As we discover Jesus and the difference He has made in our lives, we begin to want to make a difference in the lives of other people. God is reaching the lost, building the Church, and making disciples. He does not need us, but He wants us to come be part of His work.
Alright, everybody. Welcome to Valley Creek. We are so glad that you are here. Come on, whatever campus you’re at, let’s give it up for each other. All right. We are excited and happy to be here today. We are so glad that you’re here with us. Welcome to Valley Creek at whatever campus you’re at. And I have one thing to tell you and it’s this, whatever you do, do not miss next weekend. We may or may not be giving out something to everyone that is here. And if you’re not here and we give something out, you will be very sad that you didn’t get one.
We haven’t done this in a few years. Some of you are starting to piece together what it is. But that’s next weekend and you have to be here. And you’re not going to be able to get one like for your husband or your wife or your friend or your kids or your buddy. No, no. They have to be here with you as well. So bring everybody you got next week if you want to get the thing we may or may not be giving out next week. All I’m saying is you’re going to want to be here. And if you’re not — Okay, we are in a series called the Ascent and we’re talking about going to new places with God and this is a really big series. Whether you realize it or not, this is — actually, it’s more than a series. It’s an opportunity and it’s an invitation for you and your life.
You see, if we’re honest with each other as we go on this journey with Jesus, we often get stuck. We get lost, we get confused, we don’t really tell anybody else that. But if you’re honest in our own heart and in our spirit, we kind of know that’s what happens. We get to this point, we get stuck, we’re not sure how to move any further forward. And so, we kind of just start going through the motions. We play the game, we know the right answers, and we can sit here in church week after week, month after month, year after year. But often times, if we’re honest, we know our relationship with God didn’t really moving forward. And so, this is more than just a series. This is an invitation from God for you to go to a new place with Him, to try to break out and take some ground and move along on what He has for you and that’s why our theme verse for this series is simply, “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths.” We need Him to show us and teach us how to move beyond where we are so we can go to new places with God.
You see, if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. And if you want to go to places you’ve never been before, you’re going to have to do some things you’ve never done before. If you want to go to places you’ve never been before, you’re going to have to believe some things you’ve never believed before. And that’s what this whole series is about. It’s about taking next steps and changing our thinking. This is why 2 Corinthians 5 says, “We walk by faith, not by sight.” Like we have to buy faith, take some next steps, and move forward even if we don’t understand them or like them. Or how about Romans chapter 12 that says, “Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” In other words, if you’ll change the way you think, it’ll change the way you live and you’ll go to a new place with God and He will transform you and take you higher than you’ve been before and you say, “Change my thinking around what?” Around who you are, who God is, and what you are created to do.
And so, that’s what this series has been about and we started the first week and we’ve talked about how it’s all about we’re discovering Jesus, that the ascending life — if you want to go to a new place with God, the foundation is grace, that this is not what you have to do for God. This is about what God has done for you. You don’t have to go up and get Him because in Jesus’ name, He came down to come and get you. And as we start to discover Jesus and his grace, we then have the faith to move to this place where we start finding friendship with God and His people. When we discover Jesus, all of a sudden, we start to realize that in Jesus’ name, we’re accepted and wanted and loved and we can have this friendship with God that we are as close to God as we want to be. And as we start finding friendship with God, we move to the next place and it’s simply where we start to make a difference in the world around us.
When you realize that Jesus has made a difference in your life, you want to make a difference in the lives of other people. When you start discovering Jesus, you start finding friendship God. And when you got friendship with God, all of a sudden, you want to do what God is doing. You want to be a part of what God is working on, you want to hang out with Him, you want to be family on mission and all of a sudden, you’re not inviting God to come and be a part of what you’re doing. You’re saying, “God, you’re my friend. What are you doing? I want to be a part of that.” And you say, “So what is God doing?” He’s reaching the lost, building His church, and making disciples.” And if I really want to go to a new place with Him, I got to learn to start making a difference because He’s made a difference in my life. In fact, this is why I love what Jesus says. If you go to the verse for me, he says, “Did you not know that I must be about my father’s business?” He gives us this great insight that life was not about asking God to be a part of our business. Life is about saying, “I want to be a part of my father’s business.”
You see, I remember growing up as a kid, my dad built houses for a living and he owned his own business and I can remember as a kid, I would go to work with him all the time. I can remember getting into a single cab pickup truck that smelled like sawdust and had the Oak Ridge Boys on the radio, and we would drive to the job site, and we would go, and we would get out of the truck, and he would do what he needed to do, and he would give me some things to work on. And it’s not like my dad needed me there to build the house, but he wanted me there and he brought me into his work, in what he was doing. And when we would finish and we would go home, my mom would ask me how the day was and as a kid, I would always say, “Mom, today, I built a house.” I didn’t do much, but probably picked up garbage.
It’s really what I did. He didn’t need me, but he wanted me to be a part of what he was doing and that was the dad with my kids. I see the same thing. You see, I love when my kids work with me. I don’t need them to do what I’m doing, but I want them to be with me. Like my little girl. All the time, she’ll come and just sit in my office at home with me and she’ll sit there for hours as I’m working on a message and I don’t need her to help me on my message, but I want her in there and she loves to be in there. And then when the time is up, she’ll kind of be like, “Dad, we wrote a really good message today.” Like, “What do you mean ‘we’? Like you — you did nothing but play with your doll.” It’s not that I need her, it’s that I want her. And the same is true with us with God. He doesn’t need us to do His work. He wants us to come be a part of His work. He wants us to make a difference in the world around us because that’s what he’s doing and he says, “Come and do this with me.”
