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Every year, we take one Sunday to look into the future of our church and what God is calling us to do next. Well, today’s the day for 2019 and I am excited to share with you guys what God has been stirring in my heart.
But before we get into the future, let me give you a little history.
The History of NoLimits Church
Ten years ago, when Beth and I had only been married a few months, my dad asked if we wanted to help him start a church. He wanted me to be the worship leader. And I enthusiastically said yes.
After all, as a 19-year-old guy, I thought I had it all together and would be the best worship leader around. It didn’t take long before I found out I didn’t know it all. Actually, I really didn’t know much of anything.
If you would have come to church back then, worship would have been unbearably loud and we’d be singing songs simply because I liked them. Thankfully, I grew up along the way and I owe a big part of that to my dad.
In our second year of the church, my dad sent me to Bible school. I didn’t really want to go, but he didn’t give me much of an option. And now I know why.
Who I am and where I am today is a result of the two years I spent in Bible school letting the Word of God transform my life.
Now, there were some other things that my dad did that I didn’t like at the time.
You see, I was quite opinionated and thought that everyone needed to know what I thought. So I was always telling dad what we should do differently at the church.
Actually, I pushed him so hard that one day he sat me down and told me, “That’s enough. You either hush and stop sharing your opinions, or you can step out of leadership.”
Seems harsh, right? I remember going home and crying that day out of frustration and even telling Beth we were going to leave the church.
But that conversation shaped me. It shaved off one of my many rough edges. The thing is, not very many people are bold enough to call you out in an area where you need to grow. But thank God, my dad doesn’t hold back.
He was willing to sacrifice by putting our relationship temporarily at odds to help me grow and become the man I am supposed to be.
So, dad, thank you for investing in me. Thank you for not taking the easy way out. And you didn’t just do it for me, you invested in this entire church all along the way. We wouldn’t be where we are without you.
My dad, Mark Young, is the founding pastor of this church and led us for over ten years. Most believe that the founding pastor has to stay put until he dies, but this was never God’s plan for my dad. And my dad knew this before he even started the church.
There were several years that my dad was looking for the next lead pastor of our church because he knew it was time to pass the baton. Everyone would look to me, but I would just say “no way”. Because at the time, there was nothing in me that felt called to pastor.
It all changed towards the end of 2017. It’s like God opened a new door within me and I began to see the future of our church. I didn’t hold the vision for the church up to this point, but all of a sudden, I could see it clearly.
The only problem was, I couldn’t see myself as a traditional pastor. In America, we have an idea of what a pastor should be and I just couldn’t fit it.
And one day while I was hiking, the Lord spoke within me and said, “Who says you have pastor the church like everyone else does?” The question kind of stunned me and I couldn’t really come up with a good answer.
But this one question made me realize that God didn’t call me to be like someone else. His called me to be who he created me to be. And that’s what released me to accept the call to lead this church.
So here we are. I’ve been leading the church for a little over a year now and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. And as promised, I don’t meet America’s expectations for a pastor.
I’m young. I wear a man bun when I’m not at church. I only speak about 50% of the time and then let our other gifted teachers and preachers bring us the Word the rest of the time.
But here’s the deal. I love being here with you guys and I love preparing messages from the Word that lead you to your best life. And I love getting to empower our leadership team to do what God has called them to do.
Seriously, I was made for this. And every week that goes by, I get more and more excited for what God is going to do through this church.
The Future of Our Church
We’ve been in a season of preparation for the past year. The Holy Spirit has been helping us grow in our love for each other so He can bring us together in unity. And now that we’re united, we’re ready for the harvest.
NoLimits Church is now ready to lead people to Jesus. And we’re not just talking about a few people here and there, we’re talking about a harvest. People who don’t know Jesus are going to find Him through us. And their eternity is going to be changed forever.
And here’s the coolest part. It’s not like we are going to lead them to Jesus and then leave them to figure it all out on their own. No, we are going to walk with them every step of the way and lead them to their best life.
Guys, this isn’t just something that I hope happens. I have a deep expectation in my spirit that this is what is going to happen. It’s like God has let me peer into the future and I’m confident we’re going to see it come to pass.
So all of that is motivating and inspiring, but my analytical people out there are like, “Okay, sounds great, but how do we do that?”
You guys should know by know that I can’t preach a message without giving you some steps to make it happen. So let me show you exactly how we are going to bring people to Jesus and lead them to their best life.
There are actually four steps in our spiritual journey. And these are the four steps we are going to use to bring people to Jesus and lead them to their best life.
The Apostle Paul is the one who introduces us to these four steps:
Ephesians 1:16-19 NLT – I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.
The first step in everyone’s spiritual journey is to know God. Like, you can’t just know about God, you need to know who God is and what He’s done for you. You need a close relationship with God.
Ephesians 1:16-19 NLT – I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light…
Before we come to Jesus, our lives are full of darkness. Because of our past and bad choices, we’re junked up with regrets, anger, disappointment and all kinds of other nonsense.
So, the second part of your spiritual journey is when the light bulb turns on inside of you. It’s when you find freedom from your old life. Your heart is flooded with light and all the darkness disappears.
Ephesians 1:16-19 NLT – …so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.
Once you know God and find freedom, you’re ready to step into your calling. This is when you discover why you’re here! And you take on this confidence of knowing, “I was made for this.”
The thing is, most of us are searching for fulfillment in the things this world has to offer because we haven’t gotten to this place yet. Because in order to live your life fulfilled, you need confidence in what God has called you to do.
Ephesians 1:16-19 NLT – …so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.
The final step in our spiritual journey is when we all come together as a group of people who know God, where everyone is living in freedom and is confident in their purpose. Can you imagine?
