Renewal Part 1: Being A Small Church In A Big City
I thank you guys for letting us to do that. Of course. Having Gwen on a Saturday 20 days before we anticipated kind of threw things off a little bit. So I really appreciate your guys's Grace. Just letting us just going to have a purse service and work together and it was just a beautiful service. It really was it was great to see people that we have here from the community that have come to the church really pray about the church and pray about the growth of the church and pray about how we're going to reach his community and everything like that. It was just a beautiful thing. But before that the last week before that we talked about New Year's resolutions and you know how there are so many already have completely blown out of the water. I haven't worked out on how long because of the wind coming and everything. I've done pretty good on my Bible reading making sure that I'm being pretty diligent with that and then but I normally am so that's not really a big deal. But but I have been doing pretty good with that and I have stopped drinking soda. So if you ever see me with the soda knock it out of my hands or something cuz I should not be drinking soda. Matthew is getting down to one a day. So I mean, you know, baby steps, you know, good good things like that. So so yeah, but the new year is a time to really rehash the old and come and go towards the new and that's kind of what I want to do with this church is I kind of want to look at our future and I kind of want to look at it from the standpoint of why are we here? Because God really has definitely placed us here. We've seen God do some amazing things. But let me be honest with you. We are not as large as what I thought we were going to be when we moved to Chicago. I thought when we plan it at church or church in my community and we would just have so many people in here. We would have to like buy chairs for the park in order to get all of the people in here and that has not been the way that it has been because it's really hard to start churches in Chicago for a lot of different reasons people moving in and out already having existing churches and networks and stuff that Out there that people can go to it's like why are you really here? You know, so that's kind of what we look at. I really want to look at things of why we are here and what God is using us to do and I still believe that God is going to use us in a mighty way. I don't necessarily think we're going to have thousands of people in our church ever. But I do think we are going to reach a lot of people for the gospel and that really is a huge thing. Now when Paul was talking to his churches, of course, we know all the letters that he wrote to churches a lot of times he was writing to correct the ology and to direct bad ideas when it came to church and I think that's what he would do today. I think he would look at us and he would really try to figure out why does the church exists and I think there's a lot of strategist in and people and things like that really starting to look at things and go why are we not reaching people? Why are people not being baptized? Why are people not knowing Christ? What is the problem? Is he Chicago's very spiritual is not necessarily A lot of people going to church but it's very spiritual. There's not a whole lot of people in our city that would say that God doesn't exist or anything like that. Just a lot of people that don't want to be pigeonholed into saying this is the way that God is and that is the hard thing. We've tried a lot of different things in this church. We tried your dad or evangelism and we really tried and we prayed about it and we brought in teams in and all sorts of stuff but people thought we were crazy likes listening. I don't know what but it did not work. All we did was getting negative comments on Facebook. That's really all that that did for us. We've tried a lot of different things. We tried a big lunch ideas when we serviced, but the problem is we really only who it had about two or three of those people who are actually from the community. So we probably should have waited before we launched until we really understood and knew our community and had more people in our community and I believe that we are starting me to get more people in our community to come to church and we are starting to show people that were not just here for ourselves, but we're really here for the glory of God, but there's a few questions and I want us to look at me cuz I don't think it's just us to The Orchards that's come in and had a bad idea of different things. I think it's a lot of churches that's doing that. So I want to look at three questions in the three questions are how do we lose sight on the mission of the church number two is how do we fight the battle against worldliness and number three is how do we refocus and get set to renew? What spray father? Thank you. For your word, thank you for the lessons that you give us from from Paul and from others about how we can miss the mark and how we can start to focus on the wrong things and start to push the wrong things and start to make our church about not you even when we say it is about you it isn't about you got to help us to refocus help us to understand why we're here in the first place God help us to understand our place in your kingdom here on Earth. We love you in Jesus name we pray. Amen. So the first question is how do we lose sight on the mission of the church will first we get in trapped by the flesh. I want to go to 1st Corinthians chapter 2. It's going to be up on the screen as well. And Paul when he's riding to the Corinthian Church, the Corinthian Church is a pretty nasty area. So there's a lot of sexual debauchery. There's a lot of just horrible things happening in coron just in the city itself not necessarily in the church, but but in the city itself, so