January 6, 2019
Pastor Jeff Struecker
If you’re new to our church, my name’s Jeff. I typically introduce myself as one of the pastors around here. That language is really important to me because what I want people to understand is, this church isn’t led by one man. There’s a team of elders and pastors who make the leadership decisions around here, and I’m just part of that team. My title is the Lead Pastor. The two big areas that I have the privilege of leading are in the areas of teaching and vision. Usually, what we call the first Sunday of the year is the State of the Church address, but that’s not what we’re calling it anymore. Now we’re going to refer to it as Vision Sunday. I believe pastors owe this to their churches once a year, where they take a look at where they’ve been and where they’re headed. I think people in the church have every right to ask their pastors, “Hey, where we going this year? What happened last year?” Our Impact Book will give you a lot of details about giving, about attendance, about sending, about the ministries of our church and the other ministries that we do on this campus. Where we were and who we are becoming are going to be discussed today.
I think I can help you understand what the goal is for 2019 in one sentence. This sentence is going to be pretty easy for you. I want you to tuck this away in the back of your mind throughout the entire year. What’s the focus for 2019? Where are we headed as a church this year? Well, I can answer that for you really easily. Here it is: This year we’re going to go back, and we’re going to focus on the fundamentals.
We’re going to take a look at the things that make Calvary Baptist Church, Calvary Baptist Church. We’re going to go deep in these four areas. If you’ve gone through our membership class, all that I’m going to describe today will sound really familiar to you. These are what we refer to as our core values. In fact, I’m going to start them with the letter “D” today. I’ll alliterate just to help you remember them.
When I say core values, I want you to hear two things. One, the word value, it’s really important. You place value on something that’s valuable. This is really, really important at Calvary. When you add the word core, it means it’s at the essence of who we are as a church. These are the things that make Calvary, Calvary. Notice I’m not using the word unique this morning. -because I don’t think what we’re going to describe is unique to Calvary. In fact, I believe that every church that really believes the Bible, that really teaches that the Scriptures are without error and are the Word of God, every church should be doing these four things. Unfortunately, many of them are not. So, what I want us to do for just a couple of minutes this morning is go back and look at the fundamentals. Let’s take a look at the four core values of Calvary Baptist Church. Let’s look at what make us who we are and help us to see where we’ve been and where we’re headed for 2019.
I. Making disciples
The number one core value by a long shot is making disciples. You can’t miss this at Calvary. If you miss this, we messed up, because this is the thing above all of the other things that we do. This is number one of the core values, and today I’ll explain why this is number one. Not long ago I had the chance to listen to Pastor Ronnie Floyd from Cross Church in northwest Arkansas. He was talking about the Great Commission. If you’re familiar with the Bible, you know the Great Commission is found at the end of the book of Matthew, and the Great Commission is making disciples. Basically, it’s how Jesus defines what it means to make disciples.
Pastor Ronnie Floyd made this statement, and I thought it was brilliant. Here’s what Pastor Ronnie Floyd said, “The Great Commission will become the Great Omission anytime it’s not your great obsession.” -meaning that other stuff will start to bubble to the surface, and other stuff will start to become more important. If you don’t meticulously, militantly make this number one, something else will push it down the list. In the case of the Great Commission, found at the end of the book of Matthew, it’s wrong for a church to pursue anything else more than this. This is the thing that Calvary pursues above all things around here. Instead of going to Matthew 28 with you, I want you to see a passage in the Bible where Jesus is actually doing the Great Commission with his followers. It’s found in Luke chapter 10, and this is what it looks like when Jesus’s people are doing the Great Commission.
After this, the Lord appointed seventy-two others, and he sent them ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest. 3 Now go; I’m sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Don’t carry a money-bag, traveling bag, or sandals; don’t greet anyone along the road. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’ 6 If a person of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. 7 Remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they offer, for the worker is worthy of his wages. Don’t move from house to house. 8 When you enter any town, and they welcome you, eat the things set before you. 9 Heal the sick who are there, and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near you.’ 10 When you enter any town, and they don’t welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11 ‘We are wiping off even the dust of your town that clings to our feet as a witness against you. Know this for certain: The kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town.
