(Illuminate Series Slide)
Morning. How’s everybody doing?
My name is David Sorn. I’m the Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
If you don’t know yet, our church has been growing exponentially fast as we reach people for Christ and are seeing a yearning from so many to hear God’s Word preached again.
And so we know that we’re going to run completely out of room sometime in the next 6 to 18 months
And so, we are attempting to add 24,000 more square feet to make room for all of the people who want to come and hear about Jesus and grow in their faith.
That expansion will cost 8.75 million dollars.
And so, we are attempting to raise 4 million dollars in 3-year pledges
And we know we actually need to raise OVER 4 million in pledges in order to break ground this summer, like we now think we need to
And listen, even if Elon Musk himself showed up tomorrow and wrote us a huge check, and let’s say our Illuminate total was 5.75 million, we’d still be taking on 3 million more dollars of debt as a church.
So the need here is significant.
And so, we need to turn to God’s Word in this time and get direction from it.
As a church, we don’t talk about money very much
In fact, the majority of you here, have actually probably never heard us give even one message on money…
So if you’re new here, and you’re thinking, “oh boy, a church talking about money… “
Know that isn’t a normal Sunday for us
And yet, the Bible does talk about money…actually a decent amount
And so, if we’re going to look to the Bible, at this unique moment in our church’s life (w/ our Commitment Sunday next Sunday), this is where we need to look.
Honestly, it would be weird to even be talking about something else today.
OUT OF POVERTY
So everybody grab a Bible.
2 Corinthians 8:1-9
Paul is writing to the Greek Christians in Corinth about taking up a collection of finances for the people in Jerusalem
(2 Corinthians 8:1-4) – NIV
And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people.
Paul starts off by writing to the believers in Jesus from Corinth about believers in another part of Greece…Macedonia.
And he mentions how these believers from Macedonia, despite being persecuted AND being incredibly poor…were extremely generous.
So much so that verse 3 says that they “gave beyond their ability”
Which I can only take to mean that they took some risks with their giving.
They didn’t just quickly run the math, and give something that wasn’t even a sacrifice.
Verse 4: Paul says that they even begged to give!
(The Blessing of Sacrifice Title Slide)
How is this possible??
Who are these people and what has happened here???
These are people that have deeply experienced the grace of Jesus Christ.
The reality that even though they were dead in their sin…destined to and deserving of hell…Jesus came and died for them.
Freeing them from their sin, giving them the Holy Spirit, and offering them eternal life.
It doesn’t get any better than that!
And their joy has welled up in generosity.
It reminds me of when I was in Tanzania this past summer, and we visited a church.
And the people of that church, much like the Macedonian Christians Paul is talking about, were in extreme poverty compared to us.
And yet, they were so excited about what God had done in their lives, and about what they heard God was doing in our church…
…that they took up on offering for our church.
That is, as Paul says in verse 2, joy welling up in rich generosity.
And yet when we think about doing that ourselves…we hesitate.
We say, “Lord, it’s too hard. I have too many other obligations: Student loans, mortgage, car payment, I got these little things running around called kids…they’re very expensive.
And I tell you what, this passage in 2 Corinthians is for us, as Americans.
See, the Corinthians (the ones receiving this letter) were the wealthy Greeks
The Macedonians that Paul was talking about, are in extreme poverty, and yet…they BEGGED to give.
FIRST TO THE LORD
Let’s take a deeper dive at these Macedonian Christians Paul is talking about.
2 Corinthians 8:5-9
Look at the next verse…verse 5
(2 Corinthians 8:5) – NIV
And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.
Maybe the most important part of our whole passage today is where Paul says, ““They gave themselves first of all to the Lord”
These Macedonian Christians were able to be generous, because they had already given themselves…first and foremost…to the Lord.
And so, even in their finances, God was first.
GENEROUS LIKE JESUS
Paul gets at that very idea in the next two verses
(2 Corinthians 8:6-7) – NIV
6 So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part.7 But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
We talked about the wholeness of Spiritual Maturity a lot when we went through Colossians this Fall.
