Row Boat or Cruise Ship
What kind of ship should the church be?
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor of Renovation Church.
Well, it gives me abundant joy to see this church…what started as just a dream that God put in my head…start to reach people for Christ…not only here in Blaine…but around the world.
And today (this week) is yet another step in that dream.
For 3 years now, we’ve been sending teams on international missions trip to Haiti.
And today is the official beginning of our expansion to a second country.
In just 4 days, we are going to be sending our first-ever team of six to Rwanda…in Eastern Africa.
At this point, I’d like to call that team forward:
And I will be going on the trip as well.
We leave on Thursday morning, when we will begin a 24-hour period of flights and layovers until we arrive in Rwanda.
Then over 8-9 days, we will be working with an organization called SHINE (led by Sammy Wanyonyi who spoke here last summer), and we will be sharing the Gospel everywhere we go.
In Churches, in park ministry, in prisons, through children’s ministry, and through Sammy’s Outreach (where 30,000-40,000 people are expected)
Our team will also be assisting in putting on a leadership and woman’s conference for local Christians as well.
Please pray for us!
On your way out today, you’re going to get handed a prayer postcard with our prayer requests.
Please put it on your fridge or counter and be praying for us!
At this point, I’m going to ask ______, one of our elders, to come pray for the team, and for the team members to step down.
If you’re a friend or family member, would you come up, and lay your hands on them in prayer.
That’s a way of commissioning people in missions that we see in the Bible.
LOVE EACH OTHER DEEPLY
This morning, we’re going to look at a text in the Bible that I believe is quite relevant for where we are as a church.
I know that many of you are new, and maybe don’t know this, but we’ve had pretty significant growth as a church in the last 24 months.
It’s maybe not as easy to see in the dead of summer, but over the last 24 months, we’ve been consistently growing at 20%, and our average attendance has grown by more than 100 people.
Which means closer to 150 people have made Renovation their home just in the last two years.
We believe that will continue, and maybe even to a greater degree!
However, if God is going to continue to allow us to change our world like this…we need to have a family chat about something first.
So that’s why we pressed pause on “The Kingdom” series this morning to talk about this.
And I’d like to have our “family chat” out of 1 Peter chapter 4.
Let’s take a look at the passage
Or Renovation App
(1 Peter 4:8-11) – NIV
8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
It’s a powerful passage about the giftings that God has given each and every one of you.
Gifts he has given you for a purpose.
And that purpose, we’re going to see…is to glorify Him.
But let’s start at the beginning.
I want to break down each verse.
Let’s put up verse 8 again
(1 Peter 4:8) – NIV
8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
This is one of the main calls of Scripture.
To love one another.
Jesus, even tells us that it’s the 2nd greatest commandment.
Love your neighbor, as yourself.
Yet, here’s the problem for us in America in 2014:
When Peter is writing about “loving one another,” he’s assuming a church context where Christians KNOW and SERVE one another.
He’s assuming a body of believers…TOGETHER…who love and support each other.
And yet, for many today, church is a service we “consume.”
It’s like walking into a movie theater.
Instead of getting your ticket at the door, you get a bulletin
Instead of getting your popcorn, you get a donut
You walk in, you don’t talk to the person next to you at the movies….You make sure there’s a space in between you.
And then after, you just leave.
This is why it’s SO important that you become part of a house group when sign-ups start in just 5 weeks.
That you do what 70-80% of people in church have done, and get in a house group.
Where we can live out this call to “Love each other deeply”
But you simply can’t do that if you’re just a face in the crowd.
But this is also important on another level.
Part of “loving each other deeply” (and this is closer to the broader context of the whole passage) is serving one another.
We can’t say that we LOVE the body of Christ (God’s church) if we only take from it…and don’t serve
I mean, I can “SAY” that I love my wife…
But if she does the laundry, cooks, mows the lawn, takes out the trash, cleans, and picks up….all while I watch Netflix and play video games.
