in 2014, our leaders began to look forward to and say, “If we keep reaching people and growing like this, we are going to run out of room here”
And if we want to keep reaching more people for Christ, we’re going to need a bigger space.
And we felt like, the best way to do that, the most effective way to do that over (not just a 5-year period), but a 25-year period, was to purchase land, and then eventually put a building on it.
So in 2014, we started a project called Amplify.
Where we set out to raise $500,000 over 3 years, so we could purchase land for our church.
And we saw over and above that come in in pledges from people like you!
In the early Fall of 2014, I called some of the smartest people I know in our church, and I asked them to be a part of our Land Search Team.
And I think I told them something like, “Would you be able to help me out and help us find land…it should only take a few months”
Well…28 months later…here we are
God doesn’t always promise that things are easy, just that He is faithful.
I came to all of you…a few months ago (in early November), and I mentioned that we were putting down an offer on a piece of land, and to please, please, continue to pray.
Let me fill you in on what’s happened since
We’ve had our eye on a particular popular corner in Blaine that was way out of our price range, but we figured, we serve God, so why not put an offer in
When price for Commercial land is discussed, it’s usually talked about in terms of “price per square foot,” so I’m going to use those terms.
The sale price of the land we put an offer on was $6.00 / sq. ft.
We offered $4.25 / sq. ft. for 5 acres of land.
That would be like, if you were selling your house at $250,000, and someone offered you $177,000.
You might just not even answer that person back…
But the seller was gracious…and listened.
And they said, “We’re selling it for $6.00 / sq. ft., I know you offered $4.25, but we can do $5.00 / sq. ft.
It was at this time where God did some interesting work.
Do you remember last week, when I said God was never going to let Moses get the credit for the rescue mission??
Well, God was determined to not let us get the credit in this process either.
After we received their counter-offer, we realized that we had been told the wrong ratio for “people to parking lot size,” and we learned that we actually needed an additional acre (6 acres instead of 5)
Listen, I pride myself in negotiation skills…we had some incredibly smart people around the table…but God wasn’t going to let our pride get in the way…
So we had to come back to the seller and say, “Yeah, um, I know we asked for 5 acres of land at $4.25 / sq. ft., but we actually need 6 acres of land, which means that we can still only afford it at $4.25 sq. ft.
And they said, “No thanks.”
So at the point, we were advised to walk away…because it was the only thing we could do.
And for me, that was a painful moment.
But it’s out of our pain sometimes that God shows HIS strength.
Just 4 days after we walked away, we got a call, and they said, “We’ll take your deal”
And on top of that, they said, that for them, 6 acres, actually left them with an odd sliver of land on the other side of our property.
And because they wouldn’t be able to sell a parcel of just a half an acre on the other side of our property, they, very generously, gave us that half acre for free.
So in summary, the land was for sale for $6.00 / sq. ft., we offered $4.25 sq. ft., and a few months later with that added bonus of a free half acre, we were able to purchase the whole thing at $3.85 / sq. ft.
Or, another way to look at it:
The list price of those 6.5 acres was 1.7 million, and we were able to purchase it for just under 1.1 million.
That’s a $600,000 difference!
And it was all God.
It really was!
So where is this amazing piece of land?!
Let me show you
(Land Map # 1)
It’s actually right down the road…right here in Blaine
It’s basically the SE corner of 125th (which is the road right out here) and Lexington Ave.
Let me show you an aerial map that’s a bit more zoomed in
(Land Map #2) - Leave up until verse
If you’re familiar with this corner, you might know that there is a shell gas station on the SE corner.
We are directly south of that, and our 6.5 acres of property run along Lexington Ave.
It’s an amazing corner, one of the best in the city, as 15,000 cars drive by on Lexington every day and 12,000 cars on Main Street.
27,000 cars a day on that corner!
Plus, this is the area of the city where almost all of Blaine’s current and future development is headed
In fact, they are building 270 homes directly behind our property over the next 2 years.
