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Renovation Church – Launch Sunday Recap!

10-15-17 PART 1

I’m still in awe of what God did this past Sunday at Renovation Church. I had the incredible honor of preaching from John 3 and explaining why our church would be rooted & sustained by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My prayer is that we would not lift up Renovation Church but rather Jesus Christ and unite with other churches in the area to help people know Jesus and make Him known.

Here are a few highlights of this past Sunday!

Attendance: We had over 80 people in attendance for the service. We actually had to add 5 extra rows of chairs than what we normally have for Sunday mornings!

First Time Guests: We had 6 first time guests who had never attended one of our services as The Rescue Church.

Meal: After the service we had an incredible team of volunteers provide a great lunch for everyone who came. The vast majority of people were able to stay after the service and enjoy the food. We even got the Vikings v. Packers game on for the football fans!

Generosity: I am still amazed at God’s generosity through His people this past Sunday. Our offering was FOUR TIMES our weekly expenses. In other words, through one Sunday we covered all of our expenses for the month of October. To give some context, we become “Renovation Church” on Monday, October 9th with exactly $0.00 in our bank account. I was extremely stressed and plagued with doubt leading up to our first Sunday – could we even afford to be our own church? I can testify that God is truly a provider for His people.

More than anything, we were faithful to what God called us to do. My goal is not to grow a large church or gain a personal platform. I pray that our church can have the same attitude as John the Baptist – that Jesus must increase while we decrease (John 3:30). As He continues to provide for our church we are planning on releasing many of our people to plant churches throughout the area – especially in rural communities. Our goal is plant our first autonomous church by 2022.

We are just a bunch of nobodies trying to tell everybody about Somebody. Let’s make Jesus famous!

P.S. – If you live in the Garretson/Sioux Falls/Pipestone/Luverne area we would love to have you as our guest. We meet on Sundays at 10am at the Garretson school. For more information, head to our website – www.renovationchurchsd.com 

My Only Job: Faithfulness

faithfulness

This is the seventh post in a series of reflections based on Jared Wilson’s book “The Pastor’s Justification.”


In a few short months we will be transitioning the Garretson Campus to becoming an autonomous church. I am extremely excited for this upcoming adventure but, if I am honest, I have more questions than answers about pastoral leadership. I have been carrying the terrible burden of church growth, financial sustainability, and casting vision in order to see this opportunity become a reality.

As I have been studying the Gospel of John for our current sermon series I was reminded of what my actual job is (and isn’t):
– It’s not up to me to make this transition succeed.
– It’s not up to me to bring growth to the church.
– It’s not up to me to grow the faith of the church’s members.
– It’s not up to me to provide for the financial needs of the church.

So what exactly is my job?

Faithfulness.

Jared Wilson explains it this way, “Our responsibility in evangelism is to scatter the seed, not produce the harvest.

Jared is simply paraphrasing Paul’s view of ministry:
What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. – 1 Cor. 3:5-7

1. Pastor – you are called to be a servant.
Pastors are called to be shepherds and spiritual directors – not CEOs of corporations. We do not command obedience from those under our leadership; instead, we wash the feet of the broken and sinful. Regardless of the size or significance of your ministry, it’s not about you. The church doesn’t belong to the pastor, it belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. Place the weight of leadership on His shoulders!

2. Pastor – you are called to please God. 
Paul makes it clear that the Lord assigns each of us our task. We cannot compare ourselves to other ministries and boast about our numbers or despair about our offerings. We cannot preach “softer” sermons in order to attract a crowd of consumeristic, church-shopping Christians. We cannot target the members of other churches and grow through the deception of sheep-stealing. Our primary motivation must be to honor the God who called us into ministry – not appear significant or successful.

3. Pastor – your only job is faithfulness. 
Every moment we have a decision to make – will we be faithful or faithless? Will we practice obedience or disobedience? God has a calling over each of our lives but we need to make a decision to submit ourselves to God’s authority. My job is not to grow my church; it’s to simply be faithful each day to the tasks God has called me to.

So will the transition succeed? I hope so. Will my church grow? I hope so.

Nevertheless, my goal is to remain faithful to the ministry God has called me. If I succeed through deceptive means then I fail in God’s sight. If I “fail” by practicing faithfulness then I succeed in the eyes of the only One that matters – the Living God who has called me into ministry.

Hello Facebook.

facebook

Yeah… I’m back on Facebook.