when Paul plants this church, when all these people go out and really try to reach the world, they start having a lot of people who don't know Jesus coming to the church and coming to these homes would have been at church like we see now it would have been coming into homes. But what was the problem is they started coming in these homes and they started coming in these Church type circles and they were doing lost things they were acting like lost people and unfortunately the church rather than starting to act more like the church and trying to explain to them and show them how to be holy they started to act more and more like the lost. So that's what Paul was why he was disappointed why he was writing to the Corinthian Church because He knew the faithfulness of they had he knew all the good things about the church. But he also knew there were a lot of people that were starting to follow false teachers starting to follow people rather than Christ starting to engage into some of the the sexual acts that were happening in and letting people come in that had too long of hair and wear distractions and different things like that and they're all these different problems and a problem is that the church got in trapped by the flesh it got in trapped by the world and says in 1st Corinthians chapter 2 and when I came to you brothers did not come for claim with you the testimony of God with walk the speech or wisdom for I decided to know nothing among you accept Jesus Christ and him crucified and I was with you and weakness and in fear and much trembling a my speech and my message were not implausible words of wisdom, but in the demonstration of the spirit and of power So that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God, do you say Paul had a lot of issues in this church. This is what he's writing about. He's talking about all these different things. But but the problem is that Paul's Church in Corinth and started reaching everyone. What's in those masses? Like I said started to bring their own things Temple worship. It started adopting all these worldly ideas and we trying to get into the same traps. I remember one time when I was a part of a church and this church was a Dynamic Church Great Pastor, like good expository messages and then he went off to some thing in Atlanta and he came back and he changed everything in the church. He got black paint to paint the Church of black and he got all these cool lights smoking and all this this Beast pool sermons that were done by this pastor and he tried to make him his own rather than doing his own sermons. And at first I understood and I'm like, yeah, I understand where we are understand we got to reach people. I got to understand we know what we have to do to really try to to be attractive to the masses. So I kind of got it a little bit but if things continue to go on the ology started to kind of go by the wayside discipleship became more of a party in a BBQ than it did actual repentance and accounting. 40 it became something that was more like the world and it came like a community group like a regular community group in a community like a Lions Club and didn't really look like a church leaders didn't look like church leaders and that's not necessarily a bad thing that needs to happen sometimes but when your church leaders are doing worldly things that can really cause a problem and it can cause a lot of people to stumble
We've been real careful. As a church here to not do those things, but we still even myself. I'm still got way caught up in Facebook ads and different things that just haven't worked because the only thing that's really going to attract people to our church or to Christ is the Holy Spirit and we have to get back to that. We have good reasons to want to do all these different things to try to attract people. We take the sermons and we make them about good advice rather than what the gospel is. We take songs that are more about us and make us feel good rather than songs that explain to us who God is and how he works in our lives. We water things down so it can become easier and that more people can follow it. But then we lose the essence of the Gospel we lose the essence of who Jesus is Because we get caught up in the flesh is another thing we do to we can go the other route and we can get too caught up in religion. We can get too caught up in the rules to this is another thing that Paul wrote about he wrote about people getting too involved in the world, but he also wrote about people getting way too involved and religion and getting too involved in all of the rules. Another reason. We have a Protestant church. And while I broke away from the Catholic church was because they got way too involved in religion. It's starting to make the church about paying this money in that money to try to get out of hell and and trying to do go see this Relic in that Relic and pay this kind of money to try to get out of purgatory and all these different things that were happening and the church become more about tradition than it did the actual gospel of Christ. And that is why the Protestants of white Martin Luther knocks all the notes on the door. Is 95 thesis and input all they're all the problems that he had with the Catholic church. That's why we had the Reformation. That's why they broke away from the Catholic church and started something Protestant that believes in Grace by faith not by works like the Catholic Church does Became less about God for the Catholics though and it became more about them. So that's why they broke away and we do the same thing. Sometimes we make God a very nice dinner. But if you want to be saved or forgiven. You have to do this or that just like the Catholics. Did you had to go ask a priest? You can just do it on your own you couldn't just ask Jesus to forgive you had to go through all of these hoops. And we get into the same traps.
