Amplify: The Gospel
As we make a great leap of faith forward as a church, it must be stated that the goal is not comfort. Our goal is to be blessed to be a blessing.
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Welcome to Week 2 of our Amplify 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 what’s happening…
But since I obviously can’t wait for you to do that right now J, let me sum it up in two minutes or less.
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.
And we know…in order to do that to the greatest degree possible…we can’t stay here.
(PUT UP ATTENDANCE CHART ON SCREEN)
We are growing at an astounding rate of 20% a year, and at that rate, we will have no more room for visitors (or even you…if a visitor beats you to a parking spot or chair) by the Spring of 2018.
And in light of that, our hope is to be able to purchase land…to eventually put a building on.
We have set a goal to raise $500,000 in additional giving over a 3-year period…because we believe that $500,000, or an amount similar to that, would allow us to purchase a piece of land that we need…or with a small loan as well.
And we believe that walking down this road…will be hard…will take sacrifice…but it will be worth it.
And we’ll be able to reach hundreds more people for Christ…and maybe even thousands.
If you’re visiting for the first time today, I realize that this isn’t a typical message, but it will still give you a unique opportunity to see what kind of church Renovation is, and give you a look into our future.
In the coming weeks, we’re going to get into the particulars about how we as a church body could possibly even raise $500,000, but before we get there, I wanted to spend one more week talking about future impact and reach.
By the way, if you didn’t get one of our Amplify Booklets in church or a House Group last week, they are actually under your chair right now.
If you don’t have one, please take that one with you today.
It’s an over 20-page booklet our staff put together to help you stay informed about this project.
We want everyone to have one and read through it, so you can be informed.
BLESSED TO BE A BLESSING
This morning, as we open up the Bible, we’re going to do something a little different.
We’re actually going to study the same passage we covered last week…because there is a lot in there that God has for us right now.
Last week we concentrated mostly on Genesis 12:4-7, and this week, I want to tackle verses 1-3.
It’s a story about Abraham and his faith to follow God to a new land.
Just to give you some context, let’s put up a map
(Show ABRAM MAP)
Abram’s (or Abraham’s) family originally left UR (in Iraq) to go to Canaan…the promised land (Israel)…but they stopped in Haran (in Turkey).
Then God calls Abraham to go to Canaan.
And in so doing…he receives this promise (and it’s the PROMISE that we want to study today)
(Genesis 12:1-3) – NIV
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. 2 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
Let’s leave that up there for a moment.
Here’s what I want you to see that’s so important about these verses, which are some of THE most important verses in the entire Bible.
We see in verse 2 that Abraham is blessed.
God’s going to give him influence and blessings.
But for what? FOR WHAT??
Look at the end of verse 3… “And all peoples on earth will be blessed through you”
Abraham is “BLESSED TO BE A BLESSING”
And if you read Abraham’s story…he is indeed blessed.
But that blessing then impacts other people greatly…and eventually all of history…through his eventual descendent Jesus Christ.
When you read the greater context of this passage…say the first 20 or so chapters of Genesis, there is so much violence on earth…so much depravity…so much wickedness… Everyone’s lost their way.
Yet there is always a remnant of people following God
And here’s the KEY (so many Christians miss this): God’s followers, like Abraham, are not just following God individually and morally…they’re not just trying on their own to be a good person.
They are actually bringing God to a dark world!
That’s the true story of God’s followers…not just in Genesis…but throughout the Bible.
It’s not just that they follow God and make sure not to bother anyone else in the process…
No…that wasn’t Abraham…that wasn’t Elijah…that wasn’t Samuel…that wasn’t Josiah…
These great followers of God in the Bible brought God to a dark world…they didn’t just keep him to themselves
Blessed to be a blessing…even in a dark world.
That’s what Renovation Church is about.
We’re not here to just to tell the world they’re wrong…and we’re right…and they should feel bad about it.
That’s not going to do anything.
We’re here to help bless the world with the love of Jesus. To Renovate it. To paint it a brighter color.
