Creating a Future at Brook Hills
November 18, 2007
Well, good morning. If you have a Bible, and I hope you do, let me invite you to open with me to Hebrews 12. If you need to, feel free to use your Table of Contents to find Hebrews, it’s in the back of the New Testament there. And while you’re turning there, let me also encourage you to pull out the novel from your worship guide. Some of you are really worried about lunch right now. You were thinking it; let’s just get it out in the open.
Last week, we had the opportunity to have kind of a family heart to heart as we thought about giving our lives, two percent of our days next year, to contexts around the world, and obviously, had an incredible Sunday in that. And this morning, I want us to continue that in a sense, but in a different sense, I want us to continue to have this kind of family heart to heart. We’re going to do things a little different. Much like last week, we’re going to read a passage of Scripture, and let this truth in Hebrews 12 launch us into doing a little bit of dreaming together.
And if you’re visiting with us this morning, I want you to know that what we’re about to do is not normal. We’re just going to spend some time this morning as a faith family at Brook Hills thinking about what God is doing and desires to do in the future in and through us. And so, if you’re visiting with us, hopefully you’ll get a little bit of a glimpse into the picture of this faith family, but it won’t be exactly what we normally do on a … on a weekly basis.
Hebrews 12:1, remember the background of the book of Hebrews. This is a group of predominately Jewish Christians who are reading this for the first time. Jewish Christians that were facing a lot of persecution in their faith, and they were tempted to fall away from their faith and really tempted to also fall away from the mission of Christ. And so all throughout this book, the author is giving them warnings and cautions not to fall away from their faith, and not to fall away from the mission of Christ.
And you get to Hebrews 11, and we’ve got what is known by many as the “faith chapter”, and it’s just a litany of people. It’s a “Hall of Faith”, so to speak. People who trusted in God: Abraham, Moses, this person and that person, and how God used their faith to impact the world. Then, he gets to Hebrews 12:1 and says, “Therefore …” which we know means, “in light of that.”
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
The picture here is look at those who have gone before you and look toward Christ, and it may not be easy in your faith, and it may not be easy to give yourself to the mission of Christ, but run after Christ and His mission with everything that’s in you.
A couple of weeks ago, I was preaching at a conference with a bunch of pastors from Alabama, and there were two other guys preaching at this conference, and these were two guys that I have a lot of respect for. They are pastors. They are guys that, in my own life and ministry, I’ve gone to conferences and listened to, and so it was kind of this humbling thing now to be actually speaking at the same conference that they were. And I’m sitting there in-between times I spoke and they would speak, and then we kind of did this rotation thing, and I was sitting there listening to them, and it hit me: These guys have been preaching the gospel, faithfully preaching the gospel longer than I’ve even been alive.
And I was reminded as I sat there listening to them at this conference where I was also preaching, that everything in my life, in my ministry, is completely built on standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before me. And I’m not doing anything new. My goal is to be faithful, to continue that which has been passed down to those who have gone … by those who’ve gone in front of me.
And I started thinking about it us, the church, and back in 1990, when a few couples began praying together about launching a new work south of Birmingham on Highway 280, when there was nowhere near all the stuff that’s on Highway 280 right now. And how in January 1990, a group of about forty or so people gathered together at Southeastern Bible College for the first time to worship together, and how the beginning of February, they began to move to the WMU building, the place where the historic missionary Annie Armstrong’s bed is put on display, and they started worshipping there, and that bed that’s put on display was broken once or twice or more times by members of the faith family at Brook Hills.
And it’s not uncommon to hear people say today, “I was at Brook Hills back when Brook Hills met at the WMU building.” In fact, if you can say that, I want to invite you to stand up where you are. I’m just curious. Anybody in here who can say, “I was at Brook Hills, okay, when they were worshipping in the WMU building.”? Let’s give God a hand for where this whole picture started. Stay standing if you or one of your children broke Annie Armstrong’s bed. Anybody? And we had two in the earlier service who were honest enough to say that.
By 1993, The Church at Brook Hills had moved onto this land, and the whole story behind this land that we now sit on, basically, revolved around four different transactions that brought about this land at virtually no cost. Started worshipping down in what was called the multipurpose building, down the hill.
But ever since the beginning of The Church at Brook Hills … and obviously, I wasn’t there during those times … but everything I know about The Church at Brook Hills was that it was much more than a building. This was a body of people who were gathering together with the simplest, yet strongest, of foundations. “We’re going to love God, and we’re going to love people, and we’re going to reach people right where they are.” And God began to pour out His Spirit and His grace in amazing ways, and people were coming to faith in Christ left and right, and people coming back to the church that had left the church, and that was the legacy that became The Church at Brook Hills, reaching people right where they are. And I am convinced, when you look at a short history from a few people to a few thousand people of The Church at Brook Hills, there is no question that God has chosen to pour out His hand of grace on this church in unexplainable ways over the last fifteen-plus years.
And the question I want to ask this morning is, “Why? Why has God shown such great grace to the people called The Church at Brook Hills?” And I believe the answer is because He wants to use the people called The Church at Brook Hills to show such great glory for His name in all the world. Why has this church been built on reaching people right where they are no matter where they are? I think the answer is so that last week, three thousand people would come to this stage and say, “We’re going to reach people right where they are around the world.” The simplest and the strongest of foundations: Loving God and loving people.
I was talking not long ago with one of those original families … family members, and she was sharing with me about how, when they gathered together to pray about this new work, that what they were praying was, “God, we want to be a part of a church that changes the world.” And she looked at me with tears streaming down her face, and she said, “It is an incredible thing to see that prayer being answered right in front of my eyes.”
And so this morning, I want us to ask the question that I think we need to continually ask: “How are we going to impact the world for the glory of Christ as The Church at Brook Hills?” This is why He’s given us such great grace for such great glory for His name, and I think we need to always come back to this question.
And so, what I’d like for us to do this morning is to dream together and to think together about how this church can impact the world for the glory of God’s name. And before you start thinking, as many will, “Well, that’s kind of idealistic. A church that’s thinking about how it’s going to change the world is somewhere lost in the clouds.”, I want to remind you. Our motto around here is, “Those who say it can’t be done should get out of the way of those who are doing it.” So, we’re going to ask the question, and we’re going to trust that God wants us to answer it for His great glory.