We get enamored into the whole idea of following Christ perfectly not understanding that. We can't follow him perfectly. All we can do is be obedient. We're going to mess up. We're going to mess up bad and Paul talks a lot about this as we continue to go on and 2nd and 1st Corinthians chapter 2 starting in verse 6 should be up on the screen. Yet among the mature. We do not impart wisdom. Although it is not a wisdom of this age or the rulers of this age who are doing the pass away, but we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our Glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this where they had they would not have crucified the Lord Of Glory but as it is written what no eye has seen nor ear heard nor the heart of man. Imagine what God has prepared for those who love him.
So Paul didn't want the church to turn into a lot of Pharisees. This was something that Paul knew a lot about because before Paul was converted into this monster just Christ proclaim mean dude. He was a person who was a monster and went around and basically persecuted all the Christians we've talked about this before and he met life is not easy for people were following Christ. And the reason for that is because he believed so much in the law that he put all of his passion in Zeal into making sure the people were following the law. So he understood the law he understood why people would want to follow with all that stuff. So that's why it bothered him so bad when he saw people doing all these different things and then also trying to accept Christ It's starting to become about religion and not about Christ. And he wanted it first and foremost to be about the Holy Spirit and what the Holy Spirit did when it was working within the church and working within us to cause us to be obedient. You see we don't do it on our own when we follow Christ. See we have something that is written on our hearts. We have this New Covenant because the Holy Spirit starts to come with us and live with us and show us and and and tell us what we do wrong and what we don't do wrong and keep doing and all this different stuff. But when we start to make it about knocking check marks off and making sure we're doing everything right all the time. It becomes less and less about the spirit and it becomes about us.
Religious are being too religious means to be too focused on the rules of religion. This was the part of the church that Paul wrote about that said you had to also do the Jewish customs and accept Christ. Then you can struggle with sin and be a Christian. Paul said it didn't need to be about this, but I needed to be about the things. The spirit that it wasn't about religion. It was a fact that Christ died for them that died for us and that he was raised and what it means to be at church.
If we make following Christ into a set of steps that we can't meet rather than just our obedience to follow him. We make things way too hard. And we make things more than what God has told us to give them. Is he polish saying that the religious are trying to make it about rules? But while they're worried about rules, they still want and crucified Christ. Is he they didn't understand they would have understood what the true gospel was. They would have understood with the true Messiah was they wouldn't have crucified Christ in the first place. They would have understood everything. He was telling them in his three years. Is he as he preached to them and told them I mean a lot of times he was preaching to the Pharisees. But they didn't they did whatever they could to try to stop him to try to to crucify him. Being too religious hurts the church the same way of not being religious enough. We have to find that happy medium somewhere it say we need to follow some rules, but we don't need to follow every single rule.
We can't be rule setters. We have to be people that set ourselves up.
For more success because when we sent all these different rules, we said God to be something that are we set ourselves to be something that only God is because it's God is the judge we are not the judge we are to be obedient. We are to follow him. We we are not to judge other people. But we also can't be on the other side, which is no religion cuz there has to be some rules. Is he God when Christ Amy didn't abolish the law. He fulfilled it. Not even fully we still had to do all these different things but do you put it in love God and love people? That's what we have to do. What's going to verse 10? Says these things these are the secret things that Paul is talking about in the previous versus these things. God has revealed to us through the spirit for the spirit searches everything even the depths of God for who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him. So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God, except the spirit of God. Now, we have received not the spirit of the world, but the spirit who is from God that we might understand the things freely given us by God and we import this in words not taught by human wisdom, but taught by the spirit interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual the natural person does not accept the things of the spirit of God for they are Folly to him and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned the spiritual person judges all things but Himself to be judged by no one here who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him, but we have the mind of Christ.
This is when we get so caught up on the rules that we create this kind of open space with Tim's to make God what we want him to be and not who he actually is. It says as long as people know Jesus, it's okay. But the problem is is this going to promote a twisted view of God. It can make God to be an easier going to follow. That's not really the true God that we are supposed to follow.