The blessing isn’t just for us. It’s for others!
Blessed to be a blessing.
Or, as we would say…with our vision….that we are “Changed TO change”
That God is blessing us and changing us…not just for our sake…but for the sake of others.
(2 Corinthians 2:14-15) – NIV
14 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. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.
You are to be the aroma…or perfume/cologne of Christ…TO THE WORLD!
You don’t just wear perfume for yourself…it’s for other people.
Blessed to be a blessing.
THE DANGEROUS SIDETRACK OF COMFORT
You are to be a conduit of God’s blessing.
It’s like God’s giving his Water to you…to flow through you…in a conduit...in a pipe…to other people.
But see, when you try and turn a two-part blessing (Blessed…to be a blessing) into just one part…
When you try and keep the blessing for yourself… It’s like putting a cap on the end of pipe when there’s water rushing into it. What’s going to happen? It’s going to come back and splash you in the face.
It doesn’t work like that!
God’s blessings were never meant to be just for you.
But stopping just at part one of the blessing….keeping the blessing just for yourself…is an alluring temptation.
Comfort…just for one’s self…is a dangerous sidetrack on the spiritual journey.
God says to Abraham, “Leave your land…leave our people”
If you remember, his whole extended family was originally going to go to Canaan (to the promised land)…maybe God even called them.
But they stop halfway. They got comfortable.
God was moving, but then they found a semi-better place in Turkey.
Maybe they liked the mountain view.
Maybe they got a good house.
And halfway to the PROMISED LAND…they chose the “Mediocre Land” instead
One of the biggest temptations to you growing spiritually is the temptation to be satisfied with just “part one” of God’s blessings.
You start experiencing some of his blessings…and we think, “You know what, this is pretty good!”
I don’t need to go out there and impact others…I’m pretty comfortable just getting up early to read my Bible…have God speak to me in church once in a while…feel his presence in worship”
That’s enough blessing for me!
Why risk going out there to impact all of those different and dying people?
Or why even make a financial risk of $500,000?!?
Isn’t this fine?
The school is fine.
It’s not like there are just 80 or 100 people in here anymore…we got past the awkward stage.
Why get uncomfortable in the first place?
Because…we’ve been blessed.
And the blessing is two-parted.
The blessing isn’t for us. It’s not for us to keep.
Over the years…sometimes I get asked, “Can’t we just stay a small church? It’s nice that it’s small. That’s why I came here!”
I always say, “Listen, it might be God’s will that we stay a small church (I don't know that), but we will NEVER NOT try to reach people for Christ.
We will NEVER be okay with choosing our own comforts over the eternal destinies of our neighbors.
“And the beauty of this church…is that as we have already more than tripled in size, and in the next year or so…will have quadrupled in size..
And yet, we’ve been able to keep the same high percentage of people in house groups.
Because that’s where it’s small. That’s your small church. That’s your community!
And that’s the goal for the future.
Even at 500 or 700.
That we’d see something like 75% of people still engaged in house groups.
I have no desire to pastor a large church where people come in and no know one.
That’s not church.
That’s a nice “worship service,” but it’s not church.
THE GOAL IS NOT COMFORT…BUT TO BE USED
So will this season of sacrifice…so we can reach more people in the future…more people beyond just 3.5 years…will it be easy?
No. It’ll take a lot of hard work. And sacrifice. And generous hearts.
But the goal has never been comfort.
And the goal has never been to seek blessing just for our own sakes.
In fact, if you seek to be blessed, you’ll end up empty.
If you seek to bless others, you’ll end up full
For instance, when we send people to Haiti & Rwanda, they often say something like, “Never have I felt more stretched and uncomfortable in my life. BUT BUT…never have I felt more used by God in my LIFE”
Sidenote…we are looking for 1 more person to fill out our Haiti team in February…if you still want to go, talk to me or Rachel Cheney, our Director of Ministries, after the service.
Our people who have left to go on church planting launch teams would say the same as folks who have done missions.
They’ve left the comforts of their home church…but never have they felt more used.
