TEASER: “Ya know, I think one of the greatest tragedies of the Church in America, is how many people TRY church out… they stick around for awhile… and then they eventually move on and STOP. And I think one of greatest reasons why they do that, is that they come to church, the PREACHING might be fine, the MUSIC might be fine; but the if the church is not successful at helping people to see the ROLE that THEY play in the Body of Christ… asking, “Why does this group of people need me here?… they’re almost never going to stick around.”
“Well here at Kirkmont, as some of you may know, we’re in a Sermon series called, “GOING SMALL TO GROW BIG”… the Life Changing Power of a Small Group. And we’re talking about the importance of connecting people to Small Groups. And the last two weeks we’ve been looking at how God’s Word is INVITING us, calling us to a community of FAITH that is deeper than what we can offer people here on Sunday morning.
And so we’re saying the way we seek to achieve that is through a Small Group Ministry.
And the last couple weeks we’ve been looking at how individual people… how us as individuals can GROW BIG by joining a small group. But this morning we’re going to spend just a few minutes together looking at how the Church as a whole can benefit–how the Church as a whole can GROW BIG from going small.
And the way we’re going to take a look at that is by tackling two myths. We’ll have these myths on the screen for you here. These myths come from… every once in a while I come across a book and it’s hard for me to get past some of the ideas that I encounter.
I came across a book called, “Sticky Church“ by a pastor named Larry Osborn, and he presented these two myths that I think Small Groups would help us break out of. And they are THE HOLY PASTOR MYTH and THE HOLY PLACE MYTH… showing us how going to Small Groups will help us break out of those. So first the…
If you take a look in your Bulletin, you open it up and you look in there and you’ll see next to my name the word, “REVEREND”. Let me tell you something, one of my goals here at Kirkmont is to shed the title Reverend. I’m trying to get it away from any of the things in writing. I don’t want people to call me that because I don’t want the pressure.
One of the things I’ve learned over the years about myself.. if anything I’ve learned about myself as a pastor is that I_AM_NOT_REVEREND… in fact, I’m very successful at reminding the congregation that I am not “reverend” and giving them opportunities to express FORGIVENESS and PATIENCE and those types of things.
And so many churches elevate the pastor to such a place… this “Holy Pastor Myth” that the Church then is limited in it’s ability to grow to the SIZE that one person can shepherd. What I mean by that is that for many churches, unless they shed that whole myth… they demand the pastor’s attention in each and every setting.
So someone might have gone to the hospital and they might have 5 or 6 different people FROM THEIR CHURCH who come and visit them; but if the PASTOR hasn’t shown up they haven’t really been visited.
That’s the HOLY PASTOR MYTH and if churches insist on that and don’t get past that, they’ll never be able to grow BIG because they will always be limited in their size by the number of people that any one pastor can actually pastor.
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I came across this passage this week… its LUKE 9:1-6, let me read it to you then I’ll explain it to you how I process with this passage. Luke, chapter 9, 1 through 6 the Scripture tell us this… so Jesus has got 12 of his best friends, his best disciples… and here’s what the Scripture says,
“When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet (there’s some cultural stuff happening here) as a testimony against them.” So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.”
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I read this passage earlier this week and I immediately just thought to myself, “Does this have anything to do with our Sermon Series?” … the whole idea of GOING SMALL to GROW BIG. And I first I thought, “no, I don’t really see the connection”… but I couldn’t shake the passage. And so I kept coming back to it and coming back to it, and I finally kind of made this connection… I started thinking to myself, “I wonder how Jesus felt when He was sending out the twelve to now go do ministry for the very first time IN HIS NAME?”
And I thought to myself, “I bet He had some of the same feelings that Pat, our Christian Education Director or I have when we call someone up and we say, “Hey… would you like to lead a small group?”.
No offense, but we feel anxious when we ask you to lead a small group (Laughter). We’re nervous, how are they going to do? Are they going to succeed? Are they going to SINK or SWIM? What’s it going to be like? What kind of experience will they offer? Are they going to teach HERESY to our people? … ya know we have all these thoughts that run wild in our mind.
And if you can imagine… there’s Jesus, he’s about to send off the twelve and he has to eventually learn this idea of passing the reigns.