So, that’s what you’ve got in the novel, okay? When you open it up there … and there’s a lot of blanks. And let me go ahead and tell you the blanks are actually not going to be on the screen this morning because there are so many of them. And so, this is going to be kind of like a … if you’ve never been to Secret Church before, this is kind of a Secret Church primer for you, okay? The key to Secret Church, the secret that everybody who’s been to Secret Church knows is, you need to be sitting next to somebody at Secret Church who takes good notes, because you’ll miss a blank, and you need to be able to look on there. So just hope that you sat next to a seasoned Secret Church professional this morning, and you’re able to keep up.
But what we’re going to do is we’re going to walk through, basically, a picture, in light of Hebrews 12, of where we’ve come to at this point, what God has done to this point, and us to say, just like the people in Hebrews 12 … we’re having to say, “We’re not going to be discouraged and stop, sit back where we are. How are we going to run forward?” And I want us to think about that.
Vision, Mission, Goal
You have a first page there: “Creating the Future of The Church at Brook Hills”. We’ve seen where we’ve come from in the past; where are we going in the future? I want you to think about three facets of our future based on what God has done to bring us to this point. First of all, our vision. I think God has shown us very clearly through His Word that our vision is to know and become like Christ. This is not new stuff, this is stuff we’ve walked through before. To know and become like Christ. Last March, we studied Philippians 3 together, and we talked about not wanting to waste our lives, and not wanting to waste the church. Paul said, “I want to know Christ, the power of His resurrection, the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him and His death.” The point is we can find ourselves in our lives giving our self to all kinds of good things, even great things, but we want the best thing and that is Christ. We want Christ. We want to know Him. We want to glorify Him. We want to become like Him. This is the aim of the Christian life. I’m going to be tempted to preach a variety of sermons, but I’m going try to resist along the way. That’s our vision: To know and become like Christ.
Second, our mission based on the Great Commission in Mathew 28:18–20: To awaken a passion for God’s glory by making disciples of all nations. If you’ve been around Brook Hills for very long, you know that we talk about making disciples all the time … all the time. Because this is what Jesus has said we’re supposed to do; we are supposed to make disciples. And what we have said at the church is, “We’re not going to let disciple-making be farmed out to parent church organizations, or this organization or that organization anymore, because it’s not being done in the heart of the local church.” The mission of the church is to make disciples of all nations. That’s our mission.
And third, our goal … Psalm 67, our goal is to impact the world. Remember Psalm 67:1–2? “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us—so that …” Why does God show grace? “… so that your ways be known on earth, and your salvation among all nations.” We believe we were created with a global purpose in mind. We were saved with a global purpose in mind that God is passionate about making His glory known in all the world, and therefore, for us to have a goal that is anything less than impacting the world is to sell God short of the purpose for which He has created us and His church.
Our vision is to know and become like Christ. Mission to make disciples of all nations, and our goal is to impact the world. Now, you take those … those sound good, but let’s try to put them together and maybe even simplify the picture. This is where God’s brought us. I want to put before you a sentence that, I think, that if you had to sum up who we are and what we’re about at Brook Hills … it’s on your page there, and it’s represented in these banners that are behind me … if you had to sum it up, “Who is Brook Hills? What is Brook Hills?” We glorify Christ by making disciples of all nations. That pretty much sums it up. I want you to think about how that it represents, obviously, our vision to know and become like Christ. We glorify Christ by making disciples. Our mission is that, and we’re doing it in all nations. Our goal is to impact the world.
But here’s where I’ve been challenged, and months ago myself, and the elders and then leaders of the church have been diving in. So, okay, how can we most effectively do that? If we’re about glorifying Christ, and we’re making disciples of all nations, then how do we do that? How does that look practically?
Begin to look at, not just this whole picture philosophically or even biblically, but practically. How does this play out? And I want you to write in three things in the blanks that are underneath the vision, mission, and goal. Under vision, in that parenthesis right there … and this is a lot to write on that one line, so you might write it on two lines … but I want to invite you to write, “Worship Gatherings.” When you think about how we as a faith family are glorifying Christ, I think that is undoubtedly the primary purpose of our worship gatherings. And what we do when we gather in here Sunday morning or Sunday evening is primarily to glorify Christ through worship.
And you think about making disciples. “How do we do that David? How does that look practically?” Well, write in that second blank in the middle under mission, “Small Groups.” We dove into, during August, a whole series in looking at how small groups are the means, the primary avenue through which disciple-making occurs in Scripture. Small groups are how we’re making disciples.
And then you get to that goal of all nations, and I would encourage you to write on a third blank over there, “Short-Term Missions.” Short-term missions. And what we did last week is we dove into how we can be a part of impacting the world by giving two percent of our time next year to what God is doing around the world. When you look at this picture that God has really developed in this church through His Word to glorify Him by making disciples of all nations, and how that plays out in worship gatherings, small groups, and short-term missions, if you had to get down to fundamentally what we do at The Church at Brook Hills, it revolves around those three things. That’s not everything, but primarily, fundamentally, when you think about it, if we’re doing those three things well … worshipping together in a way that brings great glory to Christ in our worship time like this in this room, fueling small groups that are really doing what small groups are supposed to do and making disciples together, and then through short-term missions, doing it in all nations … if we really do those three things well, then the win that you’ve got there … and this is a long blank, and it’s there for a reason; there is a lot to write here … the win, I think, would be, “World-Impacting Disciple-Makers.” World-impacting disciples-makers.
And basically, the picture here is, “What is God doing in His church, people called The Church at Brook Hills?” He’s raising up men and women, students, kids, all across this faith family that actually believe they can impact the world for the glory of Christ by making disciples. And I believe that’s the goal. I believe that’s where He wants all of us to be. And so, what you’ve got in this picture here is a process that involves three primary components: Worship gathering, small groups, and short-term missions that all come together to create this picture of a whole faith family full of world-impacting disciple-makers.
We Glorify Christ
Now, I want us to unpack each of those and think about why those three facets are so key and so important. Think about this picture of glorifying Christ and the vision of the church. Our vision affects everything we do. It describes who or what we are becoming. That’s what a vision is. It’s where we’ve set our eyes and who or what we are becoming.
Now, that sounds simple, but I want us to realize how easy it is to misconstrue vision in the church. You ask pastors, church leaders, people to say, “What’s your vision for church, for the church you lead, for your church?” And often times, you’ll hear things like, “Well, our vision is to have five services or ten services.” Or, “Our vision is to have 5,000 or 10,000 people.” “Our vision is to construct new state of the art buildings.” “Our vision is to have a world class this program or that program. That’s our vision.” And those things sound good on the front until we realize that, somewhere along the way, we’ve been tempted, and we’ve bought into this idea that our vision is based on stuff and not on Christ. And we can become so consumed, even in the church, in giving ourselves to all kinds of pictures and ideals that we like to come to and actually miss Christ in the process.
