In Matthew 16, when Peter made his confession of faith that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, the Son of the Living God – Jesus responded that upon that PETRA – that immovable rock – He would establish his Church – His Ecclesia – and that not even Hell itself or anyone who comes from there would be able to defeat it.
And here we are, 2,000 years later, and despite the Enemy’s best efforts, and despite him having the whole world on his side – he has not only failed at defeating the church, but he has had to watch it grow and grow and grow. And as we just read in our study of Revelation it is indeed Christ and His Church that will defeat hell itself and all who reside in it in the end.
But the victory is not only reserved for the very end of time. As part of God’s church here and now, we have victory in the name of Jesus to prevail over the power of the Enemy.
And for Reality Church that is exactly what we have been doing for the past two years – and with what God has been showing me lately, we are going to do even more of it in the months and years to come.
And I have been anxiously waiting to tell you all about it this week, so let’s pray and get into it.
I’ve titled today’s talk – Mission: Unstoppable – both because we serve an unstoppable God, and because He has given us a mission to complete. A mission to see lives changed by the transforming restoring power of Jesus Christ!
And for the past two years, since we launched Reality 2.0 – that is exactly what God has been doing – IN YOU! Especially for all of you that have stuck with us for a year or more, you know we’ve been through some trials and tribulations – but our God has been there the whole time, shaping and molding us and getting us ready for what He is about to do in us and through us in the months and years to come.
I’ve often expressed having the feeling that all this time we have been building up to something, like the click-click-click of the roller coaster before it reaches the peak and the fun begins. Well, my friends, I believe that we are about to go over the peak, and the real fun is about to begin.
As many of you know, Reality Church has actually been in existence for about 14 years now, but our journey with me as your pastor began right at two years ago. So, really, for all intents and purposes, we are a re-plant and we are now two years old.
When God called me to lead this church, he gave me a new and very clear and compelling vision of what kind of church we were going to be.
The vision, the purpose, of this church would be to see lives changed by the transforming restoring power of Jesus Christ. It’s not about how many people are in the seats or statistics or programs. It’s not about how many people say a prayer and get baptized. All of that is nice, but what God is in the business of doing is changing lives. And that is what He wants to use this church to do. And I know from my conversations with many of you that your lives have indeed been changing from the inside out as we have studied the Word together and become a closer family.
That was the vision and still is. And that vision would be accomplished by our mission, which as two lanes to it in our vision road graphic.
One lane is that we will be a church devoted to Doing Life Together in Authentic Community. We will be a family. We will eat together, play together, and work together. And we have done a lot of that, and I know many of you consider this group of people to be your family.
The other lane of our mission is to Love Others Together in Community Involvement. This we have also done, though to a lesser extent than the other lane. We will be a church that cares about our local community and be involved in supporting and serving with local ministries. We’ve given a tenth of our giving income to local organizations like the CPC, and PIN, and Union Mission, and the Bridge Network – and many others. And we have served in various ways in those ministries. Those two lanes of our mission are how life change comes about – but only if the ground beneath the road is sure.
The foundation of this vision/mission is that we are grounded in God’s Word. We are devoted to the Scriptures as our final authority and our means of knowing God. As I always teach – God’s word is the the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the absolute truth. If I disagree with the Bible, then I am wrong and need to change.
Another major aspect to this that was not part of the original picture but has been added over the past year as God has taught us how to be a praying church is that we can do nothing of our own. That all of our power and ability comes from God through prayer. So, we are grounded in God’s Word and Powered by Prayer. And that is how the mission works and how the vision is accomplished.
And finally, you will notice road signs on this graphic. Those road signs are our core values. These are what define our personality and how we make decisions as we go about doing our mission and accomplishing our vision.
The first is Add Some Awesome. This is a call to everyone who is part of us to find ways in which you can make things jut al little better. How can you contribute. How can you add just a little awesome so that there is more awesome overall. Because like I say, there is such a thing as not enough awesome. But there is not such a thing as too much awesome.
The next is Keep it Real. This is about authenticity and being genuine. We don’t do politics here. We don’t try to polish things up so we look like we are better than we are. And we tell the truth with love, even when it is uncomfortable.