You can make it into a thing of steps as far as if you give money to the church then your saved as if you obey or if you volunteer for this project then then then you're a follower of God or whatever but it's not about that. We do those things not because we're trying to get something from God we do it because we love God and because we want to be obedient to him.
We read the Bible not because we want to mark off another thing for that day. But because we want to know more about God we want to know more about him. We want to know more about how that applies to our lives and how we can use it in our everyday lives as we know more and more about him. We volunteer not to say hey look at me. I volunteer in the community we volunteer because we want to show God's glory. In a way that can be displayed to people who may not necessarily understand the church, or see it.
Do we have to be? Somewhat religious, there are some people that say that you know, I follow Jesus. I don't follow religion let that's great and you need to follow Jesus, but you still need the church you still need.
The kingdom you still need other things.
Even if we have right ideas about God.
We can still break our service in the church.
It's not about how we view religion in the church. It's also how we do our community how we see our church and our culture how we come alongside where God is already working and how we can do something to join him.
But there's another thing we can also get caught up in the church. And sometimes we want to make it low cost and high reward.
There's these two big terms one is fundamentalism kind of been talking a little bit about it as we've gone through in another is secularism. Being a Fundamentalist. Do some people can see it as a good thing.
But it's not because I can be taken to an extreme which is unhealthy and can make the church actually dead. When a church is all about rules. And gives no place for Grace then fundamentalism can start to emerge.
Paul dealt with these issues in the church. She dealt with people who are more Fundamentalist. We see this in the book of Galatians. We see that that was immediately the problem that he had. He had people who were saying you had to adhere to all these Customs all these Jewish customs and also accept Christ. So we see this problem. It means that the gospel is always on trial and that you're always questioning is Christ enough because you're doing all these different things and in trying to figure it out, but is he really enough? It also makes the gospel very cheaply given that his grace is free, but it's costly it's hard to put into steps, but it's equally as hard to let all the aspects of it go when this is when you come into a secular idea. When you get into secularism, it's the exact opposite. So it's you're not doing anything or just kind of following Christ and if you mess up or not, really repenting you're not really doing anything and that's also can be dangerous.
There must be a good dose of both truth and Grace it's always about being in the middle and First Corinthians 5. We see a good account of what was happening in the church in Corinth. And Paul was dealing with a lot of these issues in this was kind of where the church was just kind of going all over the place and Paul had to write to kind of corrected to say, hey, we can't let these things happen inside the church. This is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans for a man has his father's wife and you are arrogant thought you not rather to mourn let him who has done this be removed from among you for though absent in body. I am present in spirit and as a present, I have already pronounce judgment on the one who did such a thing when you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present with the power of our Lord Jesus you are to deliver this man to Satan for the Destruction of the flesh so that his Spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. Your boasting is not good do not know that A little leaven leavens the whole lump cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump as you really are 11th for Christ Our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival not with the old leaven the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and Truth. So how do we fight the battle against worldliness?
We have to change our perception.
For making it about us to making an about the Holy Spirit. see, that was the biggest problem that That Paul had is he at all these churches that would kind of get started and then they would just kind of as other people would come in and we just kind of mess everything up that he started in the first place. He tried to teach them how to be faithful. He tried to teach them to not be.
as worldly he tried to teach them to not be so about the wall and to preach some Grace but also with truth. It's a really hard thing to figure out. And I think it's a big reason why the church in general are universally has has really lost its way because we really tried this whole church growth thing and it wasn't a bad thing. We started to take all these ideas from business and in all these different things and say, hey we can use these things and we're going to use it because it's going to get more people in the church and more people knowing Jesus and more people knowing this and that why more baptisms more followers,
But what started to mess up is when we started to have to water down. What we were talking about what we were singing about. And tried to make it more like a concert. Then about the gospel.
Paul never preached about truth growth. He preached about church Health. It's not about the size of the church. It's the health of the church and its willingness to get involved and where God is moving.