And listen…to be the conduit.. to have the water flow through you…that’s the real blessing.
It’s honestly not all that great if it just splashes back in your face.
Listen…we’ve really missed this as a society.
We’ve traded in blessings that we could find in the risk of adventure all for lame things like safety and comfort.
We miss this in how we raise our kids. We miss this in how we live our own lives.
The goal is not comfort. The goal is not safety.
The goal is not that you get to the end of your life and have felt safe and comfortable.
That’ll just leave you depressed.
Why? Because you’ll feel…what most depressed people feel…useless.
See, the goal for Renovation Church…is not comfort…not even close…it’s for us as a people…to get out there…RISK…SACFRICE…and be used by God to change the world.
That’s the goal.
This is the pattern of Jesus Himself.
(Philippians 2:6-8) – NIV
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death even death on a cross!
Jesus has all the comforts and blessings in the universe in heaven…and yet He comes down to BE A BLESSING.
That is how we should pattern our lives.
BUT ISN’T A BUILDING COMFORTABLE??
Now, you could say, “David, don’t you have this backwards? Aren’t we more uncomfortable now?!
“If the goal is not to get comfortable…maybe we should stay here in the school..”
“I mean, people get here before 7am to start setting this gym up. They’re here after 1:00… It all goes in a trailer, and we do it again next week. And the week after that…and the week after that! “
But let me say two things to that:
#1 – You’re right. That is hard work.
But, what I’m talking about is working towards the future.
And it would certainly be easier (more comfortable) for us to just stay here and do nothing. Keep doing the same old thing.
Moving forward towards land and a building will require great sacrifice and faith out of ALL of us
And #2, never assume that being uncomfortable is a bad thing.
You know…as I met with SO many of our people at our Q&A’s this week, one comment I heard at all 5 Q&A’s was that people are so excited that our set-up crew and tear-down crews won’t have to work anymore”
That is…everyone except most of the people on the set-up and tear-down crew
See… we too often assume that work is a negative thing.
It doesn’t have to be. And it’s not here.
Ryan Speck, our director of Operations here, has fostered some of the greatest community our church has on those teams.
Lifelong friends have been formed because of people who arrive together at 7am. Or people who stay until 1:15 and go out to lunch together.
See, it’s a blessing…to BE A BLESSING.
The blessing is not found in doing nothing.
Hear me clearly Renovation Church…because a lot of churches get this WRONG…and we can not get this wrong in this phase: The goal is NOT comfort.
We ARE NOT doing this, so we can one day be comfortable.
I couldn’t care less about comfort.
WHY? Because nowhere in the model of Abraham…in the model of Jesus…is comfort the goal. Not even close.
The goal is “Blessed to be a blessing.” “Changed to change”
This isn’t about us…it’s about them. It’s about people who don’t yet have the blessing of knowing Christ
And so for us…LAND…or a BUILDING…is merely a tool to BE a greater blessing.
And because that’s true…because God IS blessing us…AND because God is calling us to get more uncomfortable…we will.
We will sacrifice for Him and for reaching people.
And someday…when we move into our own building…we will celebrate…and celebrate like crazy!
But know this: As the cupcakes and the confetti are being scraped into the garbage after that great party…the next call will come out. The next challenge will come forth.
And we will do whatever God is calling us to do…to change lives.
No matter how uncomfortable that makes us.
Because the goal isn’t comfort.
If you’re looking to be a comfortable Christian…this isn’t the church for you.
But if you’re looking to get on board with a mission and change the world…you’ve come to the right place. Get on board.
It will require something of you (as all great missions do)…but get on board.
WE WANT TO BE A BLESSING
We want to be a blessing to our city…and our area.
We want to change lives. And not just change them for the next 3.5 years…but for the next 25 years.
We want to change lives like this…
(PLAY NANCY MILLER TESTIMONY VIDEO)
We’re calling this whole project “Amplify” because we merely want to extend what we’re already doing.
We don’t want to turn the station…we just want to amplify what God is already doing here.