This is so dangerous. This is what haunts me as a pastor. I think it is possible for me, for us, to lead this church to have ten, 20,000 people, ten or twenty services, do all kinds of this stuff, and along the way, completely miss Christ. It’s possible. If we substitute anything but Christ for our vision, we will lose the pursuit of Christ in our pursuit of church stuff, and we will waste our lives away. We will waste our lives away.
Following Christ and becoming like Him is the vision of every Christian in this room and every church on this planet. It is pre-written and not up for us to negotiate. Christ is our everything. We have found something, someone worth losing everything for. Christ consumes us. Christ drives us. All agendas sacrificed to knowing and becoming like Christ. He is our vision.
And how do we make sure He stays our vision? I believe worship gatherings play a fundamental part in this. What do we do when we gather together here for worship on a Sunday? Well, we’re knowing and becoming like Him through two means. Number one: Surrendering our lives to His worship, glimpsing His glory, and doing what the New Testament tells us to do and sing about His glory, and pray to Him in light of His glory, and study His Word to see His glory, which leads us to the second means.
Not only surrendering your lives to His worship, but second, spending our lives in His Word. This is why the Word of God is at the center of our worship gatherings week in and week out. This is why we dive into this Word week in and week out, and we study it in-depth. Because this is the means that God has promised to use to draw each of us in the image of Christ through His Word. His Word is primary.
There is a strong trend in the church today that says, “In our culture people don’t have respect for the Bible, people can’t take a lot of in-depth study of the Bible, and so, we need to find other means in our worship to bring them to Christ apart from the Bible.” We are fools if we think we can take the Bible out of our worship and think we’re doing God a favor. His Word is the only means. He has promised to give people a glimpse of His greatness and His grace and His mercy and love and to draw each of us into the image of Christ. It all happens through His Word. That’s why His Word is central to what we sing and what we pray, what we preach; all of it revolves around His Word.
And so worship gatherings glorify Christ through His worship, through His Word, and they remind us that worship is the fuel and goal of our mission. And here’s what I mean by that. Remember, we looked at this back when we were walking through that series on worship last Spring. Worship is the fuel of our mission. Here’s the picture of what happens in this room: We sing about the God who is mighty to save, and we get a picture of His great glory and Him being able to move the mountains, and that fuels us to leave this place and to go into our homes, and our neighborhoods and our work places, telling people about a God who is mighty to save. Makes no sense if we sing about that and worship Him for that, and it does not propel us to share Him, share His glory with others.
So, it fuels the mission, but it’s also the goal of our mission. There is coming a day when we won’t be talking about disciple-making anymore. On that day, we will be gathered around a throne with a multitude that no one could count from every people and language and tribe and nation, and together, we will exalt His name for all of eternity, and there won’t be anymore disciple-making. The goal of disciple-making is to get as many people around that throne as possible from all nations and tribes and peoples and languages.
Worship is the fuel of our mission, and it’s the goal of our mission. Obviously, this time in the worship gathering is very important in disciple-making. We know that if we just gathered together in a room like this with about two thousand people in here right now that this will miss the point of what it means to really make disciples. Disciple-making does not happen in mass, so it obviously has to come down a little closer.
By Making Disciples
Let’s look at this mission of making disciples. For six weeks at the beginning of this year, we walked through John 17 and the Great Commission. “Dave, what is disciple-making?” We looked at Scripture. Here’s how Scripture showed us how disciple-making looks. Disciple-making is identifying the people gathered and entrusted to us, the people in our lives in each of our spheres of influence, and intentionally, first, sharing the Word with them. It starts with going and introducing people to Christ, leading people to Christ, but if we lead people to Christ, and we stop there, we’ll miss the whole point of disciple-making.
It involves showing the Word to them, saying, “I have a responsibility in my life to show other people around me what the Christ-life looks like. And I may not be perfect all the time, but we’re all supposed to be imitators of Christ that can turn to others and say, ‘Imitate me.’ ” We’re supposed to show the Word to each other.
Now, Christianity is taking a step up. We’ve really got to show what this life looks like in action, not just sharing the Word and showing the Word, but third, teaching the Word to them. That whatever we learn from God’s Word is not intended just for us; it’s intended for others, and we’re no longer receivers of the Word; we’re reproducers of the Word. Is the Word going to stop with us, or is it going to spread through us? We realize that whatever we learn from the Word, we are supposed to teach others to obey Christ in the same way.
Sharing the Word, showing the Word, teaching the Word, but if we do all those things, and we never get our hands dirty in the needs and the hurts of the world, then we’ll have missed the whole point of disciple-making. As we share the Word, show the Word, and teach the Word, we join hands with others, and we go out into communities around this city, and we go into places around the world, and we get our hands dirty in serving the world around us. “By this will all men know that you are my disciples when you are loving one another”, and you’re showing the character of Christ by getting down and serving as Jesus did in John 13. This is the picture of disciple-making. It is Jesus’ plan for impacting the world, and we cannot come up with a better one. This is what we’re giving ourselves to: Disciple-making as Jesus told us to do.
We’ve got to realize, and we talked about this last week: Disciple-making is a command for every believer, not a call to the elite few. We know that all of us in this room have different callings, different skills, passions, gifts, personalities that God’s entrusted to us. But He’s entrusted all of these different callings in our lives to enable us to fulfill one command: Make disciples of all nations. That means that we as a church and we as individuals are no longer content to sit back and wait for a tingly feeling to go down our spine to cause us to rise up and do what we’ve already been commanded to do: Make disciples of all nations. We don’t have to wait for a special message to be given to cause us to go do that. We don’t have to wait for a special service to happen for us to rise up and do that. This is a command that pervades our life as believers.
Now, some of think, “I’m just not able to do this disciple-making thing. You don’t understand the difficulties that are going on in my life here or there.” And here’s the beauty: There will never be a point when we are not qualified to make disciples based on something we do. It’s based on the Holy Spirit of Christ in us. And yes, not one of us in this room has the whole thing figured out including me. The whole picture of disciple-making is us saying to other people, “We’re going to walk this Christ life together. With all of our hearts, with all of our needs, we’re going to walk this thing together.”
