Morning. My name is David Sorn. I’m the Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
I took my two-year-old twins to Home Depot the other day
I didn’t really need to buy anything besides light bulbs…but to a two year-old, Home Depot is practically Disneyland.
The place is full of interesting lights, lawn mowers to sit on, refrigerator doors to test out, and kitchens to play in.
Not that I would do any of those things with my kids…I’m just saying… “hypothetically” J
But think about how much the hardware store has changed.
Kevin Miller, who’s a writer for Christianity Today, has an interesting take on hardware stores.
He says that his dad would often take him to “Hooper Wolfe’s Hardware Store” in town on Saturday mornings.
He describes it as a place with “two narrow aisles where you could hardly move.”
He says, “The counters are filled with merchandise, shelves were overflowing, and stuff was hanging from the ceiling. You'd think, ‘No way am I going to find anything in here.’”
He continues, “But you didn't need to. As soon as you walked in, Clarence from behind the counter would say, "How can I help you today?"
My dad would say something like, "I want to hang a light out back."
Clarence would then come out from behind the counter and ask questions.
"Where you going to hang it? Over the patio? Well then"—and he would start rummaging through shelves until he pulled off just the right light—"you want a light like this.”
After giving more tips about the bolts, he would say, "Your house is brick, isn't it? Okay…on a brick wall, you’re going to want to…”
Miller concludes, now today, when I head to Home Depot…it’s a different experience.
Sure…they have everything.
An ocean of parking…more lawn mowers than most places have bolts…They’ve got 40 times the inventory of Hooper Wolfe’s.
But if you can actually flag down the guy with the cool orange apron on, he’s likely to say, “Sorry, I work in paints…I’m just filling in for Denny who’s sick”
And you might find the exact same problem at Menard’s…or Lowe’s.
And in many ways…a similar thing has happened in the American church.
What we can offer…is better than ever.
You ever actually walked into a 100-year old church?
You know the old wooden white churches with the steeple?
It’s JUST a sanctuary!
There’s no state of the art children’s programming
Our churches can provide unbelievable quality nowadays.
But do you know what we’re missing?
We need someone who knows more than we do…
Someone who actually knows a little bit about us.
Someone who can help US grow in our faith.
We are in Week Two of a new series called, “The Gilded Age”
If you’re visiting for the first time today (welcome to you!), let me take a quick second to explain.
The Gilded Age was a time in American History (1870-1900) when it looked like everything was golden, but underneath America’s newfound wealth there were still a lot of problems.
It’s named after the process of gilding…where you take a solid…often ugly structure (like say an old wooden dresser) and cover it with a thin layer of gold to make it look nice.
We are now in a new Gilded Age…where modernization and technology have allowed us as individuals to present a nice, instagrammed, gold layer over the reality of our lives.
Much like looking at a gilded piece of furniture, at first glance, it looks as if we’ve never been more connected in all of history.
I looked this up (because I had a suspicion it was true)…attendance at high school reunions is dropping around the country.
Why? Because you no longer need to go to satisfy your curiosity if the mean popular girls have fallen from their once mighty perch
You can find that out on Facebook.
It seems like we’re so connected…to SO many people.
I can log on to Facebook…I can (within 25 seconds) tell you what my Aunt (who I haven’t seen in years) is doing…what my old college friend is doing…and why my other friend isn’t in church today (Vikings tickets!)
We’ve never been SO connected!!
And yet…we’ve never been so disconnected.
There are a lot of different reasons for the rapid rise of isolationism in this country, but certainly one of them is the illusionary gild of social networking.
Our lives have been becoming more and more isolated for decades now (it started long before social media)
It’s just that one of the difficulties of social media is that it’s given us this naïve sense that we’ve actually solved the growing isolation problem
But we haven’t.
WE just put on gilded layer on it!
I’m not against social media.
It’s brought us many great things along the way…
Like the ability to find out someone’s birthday quickly.
Or the ability to stay caught up in major life milestones with people.
Like most things…it’s good and bad.
But let’s be honest…it’s not a replacement for real networking…for real relationships.
In the Bible, the book of Hebrews, which is a letter to early Christians…gives us some great advice on what real, Christian, social-networking looks like.
(Hebrews 10:24-25) – NIV – LEAVE UP FOR A MINUTE!
24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
It’s a great text for showing us what Christian community and friendships should look like.
In fact, this morning, as our guide…I want to pull out the four major action VERBS from this passage.
And that is:
SPUR one another on
Not GIVING UP meeting together
ENCOURAGING one another
I’m going to take them a bit out of order, but the order is irrelevant here because it’s a list. (take verse down)
And as I talk this morning, I’m going to be mentioning House Groups quite a few times.