I don’t’ think I can call that “loving each other deeply”
Your love is not shown by your words, but it’s demonstrated by your actions.
So, let me ask you a tough question then: Are you loving your fellow believers?
Or are you just “taking” from those who serve you?
Are you a fountain? Or a drain?
See, so many of us expect the church to simply just dispense “religious goods and services” to us, but that’s not the picture the Bible paints.
We’re to love EACH OTHER deeply
And that means Each of us doing our part.
Love…by definition…is NOT waiting for someone else to do it for you first.
That’s selfishness. Not love.
So, what would it look like for you to come here on a Sunday, and not just “take” but to “give”?
To love each other back?
Here’s the number one thing I want you to get from this this morning:
If you haven’t taken a step forward in this yet…take a step forward. TODAY. Take action.
On your chair when you walked in this morning, was a sheet of paper of all the different ways you can carry out this passage…here on a Sunday morning.
Read that over sometime this morning. Find a place where you can carry this out..
Because, it’s not just the loving of each other…it’s the loving of the many new people who walk through our doors every week.
If you weren’t able to come to our baptism on Wednesday, it was a powerful, powerful service.
I was really struck as I heard the stories of people who came into our church, and described how they immediately felt closer to God…
And as the weeks and months went by, they made decisions to accept Christ, and have their entire lives change for eternity.
But that doesn’t happen unless a team of people gets here at 7am and starts setting this up for them.
Unless someone is loving their children while they’re in the service
Unless someone runs the slides, so they can see the Bible.
There’s a team of people (over 60 different volunteers every week)…helping to love people.
Are you “loving one another” as the Bible says?
Let’s look at the next verse:
(1 Peter 4:9) – NIV
9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
It seems like Peter knows that some of us might grumble about this.
Now, of course, he’s mostly talking about offering hospitality in your homes…to one another…
Something that we pale in comparison compared to our grandparents’ generation.
But it also applies to the church.
In those days…their homes WERE their churches.
And for now, Northpoint Elementary, is our home.
And we are tasked to offer hospitality to people that come in.
All of us.
And yet, how easy is it to grumble?
“I’m too busy.
Some one else can do it.
I’m not comfortable doing that.
And yet, to serve, is to let GO of the self, and put others first.
I think so often, we miss out on the LOVE of God flowing through us to other people…because we just put ourselves first.
But remember, God’s kingdom is upside down!
You’re actually going to experience the greatest joy not just seeking your own happiness, but seeking the happiness of others.
And even if it feels uncomfortable, take a risk.
I know that when I take the greatest risks, I often experience the greatest joy.
For instance, I’m nervous about going to Africa in 4 days.
What am I going to do on flights/layovers for 24 hours?
Will I get sick? Will the mosquito net around my bed work?
What in the world am I, the pickiest eater I know, going to eat for 13 days?
But I also know…that I’m going to see some of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.
And see God move in greater ways than I’ve maybe ever seen.
Now apply that to a smaller scale here on a Sunday morning.
It’s easy to say, “Yeah, I think I’d rather sleep in a few extra minutes than get there a few minutes early and serve on the prayer team.”
Plus, think of what could go wrong.
What if I forget what to say?
What if I’m not ready?
What if…what if…
And you can “What if” your whole life, but I’m telling you, you’re going to miss out on God moving through you.
Don’t let your grumbling and your fears get in the way.
I talk to people who are nervous to sign-up to serve in Renovation kids because they don’t maybe have babies of their own yet…or they know it’s a stretch to serve in 1st service, and THEN come to second service.
But when they do it…they LOVE it.
They’re kicking themselves for waiting.
Because they see the impact it’s having not only on the kids, but on their parents!
I talk to people who sign-up for our tear-down crew….
And maybe they had been grumbling…. “Why would I stay after and help….I’ve got lunch to eat…football to watch…”
But then they serve…and they feel God using them (w/ gifts they can use)…and maybe once in a while they even go out to lunch with some members of the team afterwards…
And they go… “What have I been missing?”