Here’s the danger: We will always face the temptation to do everything except for the one thing Jesus told us to do. Jesus never told us to organize Sunday school or to build buildings. He never told us to start this program or that program. And it’s not that those things are bad. It’s not that a children’s program or a youth program, or an adult program is bad, but those programs are only good in so much as they point us to how we can most effectively do what Christ has told us to do. The danger is we can find ourselves caught up in doing all kinds of programs and building all kind of buildings and, somewhere along the way, disciple-making is not even happening. And we’ve got to come back to the fact that we are commanded to make disciples.
And that means the question we must constantly ask is, “How can we most effectively make disciples of all nations … most effectively?” The temptation is we can try to squeeze everything we do and just call it disciple-making. But that misses the point. That dilutes the whole picture of disciple-making from the beginning. How can we most effectively make disciples of all nations?
And that leads us practically into the picture we see in Scripture that the primary avenue for disciple-making to occur is through small groups. Now, here’s the picture. It was Jesus with this group of twelve guys, and even those twelve guys split up into smaller groups. It was the New Testament church meeting house to house to house. Not gathering together in mass like this all the time, but gathering together in house to house to house. And the picture that I think shows the potential of the church today. If you can imagine no more anonymous worshippers at Brook Hills who are floating along in Christianity in isolation, but yet, coming to church, so to speak, Sunday in and Sunday out. What happens when all across this room is represented groups of eight to twelve, give or take … could be more could be less … believers that are walking together?
And get the picture; it’s twofold. Number one: Growing inward by showing the Word and teaching the Word. This is sharing life together. This is the beauty. Remember that whole picture, “Well, you don’t understand. My marriage is falling apart. I’m not ready to make disciples. This has happened to my life; this has happened to life. I’m not ready to get into small group make disciples.” No, that’s why we get in small group, so that we see … guys, that we see other husbands that are walking with Christ, and we learn from them. We need this. And ladies we see other wives, that college students see other college students with students, singles with singles whatever it may look like. But that we learn from each other, and we no longer have to drift in isolation to the struggles of Christianity. We walk together through the struggles of Christianity. We walk side by side, and we’re not finding ourselves alone in the battles we face in our families, in our work places, in our neighborhoods.
We’re now walking together and showing the Word and teaching the Word to each other growing inward, but then, not to the extent that we get so focused here that we turn a deaf ear to a lost and dying world that’s without the gospel. We’re growing outward by sharing the Word together and serving the world together. Growing inward; growing outward. That’s the idea.
Now, I’m not saying that we’re there that every small group across Brook Hills is there, but I’m saying this is the goal of small groups. And if that picture is there, small groups that are really doing this disciple-making thing, then I think we could say with complete confidence based on the Word of God: We want to see small groups of disciple-makers all over this planet; all over the planet.
Of All Nations
We glorify Christ by making disciples, worship gatherings, small groups, and then doing it in all nations. That picture of the planet leads to the goal. Here’s the deal: Everything we do at Brook Hills, we do ultimately for the sake of God’s glory in all nations; all nations. And this is where we’ve talked about the Brook Hills Bedouin. Many of you’ve heard that; maybe you missed that picture, but a picture of five million people in the Bedouin people group in the Middle East, forty of whom know Christ; forty out of five million. The rest of them, millions of kids, who have never heard the name of Jesus. And what we are saying is we’re going to live and do church here so that, one day, that number changes. We’re going to live and do church here, so that people over there hear the name of Jesus Christ. Because we believe if it was switched around, the last thing we would want is the Bedouin people who have the gospel and all of our kids who don’t have the gospel … the last thing we would want is the Bedouin people to be organizing a bunch of programs that revolve around themselves.
And the beauty of it is the best way to reach the Bedouin over there is to reach people in Birmingham right here. The best way to reach the Bedouin is to raise up an army of children, students, men and women across this city who know the gospel and the grace of Christ, and who are equipped to go into the world with that gospel. And what that means is we no longer believe we have to choose between making disciples here or there. We’re not going to put “or” in Acts 1:8. “Jerusalem, or Judea, or Samaria or the ends of the earth. You take your pick.” We believe we can make disciples here and there. We’re going to make disciples in Birmingham and the Bedouin and everywhere in-between. That’s the picture. Doing what we do here for their sake over there.
We talked about this last week. Doing what we do over there for our sake here; it goes together, “both” and not “either/or”. What this means is our strategy is not built on what will best reach people who live only ten miles away from Brook Hills. That is a huge statement. We would do church a lot differently if our strategy was built on reaching people that live ten miles from this present location. There are all kinds of things we would do. However, our strategy is built, not on what will reach ten miles … people ten miles away from Brook Hills. Our strategy is built on what will best reach people who live ten miles and ten thousand miles away from Brook Hills. And that radically affects the way we do church.
When I was first walking through some of these ideas with the staff, I had in that blank, people who live a hundred thousand miles away from Brook Hills. It was at that point they came to me and said, “David, are we going to take Mars for the glory of Christ as well?” And if there are people there, we’re going to make disciples there, okay? And we might be getting a little idealistic there but you never … you never know. Okay? All right.
Our strategy is not built on just a heart for Birmingham. Our strategy is built on a heart for the world, which includes Birmingham. We are no longer making statements around here that say, “Well, my heart’s for Birmingham, or my heart’s for the United States.” Not when God’s heart is for the world. We’re not going to say, “My heart’s for Birmingham” and in that statement, say, “I have less than one percent of God’s heart.” We’re not going to say, “I have a heart for the United States”, because that would mean I have five percent of God’s heart. If God’s heart is for the world, then we’re going to be a church that has God’s heart, which includes Birmingham but also the world.
Our strategy is not built on having the best programs at Brook Hills; our strategy is built on developing the best people at Brook Hills. People are God’s method for winning the world to Himself. Our strategy is not built on bringing the most people to our present location; our strategy is built on sending the most people to locations around Birmingham and the world. What happens when a church no longer defines success by how many people come into one building, one time a week? What if our success now is built on how many of us are going out into the city and into the world making the gospel known? That is the picture that God has designed for His church.
That leads us to this picture of short-term missions, which obviously, we talked about a lot last week, an army full of people giving two percent of their lives in other contexts around the world and transforming the other 98 percent of their time here in the process. Obviously, thousands of people in this faith family say, “I want to be a part of what God is doing around the world.” And here’s the beauty of it: As we make commitments like we did last week, next year we will invest … we’re investing in national disciple-makers and churches. What I mean by that is Indonesians, and Venezuelans, and Hondurans, and Ukrainians, people in different countries, we’re investing our lives in theirs in other contexts, equipping them to go into the world with us. And now, we’re saying, “We’re not just going to be about a little “k” kingdom picture here; we’re about a big “K” Kingdom picture here. We want to be a part of what God is doing in His church, not just here, but around the world, and we want to lock hands with our brothers and sisters around the world, and together, through short-term missions impact the world.”