And here again, Paul is saying that the path to spiritual maturity isn’t just to excel in faith, in speech, and in knowledge, but ALSO to excel in giving.
You can’t become spiritually mature if you have a compartment of your life that you don’t allow Jesus to have access to.
And so Paul challenges them in verse 8:
(2 Corinthians 8:8) – NIV
8 I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others.
Notice Paul also says in verse 8, “I’m not commanding you to do this.”
Don’t be coerced into giving to the Lord’s work.
Don’t be guilted into it.
In the next chapter, Paul says, “God loves a CHEERFUL giver”
You want to give every part of yourself, first to the Lord, but your goal, is to do it, in joy.
Now, some of you are going…“David, I believe in what’s happening here with all my heart…I just don’t have the financial capacity or the margin right now to even be a part of this”
And because we’ve been saying that we want everybody to be a part of this key moment, I can’t encourage you enough to consult our Illuminate Booklets that were on your chair today.
Take one with you if you don’t have one yet.
There are a ton of ideas in there on how to creatively find a way to give or even to increase your impact
Here are a few examples for you where we did the math for you over a THREE-YEAR PERIOD
(Put up EXAMPLES Screen)
One less drink at Caribou/Starbucks a week: $858
Pack a lunch instead of eating out (2x per week): $1,404
Family of 4 eats out one less time per month: $1,440
One less vacation in the next 3 years: $2,500
Put off getting a new car payment for 1 more year: $6,000
Those numbers are significant!
I know a family that is going to cancel their cleaning service on their house, and that added up to a $12,000 pledge over 3 years.
There are others who’ve said we’re going donate stock, assets even, an annual bonus, tax rebate, or even selling a boat.
There are 20 different ways to participate
(Put GIVING CHART on Screen)
You may have seen this already, but this represents the types of pledges we will likely need to raise 4 million dollars”
I encourage you to use this tool (it’s in your Illuminate Booklets)
And again…there are no all-star givers here.
It’s not equal gifts…but equal sacrifice.
If you’ve never given before here, this is a great time to jump on board!
Or, if you’re in a place spiritually where you are giving, but you’re not tithing yet (you’re not giving the Biblical 10%), maybe you ask the question this week of: “What would it take, sacrificially, to use this moment as an opportunity to get to tithing, 10%?”
If you’re giving 5% to the General fund, what if you, in addition, gave 5% to Illuminate…to get to 10%.
And so we’re praying for a lot of things.
We’re praying for people who feel stuck right now, that they can find one of these creative ways…to be a part of it…
We’re also praying for 6 figure gifts.
You know, in our two previous endeavors (of raising money for land and this building,) 6 figure gifts were something that we never received, but we know that at this level (at 4 million), it’s something we will need.
And so we’re praying for that!
We’re praying for 100% participation. .
That we stay a rowboat, and we all pick up an oar, together.
And let me tell you something:
(The Blessing of Sacrifice Title Slide)
The reason we’re all sitting in this building right now is because of the sacrifice and FAITH of the people who trusted God that this could be our future.
We believed a huge harvest was coming and so we sacrificed.
I was remembering this week back to 2014, and the very first time we set out to raise money to buy this land we’re sitting on now.
And our goal of $500,000 was SUCH a big ask for our small and young church
Especially because we knew wouldn’t even be starting construction on the building for at least another 6 years!
And about a week before Commitment Sunday in 2014, I had talked myself out of it ever happening.
I told my wife, “It’s just not mathematically possible. It’s not gonna happen”
And then, on Commitment Sunday, November 16th, 2014, during the last song, we had people walk their pledges up to the front during the last song…as an offering.
And I can remember, like it was yesterday, looking over at Lindsey sitting next to me, with tears in both of our eyes, and saying, “Where are all of these people coming from?!”
And to this day, I swear that every single person in that gym got up and walked to the front.
That’s why we’re here now.
That’s why we’ve seen 190 people come to Christ already since we opened these doors.
