Summary: Transforming our city by being a transformed church
Extreme Makeover: City Edition
Session Two: Becoming the Church That Changes the City
We began last week talking about Extreme Makeover: City Edition – changing our towns and cities for Jesus Christ. We began with placing up on the screen our purpose statement: Inviting People on the Journey toward God, together in community, to reach our culture. The reason I put that purpose statement up there was to let you know that we at The Journey have a purpose. We measure everything we do up against this purpose. Our purpose is to makeover this city – bringing them toward God, helping them feel a greater purpose together in community, with the ultimate goal of reaching the people in our culture with the good news that Jesus Christ loves them.
Understanding and following our purpose statement will be the key to whether or not The Journey – you and I – can give Rochester and the surrounding towns an Extreme Makeover – we can radically change our city if we will follow our purpose. The very first part of making over our city is what we discussed last week – praying for our city, praying for opportunities to share who Jesus Christ is with our friends, families, and neighbors. Some of you this week have prayed for an open door to tell others about Christ and have received it – keep praying. Outside of our prayers, God is not obligated to act on our behalf in any way.
Today we go into step two in the Extreme Makeover, and this step has everything to do with who we are as a church, the Journey, and the people that are specifically committed to this church. I want to tell you this morning that as we function and interact together as The Journey, we are either helping or hurting our ability to make an impact in our city.
As the Journey internally goes, so the Journey goes externally. In other words, if we are a bunch of rotten, mean-spirited, prayer-less, immature, unknowledgeable, whining, complaining, griping, hurtful, back-stabbing people who on Sundays put on the façade of “God is so good,” – or as Jesus would call people like this “HYPOCRITES” - the chance of us making a positive, God-ordained, and Spirit-led impact into this city is zero. Even less than zero – because if we are HYPOCRITES, we will ultimately damage the reputation of God’s church and turn people away from knowing about God.
The stakes are big – people’s lives are at stake here – but the reward is huge! Listen to what Bill Hybels had to say about the church:
“I believe that only one power exists on this sorry planet that can (transform the human heart). It’s the power of the love of Jesus Christ, the love that conquers sin and wipes out shame and heals wounds and reconciles enemies and patches broken dreams and ultimately changes the world, one life at a time. And what grips my heart everyday is the knowledge that the radical message of that transforming love has been given to the church.”
“That means in a very real way the future of the world rests in the hands of local congregations like yours and mine. It’s the church or it’s lights out. Without church so filled with the power of God that they can’t help but spill goodness and peace and love and joy into the world, depravity will win the day; evil will flood the world. But it does not have to be that way. Strong, growing communities of faith can turn the tide of history. They can!”
“Don’t bother looking elsewhere. The church is it.” (Bill Hybels, Courageous Leadership)
So the church is what transforms our world, our cities, our society. It’s been done before – when the church first began, they completely changed the world in a short time. As a matter of fact, the beginning of Acts records 8000 conversions within a span of weeks or months – and probably that number is more near 10,000-15,000 because most of that number reflects men that we converted.
The results of this kind of life-changing community:
Acts 2:41 – 3000 converts in one day
Acts 2:47 – “Each day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved.”
Acts 4:4 – 5000 more converts in one day
Acts 6:1 – “…the believers rapidly multiplied”
Acts 6:7 – “The number of believers greatly increased…”
When the church is what God intended, growth becomes contagious!
How can we do this? How can we make this group of believers, this church – US – how do we make the Journey into a church that transforms our city?
Looking at the example of Acts 2, how can I make the Journey a church that changes our city?