The Win: World-Impacting Disciple-Makers
Now, you take those three, and you put them together, just imagine with worship gatherings that glorify Christ, fueling small groups that are actually doing this disciple-making thing. Not saying we’re there all across the board even yet but take heart, it took Jesus three years with these guys. It’s not going to happen overnight, but worship gatherings that are fueling small groups that are actually doing disciple-making and joining hands with brothers and sisters around the world through short-term missions.
I think the win is clear there. You put those together, and you’ve got a group of men and women who are multiplying the gospel by making disciples of all nations with their one life. I don’t want to oversimplify this thing, but I also don’t want to over-complicate it. If we do those three things well, I’m convinced this is the product. This is the result. We are becoming a faith family full of world-impacting disciples who really believe that we can impact the world with each of our one lives. And we really believe that a church of world-impacting disciples can shake the nations for His glory. We really believe that.
How Do We Produce the Win?
Through a process that revolves around three primary components
So, how do we get there? How do we get there? And I believe it revolves primarily around these three facets. When we think about us the church, how do we produce the win? Through a process that revolves around three primary components. Now, “process” and “primary” are italicized there for a reason. Let me go ahead and give you the three primary components, and they’re exactly what we’ve just talked about. Number one: Worship gatherings that glorify Christ. Number two: Small groups that are making disciples. And number three: Short-term missions that impacts the world. Worship gatherings, small groups and short-term missions.
Now, of the two italicized words, “process” first. It’s a picture of a process that involves three components and them working together. I want you to see how they work together. I hope that our worship gatherings in here will fuel us to say, “I want to be a part, not just of what God’s doing in this room once a week, but I want to share life with others.” That would be the result of this. And as small groups are out in the community leading people to Christ, they’re going to have a desire to be a part of a worship gathering that gives glory to Christ. Small groups together in this next year … many of our small groups will go on short-term missions together as small groups. At the same time, short-term missions … we’ve seen it this last year … many people who go on short-term mission trips who are not plugged into a small group and will get plugged into a small group as a result of short-term missions.
Basically, the picture is these three components working together in a process of spiritual development that revolves around these three. And the second work that’s italicized there is, “primary” components. Now, some of you are thinking, “Dave, I hear what you’re saying, and I believe in the worship gatherings, and small groups, and short-term missions. That’s good, but what about this program or that program over here? What about this thing or that over here? Does that mean we don’t do anything else besides those three things?” And no, that’s not what I’m saying at all. What I am saying, though, is that anything else that surrounds this process, anything else we do, has got to fuel this process. It’s got to help that process along. It’s got to have meaning behind it, not just something to do just because we do it.
The dangers we need to avoid …
And this is where we get into this question: How does what we’re currently doing fit or not fit into this process? And I think there are some dangers we need to avoid as a church. One is trying to fit everything we’ve always done, or we’re currently doing into this process. If we take everything we’re doing and try to find a slot for it somewhere, then I think we’ll belittle the process altogether. We’ve got to not try to squeeze things in, try to shoehorn them in; we’ve got to ask the question, “What can best fuel this process?”
And another danger we need to avoid is thinking that the more activities and programs and events we offer, the greater the impact we will have. I think we all know that’s false. I’m guessing that many of us all across this room find ourselves very busy in our lives doing a million different things, and do you ever get so busy doing all these different things that you never feel like you do anything well? Is that familiar to all of us? I think it is. I think it’s the culture we live in. And we all know that the more stuff we do the better our lives don’t become. It’s the stuff that we do well and we focus on doing really well when it comes to family or work, church, this whole picture, that we keep from getting distracted by all these other things and we’re able to do those things well. We’ve got to avoid that danger.
The questions we need to ask …
And so I think the questions we need to ask, a couple of them, one, how can we align all of our ministries around the same process? Imagine what happens when preschool ministry and children’s ministry and youth ministry and college ministry, singles ministry, adult ministry and this or that area … what happens when all of these are saying together, “Whether I’m a preschooler or whether I’m 70 years old, I’m going to glorify Christ by making disciples of all nations.”? And obviously, that’s going to look different in those different areas. But what happens when we’re all aligned around the same process instead of this group in the church doing this over here, this group doing this over here, and all of a sudden, us finding ourselves doing a lot of things and missing out on the main thing.
Another question: What are we giving time, money and/or people to that is good, even great, but not best? We all know that the enemy of the best is the good. And so, we’ve got to stop looking at things we do in the church and saying, “Well, isn’t that a good thing?” There’s all kind of good things we could do. But are we taking the resources, the money, the time, everything God’s given to us, are we going to do the good things in the world, or are we going to do what is best? It’s not an easy question to ask.
The focus we need …
And it leads us to a pretty narrow focus. The focus we need is a commitment to abandon everything that does not best fuel this process. If we don’t have this kind of commitment, then we will scatter ourselves doing all kinds of good things, and we will miss the best. And that leads to this statement that I think is really key. And the word that drives this statement in the blank there, “Everything needs to be on the altar.” What I mean by that is everything we do as a church needs to be put down with loose hands, and we need to say to God, “God, is this the best way for us to accomplish your mission?” Everything.
Now, here’s the danger when the pastor starts using words like, “Everything needs to be on the altar.” All of a sudden, rumors begin to fly about what the pastor doesn’t want to do anymore. And all of a sudden the pastor no longer likes Christmas. That’s one rumor, that the pastor doesn’t like Christmas. You know, I think Christmas is a great thing. I am looking forward to celebrating it, and in fact, you want to know how much I like Christmas? We actually already have our Christmas tree up in our foyer now. We’re that family right now, okay? There’s a whole baby thing that’s coming in the near future, and I’ve kind of laid the law down and said, “We’re not going to turn the lights on until at least after Thanksgiving.” But we’re already there. We like Christmas. I like Christmas.
“The pastor doesn’t like weddings.” I’m a big fan of weddings. I had one myself. Great experience, and I would recommend it for others. I actually got married at Christmas, so I like both weddings and Christmas. I like them both together even. So I like weddings.