We are incredibly passionate about our House Groups here at Renovation (which start next week).
The average church has 22% of its people involved in small groups, at Renovation, nearly 80% of our adults are in a House Group.
You’ll get to hear more of the details during announcements, but the gist of it is that these are groups of 20-30 people…who:
Spend half the night in a fun large group eating delicious food
Watch a DVD teaching done by me
And spend the second half of the night in small groups.
We’ll tell you more about signing up during announcements today, but if you want to start looking into now, go ahead and get your phone out…you can sign-up on the Renovation Church app
And I believe our House Groups are insanely popular…and that people swear by them…for a reason:
Despite all of our online connectivity, Americans are lonelier than ever.
We’re busy…we have a LOT of acquaintances…but we have few friends.
And there’s a BIG difference.
And we’re providing you with people who are going to be there for you…and help you grow in your faith.
And our passage today gives us a framework of what that oughta look like.
And let me start with one of the tougher aspects.
It says in verse 24, that we ought to SPUR one another on toward love and good deeds.
Do you know what a spur is?
(Show SPUR photo)
I always think of the San Antonio Spurs…one of the most boring professional sports teams of all time
But a spur is a device that riders wear to “urge” their horses forward
This is fascinating.
The Bible just told you…you need some folks to spur you. J
Cuz you and I…we get in these ruts…where our faith just grows stagnate.
We’re like a horse that stopped…and never got going again.
Or we’re like the horse that completely wandered off the path.
And we need some folks to spur us on TOWARD LOVE AND GOOD DEEDS.
Not towards condemnation and shame…
Good “spurring” leads us to forwards towards Jesus…not backwards.
But here’s the tricky part…no one can spur you to walk towards Jesus…if you’ve isolated yourself.
Your Facebook friends are most likely not going to publically write to you and say, “You know what, I’ve noticed lately that you seem to be wandering from Jesus…let me pray for you.”
They might think it…but that’s the problem with an online network…we rarely take action.
In 2008, there was a story all of the news of a guy who posted on his online message board (that he frequented every day) that he was going to commit suicide…and nobody did anything.
Let me tell you one of the challenges of the modern, American church.
Even at a medium sized church like this, you could attend here for two years and not know anyone.
Who’s going to encourage you to follow Jesus more closely?
Who’s the Clarence from the Hardware Store in your life?
That knows a bit more than you…and knows a bit about you…and can help you grow?
But if you JUST come and worship…and listen to me speak…you’re going to find (over time) that it’s not enough for positive spiritual development.
You’re going to feel stuck over time.
It’s too easy to just disappear on a Sunday morning.
It’s too easy to hear a message (feel like you should apply it), and then NOT apply it…because you never talked about it with anyone…never got any accountability.
It’s just TOO EASY to avoid growth…especially if getting back on the path is not something we readily want to do.
I think we’ve forgotten (or maybe never known) this…but although “this” is an important part of church (worship and teaching)…and always has been in the Bible…it doesn’t make up the majority of what the Bible calls “church”
“The Church” isn’t just a service…it’s a people.
In the Bible, there are 59 “one another” commands for Christians to carry out for each other (love one another, encourage one another, comfort one another)
And almost all of them can’t be obeyed by you here on a Sunday morning.
NOR…can anyone DO them for you (comfort, encourage, etc.
Which brings us to our next point.
If our friends are going to help us become more like Christ, than we need a healthy balance of spurring and encouraging
Verse 25 tells us that we MUST encourage one another.
Who’s encouraging you to walk closer to Jesus right now?
Besides me on Sundays?
C.S. Lewis said this pretty well:
[Christ] works on us in all sorts of ways . . . But above all, He works on us through each other. Men are mirrors, or “carriers” of Christ to other men . . . That is why the Church, the whole body of Christians showing Him to one another, is so important. – C.S. Lewis
And see, if you’re just looking at me…I’m your ONLY example of what a follower of Christ looks like…than yikes…you are in TROUBLE!
Like a mirror, I can certainly (and I hope I do) reflect Jesus in some ways.
But in a lot of ways…I look like SIN…not JESUS.
See, my mirror up to Jesus…is just catching a reflection of him from one angle.
And if I’m your only mirror to Jesus…you’re only going to get a limited, partial look at how amazing He is.
What you need…are multiple people… multiple mirrors…from multiple angles…
Thus, giving you a fuller picture of just how gracious, loving, and amazing Jesus is.
And what He can do in your life!
It’s interesting…the evaporation of community (people/friends who can step in and encourage us…help us out when we need it) is one of the major defining changes of our culture over the last 50-75 years.
As Americans, we now pay professionals to do what friends once ordinarily did.
Out of town? Just look online and pay someone to mow your lawn!