We, Renovation Church, are a people of vision, and faith, and sacrifice, and God has blessed that sacrifice!
And I pray that’s who we continue to be.
And so later, at the end of the service, on your way out, you’re going to receive a commitment card for our Commitment Sunday next week (looks like this)
(Put up COMMITMENT CARD slide)
Sometime this week, fill this out, and then bring it back next Sunday.
If you’re unable to be here next week, you can fill it out on our website or app as well.
This is simply a pledge of what you intend to give over the next 3 years
It’s not a binding contract.
When you pledge, we’ll send you out information that week of how you can actually begin to give to Illuminate.
(Put up Commitment SUNDAY slide)
And so because Commitment Sunday is next Sunday, I highly encourage everyone to set aside a night this week to look again at the guide and tools in the Illuminate Booklet that are there to help you with this exact process, and then seek the Lord on this.
If you’re married pray and talk together.
And let the Lord lead you.
It’s a financial decision, but ultimately, I believe it’s most importantly a spiritual decision.
WHY WE DO THIS
But let me get back to why we’re asking everyone to be a part of this.
On why we want to be generous.
Look at verse 9 of our passage
2 Corinthians 8:9
(2 Corinthians 8:9) – NIV
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
This is why we sacrifice mightily as Christians.
Because our example, Jesus Christ, sacrificed everything…for us.
He gave up the beauty and riches of heaven to come to earth in a dusty manger.
He gave up his LIFE…on a cross…
He became poor…so that through his poverty…you might become rich…in faith.
And that is our example.
We sacrifice generously because of what He gave us…and because we want others to experience the same thing.
(The Blessing of Sacrifice Title Slide)
And so we want to reach…hundreds and hundreds and hundreds more for Christ.
The darkness grows in our city and beyond.
WE must illuminate it. We must bring the light.
And listen, it’s not just about our light here on this corner.
It’s also about the lights that go out from here
Hear me, it’s critical that you understand this point:
This isn’t about just building a bigger room.
Think of it this way:
The way they determine capacity is not by how many people you can fit in a room, but rather by how many people you can safely send out of the room.
We’re not just adding parking, and more seats, and more space, so we can put a bigger crowd to sit in a room.
Because capacity isn’t about how many people we can get in, it’s about how many people we can send out.
We are reaching people for Christ, and they are going out, and they are illuminating the darkness for their families, and their friends, and their neighbors.
And it’s critical that you understand that we’re not asking anyone to sacrifice for a “building” or a “number”
But for people. For real people.
Let me show you what I’m asking us to sacrifice for…and the blessing of it.
I’m going to introduce you to some people who’ve been saved by the ministry of Renovation Church.
Because THIS…is EXACTLY…what our future will look like…real people.
Over the next few minutes, I’m going to bring up 8 new Christians, all 8 of whom accepted Christ at our church since we opened the doors of this building.
And I want you to hear their stories.
I’d like to invite up Karly Edgarton
Karly, was the very first person to accept Christ in our building.
In December of 2020, Karly first felt God nudge her to seek Him out while she was driving and saw a billboard about God.
She then attended our very first service in this building, back when we all were spaced out 6 feet from each other at the height of COVID.
But she heard the Gospel anyway, and stood up and gave her life to Christ
She dove right into discipleship and house groups, and you can see her now often, being a light, and teaching young children in Renovation Kids
I’d like to invite up Kelly Becker
As Kelly grew up, and got married, and had two kids, despite everything looking fine on the outside, she felt an emptiness in her heart no matter what she did.
She felt lost with no answers.
In March of 2021, Kelly and her husband were invited to our church to see a friend get baptized.
And then they kept coming.
And one month later, she and her husband, on the same day, stood up and gave their lives to Christ,
And I think of her two young kids, that are now going to grow up, in a Christian home, and we pray, now will have lights of their own.