You start to say, “Well, we need to put all the programs we do in children’s, or youth ministry on the table. Are they most effective?” And all a sudden, people think, “Pastor doesn’t like kids.” I love kids. I’ve got one and another one on the way. Two in nine months, you can’t beat that. I love kids. Students … I love students. But here’s the deal: If we’re not willing to put everything on the table, then that means somewhere along the way, we’ve begun to hold onto certain things more than we hold onto the mission of Christ itself.
And here’s the beauty: When you put everything on the table, even the things that you would think, “Well, of course we’ll do that”, but when you put everything on the table, it’s not that all of it will stay there. You’ll pick some things back up, and the beauty of it is when you pick it up and say, “We’re going to do this”, you’ll pick it up for a reason. You’ll pick it up because you know it best fuels this process of making disciples of all nations. Whether it’s with kids, or youth, or weddings, or Christmas, or anything in-between, everything needs to be on the altar.
Even the way … how we study the Bible together. You put that on the table, “Now the pastor doesn’t even like the Bible.” I love the Bible too. The question is, “How can we most effectively know it and spread it together?” We’ve got to ask those questions. Not just now but six months from now, and a year from now, and two years from now, and ten years from now, everything needs to be held loosely in light of the mission of Jesus Christ.
Why? Why do we have to go through what can be a very painstaking process? Why? Because our present strategy … and I mean, this not just in The Church at Brook Hills but in the church as a whole across the board … our present strategy is at best incremental, while the world population is constantly and exponentially exploding. Six and a half billion people in the world, over a billion of whom have never heard … a billion have never heard the name of Jesus, and that number is increasing.
Someone came to me last week and said, “What happens to people who never hear about Jesus?” And we talked about that about a year and a half ago, walked through an entire Sunday morning into that question. But we do realize the goal is not to answer that question; the goal is to alleviate that question altogether. Instead of debating what happens to people who never hear about Jesus, let’s make it so that everyone hears about Jesus. You do realize we have the resources at our disposal to change that number drastically. God has put us in this place, at this time, for this reason, and that means that we must consider strategies for incremental or nominal growth as inadequate. They are flat out inadequate. And so, we must reexamine our assumptions of how the Spirit of God desires to work for the church today. We are not going to be satisfied at Brook Hills until we see the gospel exploding in a global transformation. We’re not going to be satisfied until then.
For the sake of the world, we need to constantly reevaluate everything
That’s why we put everything on the table. For the sake of the world, we need to constantly reevaluate everything. And I believe this involves a few different steps. Number one, we detach from our cultural and/or traditional assumptions related to how we should operate as the church. We all know that every single one of us in this room brings to the table all kinds of ideas about how a church should look, and feel, and work. And we’ve got all kinds of different ideas about that. And the danger is we can try to bring all our ideas to the table, try to accomplish all the different expectations that everybody has and end up doing everything, all of these different things out here poorly and not doing the one thing He’s told us to do well. And so, we’ve got to detach from those as best as possible. I do. You do. We all do.
Re-engage the Word with a fresh perspective and ask the question, “How can we most effectively glorify Christ by making disciples of all nations?” Let me illustrate this. Some of you have heard of Willow Creek Community Church up, right outside of Chicago. It’s a huge church that has had a major, major impact and influence on how church is done in our culture today. It was a pioneer in parts of the seeker sensitive movement and this or that. And whether you’ve heard of Willow Creek or not, Willow Creek has had a huge influence on The Church at Brook Hills, a very big emphasis on this church. What’s interesting is over the last month or two, leaders from Willow Creek have come out and made this startling statement to so many of the churches they’ve influenced. They have made the statement, “We made a mistake.” What they did is they started doing some research in their church, and here’s what they found. They said, “Participation for us was a big deal. We believed the more people participating in sets of activities with higher levels of frequency would produce disciples of Christ.” That was their philosophy of ministry in a nutshell: The church creates programs and activities, people participate in those activities and the outcome is spiritual maturity.
Listen to this, “Having put all of their eggs into the program-driven church basket, you can understand our shock when the research revealed that increasing levels of participation in these sets of activities does not predict whether someone is becoming more of a disciple of Christ. It does not predict whether they love God more, or they love people more.” Bill Hybels, their pastor, summarized it this way. He said, “Some of the stuff that we have put millions of dollars into thinking would really help our people grow and develop spiritually, when the data actually came back, it wasn’t helping people that much. Other things that we didn’t put that much money into and didn’t put much staff against is stuff our people are crying out for.” Having spent 30 years creating and promoting a multi-million dollar organization that is driven by programs and measuring participation and convincing other church leaders to do the same, you can see why Hybels called these research findings, “The wake up call of his adult life.”
He says very simply,
We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and became Christians is we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become self-feeders. We should have gotten people, taught people how to read their Bible between services, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own. In other words, spiritual growth doesn’t happen best by coming dependent on elaborate church programs but through the age old spiritual practices of prayer, Bible reading and relationships. And ironically, these basic disciplines do not require multi-million dollar facilities and hundreds of staff to manager.
The executive pastor at Willow Creek said this: “Our dream is that we fundamentally change the way we do church. That we take out a clean sheet of paper, and we rethink all of our old assumptions, replace it with new insights, insights that are informed by research and rooted in Scripture. Our dream is really to discover what God is doing and how He’s asking us to transform this planet.”
Now, here’s what encourages me when I hear this. One, I’m encouraged by what God is doing in a place like Willow Creek, but I’m even more encouraged by what He’s doing here. Because He brought us to this conclusion without taking us through research; He brought us to this conclusion simply by His Word. And we don’t have to have insights informed by research, ladies and gentlemen. We need insights informed by the very Word of God, and when His Word informs how we do church, then we will be a part of a global plan that makes His glory known in all the world. And so, we need to detach all of us continually, it’s not that everything in that past is bad. We’re building on where we’ve come from the past, but to detach from our assumptions, re-engage this Word with a fresh perspective and ask the question, “How can we most effectively make disciples of all nations?” Now, it’s that process that I believe we’ve been walking through as a church. I’m convinced, if we can strategically lead the mass called The Church at Brook Hills to accelerate behind this process, we will change the world.
I was sitting at lunch with one leader of a large church that many of you would recognize, and he was sitting there, and he was listening to me. I kind of walked him through, “We’ve got worship gatherings, small groups and short-term missions, and it’s fueling …” And he stopped me. I’d drawn it out there on a napkin. He stopped me, and he said, “David, if a small percentage of people at Brook Hills get behind this process you will change the world.”
So What’s the Strategy?