So if you go all the way back to creation and you look at Adam and Eve, when God made Adam, God gave humanity the commission, the authority over this earth to work with God. Not because he needed us to destroy darkness — no, he wanted us to be a part of what he was doing. Genesis 1:28 is one of the most important verses in the Bible. We love John 3:16. It’s important. There are some other verses that need to start getting, like formed in your heart. Because this is the first thing God ever says to humanity. He says, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and subdue it using all of its vast resources in the service of God and man.” God made Adam to make a difference in the world. That was his created purpose. He’s created purpose was, “Adam, we’re going to rule and reign together. You’re going to come be a part of my business. You’re going to — you’re going to come be a part of my work.
And I’m going to give you authority and I’m going to give you things to do — not for me, but with me. I’ve told you who you are, your identity. I’ve given you relationship with me. And now, let me declare your purpose.” And this is what he tells them — and this is what he tells us, “Be fruitful.” Bring things to the fullness of its potential in your life whatever you have authority over and then multiply, reproduce the life of God in you into the world around you and then fill the earth or your area of influence, like your home, your job, your school, with the knowledge of the glory of the goodness of God and subdue it. Bring order to chaos, light to darkness, hope to despair and then use your resources to accomplish God’s purposes in the lives of men. He says, “I’ve commissioned you to make a difference to be a part of my work.” Do you catch the privilege of that? The God who could snap his fingers and have it all done.
He says, “Hey, I want you to come and do this with me because I believe in you.” But you know the story. Adam and Eve didn’t really grab a hold of this. They went and they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Sinned, they fell, broke. Everything got broken and instead of making a difference, they needed someone to come and now make a difference in their lives. And so the Father sent Jesus to come and change everything. If you go to the next verse for me, this is when Jesus called his disciples to come follow Him. This is Jesus restoring all things that were lost in the garden. And it says, “Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to Him those he wanted. Mountainside. He invites them to a new place, to ascend, to come out of the valley of the shadow of death and up the mountain of God in Jesus’ name. And they came to him. He appointed 12, designating them apostles that they might be with Him, that’s where we stopped this verse, last week if you’re here, and that He might send them out to preach and they have authority to drive out demons.”
I want you to catch this. He sends them to make a difference. But before He sends them to make a difference, He wants them to first be with him, and before they can be with Him, they first have to come to Him. In other words, before they make a difference, they’ve got to find friendship with Him. And before you can find friendship with Him, you have to discover Jesus. When I discovered Jesus, I’ll find friendship with God and when I find friendship with God, I will make a difference in the world around me. Not because I have to, but because I get to. Identity — identity determines purpose. Who you are determines what you do. And when we come to Jesus, he transforms us, He restores us, He re-empowers us with who we were created to be and so what you have to understand is, if you have no interest in making a difference, you have to work it backwards. You have to say maybe it’s because I don’t really a friendship with God. And if I don’t have friendship with God, it’s probably because I have yet to discover the Grace that is offered to me in Jesus’ name. He restores our identity, reconciles our relationship, renews our purpose and sends us out to make a difference with Him in Jesus’ name. Does that make sense to you?
This is foundational to understanding your life with Jesus. Religion says, “Go do a bunch of things for God, so that you can maybe be with God, so that one day you can be accepted by God.” Jesus says, “Why don’t you actually go to the mountains for me?” Jesus says, “Why don’t you just come and discover me? And I’ll bring you into friendship with God. And then we’ll start making a difference together.” That’s what Jesus offers you and that’s the life of a saint. This is why relationship with God and religion are so different. And I keep telling you, we got to come down off the mountain of religion and go up the mountain of grace because it’s completely different. I mean, just if you think about this, Matthew chapter 4, right from the beginning, what Jesus is saying — He says, “Hey, come follow me and I’ll make you fishers of men.” Right from the beginning, when he calls you, he says, “Hey, you’re going to be a part of what I’m doing. And I’m interested in reaching lost people. So you’re going to come and you’re going to go to work with me. We’re going to get in the truck. It’s is going to smell like sawdust, we’re going to listen to some Oak Ridge Boys. We’re going to do some things in Jesus’ name. Or how about Matthew 28, when Jesus says to all of us, “Therefore, go and make disciples.” He says, “If you’re a follower of me, you’re going to be a part of what I’m doing. And you know what I’m doing? I’m making disciples.”
Or how about Genesis 12 that says, “And I will bless you abundantly and you shall be a blessing, a source of great good to others.” Come on, that’s a good verse. He says, “I will bless you and you will be a blessing.” Notice the order. He doesn’t say, “If you go bless others then I’ll bless you.” He didn’t say, “If you go make a difference, then we can be friends.” He says, “No, I’m going to give you all my grace and we’re going to be friends. And that’s what’s going to empower you to now go out and be a blessing to others. And guess what? My grace is so abundant that you will now be a source of great good to others.” You see, until you find your purpose in God, you will try to find your purpose in the mountains of this world. Until you find purpose in God, you will think your purpose is found in business, in sports, in Instagram, in money, in hobbies and all — you will climb all the mountains of the world trying to find purpose because you were made for it. But you weren’t made to go up climbing the mountains of this world to look for purpose. No, your purpose is helping other people climb up the mountain of God. Your purpose is to work with God to help other people go to new places with him in Jesus’ name.