What Jesus is describing for us in Luke chapter ten is doing the Great Commission. There are two words that I don’t think you could miss. In fact, If Jesus were standing here in 2019 in the Chattahoochee Valley, I believe he would still say these two words, because in Palestine two thousand years ago, Jesus said, “I need you all to go. Everybody needs to go and make disciples.” Here’s why: The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Because the workers are few, pray that the Lord would raise up and send out more workers into his fields, because there’s low-hanging fruit all around you. All you need to do is just simply to go out and start to reach out to your neighbors. Then when they start to follow Christ, you build them up and teach them how to reach out to others. You send them out into their neighborhoods to reach others. If Jesus were standing in the Chattahoochee Valley in 2019, he could say the exact same words. Look at the statistics. The harvest is abundant. Now pray that God would send out workers because right now it feels like there’s only a few workers out there in the fields.
If you’re new to Calvary, I’ll just say it to you right up front. Calvary is a Great Commission church. This is the thing around here, and we refuse to let anything else become more important than this thing. This thing must define everything that happens at Calvary. I’ll conclusively explain to you why in just a second, but the number one core value at Calvary Baptist Church by a landslide is making disciples.
II. Doing life together
The reason why this is such a big deal to us at Calvary is because we’re convinced that life is better together. Do you believe that? Life is better together, when you lock arms with somebody else and they go deep in your life and you go deep in their life. Let me tell you how the Bible describes this. The Bible says something fascinating to us about this in the book of 1st John, and it uses a word that I really want you to understand today. So, I want you to listen to how serious John is about this.
1 John 1:5-7
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in him. 6 If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” and yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. 7 If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
John is saying God is pure, perfect, and holy. God cannot be in an intimate relationship with impure, unholy people. That’s why he sent his Son, Jesus, to pay our debt and to raise us to life once again. If you’re still living in that same sin, still falling into those same habits with absolutely no indication that you really do belong to Jesus, yet you call yourself a Christian, John says you’re lying. You’re lying to God, and you’re lying to yourself if you’re still living like the world and calling yourself a Christian. Because God is pure and holy, he has intimate fellowship with his people by cleaning them up and making them pure and holy.
Can I describe for you what the Bible just did here? -because its mind-blowing. The word fellowship found in verse six is fellowship with God. Then the exact same word is found in verse seven as fellowship with one another. The word fellowship is the Greek word Koinonia. I rarely ever do this at our church, but you need to understand this word because Koinonia is when people come together in the most intimate of relationships for the purpose of accomplishing something. It’s the word that you would use to describe the relationship of marriage. Did you see what John just did? He said the same kind of koinonia that you have with God, you’re supposed to have that kind of koinonia with one another. If you don’t have that kind of koinonia with one another, you’re missing something really, really important.
So, can I talk to the fifty percent of Calvary Baptist Church that is not plugged in in any tangible way to a LifeGroup around here? You are missing the most important thing that we do as a church by far. I really should take a moment right now to clear up some terms that are still a bit confusing to some people around here, and that’s the word “class” versus the word “group”. Calvary does both of these things. We do classes. Some of them are on Sunday morning, Wednesdays, Fridays, at people’s houses, or at coffee shops in town. A class has a teacher and students. It has a topic, and it has an end date. There is a lecture, and it’s for the purposes of teaching you something, but that’s not doing life together.
Doing life together is where you are intimate with other people, where you have this koinonia, marriage-like relationship that you have to God. You have that kind of relationship with other people. -meaning they’re at your house, and you’re at their house. They’re at the hospital when you have a problem. They buy you food when you’re in need. They’re the ones who are keeping you accountable. You can’t do that kind of koinonia fellowship in this room. It’s impossible in the big group setting. It only happens in the most intimate of relationships. That’s what we mean by doing life together. That’s why I can stand up here without any hesitation and say, “If you’re not in a LifeGroup, you’re missing the most important thing that we do as a church.” I would rather you skipped church, if you had to, to be involved in a LifeGroup.