So, what’s the strategy? “Dave, we hear all this stuff. Okay, how do you do it?” Well, here’s what I want to put before us the faith family today. A strategy with five non-negotiables. I think this is what we have to keep in contact, and we’re going to fly through these, but keep these to the forefront of our minds at all times. Number one: Any strategy we have as a church must be biblical. One is biblical. We are not asking God to bless our plans. We don’t come up with plans and get our faces and ask God to bless them. We align ourselves with His plan, and we’re assured the blessing of God. Number one: Biblical.
Number two: Simple. We will be tempted to lose focus based on … you might underline this … our own opportunities and agendas. We may not want to detract, but we will end up detracting with our own opportunities and agendas, and we will end up complicating things if we’re not careful.
Third: Intentional. Across the church, how are we knowing and becoming like Christ? What I’m saying here is that from the time someone is born into this faith family, from preschool ministry all the way to children’s ministry, youth ministry, college ministry, adult ministry, how are we intentionally making disciples? Four, it’s reproducible. If our impact as a church is based on how much we can do in this building, if our growth as a church is capped by this building, we will miss the point of what God desires to use us for in His kingdom. Brook Hills is not a place of ministry; it is a base of ministry that launches out.
And that leads to the fifth non-negotiable: Cross-cultural; cross-cultural. What are we doing here that we can do in any culture in the world? If there’s anything we can do here that we can also do around the world, then we should bring up our antennas and say, “Maybe we should focus on that.”
Considering Small Groups …
That leads us to thinking about small groups. You think about small groups like we’ve talked about. They’re biblical. It’s what Jesus did that impacted the world; it’s what the New Testament church was doing. Second, they’re simple. Small groups depend on people, not programs. That’s what these folks from Willow Creeks were saying, “We realize that it doesn’t take multi-million dollars for people to love each other and learn how to pray and study the Bible together.” Small groups are dependent on people not programs. They’re intentional. What happens when people are intentionally sharing life together, making disciples together? They’re reproducible. Small groups are unlimited in their ability to reproduce. You can’t stop people with the gospel. It’s the message of the book of Acts. You can’t stop people with the gospel, and they’re cross-cultural. I think any strategy that works in Greystone that also works over in Chinese house churches where it’s illegal to be a follower of Christ … I think you’re on to something there. Whether you have all kinds of money or no money. Whether you’re legal in your country or illegal in your country. And you can do small groups that are making disciples. This is a good thing.
So how can we multiply small groups of disciple-makers all over the planet?
So, how can we as a church multiple small groups of disciple-makers all over the planet? And here’s the picture I want you to dream with me on. Imagine The Church at Brook Hills as a global disciple-making hub; a global disciple making hub. A hub that is creating and connecting disciple-making bases all around the world together in the global mission of the church. Now, I use that word “bases” very intentionally. You see in the parentheses there “campuses”. I’m guessing many of you know of churches that have multi-sites or multi-campuses. There are some churches in the city here in Birmingham that have multi-campuses, multi-sites. The reason I’m not using that term is because I don’t want us to foster the mentality that we’re going to create other places of ministry. We’re going to create other bases of ministry that are reproducing the gospel, that are sending out, not just drawing people to. That’s why I use the term “bases”.
Here’s what I want you to picture. Disciple-making bases scattered throughout metro Birmingham and around the world. What’s a base? A base, a disciple-making base is a headquarters, a headquarters for mobilizing small groups in a particular geographic location that are united by the desire to glorify Christ by making disciples of all nations. In other words … and this is intentionally ambiguous because it could look different in different places … a base in a part of the city of Birmingham would look different than a base in another part of the world. But non-negotiable is a headquarters for mobilizing small groups that are doing what these banners say that we’ve been talking about, that are glorifying Christ by making disciples of all nations.
Imagine them connected through a global communication center at the global hub. What do you mean by “global communication center”? Picture a communication center here that is able to distribute information to and support communication with disciple-making bases around the world in multiple languages. Envision with me going to the Brook Hills website and as soon as you open up the Brook Hills website, the first page you come to, it asks you what country you’re in. What language you speak, and you click on that, and you’re in a house church in China, and you click on and all of a sudden on that page comes up all kinds of material. Everything we’re teaching here, everything we’re doing in small groups, how do you most effectively make disciples, we are making all of that available to our brothers and sisters around the world in Chinese. And the same picture in French, in Spanish, in India and Indonesia, all around the world in multiple languages.
You do realize that our brothers and sisters around the world, church leaders around the world would give their right arm to have the kind of biblical education that any one of us in this room can get in a small group alone. They are hungry for the Word. And what we are saying with this picture of a GCC, a Global Communication Center, is we’re no longer going to sit on the biblical goldmine we have and keep it from our brothers and sisters around the world. We’re going to make the Word, and teaching of the Word, and training in the Word available to all people around this globe. That’s the picture of a GCC.
Now, base facilities; base facilities. And you think about this dream with me, don’t even begin to narrow your mind. There are all kinds of possibilities. A base could be a gathering together of believers in a home; it could involve businesses, storefronts, schools, theaters, abandoned buildings, prisons; you can have a base in a prison. The whole picture is however we can most effectively in a particular location mobilize small groups that are making disciples. And it may look different in all kinds of different places and any permanent facilities, which may not be necessary, would be designed primarily to fuel the ministry of small groups in that community. Basically, what I mean there is that we’re not going to spend all our money on buildings that will be used once a week.
We’re going to spend resources on maybe a community here in Chelsea. Maybe we have a facility that’s a family care center that walks with families that are walking through crises and difficulties. Maybe in inner-city Birmingham or inner-city other cities in the United States. Maybe it’s an inner-city recreation center that’s fueling small groups. The best way to do that is through this community center there. Maybe it’s a community development center in the middle of South Sudan where our persecuted brothers and sisters are struggling to build an economy. Maybe it’s a orphanage in Latin America, or Eastern Europe. Maybe it’s this or a seminary that’s training pastors in Indonesia. There’s all kinds of possibilities that are there. The goal is bases that are fueling disciple-making that are being the church. I believe the possibilities are endless.
When could this happen and what would it look like?
Now, here’s where I want you to connect the dots together. This picture of taking what we’re doing here at this faith family and making sure that everything we do fuels this process and how that connects the bases. And I want to invite Kimberly Bankston to join me up here. Kimberly is our children’s minister. Many of you know Kimberly. And I want to give her an opportunity to share with you just a little glimpse into how this effects … okay, how does this effect the way you do children’s ministry? Very practically. And I want her to give you a glimpse into how she and her leadership have been diving into how this looks particularly in light of one of the most cherished programs in all the church. Listen to Kimberly.