Okay. So, I want you just think about this with me for a second. I want you to just think about church. If what God is doing right now on this earth, He’s reaching the lost, building this church and making disciples. I want you to think about church. So before we think about making a difference like out there in the world, like let’s just think about this for a second. Like I don’t know what you think about when we gather. I don’t know how you view the church. Every one of us in this room have come from different places, so we’ve got different views and filters of what we think the church is. But have you ever just stopped to acknowledge how supernatural this actually is? Like just think about who is in this room right now. People from all different walks of life, from all different cultures, from all different generations, from all different kinds of experiences and yet, we all come together and we’re united under the name of Jesus. That alone is profoundly supernatural. And whether you realize it or not, every time you come to this place, other people are making a difference in your life.
In fact, long before you even pull into the parking lot, other people are already making a difference in your life. Hours before you get here, people are setting up the building and getting it ready. People are making coffee and preparing things to be clean and order. And then, when you get here and you pull into the parking lot, there’s parking guys to help you figure out what’s going on in the parking lot. And then, you get to the door and there’s someone there opening the door, making a difference, welcoming you in, and bringing you into the building. You come inside and there’s people there to make a difference, if you’re confused and not sure where to go, and pointing the way. And then, for those of you that have kids, you go to a kids’ room. Just think of how supernatural this is. You check your kid into a room with people who don’t know you and aren’t paid and they want to invest in your kid for an hour. Tell me any other —
Tell me any other environment in the world where that happens, where healthy, safe, sane people will take your kid and invest in them for free for an hour. You may then get served with a cup of coffee, you get welcomed into this room, you’re helped to get a seat, someone else is using their gifts to lead worship, our production team is using their gifts to turn all this stuff on, someone else is already giving generously so there’s air conditioning and lights and all of it happens, someone uses their gift to speak to you. After service, people uses their gift to make a difference, to pray for you. And all of a sudden, you start realizing, “Every time I am in this place, someone else is making a difference in my life.”
Whether I acknowledge it — whether you acknowledge it or not. Maybe you sit there and say, “No, no, no one has made a difference for me.” Like, bro, who do you think does all this? For 13 years, I’ve been here. For 13 years, the people of this church have been making a difference in my life and in my family. Every time I’m here, someone else is making a difference in my life. So the question is this. Are you making a difference in anyone else’s life? Every time you’re here, every time you go to a hub on a Wednesday night or drop your kid off or show up for a mid-week thing or go to a group or just walk in this building or just look on the website, someone else is making a difference for you. Are you making a difference for anyone else here? Are you a part of your father’s work?
See, what I want you to understand is that you’ve not only been called, you’ve been empowered to make a difference because whatever God calls you to do, He supernaturally empowers you by His grace to do that and He’s empowered you to make a difference. In fact, check this verse out. 1 Peter 4 says, “God has given each of you a gift.” “From His variety of spiritual gifts, use them well to serve one another.” Every one of you in this room has been given a gift by God. Not for you, he’s given it to you so you can use it well to serve others. So what does that mean? That means the Holy Spirit has put gifts inside of you, divine things that have enabled you for your divine purpose to serve us, to build up us. The question is, are you using them well? See, I think a lot of times, we use our gifts to climb the mountains of the world instead to help other people climb the mountain of God. If we’re honest, we use the gifts that God has given us to build up and strengthen His people to kind of serve ourselves. But what we have to remember, if you go to the next thing for me, is that your gifts are for us and our gifts are for you.
Your gift is not for you. It’s for us. It’s literally for the person sitting next to you right now. God has given you a gift to make a difference in their life and their gift is not for them. It’s for you. And we have to start understanding that we need each other, that you’re not okay without us and we’re not okay without you and we can’t become everything God has called and created us to be if we don’t all start saying, “You know what? I’ve discovered Jesus, discovering Jesus, I’m finding friendship with God, and I’m learning how to make a difference in this world.” The problem is, is we’re so used to consuming that we forget we’re created to contribute.
We’re so used to consuming. That’s the whole world. The whole world is consuming. Everywhere we go, it’s about consumption. We’re so used to consuming where — in our families, in our businesses, in our activities, in school, where we go, what we — everything is about consuming and that’s what Satan has tricked us. He’s tricked us into thinking the best case for your life is to be the ultimate consumer. And so, we forgot that God has empowered us and created us to be a contributor.
This is why people who consume are never satisfied because they never find a purpose. It’s a bottomless hole and the more you put in, the worse you feel and you know it. And I can tell you right now, here’s the signs. If you’re a consumer, you’re critical, you’re negative, you gossip, you complain, you poke at everything and everyone. Listen, that’s a sign of being a consumer. Don’t get all work — just be like, “Wow, maybe that’s showing me more than I realize.” Because guess what? Contributors don’t have time for that stuff. When I’m living out my purpose, I’m climbing the mountain. I’m like, “I’m out with my father. We’re making a difference. We’re doing things in the world. I ain’t got time to complain.” “I ain’t got time to be negative, I ain’t got time to consume because I’ve kind of moved past that.” And what you have to understand is a purposeless life is a pointless life. You’ll stay in the valley of darkness forever until you start understanding you were created to contribute. We got real quiet there. Come on listen, I want you to think about this. It costs Jesus everything to make a difference in your life so it will cost you something to make a difference in someone else’s life. Jesus had to step out of his world to make a difference in your life so you’re going to have to step out of your world to make a difference in our life. And what you have to understand is, every believer has the responsibility to build up the body of Christ.