Now, we try to not let LifeGroups happen during church hours because that would be jacked up. I would prefer, if you had to choose only one, choose doing life with other people than coming to this service. Because in this service, you don’t get a chance to ask hard questions. In this service, you don’t have people looking you in the eyes and saying, “Hey, what’s going on in your marriage? How are things going in your family?” In this service, you don’t have people who are going to be there with you when you go to the hospital and take care of your children when you have a problem. That happens in LifeGroups.
I’m begging you for your sake; get involved in a LifeGroup. If you’re part of the fifty percent of this church that has no discernible LifeGroup doing life with another member of this church relationship, it’s time for you to get that kind of relationship. It doesn’t happen in a class. Those classes are for the purpose of teaching you something. That’s what a class does. LifeGroups are for the purpose of doing life together.
The third core value unashamedly around here is diversity. When I say diversity, I don’t just mean color of skin. If you’ve been around here for a couple of years, you may have heard or I may have poorly communicated that we’re just talking about color of skin. That’s not what we mean. We mean generational diversity, where young and old are worshipping in the same room at the same time. We mean gender diversity, where women are leading in biblically-appropriate ways. We mean diversity in biblical giftedness as much as we mean diversity in ethnicity around here. We make no apologies for this. Calvary Baptist Church is pursuing diversity to the same degree that the Chattahoochee Valley is diverse. We’ve done some great work in this area in the past, and we still have work to do. Do you want to know why this is such a big deal? I can easily answer that question for you from the book of Revelation chapter five. Listen to what the Bible says about diversity in God’s kingdom.
And they sang a new song: You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slaughtered, and you purchased people for God by your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation. 10 You made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign on the earth.
Do you see what Revelation 5:9 is describing for us? God is worthy to be worshipped by every language, every nation, every tribe, and every person on planet Earth. God deserves that, and we want that at Calvary Baptist Church. So, let me be clear. There’s been a couple of great things that have happened in our church, and you may have missed this over the last twelve or fifteen months around here, so I want to point some things out. I will also tell you that we’re not going to back down. We’re not going to stop until we look like the Chattahoochee Valley looks. Look at any zip code in Alabama or Georgia in the Chattahoochee Valley, and you will see that those zip codes are more diverse than our church is right now. If a church is accurately representing its community, if they’re really reaching their community, then this would just happen naturally. This is supposed to happen when a church is really serious about reaching their community.
Can I give you a specific prayer request? In fact, I want to ask you, would you write this prayer request down? There’s something that I want to ask you to pray for with me about our church in 2019. Would you pray that God would raise up a LifeGroup leader who is a Spanish speaker in our church? Would you also pray that God would raise up a LifeGroup leader who is a Korean speaker in our church? Let me tell you why. In the last twelve or eighteen months, the Hispanic Latino population of our church has grown. Now there are people worshipping at Calvary, and English is not their first language; it’s their second language. They understand Spanish much better than they do English. There are more Koreans worshipping in our church today than ever in the history of our church, and Korean is their first language. I feel the compelling need to provide a LifeGroup for them. If Korean is your first language, and you understand Korean better than you understand English, we want you to hear the Bible and understand the Gospel in your native language. By the way, the reason why this is really such a big deal is, there are people that live in the Chattahoochee Valley who don’t speak anything but Spanish. If we’re going to reach them, it’s going to be through Spanish speakers at Calvary Baptist Church.
