Witness Relocation Project part 2
What We Need from You
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
March 15, 2009



Well, this is our second week here in this experiment, as we try out new worship facilities. And we will continue to look at other options and we’ll try out new facilities until we find someplace that’s functional, affordable, and available.

Now, last week when we met here, we took the time to talk about why we’re here in the first place. Why does Sunrise Wesleyan Church even exist? And we recognized that regardless of where we are and what facilities we’re using, 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… right here in Charlottetown and around the world. You and I are the Church, wherever we may be.

However, to fulfill our calling as a Church, we need to find facilities that will help us accomplish that calling. And we need to trust that God will lead us in this search.

So what is our calling? Well, we reminded ourselves last week that we are here primarily for three reasons. First of all, we’re here to connect.


What We’re About: (Review from last Sunday)

A.    Connecting… with God and with others.

We’re not here just to be a social club; we’re here to connect with the CEO of the cosmos… the Creator of everything that exists… the Almighty God. We’re here to connect with Him, grow in Him, and worship in His presence. That’s our main purpose… to connect with God.

And we’re also here to connect with others… with other Christ-followers and with others who are far from God. And that’s where our location really becomes important. And you know, that’s my primary concern as we go through this search. When we’re done this process and we’ve found a new place, we have to be someplace that can help us connect with people who are far from God. In fact, 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. This has to be our priority and our primary concern as we look for a new place and as we evaluate what we can accomplish there.

We exist to connect with God and with others. A second reason we exist is to equip.


B.    Equipping… for growth and service.

As a church, a fundamental task we have is to help people grow from whatever they are now to what they can become in Christ. So we want to equip you with the tools and resources you need, equip you with the support and encouragement that comes by being part of a Church family, equip you with some accountability, equip 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. 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.

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. The Bible tells us we are representatives of Jesus—we are His ambassadors—and we are entrusted with the mission of telling others about Him and inviting them to experience Him for themselves.

So with the understanding that all true power and authority is infused in us by the Holy Spirit, we as a Church 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.

So that’s what we talked about last week. If you want to know why we’re here, that’s why we’re here. To connect, equip, and empower. And as we go through this process of finding a new place for us to meet on Sunday mornings, those three purposes need to be central to our thinking.

And you are part of this. You’re not just along for the ride; you are crucial to our success as a Church. If you are a Christ-follower and Sunrise is the church you call home, then we need you. And you need us. For us to achieve our full potential as a community of Christ-followers and for us to accomplish what God has called us to do as a Church, we need each other and we all need to get involved.

Ephesians 4:16 (NLT)
As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Notice that it doesn’t say, “as the pastor does his work.” Or “as the leaders do their work.” Or even “as some people do their work.” No, this tells us that we all need to get involved, we each have work to do, and we will only achieve our potential as we all love each other, serve each other, support each other, and work together.

So for the rest of our time this morning, I want to talk about what that means for you. Specifically as we search for new facilities and settle into a new place, what are some of the things we need from you?

Seven things that you need to bring to the table…


What We Need from You:

1.    Prayer

Plain and simple, prayer. Nothing of any eternal significance happens without prayer. Prayer is our means of communicating with God, expressing ourselves to Him, and inviting Him to step in and act. Remember that God exists outside of the constraints of our space-time continuum. He doesn’t face the same limitations we face. He sees the big picture, and He always knows what’s best. So we need to join together and pray for His leadership and His guidance for us as we figure where we’re going to be and how we’re going to reach people from there.

Psalm 73:24 (NLT)
You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny.

We need to seek His counsel and trust His leading. So I need to ask you to pray for us as a Church, as well as for me as your pastor.

Colossians 4:2-4 (NLT)
Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should.


2.    Yourself

As a Christ-follower, you are part of God’s family. And if this is your church, you are part of the Sunrise family.

Romans 12:10 (GW)
Be devoted to each other like a loving family.

Listen, your primary devotion needs to be to Christ. But you also need to be devoted to your Church family. And I don’t mean that in a cult-like brainwashing cut-you-off-from-reality kind of way. (Although… Nah.) What I mean is that if you’re at all able to be here, you should be with us on Sundays. But don’t just attend; get involved. Participate in what we’re doing. Join in on what’s happening through the week. Invest your time, your energy, your efforts, your attention and your resources here with us. Get together outside of any organized activities. Believe in what we’re doing. Brag us up to others. Really learn to care for each other and love each other.

1 John 4:19, 21 (NLT)
We love each other because he loved us first… And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their Christian brothers and sisters.

Do you see how Church is not a place you go to; it’s a family you belong to? And in healthy families, everyone gives of themselves and the entire family is strengthened because of it. The clearest picture of this can be seen in the early Church. In Acts chapter 2, it tells us how the early believers were devoted to each other. They met together daily. They had each other over for dinner (kind of like what we’re doing tonight), they were generous, they prayed together. They gave of themselves to each other.