You can ignore it, you can fight it. You can say, “Done, I’ve tried it.” It doesn’t apply to you today. Every believer has that responsibility upon their life. And it’s not just the responsibility, it’s a privilege. Like 3 John 4, he says, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” Here’s what’s amazing, John doesn’t have any kids. Who’s he talking about? He’s talking about the people he’s made a difference in their life. He’s saying, “I have no greater joy than to see the people I’ve made a difference in their life go to new places with God.” No greater joy. So could it be that the church is often joyless because we’re not willing to step out of our world to make a difference in someone else’s life and watch them go to a new place with God? Could there be a joylessness that exists in your journey with God because you’re never really making a difference?
Because that’s what you are created to do. And if you think about this journey as we started ascending Ecclesiastes chapter 4, it says, “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” I want you to think about this. If you think about mountain climbing, whenever you think of mountain climbers, you think of a rope. They got a rope that they’re climbing up. And so this says, “A cord of three strands — a cord of three strands doesn’t easily broken.” It’s what we need to get to the top. What are the cord of three strands? The cord of three strands are when you believe in the mission — and meaningful purpose. In other words, when you discover Jesus, find friendship and start making a difference, that cord becomes almost unbreakable.
The reason many of us don’t move forward in our journey with Jesus, the reason many of us drift in and out of church all throughout years is because we never have all three pieces of the cord attached at the same time. We’re excited about the mission but we didn’t build any relationship so we don’t have any meaningful purpose. Well that cord is frayed and it’s going to snap and you’re going to fall back down. You put those three things together and guess what? You’re now moving forward to a new place with God. This is where so many of us get stuck, we never move into the dimension of making a difference. And if I really want to go to a new place with God, I got to position myself where He says He is. Matthew 25, Jesus says, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you look after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” I tell you the truth, ready? “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
He says, “When you make a difference in someone else’s life, you just went to a new place with me.” So could it be that we never really go to a new place with God because we’re not willing to make a difference in someone else’s life? So the question then is, “How do we do it?” It’s humility. Again, to admit that you’re not only created but called to do this in Jesus’ name. And like I’ve told you in the series, I’m giving you at the end of the message, three really simple next steps that we hope everybody in our church will take so you can move forward. And I hate to break this one to you, but make a difference? It’s not convenient nor Instagram friendly. 98% of the people in this room would say, “I would love to make a difference. Can you make it really convenient? I can be available at Friday’s for 15 minutes from 3:00 to 3:15. And you got to bring it to my house and it’s going to be picture-worthy. Hey, so I can post it and tell everyone I made a difference.”
I’m just saying, through making a difference in the kingdom of God is underground. It’s behind the scenes. It’s serving — making a difference is about getting under other people and pushing them up above yourself. So they have the Instagram picture of what God is doing in their life. And you’re the one that likes it. And says, “Wow, I love watching you go to a new place with God in Jesus’ name.” Okay? So are you with me on that? Okay, so here’s the three. We got to go fast. But it’s really actually for today, so you get a bonus one. First one is this, join a team because this is a carryover from last week but it sandwiches in here right between those two places. Join a team. If you really want to start making a difference, just join a team. That’s the easiest thing you can do. All of the sudden, you say, “I’m going to give an extra hour a week to be on a team.” I’m telling you what? The people in our church that are the happiest, that are moving forward with God, they feel vibrant in life, they’re the people who are on teams.
Their move — what? Because they got the cord of three strands. They’ve got — they’ve got the security, they’re moving forward, they’re climbing up and it’s all locked in there. And they’re going to a new place in Jesus’ name. Listen, we don’t need you to serve so we can grow. You need to serve so you can grow. Join the team. Give it a shot, extra hour a week to go to a new place with God? Sounds like a good trade to me. That’s what I’m saying. All I do is put the stuff out there and you decide what you want to do with it. But I want to be on a team that’s changing the world. Second thing is this, just invite someone. When was the last time you invited somebody to church? When was the last time you look at somebody eye to eye? Not just through one of the Instagram post out there. Eye to eye and say, “Hey, would you come with me?” Or actually tagged someone in a post, “Hey, I would love for you to go with me.”
Or wrote someone — like when was the last time you look someone in the face and said, “Would you — would you come check this out with me?” See you’re our outreach strategy. Hate to break that to you because you’re Jesus’ outreach strategy. The kingdom of God goes person to person. And we’re called by him to invite people into what he’s doing. And if you think about all the things we invite people to, is all the things that’s — we invite people to climb the mountains of the world with us like nobody’s business. “Come on, I’m selling this thing. Come buy some of it. Come on, I’m going to this thing, come with me. Come on, I’m playing on this team.” There’s nothing wrong with that stuff but we should be more excited about inviting people up the mountain of grace than the mountains of the world.
Come on, look at this verse, look at what Jesus says. He says, “Now, I want you to go,” that’s you. You, into the streets and alley ways, your life and invite anyone and everyone you find, to come and enjoy. He’s saying, “Come on. Just invite people to what you’re doing with God.” And not just in church, this is everything. Listen, if you’re in a small group, invite people to your group. Don’t just expect the group leader to do it. You’re on a team, invite people to your team. If you’re on a team, today’s the day, man, like just go, add every person you see. Hey, he said join team, you want to join my team because I want you to join in my team. Invite people. Invite people. You’re going to — first step, invite them. You’re getting baptized — invite people to follow Jesus with you. And you’ll go to a new place with him.
