When preparing for a great harvest, Jesus gives us two instructions. Find out what they are and how they apply to our church in this critical time.
THE BARN IS FILLING UP
(Harvest Series Slide)
Morning. My name is David Sorn. I’m the Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church. Morning to you.
Thanks to Kendra from our church for filling in for our Worship Pastor, Zach Foty, who’s leading worship at a Fall Retreat at Trout Lake Camp this weekend.
Welcome to Week 2 of our Harvest series!
This is the most important series in the history of our church so far.
If you weren’t here last week, I would ask that you watch last week’s message online where we explain everything that’s happening…
But since I obviously can’t wait for you to do that right now , let me sum it up for you
Our desire, from the beginning, has been to be a people being changed by God to change the world.
And we want to do just that.
We want to impact and reach as many people for Christ as possible.
However, we know that in just a few short years, we are going to completely run out of room here at Northpoint Elementary
(Show Attendance Chart Graph)
You can see that we’ve had tremendous growth in the past 2 years…
…and that our Sunday morning attendance has grown by 30% in the last 12 months…by over 100 people in attendance.
And based on those trends, we know, that in the next couple of years, we’re going to run out of room here at Northpoint
And we also know…as much as we don’t like to say it out loud sometimes, our church meets in an Elementary School Gym.
To the community, we don’t exist 6 days a week.
There are some (obviously not all), but some, who won’t ever try “church in a school”
They can’t get their mind around what it would even be like…as they picture us meeting in a 3rd grade classroom or what have you
(Go to message Title Slide )
Having a building allows us greater visibility and sustainability
Our community will be able to see us every day (as 27,000 cars a day pass through that intersection)
And they’ll be able to KNOW that we aren’t going to disappear tomorrow.
And as great as it’s been here…nothing is guaranteed.
Not that they would…or we think they’re going to…but the school district could end our contract here with just 60 days’ notice.
But mostly, we’re moving towards a building…because we want to keep reaching and discipling more people for Christ, and we simply need more space to keep doing that!
If you want to know more about that Building and its design, you can read about it in our Harvest Booklets
If you haven’t gotten one yet, they are actually under your chair right now.
The building we will build is going to cost somewhere in the range of 5 million to 5.5 million dollars.
And so, our goal is to raise 1.1 million dollars in 3 year pledges of giving (that is giving that is above & beyond what people normally give to the general fund)
That’s a big goal.
1.1 million dollars is a lot of money for a church of 400some people.
But I can’t think of anything more important than this.
Jesus himself tells us that reaching the lost is not only doable, but of the upmost importance.
I want to look at his Words again today.
(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.”
Here’s what’s happening at our church right now…in “harvest terms”
Jesus tells us to go out into the fields: to tell people His Good News…and God will then bring them in (like the Harvest) to His kingdom.
And our church has been doing that diligently and faithfully for the last 8 years.
But, as our harvest continues to grow in size…our barn (at Northpoint) is running out of room.
We know that in just a few years, the crops will be overflowing the barn, and there will be no more room.
And so, what would any farmer would do in that case?
Build a bigger barn!
Get some people together…where everyone plays a part…for a good ol’ fashioned barn raising
And my prayer is that you understand something very important.
We’re not just talking about numbers here.
When we talk of reaching hundreds or thousands more in Blaine, Andover, Coon Rapids, Ham Lake, and Lino Lakes
We’re not just talking about numbers…or chairs.
We’re talking about people…real people.
It’s actually easier to see that by looking back.
I want you to take a look at Alex and Lynda Pepin’s story…from our church.
(PLAY PEPIN TESTIMONY VIDEO)
The harvest is plentiful.
And this next season, is about writing more stories like that one.
It’s not just numbers…but real people and real stories.
That’s what we’re sacrificing for.
And I wanted to show you the Pepin’s story…even though we could have showed you a number of stories of people who’ve come to Christ here just in the last 12-18 months…
I wanted to show you the Pepin’s story…because more of it has been written.
And you can already see the impact of what happens when a family starts following Christ for a few years.
Do you understand the impact this life change has had on their children?
Who are now growing up in a home of two parents that have Christ’s love flowing through them, and are teaching them about Jesus?
Think of even the impact of just two new Christians on our church…
The Pepin’s host a House Group for us.