And finally, the one that brings them together is that in everything we do, we must always remember that People Matter More. More than programs, or schedules, or even rules. What that looks like in practice is the fact that I refuse to let only a few people do the setup every week. We will have enough teams to rotate so as not to burn people out, or we will do church in the cafeteria. Why – because people matter more than having a fancy production.
Anyway, that’s the vision, mission, and core values that we have been living by these past two years and will continue living by for as long as God lets us.
The biblical basis for all of that can be found in the church we try to model ourselves after…the Acts 2 Church.
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Over the past two years, we have grown tremendously in our devotion to God’s Word (Apostle’s Teaching) to KOINONIA Fellowship (which is a sacrificial, serving, giving, kind of fellowship), in breaking of bread together (we do like to eat), and especial in prayer. We’ve shared with each other and helped each other out as needed. And we’ve been generous with the community. Basically, we’ve been doing everything that the Acts 2 church is described as doing – but we have yet to see the same results of the Lord adding to our numbers those who are being saved. Yes, we have had a few, but not in the way this describes.
And if you were with us in December, you know that back then I told you that I believe this was the year we would grow. In fact, back in December, I believed we would double in size by this Christmas.
Yet here at the beginning of June, we’re the same size – and maybe even a little smaller. But it’s not because we haven’t been doing our part.
In fact, as Pastor Sandy often points out to me – he’s never seen a church so full of truly committed Christ Followers as this one. We may not be very wide, but we are deep.
We are a serving church.
We are a giving church – you guys give better than most churches. We shouldn’t have the kind of income we have with the number of people we have. Other churches are jealous.
We are a praying church. We’ve been learning over the last year, and starting just before Easter, we all got on a rotation of praying every day for God to move in this church.
With all that we are doing right, I’d imagine that some of you have been wondering when we are going to see some results.
Which is an honest and proper question.
After all, don’t we read in our Scriptures that Jesus told us to keep asking, keep seeking, and keep knocking and we would get what we ask for, find what we’re seeking, and the door will be opened?
Doesn’t He say that if we abide in Him and his words abide in us, we can ask for whatever we will and it will be given to us?
Yes, yes – he does.
And I’m happy to report that we have indeed been getting answers, we have indeed been finding what we seek, and doors have indeed been opened.
And the beauty of it all and how it is we can know that it is not our doing but God’s, is that in each of the things I’m going to share with you today it fits the pattern of how God works…
In Zechariah 4, a passage we covered when we talked about the two witnesses in Revelation 11, God is talking to Zerubbabel through the prophet Zechariah about rebuilding the temple that was still in ruins. In that cryptic prophecy, God says two things that are directly applicable to us today.
One, is when God emphatically points out that the temple WILL be rebuilt, but it won’t be because Zerubbabel is so awesome. Instead, God says – “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit!” (4:6)
My friends, that is how you know that what is happening is from God. That what you are doing is God powered. Is when it happens in a way that you could not produce from your own might or your own power. And that is exactly what has been going on these past few weeks.
Another thing God says in this same passage that has been ringing in my ears as this has been going on is this – “Do not despise the day of small things” “or small beginnings.” “Do not despise small beginnings.” (4:10)
Put that together, and God is telling Zerubbabel who is about to rebuild the Temple (a large and complex building) that it will be done by the power of God, not the power of Man, and that it all begins with the one cornerstone. It all begins with something small, but will eventually be something large.
My friends, I believe we are at a turning point. I believe the last two years of Reality have been small for a reason. I believe that God has been using that time to make us grow deeper before we grow wider. Almost like being in a cocoon before emerging as a butterfly. I believe God wants to USE US to see many lives changed, but he needed to do some work IN US before He could do that. And I believe that it is time for us to fly.
And how do I know that?
Because of a very interesting week I had just after graduation from Regent…
Matt and I graduated from Regent on May 6th. Six weeks before that date, I gave that talk where I called the church to pray. To specifically pray that God would send us people – people who can help and people who need help. That God would give us funding. And that God would give us a building of our own where we wouldn’t have to do the crazy set up and tear down anymore and focus on better things. And so we prayed.
