And So It Begins...
The apostles are called to take the gospel GLOBAL, and it's a turning point for the church. David also speaks about a turning point for Renovation Church.
Note: Sorry for the poor sound quality this week. Our recording device malfunctioned this week.
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
You ever bought a car before? Or if you haven’t…think of another big purchase you’ve made in the past?
Any big purchase we make often takes the same progression…
You get an idea…like…I need a new car.
For some people this comes very differently.
For some, they see a new car on the road…and they say… “I need it”
For others, they drive their cars into the ground…literally…and then they say, “I need a new one”
But it starts with an idea.
And they you maybe get a vision for it.
Honey…can you imagine…us…with…a mini-van…all the kids could fit in it, and we could play board games on it on that swivel table on long trips…and..
And that’s when you know you’ve ceased being a man…j/k
But you get a vision for what you want…
A vision for the future.
And then…in any purchase…or even in any big decision you make in life (say you make a decision to go on a big trip or go to school some where)…there is a “Tipping point”
A Point where you say… “Ok, it’s happening.”
It hasn’t happened yet, but you know that after this point…it’s happening.
Often, in buying a car…it happens when you test drive…or maybe you’re visiting a college or a grad school…and you’re on campus taking a visit…and you know in your mind…it’s happening.
And that…that moment…is the tipping point.
The point…where…it begins. Life changes now. You’re on a different course now.
And this morning…I want to talk to you about a tipping point in God’s word and in our church as well.
This morning we are continuing in the Book of Acts in the Bible.
Acts is the 5th book in the NT and is the story of how the early church got started after Jesus ascended in to heaven.
And this morning…we are going to look at a tipping point for the church.
We are going to look at 2 leaders of the early church today that we’ve already heard about a couple of times in Acts.
One of them is Barnabas who was a key leader who went up to Antioch to help the Gentile (non-Jew) church there.
And the other is Saul….who was once a fierce persecutor and murderer of Christians…and has had a radical turnaround.
When we last left them 2 weeks ago, they were bringing a gift from the Antioch church to Jerusalem for the poor people because the famine was coming.
We’ll join them there.
(Acts 12:25 – 13:3) – NIV
25 When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission, they returned from Jerusalem, taking with them John, also called Mark. 1 In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
And this is yet another major turning point in the history of the church.
And the book of Acts is full of them. Afterall, it is THE story of the early church.
See, a few chapters ago, when Peter first brought the good news to the Gentiles the non-Jews, that was a major turning point…
And it was starting to happen. They were starting to tell the Gentiles about Jesus.
But now, what’s going to happen from here on out in Acts, is we’ve passed the tipping point.
(Tipping Point illustration on stage)
They told their fellow Jews in their city…they told other Jews in other cities…they started to tell Gentiles in their cities…and now… at the TIPPING point…
The Holy Spirit says, get in the boat and start taking this thing EVERYWHERE.
Afterall, that was the original mission.
(Acts 1:8) – NIV
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
The goal was, and still is, to take the Good News of Jesus to everyone we possibly can.
So the journey begins. They set sail for an island called Cyprus.
(Acts 13:4-12) – NIV
4 The two of them, sent on their way by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia and sailed from there to Cyprus. 5 When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper. 6 They traveled through the whole island until they came to Paphos. There they met a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet named Bar-Jesus, 7 who was an attendant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. The proconsul, an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn the proconsul from the faith. 9 Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, 10“You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? 11Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind, and for a time you will be unable to see the light of the sun.” Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand. 12 When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.
So, they sail off for the island of Cyprus.
(PUT UP MAP)
Cyprus was a peaceful island, so the Roman empire didn’t actually have to have legions of troops quartered there.
It was led by an appointed proconsul. So, the guy Barnabas and Saul met w/ was the leader of the whole island.
And then this guy named Bar-Jesus / Elymas opposes Barnabas and Saul because their ministry was going to affect his relationship with the proconsul.
It’s a pattern we’re going to see over and over in Acts. People oppose Christianity because if the people follow God, that’s going to make things bad for them. It will hurt their business or their standing.
One more thing I wanted to point out about this passage is in verse 9.
It reads, Saul, who is also called Paul.
We get this change of name for a couple of reasons. One, God has changed him…he’s a new person.
But the real reason is actually probably a practical one.
See, Paul is willing to do, as he writes in 1 cor 9, whatever it takes to win someone to Christ, so what he’s doing now is using his Roman name (instead of his Jewish name) as he enters his Gentile phase of ministry.
And from here on out Saul/Paul is going to dominate the book of Acts.
The name of this series is called, “GO: The Book of Acts” because so much of it is about getting out and reaching people.
It’s not about sitting. It’s not about watching. It’s not about being a spectator.
It’s about going.
When the meaning of the cross, that Jesus Christ truly forgave people like you and I REALLY hits our hearts, it forces us to GO…
GO…go and tell others.
OUR VISION / GET IN THE BOAT MOMENT
This is the point in acts where they really get serious about telling people about Jesus.