Ephesians 2:19-21 (NLT)
You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.


3.    A Kingdom Mindset

This means you look beyond yourself. It means that if you believe in what we’re doing, then you’ll be okay with setting aside some of your own preferences in order to accomplish what we’re here to do for the Kingdom of God.

VIDEO – ME CHURCH

You know, it’s amazing what some people can get hung up on. Early on in the life of Sunrise, before we had even launched and started holding public worship services, we had a lady who met a few times with us. And she was a nice lady, and she was looking for a church to get involved in, and so we talked with her about Sunrise. And do you know what the determining factor was for her in not staying with Sunrise? She didn’t like PowerPoint.

Well, okay. But we live in a multimedia-driven society. The people we’re here to reach are used to video and images and sounds and all kinds of different forms of communication. They use computers and they use PowerPoint. They listen to songs that are on the charts right now, not old tapes of Gregorian chants. Sometimes we have to set aside our personal preferences in order to reach those who are far from God. Paul understood this…

1 Corinthians 9:22-23 (NIV)
I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

Listen, of course your preferences and mine are considerations in how we do things. It’s not our goal to make ourselves uncomfortable. But from time to time, all of us will uncover something we don’t personally enjoy. And instead of getting your knickers in a knot, relax. Decide right now that you’re okay with giving up some of your personal preferences if it means reaching more people.

And sure, if we’re doing something that has no redeeming value and that’s just plain ol’ stupid (as if that would ever happen), then by all means talk with me about it. Maybe there’s something you’re missing, or maybe there’s something I’m missing.

There’s a lady who attends the Church I used to work at in Bedford, and I remember when she came to me because she wanted us to sing the old Sunday School choruses she sang as a kid. But when she came to understand that we were choosing music because of it’s ability to connect with people far from God, and not just to create a nostalgia for people who grew up in the Church, then she was okay with that. In fact, she has now served for several years on the Leadership Team of that church. She was willing to set aside her preferences in order for the Church to pursue its calling.


4.    An outward focus

Particularly at a time like this when the economy is in turmoil, it could be tempting for us to become very inward focused, to batten down the hatches, to hunker in a bunker… to just kind of withdraw and limit what we do and how we reach out. But it’s exactly at times like this that we need to be reaching out. Because people are looking for hope, and there’s no greater hope than the hope found in Jesus Christ.

Actually, from what I understand, when the economy goes down there are three things that always go up:

A.    Bar attendance
B.    Movie attendance
C.    Church attendance

Obviously with bar attendance and movie attendance people are looking to escape. But with Church attendance, people are looking for hope. They’re looking for answers. They’re looking for meaning beyond the fleeting materialism that our society is so consumed by. And if we withdraw at a time like this, we’re going to be shirking our responsibility and we’re going to be missing opportunities to represent Jesus to people who so desperately need to meet Him.

Colossians 4:5 (NLT)
Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity.

Paul says to make the most of every opportunity. And I read that to mean that we must not turn inward, but instead must continually turn outward and reach out to those who are far from God.

For you and me, that means we step up and take advantage of opportunities to talk about what Jesus means to us. It means that we invite our friends and our family to come with us to a Worship Celebration. It means we offer to take them out for lunch afterward to answer any questions they might have. It means we’re willing to give of ourselves for the benefit of others.


5.    A positive approach

Listen, any location we look at will have positives and negatives. And my concern is that you will become so fixated on negatives that you won't be able to see the positives. In fact, I think some of you have already done that concerning this location. I may be wrong, but my impression is that some of you had ruled this location out without even giving it a chance.

Now, I understand that the stairs here are a major issue. For the elderly or the disabled, the stairs are a major hindrance that can prevent them from attending Sunrise. And that obviously has to be a major factor in our decision about this place and quite possibly the determining factor. In fact, I think it will be.

But can I also point out that there are a lot of positives to meeting here? Can’t think of any positives? Let me help.

•    This is a good size room with lots of space for new people
•    We’re allowed to store stuff here through the week
•    They really want to have a Church meeting in here
•    It’s clean, and we never have to worry about picking up beer bottles in the morning
•    There are lots of rooms for our children’s ministry which we haven’t had until now
•    We’re allowed to put our A-frame sign out along the road and leaving it on the staircase through the week for marketing purposes
•    There are plenty of chairs
•    There’s a movable stage area here
•    If we need to rent sound equipment it’s pretty easy to do that here
•    This building’s at a great location right along a major street with an unbelievable amount of traffic going by every day.
•    And it’s pretty affordable… more than we’re paying at the BIS but less than half of what we’d be paying at most places.

There are lots of positives. The negatives may carry more weight than any of those, but at least acknowledge them.