During that six weeks, we had an anonymous donation of $2,000 and another not so anonymous of $3,000 – and we started looking at a vacant church on Holland Road. We had Easter, Matt and I went to Atlanta for Paradigm with Dan Palmer and Remnant Worship who are coming here in a few weeks! After that we had the Sonrise Music Festival – which was awesome! And the next week we were graduating and I had family in town.
It was a hectic month, and I had a sense the whole time that God wasn’t going to do anything too big until it was over. And for the longest time I’ve personally thought that God would not launch us into the next phase of Reality until I was done with school, probably because I just wouldn’t be able to handle it.
So, we’re praying. God is keeping us going financially. We had a few big crowds that got to hear the Gospel. And Matt and I finally finished school!
The following Monday morning is when the fun started.
That morning, we had our usual staff meeting. Afterward, Rachel and I went over to that church on Holland to do a couple of prayer laps around the property like Joshua around Jericho. We had started that the week before. This time we ran into the gardner who told us to call the UMC district if we wanted to know anything. So we did our laps and went back to the office.
I looked up the district and was about to call when I was overcome with emotional turmoil. I couldn’t tell if it was God telling me not to call, or the Enemy trying to mess with me. So, I started journaling about it. God, why this turmoil? Am I supposed to call? Please will you give us this building and land?
Well, as I was journaling, I paused a moment and checked my email where I found an unread email from a name I did not recognize. And since I am obsessive about having unread emails in my inbox I had to read it.
I’ll just read it to you.
Many years ago I worked with the 1st pastor of reality church providing a space for worship for him for the summer at the Barry Robinson Theater and Fine Arts Center at Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School. We were hoping to make it a year long rental but the logistics with the administration did not work out.
We now have new administration next year and I have approved the use of the theater on Sundays for outside church groups to use for worship space. Since your group was the 1st to use the space in this capacity I was wondering if you are still happy with your space at Green Run? Would you like a tour of the space as a possible usage for your services? If you are not interested do you know others in the area that might be?
Thank you for your consideration.
Director of the Barry Robinson Theater and Fine Arts Center
After reading that, I just sat there for a moment stunned. This has never happened to me before – being invited to do church somewhere. Usually we have to beg.
So, I looked up the school, and it turns out it is just around the corner from here. My wife and I usually drive up Princess Anne and then turn on S Independence to get here, and I figured out that it would actually take the same amount of time to get to this other place if I just keep going straight. So far so good. If you’re going to move, it’s best to not move too far.
Anyway, after I composed myself I replied that I would definitely be interested and scheduled a meeting with him the next day.
In our meeting he showed me around. It’s a beautiful place – much nicer than here. The theater is smaller, but still plenty big with 250 seats. The entrance is nicer and it’s in a great location and neighborhood, and the front door is not a mile from the parking lot. But aside from the looks, the amenities are what sold me.
- We can use all of the Audio/Video/Lighting equipment and even install our projector, which would make it nearly plug and play each Sunday.
- We can do on-site storage, and even keep a small trailer in the parking lot – no more big truck to drive and unload each week.
- We would get a key and security code and have the building to ourselves for the whole day, meaning we could do other things on Sundays and not feel rushed.
And did I mention that we were invited? That they actually want us there? That alone is a huge difference – as I mentioned, usually we have to beg.
As far as how church goes, there is really only one major challenge. We get less space for children, so we will have to be creative in how it works.
Some of our leaders got to see it for themselves yesterday and some are concerned about that space, but Rachel is confident we can make it work and I am working with the director to possibly get us a little more space.
Either way, we have all summer to figure it out because we can’t move in until August 20th.
Now, obviously, with any kind of an upgrade like this you are going to have to expect an upgrade in price.
To give you some perspective – here at Green Run HS, where we have to drive the truck and do full set up and tear down and can use NONE of their equipment – we pay $527 per week.
When we were in the movie theater two years ago, we were able to store everything onsite, but we still had to do full set up and tear down as we could use none of their equipment – and that cost $1300/wk. And it was even harder to do kids there than this new place.