I mean like we said, they had been doing it before. And starting churches in their region. In the towns next door. And telling everyone.
But it’s as if, the light bulb goes on, prompted by the Holy Spirit by the way, and they realize…WAIT A MINUTE, we’re not just going to reach our neighbors and the people in our region, “WE’RE GOING TO REACH EVERYONE WE CAN!”
EVERYONE needs to know!
So they make the decision that they’re going to get in a boat and sail to an island. Sail to scary places. They’re going to risk. They’re going to trust.
I believe all churches need to have these moments.
This was a key moment for this Antioch church, and really the worldwide church.
But individual churches need these moments.
If I may, I want to have a little state of the union…state of Renovation Church address today.
I believe it’s important to do that. Even…every couple of months.
We are trying to accomplish something TOGETHER.
This is not a movie theater where you come and consume something.
And besides, almost every week of the year, we talk about how you can personally grow in your faith…but sometimes we need to talk about what we are doing together.
This last March, I spoke on the vision of our church…and we’ve been talking about it a lot since.
Our vision: Is to be a people being changed by God to change the world.
To be a people (community) being changed by God (encounter God) to change the world (reaching people).
So, in light of that, we are super serious about community…it’s why during the year, we’re always talking about House Groups.
We’re seriously about you stretching yourself in spiritual disciplines and encounter God on your own, and through things like Worship Nights.
And we believe that it all comes down to this:
If we just leave it at “To be a people being changed” … If we just leave it at community and encountering God, we’re just a club. We’re not a church.
See because coming together and being changed by God is not an end in and of itself.
It’s great. But we don’t come together just to learn. Just to improve. Just for a little help.
We come to be changed… TO CHANGE.
We come because our ultimate goal is reach more people with the forgiveness of Jesus Christ
And we believe we can best do that by coming together and being changed by God
We’re ‘BEING CHANGED TO CHANGE”
And we’ve talked this March about how we have work to do.
Blaine is one of the least churched cities in the metro…if not THE least churched city in the metro.
And our goal for our church…our hope is that God would use us to turn Blaine from the easiest city to get lost in…to the easiest city to get found in.
That there would be so many people who love Jesus here…that people couldn’t even avoid having someone tell them about Jesus.
And in a city like Blaine, we don’t even need to set sail in a boat and go out (although we are doing some of that too…like our Haiti trip),
But listen, there are roughly 48,000 people in just the city of Blaine alone that aren’t in a church today.
48,000. In a few mile radius.
There’s work to be done. There’s radical trusting in God to be done.
And here’s the cool thing. I believe that the people of this church are starting to do some radical trusting in God. Especially in the last 6 months.
We are seeing people in community together…living out faith together (over 80% of our people meet in weekly house groups during the school year)
We are seeing people get more serious than ever about spiritual disciplines…getting in God’s Gym
And most of all, we are seeing you reach people.
Whether you are telling that about Jesus or you are inviting them hear first and they are hearing about Jesus.
And God’s doing a work in a city where His work has unfortunately been almost dormant for far too long.
IN just the last 6 months this church has grown from a small church of 120 people to a church of 200. In 6 months.
And I believe that we are now at a juncture where this is going to be our first…first of I hope of many to come…let’s get in the boat moment..
Like they had in Acts…where the light bulb is going on…and they just say…God’s calling us to go reach more people for Jesus! Let’s go!
Because listen, we’ve always had the idea (that’s like having the idea to buy the car), and we’ve started to really have the vision (just think of what life would be like if we got this car), and now…as God has started to really move, I believe we are crossing and will be crossing a tipping point.
I mentioned to you last week that we would be making a big announcement this morning, so I suppose I better get to that.
Because God is moving in such a dynamic way and because we are serious about reaching even more people for Christ, starting this Fall, we will be making a major change, and on September 11th, we will be having 2 services every week at Renovation Church
At 9:30 and 11:00. Every week.
I want to say some more about that, but I think it’s important to point out that when churches take a leap of faith…that they need to be actually listening to God
Notice in Acts 13, that when they decided, “Hey, we’re taking this thing global,” notice that God spoke to them.
And think about this in your own life. God speaks to those who listen.
They stopped…prayed…fasted. And God called them to something big.
And it begs the question for each of us as followers of God. How is God going to call you to something big?
If we’re too busy to stop and listen for his direction, then we are probably too busy to rely on Him for a great movement.
But these believers put their FULL trust in the fact that direction and life comes from listening to God and not their own busy lives…and guess what? God moves.
And the first 4 verses of our passage remind us that it is ultimately the Holy Spirit that sends people out to new ventures. That inspires us to take risks.
And we want you to know that this particular decision for our church is something we’ve prayed about for a long time. Almost from the beginning of the church.
And it’s something we’ve really weighed out…
By nature, I always felt like if we failed on one side as a church, we fail as being overly logical rather than overly risk-taking
And for one, this is a logical move. Before the summer began, we had Sundays where we literally had less than 30 chairs left on the rack.