Alex has grown so rapidly in his faith…He’s even a small group leader…helping others get closer to Jesus.
That’s what we’re talking about at Renovation Church!
Not just reaching people and leaving them to the masses, but discpling them!
WE MUST HAVE COMPASSION
So how do we do more of that?
I believe the instructions are in our Bible passage for this morning.
Look at how Jesus feels about the “crowd of unbelievers”
(Matthew 9:36) – NIV – Leave up for a minute or so
36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Notice the reactions and thoughts of Jesus here:
He SAW them.
He noticed them.
Too many Christians are too busy with their church programs to even notice that the people they drive by every day… are perishing…on a path to eternity in hell.
Jesus sees them.
He had COMPASSION on them.
His heart grieves over the fact that they are “harassed and helpless”
In other words, their lives, like many around us…are difficult.
They’re lacking purpose, direction, constantly dealing with new struggles…often depressed.
And in his heart…He feels for them.
Longing for them to know God.
Do you feel the same way about those who live their lives apart from Jesus?
And Jesus says, “They are like sheep without a shepherd”
When Jesus looks at the crowd…he sees…potential.
Future believers! Future world changers.
Is that what you see…when you walk through your neighborhood?
Is that what you see when you scroll through your Facebook?
We’re trying to do something really different here…to go back to seeing people as Jesus sees people.
To look at our neighbors, at our co-workers…and see…future Christians.
Future Alex and Lynda’s.
Future small group leaders.
Future world changes.
The Harvest is plentiful!
THE HARVEST IS PLENTIFUL, BUT IT TAKES WORK
And that’s what Jesus is trying to get across here.
The Harvest is indeed plentiful…BUT…
BUT…the workers are few.
It reminds me of a survey I read a few years ago from Ra-neer Research
It surveyed a large group of American people who don’t go to church, and of that group, an amazing 82% were open to attending church if invited by a friend
I think a lot of you have seen this number to be true.
It doesn’t mean the people you ask always say yes the first time…sometimes it’s the fifth time…but they are indeed “open” to it.
The door is WIDE open for some, and just opened a sliver for others…but 82% are somewhat open…for God to start the harvest process in their lives!
And that same survey then polled Christians and found out that only 21% of Christians had invited someone to church that year.
And THAT…is exactly what Jesus is saying.
The harvest is plentiful…but the workers are few.
Why is that?
There are a whole lot of reasons…but I think one of them is because…well…the harvest takes a whole lot of work.
It’s not easy to just go up to someone and start talking about God (even if they’re a friend…maybe ESPECIALLY if they’re a friend!)
It’s not even that easy to invite someone to church.
Especially if they don’t come the first time you ask!
The Harvest is hard work!
And yet, isn’t that implied by the very metaphor of “the harvest”??
Maybe we don’t understand that as well as our farming ancestors did.
It’s like the 5-year old who went to her grandparent’s farm.
Her grandparents took her out to harvest some corn, which she thought was great fun for…the first few minutes…
But as soon as she got a bit tired from the work, she said to her grandma, “You know you can just buy this at the grocery store, right?”
And if you want to EXPAND your harvest…to AMPLIFY it…the work is even harder.
You’ve got to buy a new field…clear it, pull the weeds, till the ground, sow your seed.
You’ve got to water it, protect it, and watch over it.
It’s a lot of labor…with not a lot of visible progress sometimes…
But if you labor…and you trust…a massive harvest will come.
And that’s where I feel like we’re at as a church.
We have an incredible opportunity in front of us that is only a couple years away
But in order for us to see that type of harvest…it will take work.
That’s why Jesus calls them “LABORERS” by the way.
Labor means work…it means sacrifice.
But you sacrifice because of the good you know will come of it.
We’ve already experienced this process of “labor, labor, labor harvest” on a smaller scale.
There are a number of you sitting in this room right now, who came to Christ at one of our Easter services..
…maybe this past Easter, or in 2016, or earlier
It’s just one Sunday a year…but for those of you who came to Christ on that day, know that we labored in preparation for that day…for MONTHS
…because we know that the Harvest is ripe on that day…due to how our current culture looks at Easter…and Egg Hunts
And now, we’re talking about that same principle, but just on a larger scale.
We’ve already already been preparing to get to this point…for years
And there is plenty of work left to do before we break ground.
Perhaps none larger than coming together as a church body to bring 1.1 million dollars…so this can all happen.