Listen, let me just say this quick story. A couple years ago we were at school for — kid school for something and Coleen and I are sitting there, all the parents were there. And the lady gets up, she’s giving this presentation and she’s so passionate, she’s full of life, she’s so excited about this thing that they’re doing. And she’s saying – keep saying, “We want 100% of the parents to be involved.” And she put her whole heart into it, it was awesome what she was doing, and the whole time she’s talking, I want 100% of the parents to be involved, I’m thinking, there ain’t no way I’m never going to do that. And the more she talked, the more I thought, “Is there anything she could say that would change my mind?” And the more she talked, the more I realized, “No, there’s nothing she could say that would change my mind.” So we get into the car, I’m thinking about this and I said to Coleen, I said, “Hey, is there anything she could have said that would have made us get involved to that?” She’s looked at me and said, “No.” And I thought, “Dear Lord, that’s my life.” Some of you are getting it. I get up every week and pour my life out and say we want everyone to be a part of this. And people are sitting there and thinking, “Yeah, no matter what you say, I’m not going to be a part of it.”
I was like, bing, light bulb, oh my goodness. And then I looked to Coleen and I said, “And yet, your friend who’s already involved with it, if she invited you and asked you to be part of it, you would do it, wouldn’t you?” And she looked at me and she said, “I would.” And it clicked with me, it’s personal invites that move us forward on our journey with Jesus. All these screams, and the things we preach, all these stuff, that’s awareness, it’s more than anything else from people. It’s when you start inviting them, they start moving. Come on, invite someone to just follow in Jesus. Third thing is simply this, go to leader step. You’re catching on. We got first step, second step, leader step, right? If you’ve been here, leader step is basically learning how to lead and whether you realize it or not, you are a leader. You may not be living like a leader, you may not think you’re a leader, you may not be acting like a leader, but God has created you to be a leader in this world. And at some point in time, you’re going to start saying, “I not only want to make a difference, I want to lead other people to make a difference.”
To some of you that’s your thing. And then the last one is this, start giving. If I really want to walk with God, I have to realize that at some point, I’ve been created and called to give. To give what? Everything. Time, talent, treasure, energy, emotion, resources, relationships, and whatever you’re least willing to give is probably the one that God is most asking you to give. Because it means it’s a bondage in your life. This is why Matthew 10 says, “Freely you have received, freely give.” He says, “Freely, I’ve given you everything you have. And I want you to learn to start giving.” This is why we’re not consumers, we’re contributors. This is why Jesus says springs of living water are inside of us. Not lakes, not reservoirs, not ponds, springs of living water that receive and release, and keep us clean and flowing, and make a difference, and open to the new things that God wants to give us in Jesus’ name.
This is why that Rome — or that Genesis 12 says that same verse, “And I will bless you abundantly and you shall be a blessing, a source of great good to others.” He says, “I have abundantly filled your life with amazing things so you can be a source of great good to others.” Are you a source of great good to others? Because when you start stepping into your purpose, it’s amazing. And all of a sudden, everything starts turning on in Jesus’ name. You start going home and then you’ll say, “I didn’t just build a house today, I built someone’s life today.” Come on, I didn’t just write a message. I wrote God’s story in someone’s heart. And now I’m a part of what he is doing. 2 Corinthians 5 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he’s a new creation, the old is gone, the new has come.” Let me just push on you for one second and just say this, if you have no interest in making a difference, you have to ask yourself the question, “Has Jesus then made a difference in your life?”
Because if I’m in Christ, the old is going and the new is coming. So if I’m not any different than I was, before I put my faith in Jesus, I have to ask myself the question, “Do I really believe in Jesus?” “Am I really discovering Jesus?” Because I should be dramatically different than I used to be, continually going to new places. Okay? Let me close it with this. One day, Jesus was walking along and he comes up to a man who’s been paralyzed for 38 years. Thirty-eight years, he’s paralyzed, he’s been sitting on this mat and Jesus walks up to the man, kind of, on the side of this healing pool. And Jesus looks at the man and he says, “Hey, do you want to get well?” Interesting question. Thirty-eight years he’s been paralyzed on this mat by this healing pool. Do you want to get well? And the man’s instant response was not a yes or no, he starts giving Jesus all the reasons why he hasn’t gotten well. He says, “I don’t have any friends to get me down to the water and when the water is stirred, and the healing is happening, I can’t get there.” He starts giving all these excuses about why he hasn’t got well. Jesus stops him, he says, “That’s not what I asked you.” He says, “I’m not asking you why you haven’t got well. I want — I’m asking you, ‘do you want to get well?” Then pick up your mat and walk. And for the first time in his life, the man gets up, takes a next step, and he’s healed, and starts going to a new place with God. I think that’s a great picture of us.
I think Jesus walks into our life like today and says, “Hey, do you want to go to a new place with me?” And like that man, we give all the reasons why we haven’t gone to a new place with him. I’m busy and I got a new job, and you know the kids got all the sports going on, and I’ve got a lot of homework, and I don’t feel qualified, and I don’t feel called, and I’m not sure, and I got this insecurity. And he said, “Stop, I didn’t ask you why you haven’t gone to a new place with me. I’m asking you, ‘do you want to go to a new place with me?’” And if the answer is yes, then pick up your mat, take a next step and walk. Take a next step by faith in Jesus’ name no matter how bad or broken your life feels, he’s taking you to new heights if you will have the faith to change your thinking, and start moving towards him because he has already come all the way to you.
