RePlant Part 1
Jeff Jones, Senior Pastor
February 9/11, 2007
Welcome to Replant 2007! Today is an important day, because today we are taking off on a bold, new journey—replanting our church for the next 30 years of ministry.
In 24, we have seen how God has called each of us to a big mission, with a limited time, and a unique role. I trust you are here and have hung with this series because you want to live a missional life, you want your life to matter for eternity, you want to jump in with both feet to God’s kingdom work. That’s what replant is all about. We are on mission, the ship is taking off, and there is room for you to come along. What I can promise is that it will be quite a ride. Before you take a ticket, I want you to understand what this ride is about, what replant 2007 is all about.
If you want to do church as normal, you are going to be disappointed here. But if you want to be part of a church that is on mission, that is willing to take risks to reach this community, that takes seriously Jesus’ command to make disciples and grow people in the faith, that will be salt and light out in culture, taking the church outside the building with compassion for hurting people, then you are perfect for this journey.
Our mission, handed to us by Jesus Christ 2000 years ago, is bridging people to a growing life in Christ. And our vision is to touch the lives of the 650,000 people in a 10 mile radius and the billions beyond with the reality of Christ’s love. God has put us here in a strategic place, in 10 miles, 650,000 lives, most of whom do not know Christ…many of them lost to God spiritually, many of them letdown by churches in the past and cynical, and many hurting and crying out to God. Our vision is to reach every one of the 650,000 people either indirectly, by reputation as they see and hear about the good works that are being done in the community or by direct contact as we reach them relationally one at a time. Our vision is to change the perception of church in this area, from a selfish, judgmental group of people, to a community of grace that receives people in as they are, helps them connect to God so they can grow and change, and are equipped to go out and love and serve others outside our community.
That mission and vision isn’t just some gimmicky words made up at a management retreat. This is a mission and vision that come from the heart of our founder, Jesus Christ. 2000 years ago, he said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” His dream was for the church to serve as his body, his hands and his feet, his people who would take it on as their mission to help those who are yet to come home, come home….who would bridge people to life in Christ. He said in
Slide :) ______________ Acts 1:8
, a;lkdsjfalkdsjf. We are the ones who stand between God and others, and it is our privilege to make the introduction. He said in
Slide :) ______________ Matthew 28:19-20
: alksjdlfkajds . That’s why we are intent on not just making converts, but making disciples…meaning we are bridging people to a growing life in Christ. We certainly want to reach but we also want to grow and see lives changed. He said in
Slide :) ______________ John 20:21
, “As the Father has sent me, so send I you.” As a church we are sent, sent out, not called to just gather together but to scatter and build relationships and express God’s compassion, invite people to consider connection with God, inviting them here where they can pursue that journey, and making God’s love real and tangible as we serve. That’s what Jesus did, that’s why he was sent, and he says, “Now, I am sending you to do the same.”
A few weeks ago, one of our leaders here at church, a volunteer staff person on our strategic team, was talking to his unchurched partner about the church. You have to understand his partner is like a lot of people in our culture, positive about God but very ambivalent about the church. I’d say that’s the norm in the 650,000 people. He is however not the norm in his profession; he is at the top of his profession as a branding expert. He is considered one of the top 1-5 branding experts in the country, working with companies like Pepsi, Microsoft, Panera Bread, even worked with Hillary Clinton, remaking her for the senate race in New York. You may or may not be a Hillary fan, but he did do a good job for her. He and Mike got into a discussion about church, and I’m sure he was curious why Mike as another very smart guy was involved.
Mike described our church like this. We are a come as you are church on the front end, meaning that on the front end there is just grace, you don’t have to dress up your life because we can’t anyway. God is a God of grace, and says come as you are. No judgment, but grace. You come as you are, but then connect to God and begin to change. You don’t stay as you are, and we are committed to each other in that process of growing. As you begin to grow, you are motivated to take that outside of the church into the community in the form of compassion and grace to our culture. As his friend heard it, he stopped him and said, “So, your brand so to speak is this: Come as you are and connect to a relationship with God…which means that you won’t stay as you are…and as part of that process you will be motivated to be people of compassion to those in our culture who are hurting…so that the church is a place of grace, connection to God, and compassion to the world.” He told Mike that we have a real branding problem, because that is now how the world sees us. The world sees us as judgmental on the front end and uncaring on the back-end. But he also said if that is really what the church is about, he would love to be part of a place like that…He would love to help us reposition ourselves in our community. So, we are in discussion with him about how to do that, and it is cool because I can tell he is increasingly intrigued with the church as God envisioned it. My goal is to get him to help reposition not just our church in this community, but Christianity to this culture. In the meantime, I love his help and as a non-churched person his heart to say, “If that is what the church is about, I’m interested. I would love to be part of something like that.”
And I would, too. That’s why about 27 years ago, I gave my life to this mission, to help build Christ’s church, to do all I could to help build healthy churches that were missional and that could make a difference. And only by God’s grace did he place me in a church like this, that is healthy and takes the mission seriously. I don’t know about you, but I feel so blessed to be able to part of what God is doing here. This is not my work, this is God’s work…I just have a unique role in it as Sr. Pastor, but you have a unique role, too. God has you here on purpose, not by accident.
We want to be the church of Jesus’ dreams, a church that is on mission, that bridges people to a growing life in Christ. Because of that mission and our vision related to the 650,000, about 3 or 4 years ago the elders made a very bold decision—to replant our church, to restart our church all over again to reach this community for Christ.
We looked at options. We knew we needed a new Youth Building, because we have a huge burden and vision to reach the next generation that is increasingly unreached. We as churches are not gaining ground with youth, and the sad thing is that youth in our culture are spiritually hungry and open. Our heart is to reach them with the love and reality of Jesus Christ. Our youth ministers are great, but our vision was to build a place that could become a safe place for youth in our area to hang out, where there would even be people who cared about their life and life direction, who could point them to God. But what we had was a stinky portable building that was falling apart…that’s what we have. It is a great portable building, but it is deteriorating as we speak and at its best far short of what we need to fulfill our vision.
We also knew we needed a new children’s building. Our KidZone had expanded rapidly over the years, and we’ve outgrown it—and it just isn’t designed for our model of ministry. It worked 15 years ago, but not any more. We gave KidZone every adult meeting space we had in the meantime, but knew we needed to build a dedicated KidZone building.
With our adults, we multiplied services and started new ones, but you can’t do that forever. In short, we knew we needed to do something with our facilities. We looked at doing something on our current property and even hired architects and other consultants to help us figure out how to maximize this property…to build a youth building and children’s building and expand our worship facility on this 11 acres…and we learned that we could do it, if we built a very expensive parking garage, but we’d be landlocked on this 11 acres. Everyone who worked with us agreed that it just didn’t make any sense to stay here. We just can’t.
Not only that, but because we are geographically hidden, the people that God has called us to reach don’t even know we are here…so we knew we needed to do something. We also looked very hard at starting new campuses or even new churches, and we will do those things in the future, but it was very obvious to all of us that it was time to replant this church in this community. We are barely getting started reaching the 650,000 right around us. We needed to replant our mother church, and in the future we will start new campuses and churches…but we made a big decision: time to restart, replant our church.
As you know, God provided the land and then through our church and the Imagine campaign, the money to move forward with the new campus. But please understand, a new campus is just a part of the story…the story is replanting our church in this community.
Starting today, our church is a church plant, and that is a very different mode of doing church than a church in church maintenance mode. I don’t know if you have ever been involved in a church plant before, but it is a very different way of doing church. If you’ve ever started a company or been part of a start up, you can relate somewhat. Entrepreneurs call it the sleeping on the floor stage of a business, where you are doing whatever it takes and working with great intensity. Same with a new church start.
Christy and I had the privilege of helping a church get started in Minnesota right after seminary, and I was so glad to be part of a church plant. Being in church planting mode is all hands on deck time, it takes everybody. In church plant mode, if you were breathing and came more than once, you had a job to do. There was no room to stand around and say, “one day I’d like to be involved in ministry.” No way, if you are breathing, you are doing something. And it also meant that we were all in missionary mode…we thought about it all the time, how we can help reach our friends and co-workers for Christ, invite them to the church, and express God’s care for people. We made sure we were in the community, not just in church. I was in Rotary for that. People coached sports teams and were in the community all sorts of ways with a missionary spirit. Since we were a new church, we were reaching a lot of younger families, and we had a whole group of older people in the church, like Myron Salburg and Bert Weisenberger who were pumped up to help reach and mentor a new generation for God. They knew that as culture changed, the church might look very different than it was just for them as older people, but they liked that—because they had bought into the mission. They were there to not just live out their life and be comfortable. They were there to spend the rest of their life passing the baton to the next generation of Christians.
Nothing is more exciting than a church plant; after all, it is God’s work. He is the one who actually is doing the work, and we join him in it. We get to be used by God. And it takes everybody to make it happen. That is church plant mode, and that is the mode we are moving into. As of today, that’s who we are, and we hope you are up for a very exciting journey.
What does it mean to be part of it? As we take off on this journey today, what is God asking each of us to do? I hope you are asking that question. In fact, ask it, “ WHAT DO WE DO? HOW DO WE PARTIICPATE?” Great question!
The answer: Engage fully and pray like crazy. Let’s talk about engage for a few minutes.
Slide :) ______________ Engage fully
What does it mean to engage this mission and be part of what God is doing here, both growing in Christ yourself and being part of reaching and growing others. First, commit to your own growing relationship in Christ by participating in our three environments.
Slide :) ______________ Participate in the three environments
Our mission is bridging people to a growing life in Christ, and we do that by connecting people to three environments. If you are new in our church, our whole church is essentially made up of these three connections, or these three environments in which God can work in our lives to grow us in him. If we are going to be faithful to the mission, we ourselves must be pursuing that growing life in Christ. Let’s talk about how we do that in our three environments.
The first environment is
Slide :) ______________ Three Environments: People connecting to God
and our primary way we do that is in our weekend worship services. In our weekend services, our entire goal is to connect people to God’s presence, so that God can work in our hearts. The Bible teaches that when we gather together as believers God is present is a unique way. He says that where we are gathered in his name, he is there in our midst. When our team meets together during the week to plan the services, our main prayer is that we would build that environment in a way that people can connect to God and that we would never get in the way of that. When that happens, people change.
One new thing we want to announce today is that we are starting a new kind of worship experience in order to broaden our ability to connect people to God. When we move to the new property, our phase one worship space will be slightly bigger than this, but not big enough for all of us to meet in one place…so we will have a worship venue going on in the youth building at the same time. I can’t be two places at once, so the sermon will be piped over on the video screens but we wanted the worship experience and everything else to be live. Since we were doing all that, we decided to make it a little different of an environment aimed at a different mindset emerging in our culture, more of a postmodern mindset. That’s why we invited Sean onto our staff. He will be leading that venue and working with a team to create a worship experience for that mindset. Over the last few weeks, you’ve seen Sean up here a little more than normal to give you a flavor for that…because in a couple of weeks we are making a change in the 12:00 service. The 12:00 service will be that new venue, which will give the team time to experiment with that environment and build their teams so that when we move we will be up and running.
So, Friday night and the first 2 services on Sunday will be like our services now, primarily led by Tyrone, and the 12:00 service will be this new sound and feel. Whichever worship environment fits who you are, the invitation for all of us is the same: the first way to engage and build a growing life in Christ is to commit to the gathering, to people connecting to God.
The second environment is
Slide :) ______________ Three Environments: People connecting to people
People grow spiritually in connection with other people, never in isolation. The Bible is very clear about that, that “the body grows as it builds itself up in love.” God wants you and me to be velcroed to other believers that are going the same direction and can encourage us down that path. At Fellowship, the primary way we express that is through Life Groups. If you have yet to be in a Life Group, there are new ones starting this week in your neighborhood. Take the step next Saturday night to go to GroupLink and find out what it means to be in a group, meet some other people, and decide if you want to try one out. In Life Group, you will build relationships for mutual care, for spiritual growth as you discuss God’s Word, and impact, as you serve the community together.
The third environment is
Slide :) ______________ Three Environments: People connecting to need
People connecting to need, a bridge-building lifestyle. As we saw last week, you and I are the rescue swimmers, the coast guard, called to jump into the water of people’s lives and people’s needs with the reality of God’s love. As we saw last week, as long as people are lost to God in a spiritual sense, have yet to come home, and as long as people’s cries to God for help go unanswered, than it is an emergency. Our mission is urgent. God calls all of us to a missional life, a bridge-building lifestyle, building bridges of relationship to reach people one at a time…bridges of compassion as we serve this community…and global bridges, as we take this around the globe.
That is basically our church model, how we do church…these three environments. That is true not only for adults, but also for KidZone and our student ministries. In KidZone, they meet for a large worship gathering, are in small groups, and they too are equipped to a live a bridge-building lifestyle…same with Journey and 180.
So, when I say engage fully, it first of all means that you commit to your own growing relationship with Christ by participating in all 3 environments But then God calls you to help make that happen. He has a role for you to play.
Slide :) ______________ Make it happen
Again, all hands on deck time. We participate in the three environments, help invite people to participate as well, but also help make them happen. These environments don’t just happen…God uses us to make them happen. How? By both giving and serving.
By giving, I mean channeling the resources that God gives us to his mission. That’s how he funds his mission, and he has asked us to be faithful to give. A lot of people in this church are tithers, meaning that they set aside a percentage of their income in order to make these environments happen in which God can work in people’s lives.
In addition to giving is serving. By serving, we are asking—especially in this time of replant—for every one in the church to pick at least one way to serve, to choose to help make one of these environments happen in one of our age groups, either adults, kids, or youth. God has given you gifts and abilities, and asks that you and I use those gifts to serve others, to help make these environments happen.
Let me give a couple of examples. We have a parking lot team, which we need to expand, where people are out in the parking lot helping people who are new to our church feel welcome. But they aren’t just helping the parking lot be nice, they are helping the first environment, people connecting to God, happen. They are helping people connect to God, because it starts in the parking lot. If people have a bad experience there, they may never even come in here…or if they do they won’t be open to God. Those who help in the parking lot are part of connecting to God. The sermon starts out there. Then, there are the greeters that let them know they are welcome here, and the ushers and the worship teams.
Or back in KidZone, there are teams of people who help kids connect to God in the large group environment, who work really hard to be creative and engaging for those kids. You may choose to be involved in people connecting to people in one of the age groups, helping children, youth, or adults grow as they connect to each other. Or you may serve in our outreach area, people connecting to need, helping others in the church or in our life group engage our community.
Next week we will talk about how to find your calling. It’s not just people with special collars around their neck who have a calling…every believer does…and next week we will talk about how to find that calling, how to know where to best jump into ministry. For this church plant to work means that the invitation is clear for all of us to engage fully.
We also are asking that every one of us in these months
Slide :) ______________ Pray like crazy
What we are up to is a spiritual thing. This is God’s work. Again, if he doesn’t blow his divine wind, his power, then we go nowhere. And we also have a spiritual enemy, Satan, who does not want us to be effective in Replant 2007. So, we must be on our knees in these months.
Last week I was reading in Luke 10, where Jesus sends out the 70 two by two on this ministry trip. It’s like a short-term mission trip, and they are very excited. It goes really well, and when they all come back to report to Jesus, they are pumped. God had really worked, and cool things happened. They were excited. And Jesus doesn’t dampen that excitement, he is high-fiving along with them…and then he says, “Yes, and I saw Satan flying down from heaven like lightning.” What’s that about? Satan spends most of his time in heaven…he is not yet in hell. One day as we read in Revelation 12 he will be kicked out of heaven, but for now he spends most of time in heaven around the throne of God as the accuser of the brethren…another sermon…but he zips down from heaven to earth like lightning…why? Because he didn’t like what was happening…he had to zip down himself to try to do something about it.