And we sacrifice…and we labor…because we believe the payoff will be greater than anything we could have ever imagined.
Can you see it?
New believers getting baptized in our building in every other week?
Getting connected in our House Groups?
Inviting their friends?
More Churches getting started…
Not just 1 a year but what about 3 or 4 a year?
More missionaries being sent out
The vision is that our land on Lexington is the catalyst for more harvest fields all around the metro/world starting up.
That’s what I’m talking about.
We’re talking 1.1 million dollars not just because we want to build some nice building for us..
Not even close.
We’re talking 1.1 million dollars because we want to change the world…and nothing short of it!!
But that kind of world-changing harvest…starts with putting in work now.
Just like any other kind of harvest since the beginning of time.
Jesus gives us two basic instructions in our passage today about how to get the Harvest started
1) We get HIS HEART for the lost (like we already talked about)
2) We pray
Look again at his words:
(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.”
We PRAY …we ask the Lord of the Harvest…to send us out…to move in our hearts.
I ask that you take seriously our call to pray during this critical time in our church’s history.
Come out to our Land Event tonight.
See what it’s like to be out there…and pray and imagine with us while you’re there…all the mighty things God will do there.
Come to Encounter in 10 days…and pray with us
Our leaders are taking prayer for Harvest very seriously
In fact, we are fasting for 24 hours, every Monday evening to Tuesday evening during this season.
If you’re willing, join us in fasting and praying that God moves mightily over the remaining 14 days.
As we receive pledges on Commitment Sunday, November 12th, just 14 days from now
And pray not just for the church, seek God yourself.
Ask Him how He can use you to be a part of this.
We need to ask God to move!
1.1 million dollars is an enormous amount of money!
For those of you in the room that were here with us back in 2014, I believe it’s especially critical that you pray too!
One of my fears is that those of us that are doing this the 2nd time around…will be tempted to just look at our budgets, see what we did last time, and go, “Okay, I could do “x”
But what was so powerful about Amplify…is that our people did what the Scripture says…they went to God and prayed
And they talked together…and prayed some more…And God led them!
And that’s how we’re land owners today!
We MUST go to God again.
If we go to Him, He will do this.
Let me tell you a story, which is just one of so many stories I could tell you, of someone in our church who did just that.
It all happened back when we were in the same phase that we are in right now, during our Amplify series in October & November of 2014
About a week or two out from Commitment Sunday, I had let my mathematical & analytical mind get the best of me, and I was starting to lose faith in the process.
It all felt a bit too scary.
We were trying to raise $500,000 for a future land purchase, and I told my wife, “I’ve run the numbers a hundred times, and I don’t think we’re even going to hit $350,000.”
And then, 4 days before commitment Sunday, when I was already writing my speech in my head for how I was going to tell you all that we came up $150,000 short, I received an email from a 23-year old woman in our church.
She informed me she had just recently acquired a permanent and salaried position, and it was a nice change of income for her.
She went on to say that she had many plans about how she was going to use the extra income to save her for future, BUT…
Then she writes, “(After your message on Sunday), I had a nice long conversation with God about this job change of mine.
I had three takeaways from the conversation. 1) it was no coincidence that it came around the same time as Amplify. 2) my tendencies to always save cause me to rely on myself for financial stability rather than seeing that it's actually God who has always abundantly provided for me. 3) A solution = I really do want to use my blessings to bless others and I cannot think of another project that I would be more proud to put my finances toward than Amplify! So…I am going to put my entire pay increase towards Amplify!”
She went on to personally inform me of her pledge amount, which, by the way, was the largest pledge amount we received from anyone in our church.
From a 23-year-old…with deep faith.
I VIVIDLY…VIVIDLY remember reading that email…like it was yesterday.
I dropped to me knees, and just cried.
Which for my is a big deal…I’m a “cry once every 3 years” sort of guy
And I walked outside, and I looked up at the sky, and I said, “God, you’re just going to do this. I don’t know how…I NEVER could have predicted this, and I can’t predict how it’s going to happen, but you’re just going to do this!!”
AND HE DID!
And I believe if we seek Him…if we all seek Him…He will do this!
The 1.1-million-dollar goal is an even bigger stretch goal than the last time…but I have to trust God that He is able…and I pray you do too!
Let me pray.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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