We now get to be a part of what God is doing on this earth. Reaching the lost, building his church, and making disciples in Jesus’ name. So you close your eyes with me. Let me just ask you, what do you feel like God wants to say to you today? I would bet from most of us in this room, there’s a tug in our heart that’s reminding us that we were created for more. That we were created for more than just coming in and out of church, created for more than just coming in and out of school, created for more than just coming in and out of work, created for more than just coming in and out of our home, that we were made to make a difference not for God but with God. And If I have no interest in making a difference, then just back yourself up and say, “Do I feel like I’m friends with God?” And if the answer is no, then back up one more and go back to, “Am I discovering Jesus?”
“Because as I discovered Jesus, I can’t help but become his friend. And as I become his friend, I can’t help but want to be a part of what he is doing.” So Lord Jesus, would you stir up a divine purpose in each one of our souls and help us understand, we’ve been created and called by you to make a difference. May we have the courage and the strength to say, “Today is the day I’m getting up off that mat. I’m done with the excuses, I’m done with the reasons. I want to go to a new place with you.” So in by faith going to take a step even if it’s a baby step, take a little baby — it doesn’t matter, just in some times, in Jesus name, you just got to move a little bit. If you want to go to a place you’ve never been before, you’re going to have to do some things you’ve never done before. And you’re going to have to believe some things you’ve never believed before. Like his grace has transformed you, like his love has reconciled you and like his spirit has empowered you to be free and to be different in this world. We love you Jesus. Take us to new places. In your name we pray, amen.
Okay. Thanks for listening. So here’s what we’re going to do, I just want — if you can’t, I know it’s really hard because I feel like we’re all in that moment and now we got to all come out at that moment for a second, which I hate. But if you — just give me 10 minutes to just kind of talk to you just this Thursday night church. If you need to go, you’re free to go. You can go now if you feel like you’re just not a part of Valley Creek, you’re welcome to go. Just 10 minutes. I’m just saying if you’re here and you’re like, “I don’t really want to be here any longer.” You’re free to go. I just want to talk to you, Thursday night service for a second for 10 minutes. And here’s what I want to share with you is, one of the things that I love about our church, this is a little bit of a transition, so just transition with me, there’s no better way to do it than that.
One of the things that I love about our church is we are always evaluating how we can best reach the lost, build his church and make disciples. Like at the end of the day that’s the driving force of everything we do. I don’t really care about a lot of the things that the church world might care about, we don’t really care about a lot of the things that consumer Christianity seems to value, we really care about being on mission with Jesus. I think that’s one of the best things about our church that everything we do, every decision we make is always based on how do we reach more people in Jesus’ name so they can be set free and become a part of a movement of hope?
And what I love about what our Thursday service is, is you guys are — have been so faith-filled, you come with passion and you worship. This has been our capture service, our broadcast service, all of that gets baked into the capture. You guys have been amazing and I’m so grateful for you and for the journey that we’ve been on together. And we’ve been doing Thursday night church now for 3 years. Whether you realize it or not, I don’t know when you’ve joined us on this journey, but for the last 3 years, we’ve been doing Thursday night church and it’s been great, it’s been amazing. Honestly, it’s been my favorite service for 3 years. It’s kind of our favorite in a lot of ways. But as we’ve been praying, about seeking God about what’s next? How do we keep positioning ourselves for the missional move for where he’s taking us? How do we best reach lost people? We really believe that in this next season God is inviting us to move Thursday night to Sunday night. We believe in unity as a leadership team that God is inviting us to take Thursday night church and move it to Sunday night church. Instead of being the first service of the weekend, it’s going to be the last service of the weekend. And I know for some of you you’re like, “Wait, this is good.” Why? I know it’s good. It’s actually been great. It’s been in a lot of ways one of the best services that we have.
And so for those of you that are kind of like, “Really?” Yeah, let me just explain to you, there’s 3 reasons why. We are in total unity as a leadership team, we’ve been seeking God on this for months and months and months and this is how we best think we can reach people, three really simple reasons. The first one is just mission. At the end of the day we think we can reach more people by having all of our services on a Sunday. Right now when you have a Thursday and a Sunday, we have a divided focus. So what has to happen is it takes a ton of energy to get ready for tonight and then we kind of have 2 days where everything comes back down and then we got to have all that energy to come back on Sunday. And what we’ve discovered is that most of the lost people that we’re reaching, we reach them on Sundays.
That Thursday night is really not a missional service, it’s an amazing service, it’s a group of believers, mostly that come into this place. That’s why the faith level is high and all that stuff but it’s not where we’re reaching the lost people. And so we feel like if we take this service and move it to Sunday night, it gives us more seats on Sunday and more of a laser-focus that one day is all of our energy, all of our focus trying to help people who don’t know Jesus, come to experience him. What it also does is it allows us, there are so many things we don’t do to make disciples during the week because of Thursday night. And actually what’s supposed to be an enhancer has become a limiter because Thursday night comes really fast and so there’s a lot of things that we would do to help other people keep moving forward on their journey with Jesus that we can’t do, because of where Thursday night sits. So we feel like if we put it all on Sunday, we’re going to be able to reach more lost people, make more disciples and be stronger as a church. That’s the heartbeat. Don’t worry about anything else after that, it is always about the mission of God. That’s why we exist. So mission is the first reason.