If you could just pray for some passion in our children’s ministry, I would appreciate that. And you think about it, I mean this is one small example, but kids who don’t even have parents to bring them here; kids who live too far away from here now have gospel coming to their neighborhood, but not just for them think about for us. It’s our kids that are now doing VBS in their neighborhoods, and they’re sharing the gospel with their friends that they play with, and they’re realizing that church is not just something that happens over there; a church is something that happens right here.
Picture is across this board: How can we most effectively multiply small groups that are making disciples all across the city and across this planet? You know, some of you are thinking, “All right, I’ve at least got you a little bit to this point”, and I know this is information overload. This is broadening the conversation for us to begin to think through this together. When could this happen and what could it look like?
You think about what’s going on right now. We’re organizing and implementing small groups throughout this global hub, and that’s taken time, and it will continue to take time, but at the same time, the ground I believe is fertile to begin bases here and around the world. You think about Birmingham, think about Chelsea. You realize there are people that are driving to worship here from near Montgomery in the south and from Jasper in the north. That sounds good. Be excited. I heard one New Orleans pastor say that people were doing that in his church, and he asked one member why they did that, and they said, “Pastor a church alive is worth the drive.” And, you know, that’s … that sounds good. At the same time, is this the most effective way to do disciple making in Jasper or in right north of Birmingham or north in Montgomery, to bring people from these places? Or would it be better to fuel disciple-making there by taking church to them?
And so when you think about Chelsea, obviously, we have a lot of people in our faith family from Chelsea, and I would encourage families from Chelsea to ask the question, “How can I most effectively make disciples in Chelsea?” Is it by driving up here every week, or if there was a base there that I could invite people to and get people involved in, would that be more effective in enabling me to make disciples there? And it’s not saying that anybody that lives in Chelsea is no longer welcome here; that’s not the picture. But you look down there, and there are homes going up everywhere. Is the most effective way to reach that community to invite everybody to come up here or for us to go there and do something?
Same way when you look at downtown. We’re doing ministry in Avondale, starting small groups in Avondale, not just doing ministry for the sake of doing ministry there. We’re fueling disciple-making there. But there are other areas of downtown. So many college students, young urban professionals who would say … I’ve heard them say it, that to come all the way down 280 down here, this is like coming out into boonies for them. It’s where they live in the city. Why not take church to them do disciple making there?
Hispanic areas there are people coming to our worship gatherings right now who don’t even speak the English language. Is the best way to make disciples among the growing Hispanic population in Birmingham, to keep inviting them here to have sermon translated on the spot right there in the back corner of this room? No. To do disciple-making at Lorna Road. That’s in Birmingham alone. You look around the world and the relationships we have in Venezuela and Honduras and Latin America, and Africa and countries like Sudan and Tanzania, they’re longing for us to come and help … Asia, China, Indonesia. You look at Europe, how about Ukraine? Do you think it’s a coincidence that so many families from this church have adopted from Ukraine, or do you think that maybe, just maybe, he not only wants us to reach out … our families to reach out and bring kids here, but the kids that are not adopted, for us to have an opportunity to go to them there. There’s so many possibilities.
You think about how this could look even over the next couple of years. This year we have launched small groups from the hub, and we’re now today beginning to consider a strategy for how we can most effectively make disciples of all nations. If next year we begin by launching between two and four, maybe, disciple-making bases … and there’s a lot of questions that I’ve still got, and leadership still has as to how does that look, but to begin to look at Avondale, the Hispanic community, maybe Chelsea, or maybe one of these places around the world. Launching a couple, three or four bases next near, then continuing the pattern of us launching at least one new base every year. In addition … don’t miss this … each new base taking responsibility for launching another base within a specified period of time.
For example, when we start a base in Avondale, what if the community in Avondale doesn’t just say, “Okay we’re going to receive this”, but the community in Avondale, we empower them to go into another community like Avondale and reach out there. And we don’t just go to Lorna Road and the Hispanic community there, but we empower them to go into another community. And new bases are starting new bases and multiplying. Within five years, Brook Hills could have approximately ten to twenty bases around the world, including this global hub. And then, in ten years Brook Hills could have hundreds of disciple-making bases around the world. You continue on, and it’s obviously exponential.
So, here’s my challenge for us this morning. I want to challenge us more than anything … and you see it an important date; it’s November 18 … to begin praying through this picture as a church. As I’ve mentioned elders, myself, staff and other church leaders have been praying through this, thinking through all kinds of stuff here, but I want to invite us as a faith family to begin this prayer journey together. And there’s some opportunities you notice on November 25, which is next week, we’re going to put in front of the church the proposed budget for 2008 that involves bases, and then on the following Wednesday and Sunday, November 28 and December 2, there’s an opportunity for you to come to a town hall meeting and us to begin a dialog about this. Not one of us wants to go, including myself, at this mission alone. There’s all kinds of questions, thoughts, maybe even concerns. And there’s some information on the back of this page that points you to a website or an email address, and if you’ve got some questions, thoughts or concerns that you want to express, then feel free to use that. But us to have this dialog together about how this looks.
And then on December 9, we’ll vote on that budget, and in the month of December, take our “Going Global Offering”, which we started last year. If you were here, you remember, we challenged each other in December to give as much to the world as give to each other in Christmas presents during December. And so, instead of just giving all of these things to people who already have so much, we’re going to say, “We’re going to match that by giving what we give in Christmas presents to what God is doing around the world in a special offering in December. All kinds of possibilities based on where God has brought us in the Word.
And so, this morning, I want to invite us to pray and say, “God, we’re going to put a blank check in front of you, and we’re going to say, ‘How can we most effectively make disciples of all nations?’ ” And I’m going to invite Steven to come up here and to lead us as we close out this morning, and he’s going to lead us out in song that is prayer. It’s a song that I’m guessing is familiar to many of us. But in just a second, I’m going to invite us to stand and to sing this as a prayer to God together, and in light of this information overload and time you’ll have from this morning to go back and digest some of this and think through some of this, I want to invite us right now today to begin saying, “God, we’re going to give ourselves to whatever you call us to do, and we’re going to let go of whatever you call us to let go, and we’re going to walk this journey as a faith family, and we’re going to glorify Christ by making disciples of all nations.”
David Platt, “Creating a Future at Brook Hills,” in David Platt Sermon Archive (Birmingham, AL: David Platt, 2007), 1031–1049.