Here’s what I’ve been praying for weeks about. I’m going to ask you to pray with me. In 2019, pray God would raise up a Spanish speaker who would take over and lead a LifeGroup. Pray that God would raise up a Korean speaker who would lead a LifeGroup. Pray we would be able to provide LifeGroups in their first language, because I believe we owe this to the people who are already coming to Calvary. There are already Spanish speakers and Korean speakers, and this is their first language. If we’re going to be serious about ethnic diversity, we have to be that serious about it. Don’t back down and don’t rest on our laurels until we really do look like and represent the community that God has placed us in.
IV. Developing leaders
The last area that we’re going to pursue today is developing leaders. When I say leader, if you’re thinking to yourself, somebody with a business card or somebody with a title or somebody who gets a paycheck, that’s not what we mean by this. Maybe that’s a leader, but I really mean everybody in this church. If you’re scratching your head saying, “Wait a second. How does everybody become a leader at the same time?” I can show you the answer to that question. It’s found in the Bible in the book of Second Timothy.
2 Timothy 2:1-2
You, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
This is multiplication of the Gospel, not addition. I don’t think you can miss leader development in verse two, because look at what Paul is saying. Paul is saying, “I taught you, Timothy. Now I am sending you out to teach other men the things that I taught you. I am expecting you to expect those to teach other men also.” At some point, you can’t be a disciple maker and not lead, because if you’re teaching somebody, congratulations; you just became a leader. In Paul’s argument here, everybody should be teaching somebody else to teach somebody else to teach somebody else, until there’s nobody else to teach. That’s our goal as a church when it comes to making disciples. We’re making disciples who are trained and taught to make disciples until there’s nobody else to be a disciple or until everybody has heard the message. Paul expects leaders to be developed at every level in the church. Not just the person with the title, not just the person that has the paycheck, but everybody is leading in God’s church.
I said something just a second ago that you may sit there wondering about. I said making disciples was number one. I said it was number one by a long shot. Can I point something out to you? -because when you drove up, you saw these three words – reach, build, and send. Send people out to go do with somebody else what you are doing with them. When you walked in the doors of this worship center, you saw it. When you go through the cafeteria to pick up your children, you see it on the walls. This is what we mean by making disciples. We’re reaching outside the doors of this church. When people become followers of Christ, we build them up in this church so that we can send them back out into our community to go reach more people.
Here’s the truth: The reason why making disciples is number one is because when you are making disciples, you are automatically teaching and sending, which made you a leader. You’re developing people by sending them out to reach, build and send others, which means you’re in the leadership development business just by making disciples. If you’re in a community that doesn’t all look the same, and you’re trying to reach your next-door neighbors, you’re automatically doing diversity. If you’re just reaching your neighborhood, if you’re just reaching the people at work, you’re automatically doing this. When you’re really serious about making disciples, you will be building people up in the faith, locking arms with them, and doing life together. In other words, you’ve already accomplished the last three if you’re doing the first one. The reason why making disciples is first is because all of our core values come from that one. That’s the one thing above everything that we do around here.
- Today, I turned from my sin and trusted Jesus as my Savior for the first time.
- I will take part in making disciples in our city this year.
- I’m not currently doing life with other Christians. Please contact me about joining a LifeGroup.
- I will pray for our church to look more diverse this year.
- I’m ready to start leading. Contact me about how I can grow as a leader at Calvary.
- What would you say is the greatest need in our city? Why do you believe this is the greatest need? What can we do this year as a church about it?
- What barriers do you think keep Jesus’ church from being racially diverse? What barriers prevent different generational groups from getting close to each other in the church?
- Can you think of groups of people in our city that need to hear about Jesus? Who?
- When people in our city see members of Calvary Baptist Church, do you think they see passionate followers of Jesus? What can you do to live out a faith in front of others that makes them want to follow Jesus also?
- What are the things that you believe should never change in a church? (Explain your answer using Scripture.)
- Is there a LifeGroup that you think Calvary needs to start in 2019? Would you be willing to start that group? If so, contact Rosie Osborne in the church office.
- Pray for God to make you an agent of change this year.