So I’m going to implement a new rule, starting today. When we try out a new place, you can’t tear it down until after we try it out. Okay? That doesn’t mean you can’t voice your opinion, but it means you have to wait until after you try it out. You’re allowed to like a location or not like a location, that’s fine. But don’t prejudge it.

[See Numbers 13-14]

If you want a Biblical example, go back to the Old Testament. God appointed Moses to lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and to take them straight to the Promised Land. And he did. Took them right to the doorstep. And then they sent spies into the land to see what to expect, what the land was like, and what kind of opposition they would be facing. And what happened? Well, if you know the story you know that all of the spies, except for two of them, came back completely fixated on how big and strong the natives were and about how they would never be able to overcome them in battle. And they convinced everyone else that there was no way they would be able to move in and take this land. Forget that God had promised it to them, they were focused on the negative.

Now, would it have been appropriate for them to come back and say, “Listen, there’s some serious opposition we’re going to be facing. And we need to be ready for it, we need to plan for it, we need to be smart about this…” Would that have been valid? Sure it would be. But they refused to even consider it and they ended up needlessly roaming the desert for forty years. I don’t want that to be our legacy.

Sure, realize that there are negatives… like there will be in everyplace we check out. But don’t allow that to blind you to the positives.


Let’s go on to number 6. As long as I’m stepping on toes, I may as well keep at it. If we’re going to go on to a new location and if we’re going to actually do anything there, then what we need from you is…


6.    $

Listen, you know that everything costs money. Just on Sunday mornings, we have the cost of rent, our hospitality area, the children’s programs, the printing of your Sunrise Update and the Children’s bulletins, we have to buy a copyright license so we can actually show you lyrics to songs, we have our sound equipment, the computer, and the projector. We have signage. And that’s just on Sunday morning. On top of all that, we have our LIFE Groups, we have outreach expenses, we have association memberships and licenses, we have pastoral expenses, we have office expenses, we have missionary support, we have a variety of other ministry expenses… It costs money to operate a church.

And especially as we change locations, there will be new expenses. There could be an increased rent. We’ll need to do some marketing. There will be expenses.

If you’ve been attending here for any period of time, you know how reluctant I am to talking about money on a Sunday morning. But we do need to address it from time to time. Partly because everything does cost money, but also because giving is a spiritual issue. What you do with your money is a spiritual issue.

Now, some of you are already tithing. And that’s fantastic. God asks you to take 10% of what you earn each and every week and give it back to Him through the Church as a form of worship. That’s what tithing is. Some of you are doing that, and that’s great. But some aren’t, and to them God says…

Malachi 3:8-10 (NLT)
“You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple.”

Now, some of you are tithing, and I’m not going to ask you to do anymore. If you want to give beyond a tithe, and if God leads you to do that, then that’s fine. But that’s between you and Him.

Others of you, you need to step it up. And not just because we have financial needs as a church, although we do and we’re significantly behind this year. But really, that is secondary. No, the reason you need to give is because God asks you to give. Actually, He doesn’t so much ask as command. God is a generous God, and He expects His people to be generous people. And He even promises to reward those who do give generously.

Let’s go back and finish verse 10…

Malachi 3:10 (NLT)
“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!”

As I said, I’m hesitant to talk about money, because money is such a touchy subject and people often get offended. But sometimes people need to be offended. Because if you’re just throwing a few bucks in the offering box but you’re not tithing, then you’re not being generous; you’re being disobedient. God even says your cheating Him. You’re robbing from Him. And on top of that, you’re missing out on His blessing.


All right, that’s enough meddling. There’s one more thing that we need to talk about this morning.


7.    The heart of a servant

When I was in college, I traveled nearly every weekend with one of the music teams. And ever place we went, we’d have to set up our sound equipment. Sometimes we’d have to do that two or three times in a weekend. Then I worked at a new Church in South Dakota that was meeting in a school. And every Saturday night, I’d go in to set up. When I moved back to the Maritimes, I worked at a new Church that was meeting in a community center and later moved into a movie theatre. So every Sunday morning, I’d go in to set up. And then we came here to start Sunrise. I’ve been setting up and tearing down nearly every weekend since 1990, with a few breaks here or there.

And do you know why I do it? Because I understand that every time I set up I’m creating a venue for people to meet with God. I understand that it’s not just a thankless job, it’s ministry. It makes a difference. Those of you who help out, setting up and tearing down every week, it’s ministry. You’re investing that effort into people’s souls. That matters.

And you know, it can be so easy to lose sight of that. But we need to remind ourselves that it’s worth it. And I am always so appreciative for those of you who help out in that way. You make everything else we do possible.

Philippians 2:5-7 (NIV)
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant…

If you have a servant heart, then you are walking in the footsteps of Jesus Himself.
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