As I read that last week, I prayed, “God, I want us to be that church…to be so effective in mission that Satan has to zip down from heaven like lightning.” Yet, there are two sides to that…be careful what you wish for…wonderful to be that effective, but when Satan shows up, he’s pretty good at what he does, too…all the more reason to pray. This is spiritual stuff, not just human, physical stuff. So, here’s how we need to be praying:
Slide :) ______________ Unity
The way Satan will come after us is by trying to disrupt unity…that’s why the Bible says that we have to fight for unity. Unity never comes easy…pray that God will protect our unity.
Slide :) ______________ The 650,000
…people we have yet to reach…not numbers! People…like the single mom….the guy invited by a friend knowing there must be something more to life…the girl who has found hope for a new life, hope for change, escape from shame…not numbers!
Slide :) ______________ God’s provision
Both his strength, wisdom, and financial provision…Imagine
Slide :) ______________ The relocation effort itself
Right now we are on track for the building to be done at the end of September. Please be praying for that whole process.
We do want to give you a sneak peak at the building, because it is really shaping up great. The building is just a tool in this whole replant, but it is a very important tool. The teams are all working hard to build awesome environments for adults, but even more so for KidZone and youth. We want to show you a sneak peak of what it will look like. These renderings aren’t exact, but they are close:
Slide :) ______________ .JPG of floor plan
Here is the overall floor plan of the main building…worship space, the egg (lobby), coffee area, KidZone…
Slide :) ______________ .JPG of Adult coffee area
Slide :) ______________ .JPGs of kidzone theming
Slide :) ______________ .JPGs of youth building general floor plan
…by Cinemark for a reason…general floor plan…
Slide :) ______________ .JPGs of Youth theming
Is that going to be cool or what? We are ready…wish we were there now, but the truth is that there is a lot to do to be ready to replant. That’s what today is about. Today, this ship is setting sail on the direction that God is calling us, in response to his divine wind. Starting officially in just a few minutes, we are officially in replant mode. We are on mission in a new way. We are restarting our church to reach this community.
What that means is, “All hands on deck!” We need you to engage. It also means that we are on mission, and every decision we make will be with the mission in mind, with the replant in mind. With every dollar we have, every leader we have, every minute we have, we’ll be asking the question, “What is best for the church plant? What is most effective for the mission?”
In just a few moments, we are setting sail. The boat is leaving, and you invited to come aboard. You are invited to be part of the mission. We are not turning back. We are committed to reaching this community for Christ, and this relocation is all about replanting our church in this community.
Today I want to give all of us the opportunity to say, “I’m on board. I’m all in.” You may not yet know specifically what all that means, but in general you are saying, “I want to be used by God here. I’m in. I’m on board.” That’s why when you came in people gave you those clips with the card on it. When you sail out in the open ocean, where sailing can get quite interesting and exciting, you clip in to the lifelines. That’s what the clip is about. On the walls are ropes for you to clip into as a way to say that you want to be part of the crew here.
Use Crispin’s speech…this is one of those times we will all look back on and be so thankful that we got to be part of it. Years from now in our church, we will talk about this time in our church, replanting our church in this community.
Slide :) ______________ .JPG of Commitment card
What I want you to do is on one side of the card, write your name. On the other side, write out a prayer to God of commitment to the mission, to the replant. Whatever you want to say to God, however you want to word your commitment to be part of what he is doing here…can be a specific step or a general prayer or just one of your big hopes for this church in the future…write it out. As you walk out after the service, clip it into to one of the ropes. We will leave those up somewhere visible in the church as a reminder between now and when we move. Let me give you a few minutes to do so.
Time…then close that exercise out.
Ty is going to lead us in a song, Let God Arise, because this is God’s work. We are joining him. We are asking him to rise up and empower us, to blow his divine wind. When you see me in that song crack the champagne bottle, you will know that we are officially a church plant…at that time, the boat has taken off and we are on that journey. I promise you that the journey will not be boring…it will often be fun and sometimes challenging, but never boring. Stand with me and lets sing this to God.