I highly encourage you to head over there today…or this week…and walk the land.
It stretches from the basically the gas station to the middle of the pond on that property.
This is really an amazing moment.
I want to honor a few people who put a lot of work in with us on this.
Especially our land search team, which was comprised of:
And Barb Monson
Our Board also played a significant role (along with our land team) in the negotiations
Our board is:
And Barbara Mahr again.
If you are on one of those two teams and you’re in this service, would you just stand for us…we want to honor and thank you for your service to our church body and the future people we will reach for Christ!
But the real person we need to honor…is God.
Over the last 3 or 4 months, I’ve spent a lot of my mornings, before work, walking on the land, praying and asking God to move.
And one early morning, I was out at the land, praying, with my jacket zipped up to my eyes trying not to freeze to death…
And I looked across Lexington, at the Blaine water tower you see on that aerial photo, and suddenly I just got the chills.
See 5 years ago, Chelsie Lopez and Zach Foty and I made a video about our church’s vision for Blaine.
And while I was staring at that water tower, it hit me…
There’s a part in the video, where we drive right by that exact same water tower on Lexington, as I say in the video, “God wants to reach this city…a million times more than we do”
And as I stood there in the freezing cold, I was absolutely overwhelmed, and I just thought…God…you’re going to do this.
And He’s doing it.
Let’s just clap and honor God today too!
Right now, we are in the middle of a due diligence phase on our land.
We are, just as you would if you bought a house, checking everything out.
Finishing up soil tests, environmental tests, etc.
We are set to close on the land on June 13th (things aren’t exactly fast in the commercial realty world)
And please keep praying…
We have done the important things:
A purchase agreement is signed.
But just like in buying a house, up until you close, of course, things can still go wrong.
So pray with us as we finish up our due diligence and final detail work.
I think perhaps the biggest question on most of your minds is “WHEN?”
When do we move in?
Well, if you’re okay with outdoor worship, we can push up the date …but otherwise, we have to build a building first J
As we’ve been very open about from the beginning, we will have to raise money to build the building first.
What will happen is our 3-year Amplify Phase will end this November.
So around October/November of this year, we will begin raising money (in 3-year pledges) to put a building on our property.
Then, we will wait as pledges begin to come in for the building
We need around 25% down (in equity and cash) to begin construction on the building.
If things proceed fairly normally, we would have that 25% and thus be able to start construction perhaps in late 2019, and start services there in 2020.
If things proceed faster, we could be (could be) in sometime in 2019.
There are a lot of different driving factors that could affect that timeline:
How much we see in pledges for the building this Fall is an enormous one
Size of building…cost of building…and plenty more factors can affect timing.
We don’t have much for building plans yet, as we are still a little ways out from that, but will have plenty more information on that come Fall.
I can tell you though, that we’re not going to build a building, and then completely change our philosophy on how we do ministry.
We’re going to amplify what we’re already doing.
WHY WE DO THIS: SHEEP WITHOUT A SHEPHERD
So why do all this?
Why continue to strive towards this? Why not just stay here?
Why continue to raise money and work so hard for this?
Let’s go back to that passage I started with:
(Matthew 9:35-36) – NIV
35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
People without Christ…are like sheep without a shepherd.
Do you know what it’s like for a sheep that doesn’t have a shepherd?
They’re left to a rough life.
To get lost…to run out of pasture…to get caught in a thicket somewhere…or to die.
And our job…is to bring those sheep to THE Shepherd.
And notice that the passage says that when Jesus sees the sheep without a shepherd (the lost people), he has compassion on them.
The Greek Word here for compassion is slightly stronger than any English word we have for compassion.
It means that he was “moved deep in his stomach with pity”
And we are moved with compassion for all of the people in our city and beyond that don’t yet have Jesus.
I read a story this month of a pastor who was visiting a missionary friend in Paris back in the 70’s.
His friend’s four-year-old daughter had accidentally pulled boiling cooking oil onto herself…and the doctors had to isolate the young girl in a sterile room, naked.