BRTFAC falls in the middle of those two, and actually closer to where we are now at $800/wk. $273 more per week to have the nicest facility I’ve yet seen in my ten years at Reality, and for the first time ever – not have to set up speakers, lights, projectors, etc. I’ve already had some of you offer to pay that difference yourself.
But the beautiful thing about our God is that He’s already covered it – on that very same day…
If you add up the extra we’d have to pay in this calendar year for the months we would be there (September through December), it adds up to about $5,000. Well, on that same day that I met Trey and did the tour, I also got a call from someone who wanted to donate a vehicle to the church (that’s also a first for me) and guess how much said vehicle is worth? $5,000.
So, the same day God drops this awesome opportunity in my lap with a higher price tag – he delivers the difference.
Oh, and that’s only Tuesday…
On Wednesday (which happened to be my son, Caleb’s 4th birthday) Sandy found out that the property we had been looking at and marching around was off the market. They had other plans for it. Now, that may seem like a non-event to you, but as I pondered it that day I became more in love with the God I serve.
For nearly two months we had been trying to find out anything about this property but getting no results. God, of course, knew all along it wasn’t for us – but he waited until he opened this other door before closing that one. If he had closed it a week before, it would have left us with zero options and been rather demoralizing. But instead he waited until the day after this other opportunity was presented so we wouldn’t be demoralized and we wouldn’t be split minded. What an awesome God we serve!
And that’s still not all. That was just Wednesday.
The next day, Thursday, happened to be my wife, Nicole’s birthday – and my parents were going home after staying the night with us (remember this was the week after my graduation). A few things happened that day.
First, I got an email from Sandy about the budget. As of that date we were sitting about $7,000 in the red and the weekly giving was putting us on track for worse. They had various recommended cuts, including cuts in pay.
This got me wondering how we would even be able to survive the summer, much less pay higher rent in the fall. Also, the core value of PEOPLE MATTER MORE sits very deeply in me. I don’t want to pay our staff any less. Sandy already works for free. Matt just started getting his peanuts when the GI bill stopped, and everyone else barely makes peanuts too. So, I was a little bummed by that.
But I didn’t have to be sad for long because later that same day was when we got an online donation for $6,000. Once again, God provided what was needed the same day I found out it was needed.
And now, a few weeks later, we actually did make some budget cuts (not payroll) and I am ecstatic to say that the combination has put us very close to actually ON BUDGET in giving for the year so far!
My friends, is God awesome or what?
Notice that all I have told you so far cannot fall into the category of by my might, or by my power. I’m just a spectator in this watching God work through several people who had no idea how significant their one part played.
And I’m not even done!
Two other things happened that Thursday that showed me both the inevitability of this destiny and what we need to be doing during this summer and really perpetually here after to make the full vision of what God has given me to come true.
The thing that God used to show me the certainty of this path was a devotion I did with my son, Dylan. It used the passage in Ecclesiastes about there being a time and season for everything. And the story was about a 14 year old who couldn’t wait to get his drivers license, and also about a little boy who fell asleep in the garden waiting of the plants to grow after planting them. The point was about being patient, but not the indefinite patience with no end in sight. It was about being patient for something you know is coming, and even when. Like a harvest at the end of a summer – you know it’s coming, but you still have to wait. I felt like God was telling me it was time. Time for us to move to the next phase. Time for us to grow, but it would still have to wait until the fall when we could move into this new location.
The other thing that happened, that showed me what we need to do in the mean time was an email from a member of my transformation class. She was asking about the meaning of a parable Jesus told.
1 Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. 2 So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’
3 “The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg— 4 I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’
5 “So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’
6 “‘Nine hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied.
“The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty.’
7 “Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’
“‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied.
“He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’
8 “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. 9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
Probably one of the most confusing parables that Jesus told.
Well, it just so happens that I had done a report on that parable the year before for a class in school. So, when I was writing my response, it occurred to me that this was God telling me what we as a church are to do over the next few months as we prepare for this new location.
Let me explain.