This past April, I made a commitment to stay away from social media for the entirety of 2017.  I made it clear that social media is amoral – neither good nor bad. Unfortunately, I have noticed the ways in which I use social media as a means to brag about my accomplishments and bolster my pride.

So why the heck am I back on it? Honestly, I have one big reason:

It is where the people are!

The vision God has given me for my life is to help people follow Jesus. One of the best ways to do this is by have a presence where people are – namely, social media. I began using social media again roughly a month ago in order to invite people to an outdoor service my church was putting on. It was through these invitations that I saw numerous first time guests come through our doors.

Nevertheless, all my concerns regarding my use of social media were valid:

  • The human heart tends to worship self, not God. This is aggravated through each person having a personal page that can exalt them to celebrity-like status.
  • The primary reason I engaged in social media was to elevate my status in the eyes of others.
  • I believe the personal platform building done by many Christian leaders is a smokescreen for pride.

I fully believe I heard God when I decided to not use social media. Where I may have misheard Him is in the length of time. It seemed that he was leading me to reset my use for a period of time and be attentive to the effects it can have on my life.

So how long & how often will I use social media? I’m not entirely sure. My goal for now is to only post things that elevate those outside of me (local churches, businesses, other people) in an effort to consider other people as more important than myself (Philippians 2:3).

Who knows? Maybe I will write another “Goodbye Facebook” post in a few months!

 

Humility & Suffering

hammer

Jonathan Edwards, arguably the greatest theologian-pastor of the Church, offered tremendous counsel in his Advice to Young Converts.

In this profound work of pastoral encouragement, Edwards exhorts all of us:

In all your course, walk with God and follow Christ as a little, poor, helpless child, taking hold of Christ’s hand, keeping your eye on the mark of the wounds on his hands and side, whence came the blood that cleanses you from sin and hiding your nakedness under the skirt of the white shining robe of his righteousness.

In that one sentence, there is remarkable depth and power. I want to pull out two themes that I pray encourage you in your faith.

1. Follow Jesus with Utter Humility.
Edwards describes us as little, poor, and helpless. He does not follow the direction of contemporary authors by encouraging us to pursue our full potential and seek our dreams. Although those books are encouraging, they stroke our ego and unwittingly call us to rely upon our own strength rather than God.

On the contrary, we must recognize that we are nothing apart from Christ. Every gift – writing, speaking, administration, leadership – flows from the Sovereign Spirit. There is NOTHING we have that we earned – including salvation – therefore we have no reason to boast of our accomplishments.

2. Keep your eyes on Jesus’ Suffering.
Contemporary Christians urge us to set our eyes upon ourselves. In essence, Jesus is simply a means to self-improvement, happiness, and financial abundance.

This is grave idolatry.

Edwards calls us to keep our eyes, “on the mark of the wounds on his hands and side, whence came the blood that cleanses you from sin…” We are not forgiven based on our righteous acts or sleek appearances. Our righteousness before God is based COMPLETELY on Jesus’ death & resurrection. Meditating upon the suffering of Jesus will crush the perverted face of pride that rears its ugly head in our lives.


I love reading books by modern authors but here’s a rule of thumb: if people are still talking about someone who lived 100+ years ago – that person probably has something significant to say!

I am currently reading Jonathan Edwards: A Life by George Marsden. I highly recommend this book for anyone that desires an understandable outline of Jonathan Edwards’ life, writings, ministry, and legacy!

Goodbye Facebook.

FacebookGOodbye

I recently returned from a prayer retreat at St. John’s Abby. It was INCREDIBLE. Here is one of my journal entries from the trip… including one major change I am making in my life.


One of the reasons I embarked on this retreat was to wrestle with my use of social media. Although social media is not inherently wrong, it is exceedingly dangerous for the idolatrous soul of man. I have discovered in my own heart that the primary reason I engage in social media is to exalt myself. I desire to appear wise beyond my years & an expert in spirituality. I justify this with the claim that I am building a personal platform in order to gain greater influence for the Kingdom of God. Although this very well may be a proper motivation for some, I am afraid it is too often a smoke screen that hides the poison of pride.

Therefore – by the power of the Holy Spirit – I resolve to refrain from creating statuses, posting comments, or even scrolling through my newsfeed for the rest of 2017. I will only use the message feature for the pure reason of communication with those whose emails I lack. 

For the purpose of accountability, I will share this journal entry with my wife, staff, spiritual leaders, and through my website that many of my church members subscribe to.