For weeks, her parents were only allowed to look at her through a window.
Upon his visit, the pastor wrote the following, “I felt tremendous pity while I watched her mother show the little girl pictures through the window and the tears roll down her face.
“If the pain and oozing flesh wasn't bad enough, the separation was almost unbearable.”
And that’s what we feel…because there are people all around us…who are going to be separated from Christ…in hell…for eternity.
And we want to do…whatever it takes…to unite them with their heavenly Father.
And this isn’t a new thought for us.
This is what we’ve been about from the beginning…and so we’re also not going to press pause on reaching people for Christ until we get into a building.
We’re going to keep doing this.
In fact, next week even…we’re having an outreach called Polar Picnic
(put up Polar Picnic slide)
It’s perhaps hard to feel like you need a picnic break from winter when it’s going to be 57 out of today!
But alas, it’s supposed to snow a bunch Friday, and be 20 degrees here on Sunday morning, so come next Sunday, you’ll be looking for another break J
So next Sunday we are going to be going to be serving a picnic style lunch in the cafeteria after both services with FREE Jimmy John’s sandwiches, chips, fruit, cookies, and beverages…all free!
This is such an easy Sunday to invite to
Seriously, who do you know that needs to know Jesus?
If God’s putting someone on your heart…move in faith.
Be bold. Ask them.
We’re going to see people stand up and give their lives to Christ.
I pray that one of them is someone you know…someone you invited!
God is moving through Renovation Church right now!
Be back here next week…bring someone with you…and let’s change the world together!
(Back to State of Renovation slide)
God has really blessed our evangelistic work here, but if we want it to continue…we can’t stay here.
We’ve been able to do some creative maneuvering at times to handle growth, so we are still around 2-4 years away from having major, WEEKLY growth issues here.
But unlike when we first talked about this in 2014, this is no longer hypothetical.
We already DO have space problems when it comes to our large Sundays…especially our outreaches.
Just to pull off Easter this year, we’re going to have 5 services! FIVE!
And, we’re going to have 6 children’s classrooms every service…that’s 30 kids’ classes in a weekend!
Also, you may or may not know this, but to pull off Family Fun Day this past Fall (where people tend to stay a while), we had to move 200 of our people, in advance, to parking lots around the surrounding areas just to have enough space for our visitors.
But let me be incredibly clear about something…and I’m going to hammer this into your brain for the next 2 years or so:
We are not doing this (moving towards a building) to make our lives a little bit easier…or to be a little more comfortable: this is about reaching MORE people.
But I cannot tell you how many people come up to me and say, “Isn’t it going be to so nice to not have to set-up and tear-down” or “we won’t have to park far away” or “won’t it be so great to just have a place of our own”
Listen, if Northpoint Elementary were big enough, and if it were the most effective way to reach people in Blaine, I would stay here for 30 years…despite the work!
But it’s neither of those things…so we can’t stay here.
We are NOT doing this, so we can one day be comfortable….and make it easier on ourselves…and have to “work less” for Jesus!
I couldn’t care less about comfort.
Nowhere…in the model of Jesus…in the ministry of Paul…in the lives of the 12 disciples (11 of which lost their lives for the Gospel) is comfort the goal. Not even close.
THIS IS ABOUT BEING ABLE TO REACH MORE PEOPLE FOR CHRIST!
THE WORK AHEAD: LABORERS
And lots of times that’s hard work!
Look again at the passage.
(Matthew 9:37-38) – NIV
37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Jesus says, “There are plenty of people ready to be harvested…saved by God…brought into his Kingdom”
The question is are there enough people ready to help reach them?
Because it’s not easy.
The passage calls these people “workers” (a lot of translations call them ‘laborers’)
The farm work of bringing in the harvest is not an easy walk in the park
Our team, our leaders, have worked extremely hard at this.
Many of you, have made SIGNIFICANT sacrifices in your time…in prayer
And SO many of you have made significant financial sacrifices as well.
You gave away all of your bonuses to this.