This parable is confusing because it seems that Jesus is commending someone’s dishonesty. Which, of course, could not be true because Jesus – the living and breathing truth – could not possibly be condoning dishonesty. So, what, then?
He says it clearly – the manager was commended because he acted shrewdly – not because he acted dishonestly.
The Greek word behind “shrewdly” is PHRONIMOSE – which means wisely, sensibly, prudently, shrewdly as defined by one’s inner perspective – not by an external absolute standard.
In other words, this manager had been very wise and resourceful in his actions in accordance with his own internal compass – and since he was dishonest on the inside, his resourcefulness included dishonesty. If he had been an honest person, he would have accomplished the same thing via honest means.
The point Jesus is making is not about being honest or dishonest, but about being resourceful, being wise, being shrewd.
Jesus is telling this parable to point out how we human beings have an innate ability to get ourselves out of a pinch. We can be quite shrewd and resourceful when it comes time to save our own skin. That ability is a gift from God that most of us use for personal gain. He’s saying, put that ability to better use. Yes, be shrewd, be resourceful, be wise – but not only for the gain of the things that are temporary like money and possessions and position. Use that ability I’ve given you, and even use the stuff you’ve gained with it, to gain more friends to be with you in eternity. In other words, be shrewd, be resourceful with everything I’ve given you – your personality, your talents, your wealth, and your stuff – to win people for the Kingdom, to see lives changed! To accomplish our vision as a church!
As I was typing the explanation in an email it became clear to me that this was God telling me that WE, Reality Church, in order to step into our destiny, WE must be shrewd, we must be wise, we must be prudent, we must be resourceful – especially during this summer as we prepare to enter what I believe is just the next step toward our ultimate future beyond another temporary location and into our own building.
Because the vision I have of our future building and land is going to take a lot more people than we have right now to operate, much less purchase. And I believe it will be there at the BRTFAC that we will not only double by Christmas, but grow to the point where we can fulfill that dream.
It’s actually something that’s been brewing in me for some time now. It probably began when I had to read a certain book for a class I was in, probably at least a year ago or more. I don’t remember what the book was about or even the title, but there was one line in that book that stood out to me and made an impact on me.
It said, “In New Delhi India, there is a baptist church that fronts a very busy street. But it is closed all the time that the people are there.” I’m sure the rest of the paragraph or chapter talked about that, but I highlighted and underlined it. It made me realize that the same is true of most of our churches. We have these grandiose buildings that lie vacant most of the week while the people are out and about, and then we expect them to come to us on their day off. I vowed then that when and if ever I had my own building, it would not be like that. Well, that conviction has been taking more shape and become more than just a dream, but a goal.
Here’s how I imagine the future Reality Church.
First, it is in the middle of the marketplace – somewhere that people spend their time during the week, and ideally surrounded by a good amount of residential.
The building itself would not be a church building but a community center. Almost everything in it would have a double purpose. And the main point of all of it would be to be a blessing to the local community all week long.
The auditorium would be a gymnasium – one or more basketball courts with the AVL built into the walls. During the week it would be open to the locals to come and play. On Sunday, we would have church in there. But instead of setting up chairs, when people arrive, they grab a chair and put it where they want. Front, back, side. Bring in your own lawn chair, bean bag chair, sleeping bag. Doesn’t matter. And we’d just worship God together.
On the days we have potlucks, when service is over, everyone helps set out the tables in the same room.
Another main feature would be the coffee shop. We’d have a good kitchen so we could cook when we want, but there would also be a coffee shop that is open all week. Ideally the coffee would be free or some kind of pay it forward program. And the coffee shop would be a no-tech place. No wifi, no laptops, iPhones, or any kind of electrical devices allowed. If you want to do that, go to Starbucks. Here this is about community. Talk to each other. We’d have board games available and probably a book exchange, and volunteers who hang out in the coffee shop starting conversations with those who come in. There wouldn’t be to-go orders, because you can’t be in community when you’re gone. Get it.
Our children’s area would be decked out and would likely double as a day care during the week. Ideally for low income people, and the whole thing would be staffed by you – the members of the church on a volunteer basis, because that is what it means to love others in community involvement.