If there was any one person who could’ve bought in to the HOLY PASTOR MYTH and just said, “Ya know what.. I’ll do it.” … it would’ve been Jesus; but Jesus even knew that His time was limited here on earth, that the best thing for the Kingdom of God was to pass the reigns on, to give LEADERSHIP away to other people, and Churches need to embrace that as well… to get over the HOLY PASTOR MYTH and begin to challenge people to step up and to take the reigns and to fulfill places of leadership so that the Church can grow BIG by going small.
In Chapter 10, one chapter over, turn the page and there you are in Luke 10:1-3 and the Scripture says this,
“After this the Lord appointed…”
…now some of you might be saying, “Yea, twelve people, Jesus sent out twelve people, big deal right? … he sent out twelve people ya know, but He had a lot of time to spend with them… he really poured into them and so it probably wasn’t that stressful for Him to send them out. But NOW the Scripture says that He’s EXPANDING this… so now…
“After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.”
You can just imagine the feeling of Jesus as he’s sending these 72 out to preach not in someone ELSE’S name, but IN HIS OWN NAME.
I have a hard time sending people out to preach in Jesus’ name… then I think the LAST thing I want to do is send someone off to preach in MY own name… to talk about me… ya know and here’s Jesus who of all people could have bought into the HOLY MAN MYTH… instead He sends these 72 off.
And when we start challenging people to pick up the reigns and play these new roles of leadership something amazing happens in the church… the Church begins to be filled with people who identify what their spiritual gifting is and what their ROLE is in the BODY OF CHRIST.
You see, most churches are filled with the majority of people having no idea what their spiritual gifting is or what role they’re role they’re supposed to play in the particular church.
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1 Corinthians 12.. it tells us this idea of Spiritual Gifting; let’s look at this passage verses 7 through 11 the Scripture says this,
“Now to each one…”
… not to ‘some’, not to every-other-person, not the elite, not to people who’ve been in church for more than 10 years, not to people who are tithing 10%, not to the people who were baptized and confirmed and are taking communion regularly… TO EACH ONE… meaning EACH person who has accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and transferred their trust from themselves to Jesus Christ.. they have RECEIVED the HOLY SPIRIT..
“to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”
What this is saying friends, if you consider yourself to be a follower of Christ, you are gifted by God Himself to do something SUPERNATURALLY on behalf of the people in your congregation.
“To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit…”,
…here’s a long list of the different options, not all the options but some of them…
“… to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.” Finally.. “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.”
See… churches that launch into Small Groups, invite people to discover their Spiritual Gifting. They have to leave the comfort of Sunday morning and allowing staff to lead them in church and begin to take up on the reigns and discover their Spiritual Gifting.
When someone calls you and says, “Hey, we’d like you to consider leading a Small Group… and we want to hand you the Leader’s Guide and put it in your hands… if you accept that challenge you’ll discover whether or not leading a small group is your Spiritual Gifting.
And hopefully most of you will discover it is… some of you, let’s just be honest, will discover, “check that one off the list… definitely not for me”.
Someone else might call you… we might call you and say, we’ve got a leader, but we need a HOST, we need a HOME. We need someone who has the Gift of HOSPITALITY who’s willing to open up their home, and make people feel welcome and comfortable and invited. And you know what, they’re not going to freak out when kids make a mark on the walls because they’re doing it all for the Kingdom of God.
It’s the Gift of Hospitality. And you will discover that if you try that out, whether you have that gift or not.
There’s so many other gifts that will come out in Small Group Ministry… you might show up to Small Group thinking your MARRIAGE is a MESS, only to find out your marriage is doing pretty good compared to some of the other marriages at the small group and they noticed that and THEY SEEK YOU FOR COUNSEL.
They say, “Hey, Jones, we’re the Smith’s, our marriage is falling apart, you all seem to be doing it better than us… can we talk about that?”
You might be put into situations that you never possibly imagined because when people get together and start doing LIFE together.. it’s amazing how God equips the different people and they discover their Spiritual Gifting.
It might be COUNSELING married couples; it might be helping a couple without kids with some pointers about what to do when they start raising kids.
1 Corinthians 12 tells us not only do we experience our Spiritual Gifting, but also reminds us that I think Small Groups are going to help us discover WHERE WE FIT INTO THE BODY OF CHRIST. The Scripture says in verses 14 through 19… just a couple verses after what we just read,
“Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact (THIS IS A “FACT” it says)… God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be?”
