The early church was devoted to the Apostles’ teaching, the fellowship, the breaking of bread, and to prayer. But what was the result of this rhythm of life? What was the outcome of following the way of Jesus? Luke records that “The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” What does it mean that the Lord added to their number? And what were they being saved from? The answer contains the breathtakingly good news of the gospel and the great purpose of the church to this day.
Jesus came to preach, but his mission didn’t end with his sermon. In Jesus’ life, we see the beautiful and redemptive mission of friendship. Jesus was willing to befriend the lost and the least among us. He was willing to touch the untouchable and eat with the despised. Jesus was a friend of sinners. Are we willing to take steps toward friendship in the world?
This sermon is part of The Surprising Power of Friendship sermon series, recorded on Sep 22, 2019, by Pastor David Parks on Mark 1:35-42; 2:13-17. Listen/download here:
The Gospel is the story about how we are accepted by God through his grace and then we are transformed into something new. The Gospel transforms our perspective of other people as well as Christ Jesus. The Gospel transforms our role as ambassadors for Christ—gospel transformed messengers—sharing good news everywhere in life. And the Gospel transforms our ability to accomplish this task, providing all the resources of heaven.
This is a standalone sermon recorded on Nov 25, 2018, by Scott Sterner, Church Multiplication Catalyst for the Forest Lakes District, EFCA, on 2 Corinthians 5:16-21. Listen/download here:
I usually focus my writing on applying the good news of Jesus to regular aspects of life (parenting, marriage, leadership, work, etc.). But today, I’d like to give an update on an exciting new church building project. At our congregational business meeting last May, the Elder Board announced that we would be starting to gather information and explore options for moving to a more permanent building facility—and people cheered! (Obviously, there had been a felt need for some time.) But at that time we had no definite plans and no real timeline. Our first priority last year was on helping to launch Village Community Church. But we said this was the direction we believed God was leading us in the future and we asked for prayer.
Where are we in the process?
“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Pro 15:22). We consulted many sources looking for wisdom and guidelines that other churches have followed in buying facilities and relocating. So far we’ve…
- Continued to pray to ask God for guidance and wisdom
- Read books on church finance and buildings
- Spoken to other pastors of similar-sized churches who have recently moved/remodeled
- Interviewed a pastor who has overseen four major capital campaigns and church building projects in his career (this was an incredible gift!)
- And we spoke with realtors, bankers, and pretty much anyone else who was willing to talk with us about the project
Trust me when I say that we are not the first church to look for a building! This is completely normal in the life of a church. But this is no small deal, and we do not want to leap before we look.
So after this “learning” phase, we are now assembling a few options for the congregation to consider in the coming months. We believe these options will allow us to continue and expand our mission of sharing good news for years to come. And we really do believe that by God’s grace, we will see the good news of Jesus Christ transform the people of the city in every way!! This vision always makes my heart beat faster. The main options are…
- Option 1: Buy land and build a new facility (or several phases over time)
- Option 2: Buy an existing property (commercial, industrial, or existing church facility) and remodel it to fit our needs
In a perfect world, Option 1 would be ideal as we could build exactly what we want (obviously within financial reason). However, it’s far more expensive than Option 2, and most of the reasonably priced available land in Appleton is outside of Appleton. For these reasons (and probably others), Option 2 is much more common for churches of our size and life-stage. The elder board is working out details on several options and will communicate them in time. We will need your feedback, ideas, support, and prayers along the way. To be continued!
Does a Church Need a Building?
The first point to clarify is that the building is not the church. It’s common to say, “We’re going to church.” as if the destination was the church, but the people are the church. If the YMCA somehow disappeared overnight, Appleton Gospel would still be a church. No different than if something happened to my house, my family would still be a family. But the people of the church are expected to continue to meet together for worship, community, ministry, and mission (Ac 2:42-47; Heb 10:25). A church only needs a building to facilitate the mission of the church. A church building a tool for mission. A big, expensive tool, but a tool nonetheless.
When we started as a church plant about 7 years ago, all we needed was a conference room for worship and 1-2 classrooms for children’s ministry at the YMCA. I worked out of my house or in coffee shops (which is when I became a total coffee snob). Since then, we moved twice within the YMCA to facilities that better fit our needs. Now we use the McGuire Gym for worship, 4 classrooms for children’s ministry, and the cafe, kitchen, and family fun center for social events. We also use the hallways, restrooms, onsite storage, and parking areas every week at the YMCA (things we don’t normally think about). This doesn’t include the space used in people’s homes, other facilities rented for events, or the office space we rent for church admin. For the first 6 years, we were absolutely blessed by the facilities of the YMCA. They have been a great partner of ours. But for the past year or so, we’ve felt the limitations of being a mobile church. There’s only so much you can do when you setup and tear down everything every week. It takes a lot of bandwidth that could be put towards more fruitful things.
So does a church need a building? The answer is no because a building doesn’t define a church and isn’t the mission of a church. But if a church is healthy and doing the evangelistic work of sharing good news, making disciples, and loving their neighbors, then the church will likely grow. And when that happens, the needs for facility space grow as well.
So let’s keep our eyes on Jesus. Let’s keep focused on his mission to make disciples. Let’s keep loving and serving one another and our neighbors and grow in our capacity to do that. And let’s just see what God might do in building a church as we faithfully follow him!
During his ministry, Jesus traveled about telling everyone the good news of the kingdom of God. After his resurrection, he sent his followers out to do the same. So how does this work? Jesus taught us to be like farmers, planting seeds of good news. Some plant, others water, and God brings the growth. Some do not respond in faith—at least not right away—but those who do see an incredible harvest. Who needs to hear good news today?
This sermon is a standalone sermon. Recorded on Jan. 7, 2018, by Pastor David Parks, from Luke 8:1-15. Listen/download here:
A Christian is one who is called to share good news with people who need to experience the life-changing power of God who gives sight to the blind, who sets the captives free, who binds every wound, and who makes those who are spiritually dead, alive in Christ. Every follower of Jesus, great and small, has a role to play in this mission—no spectators in the stands, only players on the field.
- To whom have you been sent?
- Who could you help send?
Of sending and being sent, this is what a partnership in the gospel is all about.
This sermon is a standalone sermon. Recorded on Dec. 31, 2017, by Pastor David Parks, from Philippians 1:3-6. Listen/download here: