Witness Relocation Project part 1
The Church On the Move
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
March 1, 2009



Well, this is obviously a different day for us as a Church, and a very important day as we really begin our search for new facilities where we can meet on Sunday mornings.

As we’ve said over and over again, you and I are the Church. The Church is not where we meet; it’s who’s meeting. It’s not the location; it’s the people. It’s not a building or a structure; it’s the community of Christ-followers. You and I are the Church, wherever we may be.

However, for the Church to gather for our Worship Celebrations, we obviously need a place to do that. Now, if we were in Hawaii, we could just meet under a palm tree someplace. I’ve heard of churches that have done that. If we were in Southern California, then a nice spot on the beach would do. I’ve heard of that, too.

And there are times that would work here, too. But for the other 48 Sundays of the year, we need a building we can meet in.

So that’s what we’re trying out here today. This is a test run… an experiment. Maybe this experiment will be a success, or maybe it will fail. We’ll try it out for these couple of weeks and see. There are pluses and minuses, positives and negatives here, just like there would be in any facility. What I need to ask you to do is not to become so preoccupied with the negatives that you ignore the positives.

In fact, in your Sunrise Update, you’ll see a short form you can use to communicate your feelings about this location. Now understand, this in not a vote. It’s going to come down to the leadership of this Church to make a decision on what we believe to best for us moving forward. But this is an opportunity for you to make your voice heard.


But since we’re at such a crossroads right now, and because our decisions about these matters will shape the direction we go as a Church, I want to take this morning to remind you why we’re here in the first place. What is our mission? What’s our purpose? Why does Sunrise Wesleyan Church even exist? And then next week, we'll continue on and I'll talk about what I need from you as we look for new facilities and beyond.

So let’s start with why we’re here. And we’re here really for three reasons. We’re here to Connect, Equip, and Empower. Let’s talk about the first one…


What We’re About:

A.    Connecting… with God and with others.

We’re here to connect primarily with God. And that can happen anyplace. Now, there are places that are more conducive to a worshipful atmosphere… I mean, it’s easier to worship God in a location where there are no distractions than it is in a location with the constant sound of a jack-hammer and heavy machinery. But that’s our limitation, not God’s. As Jesus, who is God, said…

Matthew 18:20 (NLT)
“For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

So connecting with God can and should happen anyplace. Connecting with others… well, that’s where location really comes into play.

Where did the first Christ-followers go to connect with others? Well, in order to connect with each other, they met in homes and in the synagogue.

Acts 2:46 (NLT)
They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity…

That’s where they connected with each other. But in order to connect with others who were far from God, they had to be a little more proactive. So they would go to the marketplace and to businesses and to public settings in order to meet people who were far from God and to bring them closer to Him.

In fact, all through the book of Acts, as the early Church was getting established and was growing and spreading, you see Paul going from town to town. And everyplace he would go, he would go to the synagogue to tell people about Jesus. Was he going there because it was a religious building? Maybe, but it would also be a public location, right in the center of town, kind of like a town square. And Paul would be surrounded by people there who were far from God, and he would have the opportunity to tell them about Jesus.

Here we are this morning at Sobers. Will this location help us reach more people who are far from God, or will it make it harder? How about the next place we try out? You know, that’s my primary concern as we go through this search. I don’t want to end up anyplace, no matter how nice and comfortable it may be, if it means we won’t be able to connect with people who are far from God.


B.    Equipping… for growth and service.

The greatest thing we have been part of as a Church is helping people who were far from God enter into a relationship with Him and then grow in that relationship. A close second has been taking people who perhaps were in a relationship with God before they came to Sunrise, but still helping them grow from wherever they were. Listen, God loves us just the way we are but He loves us too much to leave us that way. He wants us to grow. He expects us to grow… personally and spiritually. And as a church, a fundamental reason we exist is to help people grow from whatever they are now to what they can become in Christ.

And the way we do that is by equipping you. Equipping you with the tools and resources you need, equipping you with the support and encouragement that comes by being part of a Church family, equipping you with some accountability, equipping you through our Sunday messages, through LIFE Groups, and seminars and whatever else we can do. We want to equip you to grow. We want to move you along this continuum [PowerPoint: Far from God → Fully Devoted follower of Christ], from wherever you are right now, farther to the right. Talking about church leaders, Paul said…

Ephesians 4:11-13 (NLT)
Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

We want to equip you for personal and spiritual growth so you can become mature… a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ.

And we also want to equip you for service. We believe we serve God best by serving others. And so we seek to help you discover how you can use your gifts and talents to invest in the lives of others… to serve God by serving them. Jesus Himself said…

Mark 10:45 (NLT)
“For even the Son of Man [Jesus] came not to be served but to serve others…”

He set the standard for us on what it means to serve… to serve out of humility and with a love and compassion for others.

1 Peter 5:5 (NLT)
“And all of you, serve each other in humility, for ‘God opposes the proud but favours the humble.’”


Okay, so we’re about Connecting, we’re about equipping, and the third thing is we’re about empowering.


C.    Empowering… for mission and ministry.

The mandate we have is the same mandate Jesus gave to every Church… to represent Him to our world… to offer others the same hope, love, peace, joy, and forgiveness we have found in Him.

Colossians 3:17 (NLT)
And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus…

2 Corinthians 5:19-20 (NLT)
For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”

We are Christ’s amabassadors. We’re His representatives to the world today. He’s making His appeal through us. We’re empowered by Him and by the presence of the Holy Spirit. And what are we empowered to do? To fulfill what Jesus told us to do.

Matthew 28:19 (NLT)
“…Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

Earlier this morning, Sandra and Shera talked about how they were part of fulfilling this mandate in Guatemala. And global missions is a big part of our mission. But we are also empowered to represent Jesus right here in our city and in our communities. We represent Him globally and locally. In fact, there’s a new term that’s been coined to a church that has a global and a local mission mindset. We want to be a “Glocal” church.

What does that mean for us? It means we want to partner with Jesus, and we want to empower you with a heart for others and a sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit as we live our lives every day. It means we need to show you how to talk about your faith with others. We need to empower you to answer questions people might have about Jesus and Christianity. We just completed a whole message series on The Faith to help you with that, and we have two LIFE Groups right now dealing with those kinds of issues.

We need to empower you for this mission of representing Jesus and telling people about Him. And we need to empower you for ministry. We want to unleash you to really make a difference. We want to empower you with trust and responsibility to minister to the needs of others.


[PowerPoint]
Connecting… Equipping… Empowering. If you want to know why we’re here, that’s why we’re here. And whatever facility we end up in, it needs to help us accomplish those three things, not prevent us from accomplishing them.



 

 

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