Ya know, I think one of the greatest tragedies of the Church in America, is how many people TRY church out… they stick around for awhile… and then they eventually move on and STOP. And I think one of greatest reasons why they do that, is that they come to church, the PREACHING might be fine, the MUSIC might be fine; but the if the church is not successful at helping people to see the ROLE that THEY play in the Body of Christ… asking, “Why does this group of people need me here?… they’re almost never going to stick around.
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So when we launch into small groups and give people an opportunity to connect to a smaller group, we help them to discover how God has gifted them for the COMMON GOOD, and to help them to see the role that they can play in this church… how WE NEED THEM… how other people can benefit from THEIR PRESENCE… and that in many ways “closes the back door”. People want to stick around to something that NEEDS them, where they can be valuable and appreciated.
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So when we connect people to small groups we help them to discover their Spiritual Gifting; we help them to see the role that they play in the body of Christ. And these things counter THE HOLY MAN MYTH by helping other people discover what they have to offer, not just what the pastor has to offer.
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I want to invite you to consider, if I handed you a really, really heavy log, just to the max of your physical capability… I want you to imagine how long you would push yourself and force yourself to hold that beyond your comfort zone before you were willing to let it down and say “I give up… I quit”.
But now I want you to imagine that I put you in a group of 5 or 6 people… that’s why the military does this kind of training, why sports teams do this kind of training, and I handed you a proportionally heavier weight that pushed the group as a whole to the very limit. I want you imagine how much longer and farther you would be willing to suffer and to endure because you knew you were a part of something where if YOU gave out the WHOLE GROUP was going to suffer as a result of it.
And here’s what the Scripture is saying… if one part drops out of the body, the whole group is suffering. And most people go to church and they think to themselves, “If I left and never came back, no one would ever notice and the church wouldn’t be any less because of it”… and that’s sad and it’s tragic.
But if we can SHOW people how they’re gifted by God and connect them to a team of people and pass on the burden of discipleship to a small group, and invite them to carry that burden together, I think we’ll see that people will rise to the challenge and do amazing things in their faith.
WHEN THE CHURCH discovers that what happens on Sunday morning, usually done by some paid staff person, can often be done by lay people in homes, the Church can begin to GROW BIG.
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Next quickly then..
That’s the Holy Man Myth, now THE HOLY PLACE MYTH.
Ya know this is a wonderful SANCTUARY isn’t it? We have a beautiful place, we’ve got these wonderful PEWS, and wonderful stained glass WINDOWS … intermingled with nice TECHNOLOGY; and then we have a great OFFICE area, RESTROOMS aplenty and all kinds of things here at Kirkmont… all kinds of reasons to love this place. And we want you to LIKE it. And I like it; and I think that the Sanctuary is special.
There’s a reason why on Saturday night I leave my office and come and I pray for the service IN HERE. Because there’s something about the fact that we’re going to be gathered here.
And sometimes instead of reading in my office during the week I’ll just come here and pick up a pew Bible and read_in_here. I certainly would love for you to know that anytime during the week you could walk in the doors and say, “I just wanna go be alone in the Sanctuary”.
And that’s a special thing… it’s special in many ways; but we have to get over the idea of THE HOLY PLACE MYTH that this is where and ONLY where God is found… that you have to find Him and discover Him AT CHURCH. That is a lie that in our church tradition we can find and discover, if we go back several hundred years because they were trying to make people dependent upon the Church.
But it’s a LIE.
How many of you growing up (pause)… had church on Sunday morning… you went to church, but are willing to say, “Ya know what… God and faith really didn’t penetrate our house, our home or my workplace very much”.
That’s the most common testimony that I hear from people when they join the church… “I grew up in the church, I had some church experience, but GOD and FAITH never made a difference in our HOME, in our PERSONAL LIVES and in our WORK PLACE or anything else… it was just_Sunday_morning.