You took your promotion money and put it towards this purchase
You slashed parts of your budget…so people could meet Christ for this.
And you are amazing.
We’re so grateful for your hard work and commitment to this.
And this is just the beginning.
It’s an exciting conclusion to the first chapter…but it’s the first chapter.
And even the first chapter, I guess, isn’t 100% closed.
We’re not at closing, at June 13th yet.
(Show “price of land” slide)
One of the things I can tell you is that we are purchasing this piece of land for $1,092,000.
You can see on the screen how we’re going to pay for that.
We have been approved for a 10-year loan for $657,000.
Which means, that at closing, we will be writing a check out of our Amplify account (from our pledges) for $435,000.
However, in the last number of months, a number of people/families have fallen behind on their pledges, so right now, we are projected to be at about $400,000 at closing on June 13th.
There’s about $355,000 in the account now, but we’re projected…if giving were to continue at its most recent trend…to be at $400,000 at June 13th.
That leaves us at about $35,000 short of where we need to be to close on the property.
Not an enormous number, but it’s significant
If you’re behind on pledge, do what it takes to catch up…for the sake of our future.
This is not an opportunity we want to have slip through our fingers
I realize that this has felt kind of hypothetical for a long time, but this is as real as you can get right now.
Do what it takes to help us make this happen.
If you haven’t jumped on board yet (so many of you are new since we started this in 2014), join us…especially in these next few months.
We just ask that if you do so, you do so as “over and above your regular giving” like everyone else.
We don’t want to secure the land, but be kicked out of here first because we can’t pay the rent J
If you’ve already finished your pledge (thank you! You are amazing!)
Would you consider giving monthly to this to help us get to closing?
I would ask that all of you…pray about…giving your tax refund to Jesus this year? J
Would you consider giving it to help us close the gap…and make sure we’re ready to make this land our own in a few months?
I know I covered a lot today, but I realize that you may have even more questions about this…and we WANT to answer them.
(put up “Q&A/Vote” Slide)
Our philosophy as it relates to money has always been to be as open as possible.
We’re not hiding anything.
I obviously can’t cover everything in one message, so if you have other questions…please ask them.
Two weeks from today, on March 5th, we’re going to hold 30-minute Q&A’s after both services where you can ask us anything you’d like regarding this process.
Also, you can certainly reach out to me, our board, our land team at any time before then too.
And then, on March 19th, between services, we are going to have a vote regarding the land.
Our constitution states that our members must approve any purchase of land.
67% of the members who are present at that meeting must “say yes” in order for us to purchase this property.
By the way, a member at Renovation is someone who has attended here for 6 months, has been baptized as a believer, and is a regular attender at a House Group.
IT’S ALWAYS GOD: PRAY FOR THE HARVEST
And keep praying. Never stop.
It was prayer that got us here…I 100% believe that.
When we asked for pledges in 2014, we prayed, we fasted.
When we got stuck along the way, we prayed…
When we negotiated…we prayed…and God moved.
Our passage today says that it’s prayer that moves the Lord of the harvest. Prayer.
If we want to see God continue to use us, but in even greater ways, we must continue to pray that he would use us for the harvest.
On one of the days that I was walking the land, back before it snowed…as I looked down at the crunched-down stalks below my feet, I said to myself, “I don’t even know how I forgot this, but this land…was a farm”
In fact, thanks to the miracle of Google Street View, we can go back to 2013 and see an image of our land.
(Show 2013 Google Street View) – Leave up to the end.
And there it is, shortly after the harvest.
How incredible is that?
For decades, God used that very land for the harvest…and our prayer is that for decades more, he will use it for an even greater harvest.
And that thousands will come to know Christ on that piece of land.
And that thousands more will go out and reach their neighbors, and go out to start new churches, and go out even to distant countries to proclaim the name of Jesus.
All from that piece of land.
Thank you Jesus.
We are so grateful to you today.
Let’s pray and thank Him.
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.
FEBRUARY 19, 2017