That’s the question?
In just looking inward, what have you been missing?
I want you to think of Renovation Church this way:
We’re a ship.
We’re a rescue ship…out on a mission.
And right now, it’s not a massive ship, it’s like a row boat.
And in a row boat, especially a medium sized one: EVERYBODY Rows.
Imagine those college rowing competitions that all those Ivy League schools do. Like in the Facebook movie J
And BTW, it’s always the “uppity” schools that row, isn’t it?
You never see Cambridge Community College submitting a rowing team.
But if the race starts, and somebody doesn’t feel like rowing…they’re going to get thrown overboard pretty quickly.
Because they’re dead weight, right?
See, the church is meant to be like a good rowing team.
Everybody has a part in it, because you’re all part of the body of Christ.
This thing is not a cruise ship.
It’s not a place where you just come and somebody serves you drinks while you listen to music…and have an all-you-can-eat buffet.
And I apologize on behalf of the American Church of the last two decades for their part in helping you think it’s a cruise ship.
It is not.
Read the New Testament.
It looks ABSOLUTELY NOTHING like a cruise ship.
It’s a row boat.
The disciples never had a thought in their mind that people would be a part of a local church and not BE A PART OF IT.
To serve in it.
That would have never have crossed their minds.
And here’s why:
Look at verse 10
GOD’S GIVEN YOU A GIFT
(1 Peter 4:10) – NIV
10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
It says that GOD Himself gave YOU a gift to serve others.
Why did he give you a gift (specific talents, abilities)?
To serve others!
The Bible lists spiritual gifts in 3 main places:
You can read these later if you want:
Romans 12, Ephesians 4, 1 Corinthians 12
Gifts like leadership, hospitality, encouragement, faith, serving, shepherding…
God has given you a gift!
And it’s TO serve others.
And that doesn’t have to just be in church.
It can be at your work.
It can be through other organizations and non-profits.
Maybe you even use your gifts to start an organization to do good in the world in God’s name.
But here’s the thing: You can and should use your gifts elsewhere…but the one place you absolutely have got to use them, is God’s church.
Because this isn’t a cruise ship…and never will be. The Church…the Biblical church…is a rowboat.
I think sometimes people don’t serve in the church, honestly, because they think they’re above it.
They already use their gifts in a “more important” way elsewhere….
Or often, I meet people who look at the list of ways they can start serving, and they say, “I think I’d rather start as a small group leader…or elder.”
But service doesn’t work like that
(Luke 16:10) – NIV
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.
Don’t let anything get in the way of starting to serve.
Where are you going to serve?
Where are you going to pick up an oar here?
See…it’s important that you start…or get restarted somewhere…
Because, when you recognize you have gifts, you recognize you have a purpose.
Why else did God give you those gifts?
It says….to serve others.
I’m reminded of a story I heard years ago where a homeless man came to a Catholic priest in Europe.
The homeless man was on the verge of suicide, and he asked the priest for help.
Instead, the priest asked the homeless man to help.
And the Priest asked that the homeless man help him out with meeting the needs of other homeless mothers and their children.
And serving others, because it gave him a purpose, eventually turned his life around and years later he said, “If the priest would have given me a place to stay, or money, I probably would’ve committed suicide anyway.”
“But what he gave me was something to LIVE FOR”
See, when you come to church, you’re not just coming here to FIND meaning and purpose…
You’re here to LIVE OUT a purpose.
To use your gifts…for a purpose.
For example, there are plenty of people in this room who are reliable, good with computers, good with tech…and God can use those gifts to serve on any of our A/V teams
The teams that help things run SO smoothly at this church.
And help people meet Jesus.
178 people have met Jesus in our services in 4.5 years.
But that’s a team effort.
Of over 60 different “rowers” every single week making this thing happen.
Where can you serve?
Where can you pick up an oar?