John 15 tells us this… it’s a famous passage, for many people are used to the Scripture; it says this,
Jesus is speaking and He says,
“I am the vine; you are the branches.” IF YOU COME TO CHURCH ONCE A WEEK you will bear much fruit, apart from me you can do nothing. No it doesn’t say that… it says,
“If you REMAIN in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Next verse, IF ANYONE DOES NOT GO TO CHURCH JUST ONCE A WEEK he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers… no, it doesn’t say that, it says,
“If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”
Next verse, IF YOU GO TO CHURCH ONCE A WEEK AND HEAR MY WORD, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you…
You get the idea… what Jesus is NOT saying, ‘CHECK IN WITH ME’, or just, ‘CATCH UP WITH ME’… what the God of the Universe wants from each and every one of us is a constant abiding , personal relationship with us... that we would remain with Him in this constant and personal relationship. And most people don’t ever really experience that because they haven’t gotten over THE HOLY PLACE MYTH… that the only place they can encounter the Living God is at Church.
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But a Small Group does something amazing… when our people go into someone’s living room on Wednesday night or Thursday night and they have a powerful encounter with God through Bible Study or fellowship or prayer or singing, or something like that, they begin to realize the God of the Universe is alive and active and they can encounter Him in any place in which they seek Him and they begin to think to themselves…
… “If it happened at the Jones’ living room on Wednesday night from 6:30 to 8, maybe it can happen with my own family in my own living room on a regular basis… maybe it can happen in MY BEDROOM when I wake up in the morning ALONE on a regular basis… maybe it can happen between me and God when I DRIVE to work or when I’m at the WORKPLACE…” …they begin to bring God into their regular_daily_life and as a result of it some really really amazing things happen.
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Friends, when a church discovers that the things that happen on a Sunday morning often done right here in the Sanctuary… can happen and occur in LIVING ROOMS and in CARS and BEDROOMS and at WORKPLACES and at PARKS… churches can begin to GROW BIG… when they get over the MYTH of the idea of THE HOLY PLACE.
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Ya know, when we were talking about the idea of individuals GROWING BIG, we were talking about their Spiritual development and growing and now here we are on a Sunday morning talking about the Church growing big and there’s a component of that, but we’re also talking about the numerical reality of GROWING LARGER because of going small into Small Groups.
And it really raises the question doesn’t it… why would we talk about growing bigger? What’s our motivation for that. There are some wrong motivations for that. If our motivation is, “Well, we think that if we’re bigger then God will like us more, or feel differently about us”… we’ll have to get over that real quick.
Friends, the Cross here behind us reminds us that we are dependent upon God’s free grace and mercy; there’s nothing we’ve done to earn our relationship with Him… and making our church bigger isn’t going to make God like us any more.
We don’t want to get bigger so we can tell the old denomination that we used to be a part of, “I told you so”… (Laughter). We don’t want to be bigger so that when we tell people, “We go to Kirkmont” they’re really impressed by that… because after all, if they wanted to go to the biggest church in town, they would already be going to the biggest church in town.
For me personally as a pastor, twelve years ago when I left seminary maybe I wanted to grow bigger because I just thought it would be cool to be the pastor of a bigger church. But I’ve met and connected with pastors of churches that are bigger than the ones that I’ve pastored at and I discovered something really interesting… they have just as many, if not more problems.
I won’t sleep better at night if the church is bigger… I’ll probably have more restless nights. SO THAT better not be my motivation.
Our sole motivation ought to be because God’s Word tells us, we should love the community around us and desire for them to come into a relationship with Jesus Christ and to long to see them nurtured and discipled in their relationship with Christ.
And we believe that small group ministry.. by GOING SMALL will help us GROW BIG and accomplish that wonderful, beautiful task that God has invited us to join Him in.
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Friends, we handed these cards our last week and we had a great response… wonderful response; they’re in your bulletin’s again in case you were sort of on the fence last week or just weren’t here with us last week.
This is just a card that gives you an opportunity to fill out and say, “If the right small group was formed for this new six-week series coming up with in September, I would consider joining it”. You’re not committing to a small group, you’re just saying, ‘if the right one was formed, I’d like to know about an opportunity because I’m strongly considering joining one’.
So if that’s you, and you haven’t filled one out, we’d love to have you take the time to fill it out so that we don’t miss anyone, there are some people here who WANT to be connected further, to benefit from the things we’ve been talking about and we really don’t want to miss them.
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Pastor Dan Borgelt
Kirkmont Presbyterian Church
Beavercreek, Ohio 45385
All Kirkmont Sermons: http://www.kirkmont.com/sermons.htm