The second reason is sustainability. It takes a lot to do church on Thursday night and Sunday. It is not sustainable for our serve teams, our staff and for me to keep doing Thursday night and Sunday night. I want you to think about this for a second, every 3 to 4 days, we have to do a full service and you know what we do? We don’t do things half-hearted, so it’s all we got, we’re all in on in this deal. And so most of the teams that serve on a Thursday night, they have to come back on Sunday so they can be a part of a service. That’s not sustainable for them. Our staff has to ramp everything up for Thursday night service, come down, have a Friday and Saturday with our family and then ramp everything back up on Sunday. The emotional energy back and forth on that is not really sustainable for their families and that’s a big deal to me. And then for me, I’m having to preach every 3 to 4 days. If you think of Thursday and Sunday, Thursday and Sunday comes like an alarming regularity. It’s like this at all times. And I know for you, you only see Thursday, you’re like, “This is awesome. It’s great.” Yeah it is. And then Sunday comes and I got to remember everything we just said for 2 days while writing the next message for you the following Thursday, preach it again and it’s just not sustainable. And one of our core things as a value as a church is, we want to do this a long time together. From the first week that we trans — got transitioned in, whatever it is, 8, 9 years ago, we said, “We don’t want to be a firecracker, we want to be a long burning flame.”
We don’t want to ooh and ahh and just be awesome for a few years, we want to have the run where we turn this thing over to the next generation and it goes further and farther than we ever thought it could. So we can’t die along the way is what I’m trying to tell you. It’s got to be sustainable. And by having it all on one day, we can have all our energy and all our focus on that day and give everything that we got, because you see how we give it, everything that we got. I mean, you see Brandon and Jonathan up here when they’re leading worship, man, they’re like out of breath by the time the thing’s done. It’s not sustainable for the families that are a part of the leadership and the serve teams to stay in that rhythm. And then the third reason and this is the most important one I think, for you, is culture. See, one of the most interesting things that Thursday and Sunday, the difference between them is Thursday, this room is full of all-in people. This room carries culture. You know how to worship, you know how to engage with the message, you know how to respond, you know how to minister to each other. And what we’ve done is we’ve taken a lot of you guys and we pulled you over here to Thursday and isolated you from all of the lost and new people who are showing up on Sunday. So hundreds and thousands of people are coming to our services on Sunday and they don’t have the exposure to some of our greatest culture carriers, you.
So instead of pulling you away from them, what we actually have to do is get you around them. I need you to worship next to the person that doesn’t know what worship is. I need you to respond to a message to someone who grew up in a church thinking that it was heresy to laugh or to talk back in church. I need you to have a spirit and the attitude of what Thursdays have been, around hurting and lost and broken people, so it’s really — it’s really we’re trying to missionally leverage who you are and what God has done in you, and put you back around the people that we’re reaching, and what I think that will do for you, is it will reinvigorate you.
This service is full of a lot of people that are part of Valley Creek. So when you don’t constantly see mission and lost people, you can lose sight of why we’re even gathering. Putting you back around people on Sunday where you walk in and they do it, you’re like. They’re like, “There it is,” like, “Hey man, nice to meet you. What’s up?” It’s like that’s really good for your soul. And so we want to invite you to be those culture carriers in that space. Mission, sustainability, and culture. Those are three paramount reasons. And I realized, for some of you, you’re like, “Oh, really?” I know, and I’m sorry, genuinely. I’m genuinely sorry for any inconveniences it’s going to cause you. That’s not my heart in any way, that’s not our heart. Just so you know, like this is the service my family has gone through for three years. It’s when my wife comes, is when I get to sit with her, this is when my kids come. So I get that. I get the inconvenience, but at the end of the day, the value of reaching lost people, doing it a long time together, and having a healthy culture led by culture-creators, it’s worth the transition. It’s worth what we get to do, and at the end of the day, you really don’t want to be a part of a church that isn’t willing to make a decision like this.
This is not an easy decision, this is not flipping. Look at this, this is a great service, man. So here’s what I need you to understand, when you look at this, this isn’t like, “It’s dying and no one’s here.” This is like, “Oh my goodness, are you serious?” Yes, which shows you how serious we are about the mission of God, because when you take something that’s good and you say, “We’re going to double down on it and reinvest it so we can go somewhere that’s great in Jesus’ name,” you realize my church is serious about the mission of Jesus. We’re not just talking about it, we’re actually doing it. Okay? So here’s what it’s going to look like. We’re going to — basically, this is going to — can you go the slide for me. We’ve got three more weeks together. Okay, tonight, and two more starting September 22nd is we’re going to move Thursday night to Sunday. Now, some of you right away, you’re like, “Wait a second, why are we doing that so fast?” Because here is the deal, the moment I say that to you, all of you are going to start figuring what your alternative is. So to try to do this for the next six months, it won’t work. Serve teams got to readjust, your family’s calendars going to have your — all of that stuff, so it’s better to just say, “Here’s what we’re doing, here’s why we’re doing it, we’re going to finish up this series together, so be here with us the next two Thursdays.” The last the Thursday, we’ll have a big celebration and a party in the atrium together, and then starting September 22nd, this will be our new service times, 9:30, 11:10, we’re adding a 12:30 because we don’t have enough space for all of you to show up on Sunday right now, and moving Thursday night to 5:30 on Sunday night.