If you think you’re not spiritually ready to serve…or you’re too broken to serve…
I would just say…you must not have met anyone from this church yet. J
We believe God is changing us, but we are also a group of broken and messed-up people.
You don’t have to be a spiritual rock star to join any one of these teams.
You just be you.
Broken, messed-up you, being transformed by Jesus.
Someone who wants to help other people experience that too
If I can, let me just take a few minutes to address a particular group of people.
I’m not sure I’ve ever done this in our church history, but I’m going to.
I want to talk to you if you’re in your 40’s or 50’s.
This is, believe it or not, a fast growing segment of our church in the last year and a half or so.
Yet, out of any demographic, surprisingly, this is the group where we see the least amount of people serving.
And that breaks my heart.
This is a trend that has actually hit the megachurch even harder than churches like this.
Many people serve God faithfully for years, and God uses their gifts mightily in amazing ways, but then for whatever reason (their kids graduate, they got tired, they move to a new church, something happens), they “RETIRE” from serving…or at they’re on a really long sabbatical
Their arms are tired from rowing, and they board the cruise ship.
But you walked in the wrong building for that….this isn’t a cruise ship.
Let me ask you a dangerous question.
If you left Renovation Church today, what would we lose?
Here’s the thing: We need you. We need you. We NEED you.
See, this is a young church that needs you to get off the sidelines and serve with us.
Lead us. Teach us from your experience…share your wisdom.
We ALL suffer if we just row in our inexperience all while you have the knowledge, but don’t join in
It makes me think of gift cards (or gift certificates as my parents like to call them still)
They did a study a few years ago that said between 2005 and 2011, $41 billion in gift cards went unused.
Between lost, accidentally thrown out, or only partially redeemed cards, the average American has $300 in unused or unredeemed gift cards
This is similar to what our passage says
If you have it in front of you still, notice it says that “each of you should USE whatever gift you have received to serve others…as faithful stewards.
You are a steward of God’s gifts in you.
He gave THOSE gifts to you…on loan…so that you would USE them.
Not to have them lie dormant. Use them.
Get started today. Sign-up to use them…
God can do great things with this in the future…
But you have to start somewhere!
Pick up an oar
FOR HIS GLORY
And then look at the last verse again
(1 Peter 4:11) – NIV
11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
We serve others SO THAT in all things God may be praised.
To HIM be the GLORY.
So that’s the question: Is God being glorified in your gifts?
Some of you that are serving here on Sundays already: I would ask you…. “Could God do even more with what He’s gifted you with?”
And I don’t just mean signing up for something else here.
That’s not the point.
Maybe it’s to change your role here…and take on more responsibility.
Maybe…he’s calling to you to use your gifts outside of the church more?
Where do you need to risk and see Him use you?
But this is why serving is so important.
Because what we do here…as a team…is for God’s glory.
You might be thinking… “I don’t have time. I’d love to…but I’m SO busy.”
Well, you made it to church, so you can’t be that busy. J
To at least pick up an oar while you’re here for 60 minutes.
We don’t just come to church to be valued, but to add value.
“And listen, there is NOTHING more important than making sure God is glorified through your life!
That is the chief purpose for our existence.
Listen, right now, this isn’t a very large church.
Granted, we are 3 to 4 times the size of what we were when we started.
But comparatively to large churches, we’re not a big church.
And that’s fine.
We’re a small church, but our vision is enormous.
If you’re looking for a church with a small vision, this isn’t the one for you.
We believe God has called us to change the world.
Called US. US to change the world.
But to do that…we need everybody.
EVERYBODY. (don’t just look at the person next to you) EVERYBODY.
We’re going to take massive steps forward in that vision…this Fall even….
And we need EVERYBODY.
Don’t just watch the movement here…be a part of it.
And let God glorify Himself through you, and through your gifts.
Take a step off the cruise ship today.
Pick up an oar.
(We’ve got work to do)
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.