Paul planted some churches that became large but they didn't start that way. Most of them were very small. Some of them were churches that went all throughout. the area but all of those churches were small. You see when God used Paul to plant churches in cities. Paulding bring 60 or 70 people to come want to church with him. He brought three or four people. Sometimes less sometimes it was a distance l. And he would find people and he would train them and he would talk to them about Christ. And he would just continue to talk to the families in and just build it through that way. He wanted them to be healthy most churches that Paul planted usually got up to about 50 or so. You didn't have these gargantuan churches that you see today. There were larger churches Antioch and some other ones that they used to send people. But that wasn't the norm. Is a church to Paul wasn't event. It was a way of life. It wasn't a Sunday Gathering. It was how he lived his life day-to-day and he showed other people to live their lives day-to-day the same way.
So what we have is we have this big church. The lot of people are still trying to push and then we also have big movement. And what I believe God is calling us. Is to be a big movement and that means that we may never be a big church and that's okay because God wants to take small churches and use them in big cities.
How do we refocus and get ready to renew? I promise I'm about about done. I know we're going a little bit over.
Number one we got to give it to God. 1st Corinthians 3:7 through 9 says so neither he who plants nor he who Waters is anything but only God who gives the growth
Paula saying we do nothing. lily plant that we water can we plant seeds that we we so we talked to people we do what he's called us to do. It's not our job to try to sell people on why they should be here. It's not our job to try to to make it more attractive.
We don't need a marketing conference. We don't need a preaching conference. We don't need someone coming in here showing us how to have big launches in church growth and send out mail outs. All we need is the Holy Spirit. We have to give it to God.
Number to we have to know our role.
Mercedes says he who plants and he who waters are one and each will receive his wages according to his labor. When planting for the kingdom it's not about ourselves. It's not about our church. It's not about us. It's about our community. And we are only a church this size for as long as we are here. But we have people who are starting to know Christ. And maybe coming here for a little bit and then moving away whatever. That's okay. Because it's not about numbers. It's about obedience. It's about following him. It's about doing what he's called us to do.
Also, we must be content because we're being used for God's glory. Verse 9 says for we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field God's Building. I believe our church has a huge calling.
I believe that God wants to use us to do some pretty amazing things.
But I also don't believe that we can tell the future of what that is going to be what God has called us to be is to be obedient. Yes called us to be patient. observant To do different things like we'll be talking about as we go throughout these next few weeks. As we talked about what it means to be a small Church in a big city. little things that we can do not not doing big evangelism events going door-to-door and trying to talk to people when we can't even get into most of the doors in our city because most of them are are three flats and the front doors in the back anyway, Praying for a lost person that we know. intentionally trying to share our lives with those people inviting them in for dinner having some events here in the community where we we rent out a coffee shop for a night and just hang out with people in the community. We don't sit there and try to talk about the church, but we have to try to get to know people understand their lives understand what they're going through understand how we can help them understand how the gospel can work in their lives. Just a little things of obedience that I feel God is calling us to do. So as we conclude, how is God calling you to be a part of his work where he is?
No for me, it's teaching.
Now I got into a job at the school because you know, it was paying a few bills and it was good to kind of connect to people in the community and make sure people knew I was you know, not some crazy person that's trying to start a cult. It was good for that. But then something deeper started to takana illuminate itself. If I started to see God's movement even in places with people who don't even know who he is. And I started to hear God call me to be a part of that. What's God calling you to do? it could be something as small as just praying for maybe that grocery Checker that you see every single day. Or at least once a week or maybe the shipt Shopper if you're like our family. Hard to get to the grocery store when you got a new baby.
Where is God calling you to join in his? Let's bring father. Thank you for this day. Thank you for calling us to be a part of your mission. Thank you for all the wonderful things of this church has already been able to do through your glory. God Into Your Glory. Can we love you please continue to use us? Continue to bring more people here. So that not we can say we have this number and that number but so we have more people to send out and be a part of your mission.
But we have people that might come here and start a church some other place here in the city.
God we don't want it to be about us. We wanted to be about you and help us. to keep that always
at the main point of everything we do. We love you in Jesus name we pray. Amen.