Moving? Hire a moving company.
Just a little short on flour? I’m sure your friend Aldi has some!
We’re so isolated as a people…that we pay people to do things that friends used to do for people for decades…and centuries.
And this is one area, today…in the present, where Christians ought to look so different from the world.
I can’t say the following yet for a lot of things about us a people at Renovation (we’ll get there)…but I can for this.
We look different here. Different from the rest of the world. In a good way!
And if you’re looking for a Real Social Network…people who can encourage you…support you…help you grow…we can offer that to you.
Last year we had 5 House Groups (we now have six…as we have a BRAND new one on Wednesday nights)…but last year in our 5 house groups…I saw encouragement…I saw support….happen over and over and over and over again!
Let me share with you some of the things I saw or heard about:
I saw community formed.
Next week...I’m officiating a wedding…of two people who met …eating Cheese Curds last year at Renovation Church.
And they have people in their wedding party…from the house groups that they’re a part of.
Their House Leader is reading Scripture in the wedding. House Groups folks in the seats. It’s a part of their lives. It’s community.
Last year, I saw house group attenders who were experiencing really difficult health situations in their family…
And yet…their house group friends encouraged them.
Got together on a separate day…rallied around them…and prayed…just for that issue.
Other house group attenders who…while in the hospital for an illness…had friends they met at House Groups come over and mow their lawn.
While other people in their group organized folks in the group to bring meals for a while
Every time my wife gets a text, I swear it’s one of those, “Hey House Group mom’s texts…
“Anyone know anything about? Who wants to play at the park today?”
I’m seeing our house group people…
Help people move…
They help watch your kids when you need a break...or a date…
They help…they support…they encourage.
Who’s doing that for you?
Or, here’s a question we never ask in America: Who are YOU doing that FOR?
This is the work of “the church” – the PEOPLE of the Church.
It’s the 59 “one anothers” the Bible talks about!
Getting a “like” on Facebook is not in the same stratosphere of encouragement as this stuff.
NOT GIVING UP MEETING TOGETHER
This is the kind of stuff each and every one of us is called to as followers of Jesus
Which brings us to the third call to ACTION from our passage…which is a really a call to step away from INACTION.
The Bible tells us to “Not give up meeting together”
Because we NEED each other!
This is our job! God expects us to do this kind of thing:
(Galatians 6:2) – NIV
2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
(Galatians 6:10) – NIV
10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
The great evangelist and leader from the 1700’s, John Wesley, once said:
The Bible knows nothing of solitary religion – John Wesley
In other words, the Bible is completely unfamiliar with our modern/postmodern idea of being spiritual on “your own”
God wants you to grow in Him…to grow in your faith.
He wants you to come to know him better…and being in a community of believers is one of the absolute best ways to do that.
It’s not just a good way…it’s a necessity.
So don’t give up on the idea.
Don’t give up on meeting together as the Scripture says.
Don’t retire from the body of Christ to the island of consumerism.
At the very least…there are people in this room who need YOU!
It’s not simply just about who you need.
Our hope is that every single adult who calls Renovation Church their home…finds a House Group where they can find a community who’s going to support them & encourage them in their faith.
To do all of those things that we just talked about.
Do whatever you can to get in one of those amazing communities.
I’m telling you…they’re popular for a reason.
If your schedule is an issue…or childcare is an issue.
Find a way to invest in this.
Remember: The absolute best thing you can do for your kids is to grow spiritually yourself.
If you’re not growing, they’re not growing
Even if you can only come sometimes…or you rotate with your spouse some…or pay for childcare once a month so you can both come together…
Find a way to get in a community where people can spur you on towards Jesus and encourage & support you.
And yes, we want you to get to a place where it becomes a weekly priority for you.
But can I be completely honest with you?
I’d rather you went 50% of the time, than 0% of the time.
Then you still will at least know a community of people to help you grow…and a community of people that YOU can help grow.
If you’re new, we’re even starting a BRAND new House Group…which isn’t something we do every year…
This is such an amazing opportunity.
The Bible doesn’t call Christians cats…we’re not meant to wander alone.
We’re called sheep.
Sheep go in flocks…and so do God’s people.
And so the last action verb, is our first verb of the passage.
“let us consider how we may….”
And that’s what I’m asking from you.
I’m telling you, God has such great growth in store for you.
If you’re willing to move away from the gilded layer of just having acquaintances…and you’re willing to take steps forward towards meeting new friends…
If you trust God…and you want to live this out…what’s your action step today?
And if you’re one of the many people in a house group already…first…get back in one again.
And second…what’s God asking you to do so that you can do a better job of spurring one another on…encouraging one another…and supporting one another as the different parts of the body of Christ.
I pray God moves you to action.
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.