But it’s not just about that. Sure it’s about space. But I suppose we could always spend the money and buy more chairs to squeeze in.
It’s ultimately about reaching more people. And adding a service is one of the most effective ways to do that.
It allows people to come that couldn’t come before.
It gives us a new reason and new passion for inviting new people.
And it allows us space to reach even more people with the forgiveness of Jesus Christ.
And you know when growing churches hit this tipping point, there’s often a loss.
Change is rarely easy.
And often the loss here comes because people can feel like they are losing a sense of community by going to 2 services.
“We won’t just be one church anymore.”
“I won’t see everyone”
Will there be some difficultly to this? Sure. It’s change. But I believe this is a barrier we can quickly move by
A) Because we never had a point where everyone knew everyone
B) We’ve said from the very beginning that THIS…Sunday mornings…is not our church community.
We were never going to pretend that 100 people was really “Community” or that 125 was or 150 or 200.
And that’s why we’ve always said…our community of people…that really know us…challenge us…inspire us…take care of us…are in our house groups.
Our small “church” of 30 people
Our small group of 7 people.
And this is one of the things I am most proud of for our church.
As we grow, and more people meet Jesus for the first time, they don’t have to feel lost in the crowd here.
We can connect them with a “small church”…a house group where they can grow and be discipled.
But for other churches…often this tipping point is a loss.
Because people feel like their own development and community is erased in favor of reaching new people.
Let me tell you, we will always be, first and foremost about reaching new people, otherwise we’re a club, and not a church, but we believe that we don’t have to do so at the expense of community.
In fact, without great community in our church, we have nothing to put our new believers into
So as we grow, we want to just keep adding House Groups.
If we’re 300, 600 ppl….80%
And as we are reaching more people, we will just expand our communities (plural)
In fact, we are starting a 4th House Group in the Fall as well.
(Two big announcements in one week!) J
And as God is moving, we want Him to be a step a head of us.. We want to have faith…we want to trust NOT in ourselves (oh aren’t we great!), but put faith in Him to do great things.
And so we continue to stretch.
We continue to ask ourselves…as a church…and as individuals…is our vision intimidating to us? Because if not, it’s probably insulting to God.
Notice how focused the Antioch church was on reaching other people.
Think about what they were willing to risk. They basically sent their BEST teachers and leaders away to go reach other people. Crazy.
That’s like a church saying…okay, who are our four most gifted people and pastors in this entire church?
Well, the city next door does not know Jesus, and I think God wants us to send these four, so let’s send ‘em!
But sadly, what often happens in churches is we would never consider that. We think, “If we did that, what would happen to US???!?”
It’s pretty easy to get “us” focused. And it’s usually the death of most churches.
The day the church is MORE concerned about itself than it is about telling other people about Jesus, is the day it changes form a church to a club, and it’s also the day you can sign the death warrant.
Now, death might not come for a while. Usually churches have fairly long death marches until they close.
But you can always point back to the turning point where they started worrying more about taking care of themselves than saving people from hell by offering them the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.
This is going to take hard work. We pray and we work.
But it’s going to take everyone.
Double the work. Double the volunteers in many cases.
Why? So we can grow? So we can have greater numbers?
No, so we can introduce people to Jesus
So we can introduce people who are broken to Jesus.
We serve, we greet, we usher, we pray, we set this place up every week and take it down every week as a team of people so we can help broken people who are lost, and in pain, and hurting, and on their way to hell because they don’t know Jesus can forgive them. And wants to love them.
We serve…we invite…we work…we pray so the drug addict can meet Jesus.
We do it so the woman who’s been caught in depression for 10 years can meet Jesus and be freed.
We do it so the rich person who thinks they have it all but really cries on their commute home every day because inside they have nothing…can meet Jesus.
So, do we want to grow? Not if we’re just accumulating people from other churches because we’re the next cool thing. I’d rather lose people than do that.
But do we want to reach people for Christ and free them?
That’s why we exist.
And right now…as we sit here…forgiven and experiencing the love of God…there are around 48,000 other people…just in this city alone…who are at home…
Some of them right now…are just mowing their lawns…wondering if there’s a greater purpose in life than making their lawn look good?
Will you tell them?
Some of them are at the liquor store already.. Buying a drink to drown the pain and guilt.
Will you let them know they can be forgiven?
Some of them are just out shopping…Trying to fill their lives with stuff. Or maybe just trying to fill their minds with busyness so they don’t have to think about the pain.
Will you tell them?
We didn’t start this church to be another club. We’re here to renovate this community and beyond for Jesus Christ.
We’re here to introduce people to Jesus Christ.
And I believe God wants to use us to help turn this city from the easiest city to get lost in to the easiest city to get found in
And now…as we approach the Fall, he’s positioned us to make another leap forward in reaching more people.
And honestly, it’s going to take a lot of work…from everyone.
And we’re going to be pushing you this summer as we prepare for it.
But listen, God’s doing a movement here with Renovation Church.
Don’t just be a spectator… be a part of the movement.
And may God use us to change the world.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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