And for every story like Nancy’s…there are a hundred more in this room.
And praise God for that!
But we can’t just sit back and say, “Wow…cool…we did it! Let’s rest now.”
We can rest in heaven.
What about the single mom in Blaine who’s losing hope…and doesn’t know Jesus…but is crying out to God…asking if He’s there?
Can we find her? Can we reach her?
And if one of you does…if she’s your neighbor…will there even be room to bring her here to be discipled?
What about the business man in Blaine who’s never THOUGHT he needed God…but now his wife has cancer…and for the first time in his life, he’s looking…
You know…Northpoint Elementary has been great to us…but it has its limitations.
6 days out of the week…we don’t exist.
That business man can drive all over town, but he’ll never find us.
And although there is a segment of the population that’s willing to try church in a more non-traditional environment…
In the suburbs…there’s actually a greater segment of the population that’ll never try church in a school.
Especially in an elementary school.
“I mean…what is it? Some weirdo cult thing? Do they meet in a classroom??!”
And again, hear me, it’s not that God hasn’t moved here (He has! Mightily!), but a building does provide a different level of credibility.
So our community knows 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 even with all of that…it’s still easier to do nothing.
To not sacrifice.
To just wait and see what happens…and I guess…start turning people away when it comes to that.
But that’s not our heart.
And it’s not our purpose.
(Ephesians 2:8-10) – NIV
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
It says that WHAT YOU HAVE…is a GIFT from God.
But for what?
You were created to do good works!
You were created to take your blessing…to BE a blessing!
Just like Abraham!
And God has blessed this church so much.
Less than 1 out of 5 churches in America are even growing…let alone at 20% a year.
Few churches get to see THIS many people come to Christ!
What we are experiencing is NOT NORMAL.
And yet…much of our culture at large is going the other way.
They’re going away from God…away from truth…away from hope.
And we want to change…not just our city…but the world!
And Amplify helps us to do that!
In fact, the most common question I got this week was this, “If we raise $500,000 in “above & beyond” giving for land…how will that affect our church planting fund? And our missions fund?
The answer: It’ll help it.
We will still continue to give 5% of all of our regular giving to missions…and 5% of all of our regular giving to starting future church plants.
Right now our budget is a little over $300,000.
So 5% is $15,000/year for EACH of those funds.
If we just stay here at the school…there is a definite cap on our growth here.
But what you also need to realize is that if our growth stalls here…so does our budget…and if our budget stalls…then our ability to plant churches will be capped as well.
We’ll never do it any faster.
But if we had a building someday…and could grow past 600….
Let’s say God blew away our wildest dreams, and we reached a TON of people for Christ…and were 900 people with a $900,000 budget.
That would mean, at 5% of $900,000 we would be putting $45,000 a year into church planting…instead of just $15,000
And we could plant churches 3 times as fast!
So, actually, the smartest thing we can do to increase our regional impact through church planting and our global impact through missions…is to raise funds…so that one day we can move on from this place and not be capped here.
So be praying about you can be a part of this.
Be praying about how you can take what God’s blessed you with…and BE a blessing.
SO that future people in this city can know Christ…like you had the chance to meet Christ.
And not just future people in this city…but in our region…and in our world.
We’ve seen what God has done in people like Nancy’s life here at Renovation.
And we just want him to do that for hundreds and maybe thousands more!
Please pray with us. Seriously. Pray with us.
If you haven’t yet, put our Amplify Logo on your lock screen (you can find it in your email our on our social media pages)
Pray…every time you see it.
Fast with us…our leaders and our prayer team are fasting every Monday night to Tuesday night for a month.
Pray about how God can use you to be a blessing.
Ask Him about it!
And join us at Encounter in a week and a half…
We want to come together as an entire church and bang on heaven’s door…and plead with God to use us!
Be there in this historic time and pray with us.
And I believe…that if we all pray…if we all trust God in this…if we all take our blessings…and use them to be a blessing…
Then God’s going to do this.
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.