We’d have a playground, and a garden, and probably locker rooms with showers and stuff. Probably the only thing that wouldn’t be double purpose would be the administrative offices.
And we’d have very strong security. There would be strict rules of no cussing, or fighting, or smoking, or drugs, or sex on the premises and the walls would be covered with our vision and mission and values and bible verses and there would be Christian music playing all the time. It would be designed to be a safe place where people can come and be in community and be loved.
I’m sure there will be more to it than that, but that’s the big picture of where we are headed. I don’t know where that will be or when, but I believe that we will NOT get there if we stay here at Green Run, which is why God has both made it uncomfortable for many of us here AND opened this door to go to this School Theater.
I believe absolutely that it is the answer to the prayer we have all been praying for a new place.
Not only because of all that it provides – but the timing of when it dropped in my lap and the way that it came about – to me is just totally God’s style.
As to the timing – there’s more to the story of how this came about.
I already told you the significance of it showing up right after graduation for me. To me that doesn’t feel like a coincidence. That and the way all those things happened in fast succession reminds me of the last time I felt God shouting at me – in which I ended up becoming the lead pastor here at Reality. A story for another time if you haven’t heard it.
Then there’s how, of all possible churches meeting in temporary locations, WE were invited to this opportunity.
As you heard in the email, Reality actually met there ten years ago for a summer. When the school year started, the school put a stop to it. But now, ten years later, a new leader is taking over. As Trey (the theater director) was talking with him about his time at the school, he briefly mentioned the time the church was in there and went on to other things. At the end of their conversation, the leader brought it back up again, asking what happened with the church. Trey told him, and the leader basically said – let’s get that going again. So, since we were the first, he looked us up again and read through all of our stuff and decided we would be good fit so extended the invite.
On the Monday after graduation – the same week all that other stuff happened.
I don’t know about you, but when stuff like that happens – I do not believe in coincidences when people are involved. Inanimate objects, sure, but when God moves people around – even without them knowing it – to all converge on the same time and place like that – it’s not just coincidence.
Anyway, all that to say that I believe that this is a gift from God, and we would be fools to pass it up.
Like the guy on the roof during a flood that’s expecting God to save him so he passes up on a boat and a helicopter.
We would be like the children of Israel who were afraid to go into the promised land because they saw giants…after they had just walked through the red sea on dry ground shortly after witnessing God destroy Egypt with ten plagues. And what was the result – 40 years in the wilderness before they got another shot.
My friends, I’ve seen enough miracles to know that whatever challenge God lays before us He will easily handle for us if we have faith. And I’m not interested in another 40 years of, or even one more year of beating ourselves up each week over speakers and cables and lights.
And I believe that if we trust God in this, we will see something this fall that will blow our minds.
Because what he’s shown me to do is not just move in. He wants us to explode on the scene. He wants us to launch into the next phase of Reality.
One thing that includes is finally updating our logo. You saw it in the video. We will get new banners, and signs, and bumper stickers, and t-shirts, hats and so on. Rebranding. Same name. Different look.
Another thing that includes is marketing. It won’t be “build it and they will come” – it’s going to be “get the word out however we can.” And if you know me well, you know that I hate marketing – which is another reason I know this vision is from God. If it was my idea, it wouldn’t include marketing. But it’s not my idea – so marketing it is. I’m going to need some help in that area, but one thing I envision is doing prayer walks through the surrounding neighborhoods and hanging door hangers during the latter part of the summer informing them that we are coming and inviting them to our launch date of September 10th.
Why that date? Well, we are moving in on August 20th – so that gives us three weeks to work out any kinks. 9/3 is labor day weekend, and 9/17 is the weekend the women are gone on their retreat. And 9/24 is when we are launching Life Groups and starting The Story Bible – a series that will take us through the whole bible (but in a less intense way than we did with Revelation) – It’s going to be a whole church campaign that will be fun and meaningful for all. And so, launching on 9/10 hopefully gets all the new people that come a chance to get into a group and start The Story with us – besides that it’s just a good time to get people back to church now that school will be back in session.