I’d like to invite up Reggie Natividad
Reggie grew up in a Roman Catholic home with a general faith that God was up there
But like SO many in our area, he didn’t feel that He had a deep understanding of how to truly walk with and follow Jesus daily.
He got invited by friends to Renovation Church, and was grateful for the little things, like us sharing page numbers in the Bible
Reggie jumped right in and went through our discipleship program, joined a house group, and made a decision to get baptized…getting baptized at the same time as his son.
Because God gives us a light and the light spreads
I’d like to invite up Danielle Lunt
Danielle had gotten to the point in life where she only visited churches on Christmas and Easter
In 2021 and into early 2022, she experienced some very difficult life events, and hit her bottom in the beginning of last year
At the bottom, she felt God calling out to her, and so she found Renovation Church, where she indicated she wanted to follow Jesus.
But it wasn’t until she was a few weeks into our discipleship program with Liz Maki from our church, that the Gospel really clicked, and she became born again.
And now, in her joy for Jesus, you can see her everywhere: In House Groups, handing out bulletins to you, and even serving widows down the street.
She is a light.
I’d like to invite up Eric Johnson
Eric, like many people grew up in a church where he went to church, got confirmed, but never really knew who God was.
After high school, he entered the army, and his attendance at church became non-existent for most of his adult life.
Until, last year, when his daughter saw signs for our Easter Egg Hunt Outreach, and said she wanted to come.
And so they came.
They loved Easter and continued to come.
Eric then took our First Steps class in Renovation U where he had many questions answered…and eventually gave his life to Christ.
And now, he serves often on our A/V team, putting up the slides, which, he’s literally even doing this morning!
I’d like to invite up Renae Mularky
Renae, like many American adults wanted to come to church, but let life get in the way
Through a set of circumstances, she started to seek God again about a year ago, and found her way here in May of 2022
She shortly thereafter accepted Christ in her life, and like many of our new believers got an insatiable passion for Jesus and His Word
In fact, Renae plowed through our entire 90-week Luke series on our app in about 3 weeks 😊
And God is using her to be a light.
Just 4 weeks ago today, her young adult daughter, now also made a decision for Christ!
I’d like to invite up Bre Koski
Bre and her husband met Luke & Sara Wiersma from our church while their kids played baseball together this summer.
Bre came to Family Fun Day and accepted Christ that day, along with one of her neighbors who also accepted Christ that day.
They both began discipleship with Sara Wiersma
And then three weeks later, ANOTHER one of their neighbors accepted Christ here, and then shortly after that ANOTHER neighbor and friend was pulled into this group of 4 ladies in this neighborhood…
…all being discipled and pursuing a relationship with God for the first time.
And Bre would tell you that before Christ entered her life, she was full of anxiety and was searching high and low for contentment and purpose
And now, along with half of her neighborhood 😊, she is diving into the Bible and feels, for the first time her life, a peace that she’s never had before.
I’d like to invite up Mike Costello
Mike came to our church just 11 weeks ago.
Before Christ, Mike would have described himself, like many in our country, as a functional alcoholic.
But when he showed up here the first time, he was at his bottom, as his wife had recently left him as his issues were mounting up.
But on Sunday, December 4th, Mike invited The One Who Changes Lives into his life, and Jesus did just that.
Mike has worked quickly through his discipleship program, joining a house group, and surrendering His all to Jesus
And Jesus is changing Mike quickly, so much so, that he and his wife are back together.
And so when we talk about the future, when we talk about the blessing of sacrifice, this is what we’re talking about!
PEOPLE. REAL people with real lives.
And we want to see more of this, God!
Marriages saved, people sober, children now growing up in Christian households.
This is why we sacrifice!
And do you see the exponential power of the Gospel?
Because it isn’t just about this room.
Capacity isn’t about how many people we can get in, it’s about how many people we can send out.
God has put a light in each one of these people, and their light is going out and it’s illuminating the darkness!
I say, let the Gospel ring out from this place!
Not just here at this corner, but from each of us as we carry our lights, and push back the darkness!
May God be with our church this week. Let me pray.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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