9:30, 11:10, 12:30, 5:30. The Sunday night service will be at 5:30 and instead of being in this room, it will be in the venue. Be right over there, it’s set up, it’s going to be the perfect size for Sunday night and the only difference is, there won’t be a kid’s ministry. What we’re going to do is — that’s a service, that we think a lot of people without kids are going to come to, and people that have kids are welcome to bring it in, so it’s a more family friendly service. So here’s the reality, there’s three types of people sitting in this room, mostly. Some of you are here and you’ve chosen Thursday night because you want guarantee the live preaching. If that’s you and you want to say, “I never want to watch it on the screen,” then you come to the 9:30 and you can be part of the capture, okay, but if you come to the 9:30, you better have a capture attitude because we’re going to have to teach them how to be capture people. They’re learning how to be capture people, that’s why we’re going to do that. For those, there’s a lot of you that are in here and all you care about is mission. You came to Thursday because we asked you to. You came to Thursday to create space on Sunday and to help us get this going. Thank you for those of you that that was choice and if you’re just like, “I just want to be a part of mission,” come to the 12:30.
We need like 200 to 300 people to help us get that service started, even if you just say, “I’ll just commit between now and the end of the year.” It will be so helpful for us because right now, the 11:10 and 9:30, they’re full. We’re going to have to push people into the 12:30 and we need a core to get it started and get going, and then there’s a bunch of you that are here that would totally validate, that you say, “I can never come on Sunday morning. I need a night option,” there you go, 5:30, Sunday night, if Sunday mornings don’t work for you, 5:30. We need 200 of you to say, “We’re getting the 5:30 started, I’m in, here we go. It’s not Thursday night, it’s Sunday night, but it’s still a night, and it’s going to be awesome. Instead of starting a week, we’re ending a week with faith. So it’s going to be a great experience. The only thing you can’t do is go to the 11:10.
Because there’s no seats in the 11:10 and if you show up there, a lost person is going to have to hang out in the Atrium and have a cup of coffee with someone who’s going to make a difference in their life and say, “We’re sorry there’s not a seat for you today.” 9:30, 12:30, 5:30. Just pretend that service doesn’t even exist unless you want to serve in one of the other areas, we would love to have you during that. Listen, I realize — trying to bring a little bit of laughter, I realize it’s inconvenient, I realize for some of you, it’s like, “Oh, I love what God is doing in our church.” We are a movement of hope for the city and beyond.
We are not consumers, we’re contributors. We’re making a difference in Jesus’ name and this is going to allow us to go to a new place. I’m telling you, you don’t want to be a part of a church that’s not willing to take something that’s going really good and follow God so we can be a part of something that’s really great. That’s the heartbeat of who we are and that’s what we’ve done. So I say to you, thank you Thursday. Thanks for who you are, and what you’ve done. Thanks for however long you’ve been here, 30 minutes today or the last three years. Thursday’s have been amazing and they’ve advanced the mission. Now, as we prepare from going from going from four campuses to eight campuses, this is another next step in that space. There’s so much leadership energy that’s required of in particular me, during the week that that Thursday-Sunday rhythm is not sustainable any more.
So I’m trying to paint all the details for you so get all the pictures. You may have questions, we will love to answer any questions for you, but I just want to say thank you. And here’s what I want you to leave with. The two things I want you to know is, come the next two Thursdays. Let’s finish this series, let’s finish it well. These services don’t even exist yet so we don’t even have space for you on Sunday yet. Come the next two Thursdays, let’s finish this well. Start asking God what service he wants you and your family to be a part of. Don’t get lost in your calendar and all that. Just stop and say, “Jesus, what do you want for me and my family?” That’s the best thing you can do. Don’t say, “Well it’s this, and it’s this, and it’s this.” “Jesus what do you want for me and my family in this next season?” Let him speak to you.
Start figuring out which of those times he’s speaking to you that works for your family, make a decision, get prepared, and the next two weeks, we’ll celebrate together and we’ll launch into this next phase because God has something great for us and God has something great for you, okay? So if you want to talk about this with anybody, our staff will stay as late as possible, as late as it takes. We will talk to any of you about any question. If you have any questions, don’t do the sideways, just come ask us, like, “Man, that’s it.” Here’s what I love about this, we just tell you like how it is, like that’s the story. There ain’t no other story, we just think we can reach more people in Jesus’ name by making this decision. I love you, I celebrate you, I thank you, and I think God has something great for you on Sunday as we move into this next phase of reaching more people, creating a strong culture on Sunday so we can multiply to those new campuses. And so we can do this a long time together, okay?
So for those of you that want to give when you go, there’s boxes at all the doors. If you need prayer, we’re going to have our prayer team up here. We will love to pray for you. If you have a question about any of this, come up. Ask any of our staff, we would love to process this with you. The next two weeks are going to be great together, and then the rest of the fall is going to be amazing in Jesus’ name. I love you, Thursday. Thanks for hearing the heart, thanks for catching the vision, and thanks for being more interested in lost people. They’re turning me down. They’re saying, “You talk too long.” You know what, I went over 10 minutes, it’s true, so they’re going to turn me down. So I love you, thanks, Thursday, we’ll see you next week.