Anyway, you’ll hear more about those details in the months to come. But I’m telling you that I believe this fall is when we finally start to see the results of the Acts 2 church in our new and nicer location. I know at least the set up crew is excited about it.
So, what does this mean we need to do between now and then? As I mentioned, God showed me we need to get shrewd, resourceful. And as I also mentioned, God has already provided the means for the extra rent and got us caught up in our budget (note that the vehicle money is not in the budget. It’s extra). So, right now we are sitting with a nearly balanced and caught up budget and the $5,000 needed for the extra rent just sitting there for us. Which means financially speaking, all we have to do is maintain our giving on budget for the summer and we can move right in without missing a beat.
The potential trouble with that plan is that summers are always low on giving. In every church. Which is why, even before this vision came to me – I’ve been stressing the automatic online giving for the summer. So even when you are gone, you honor God at least as well as you honor your mortgage company and car payment. I’m pretty sure you pay those when you’re gone on vacation, so perhaps you could do the same with God. I’ve been giving online for years for that very reason. If there is one payment I definitely do not want to miss – it’s my tithe to the God who has never let me down.
If we all made God a priority in our finances this summer, then we would have nothing to worry about.
So, I’m trusting that we will do that….
…AND work together to raise money for the rebranding, marketing, and whatever else we need for the transition.
And by “raise money” I don’t mean that we are to give any more out of our own pockets.
The point of being shrewd and resourceful according the the parable is about getting money from others. In December, God indeed wanted an investment from all of us to rebuild the wall and plant seeds for future growth. And so far the wall has maintained and I believe the seeds have been growing such that we will see a harvest in the fall.
But while we’re maintaining the basics and waiting for the plants to grow, God is saying get resourceful in raising money from outside of the church so that you can win friends for yourself in eternity – so that we can bring lots of people into the church so they too can have their lives changed.
So, what is it that I am asking of you?
First and foremost – keep praying. If you haven’t been – get started. Pick a day of the week and let Sandy know about it. Pray that God continue to give us funding, continue to give us people to help, and thank Him for this new location He has provided for us. Ask Him for favor in the eyes of the school to give us all the space we require for kids. Ask Him for favor in the eyes of others that they will respond to our fundraisers or just give us money outright so we can rebrand and market. So we can launch and grow and see lives changed.
Basically, if we are not praying about this then there is no point in doing anything else. It is our first line of defense and offense. In fact, it’s the only thing that actually makes anything work. So, pray without ceasing.
After you get off your knees, then I’m asking you to do two things.
Be here. As much as you can this summer, be here. People skip church for all kinds of reasons during the summer. Don’t do that. If you are out of town, OK. But otherwise – be here!
Engage. Do more than be here. Engage in what we are doing. Serve. Give. Invite people. Participate in the fundraisers we are going to set up. Help organize them if you want. Maybe give us ideas. But engage.
I believe if we keep to our knees in prayer. If we stay together as much as we can. And if we all engage fully – if we all go ALL IN. Then we will see a miracle this summer and this fall. Scripture tells us that the Lord rewards those who diligently seek Him. And we have been doing that. Scripture does not lie. Let’s keep it up and maybe even ramp it up.
This whole thing is not just about a new place to worship or the money needed to get there. This whole thing is about our vision – of seeing lives changed by the transforming restoring power of Jesus Christ.
And we’ve been asking God for a new place to accomplish that vision where we can stop with the exhausting set up and tear down. And He has answered in a way that to me is astounding. And He’s already provided the means to do it.
But just like He did with the Israelites going from Egypt to the Promised Land – there is a path we need to take and some work we need to do in order to get there and see the harvest God has planned for us. But it’s not work we have to do on our own or in our own power. Remember – it’s not by might, it’s not by power, it’s by God’s Spirit as we cooperate with Him and follow His lead.
And as we trust Him and step out in faith – faith being confidence in what we hope for and assurance of what we do not see or understand – As we walk by faith and not by sight – we will get to be a part of the mission that Jesus said not even the gates of hell would prevail over.
We get to be a part of Mission: Unstoppable.