Can you imagine how pleased God would be with a church like this? Can you imagine the difference we could make in our community and around the world?
We’re going to unpack each of these four steps, but first I want to read this scripture in the Message translation to help drive it home:
Ephesians 1:16-19 MSG – I ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!
Alright, let’s dig into each one of these because this is the four-step process we are going to use to help people live their best life. We’re going to lead them to Jesus and then we are going to guide them through this journey.
Step 1: Know God
We’re not talking about knowing God mentally. Like this isn’t how you know who the president is, or you know who the movie star is. No, this is a close, relational type of know. Just like you know your best friend.
The sad thing is, many people live their entire lives knowing about God, and they may even have perfect attendance at church, but they don’t know God. And here’s how serious this is:
Matthew 7:22-23 NKJV – Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you.’
You know the kind of people Jesus is talking about here? All those people who love to keep rules and brag about the good stuff they do. And they probably even put Jesus’ name on it and even do these things through the church.
And they’re so awesome they get to play sin police and tell everyone else what their doing wrong so that they can elevate themselves as some kind of superior Christian who’s got it all figured out.
People who act like this don’t really know God. Because those who really know God are full of love. And love doesn’t let you act that way. Jesus fills you with compassion and joy and patience and kindness.
So it doesn’t matter if you are someone who’s living a life of sin or someone who’s trying to make themselves look good by doing everything right. Both ends of the spectrum need to know God in a real, relational way.
So, how do we help people know God here at NoLimits?
This isn’t the only way we help people know God, but Sunday Services are the primary way we help people know God.
Most church goers see Sunday services as something that exists for them. It’s my experience, it’s my time to get what I need from the church. But we see it a bit differently here at NoLimits.
Sundays are not for me, they’re for the people who are coming to know God for the first time. Or for the first time in a long time.
In other words, the reason we come to church on Sundays is not for ourselves. We’re here for everyone else. That’s why we serve in kids ministry, or on the hospitality team, or on the worship team.
Many of you know that our worship leader, Dillon, is actually my brother. He’s eight years younger than me, and thinking back to when he was a little kid just makes me chuckle. He was a lot of fun to mess with.
Growing up, we had a pretty calm life which I am so thankful for. I have awesome parents. And I remember this one normal day when Dillon was about three years old, we we’re all doing our thing and we noticed Dillon was missing.
He was a fairly ornery kid, so this was nothing new. So I started hollering his name and looking around the house and… nothing. After a few minutes of this, I enlisted the rest of the house to help because I was starting to get nervous.
We were all looking around the house, looking out in the yard. We had a creek that went down the middle of our property and we walked the creek and still, nothing.
By this point, we were knocking on the neighbors’ doors asking if they had seen him. Nobody has seen him, but they joined in on the search. Because, even though Dillon was ornery, everyone loved him.
So here we are, half the neighborhood had dropped everything to find this three-year-old kid. Like none of us even cared what was going on around us. All we could think about was finding Dillon.
It’s in moments like this that you don’t even realize if you have to use the restroom or not. You don’t pay attention as to if you are hungry or not. And you don’t even care about the other people that are around you.
You are zeroed in and focused on the one person that is missing. In that moment, finding them is the only thing that matters.
This is the exact feeling that Jesus had when He said this:
Luke 15:7 NLT – There is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!
In other words, if Jesus had to chose, He’d leave the found to go find the lost. And this is exactly why we have a service every Sunday. Because it’s our best opportunity to help people know God.
So, if all this time you’ve come to church on Sunday with yourself on your mind, I want you to remember this story. I want you to remember how important it is to God that his lost children come to know Him.
From this point forward, come to church expecting that the lost are going to get saved. Come to church ready to be the person that extends love and joy and draws people into the presence of God.
Understand that our Sunday services aren’t designed to reach you. They’re designed to reach the lost. So if you don’t like how loud it is, or how friendly it is, or whatever, I’m telling you right now, it’s not about you.
Before we go on, you might want to know what happened with Dillon. You can obviously tell found him because he is here today. Turns out, he was playing hide and seek without telling anyone. He hid in the laundry basket and fell asleep, hence why he didn’t respond to us calling his name.
So the primary way we help people know God is through our Sunday services. And since our Sunday services are primarily to reach the lost, we’ve got to have services that lost people love to attend.
The cool thing about this is, when we have services that lost people love to attend, you’ll love to attend them too.
No longer will you care about how loud it is or how much you hate that song or how rowdy the kids are in class today. You’re just going to be stoked that the person sitting next to you is getting an opportunity to know God.
How do we create services that lost people love to attend?
4 Things that Guide Sunday Services
A place that is enjoyable.
We believe church should be enjoyable. It should be something that you can’t wait to get to and where you are sad when it’s over.
Psalms 122:1 NLT – I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.
This is why we have coffee, great music, and it’s also why I put a joke or two in my messages to make y’all laugh. Funny thing is, sometimes I didn’t even know it was a joke. Y’all just laugh at something I thought was serious.
But, having an enjoyable experience isn’t enough on it’s own. You also need:
A place to experience God’s presence.
We believe church should be a place where people experience God’s presence. In the end, the music, the lights, the coffee, none of it matters if God’s presence didn’t impact someone’s life.
That’s why we pray before service. That’s why we have at least one song that brings us into that moment of worship where God’s presence just rests on this room. That’s why we give time at the end of our messages for people to have a conversation with God.
It’s why we’re willing to let God hijack any one of our services. If a move of healing sweeps into this room, you better know we are going to follow it instead of following the plan.
And although this happens, the primary way that God leads these services is actually by leading me and the team when we prepare these services, which leads me into the next guideline for our Sunday services:
A place to learn how to apply the Bible.
We believe church should be a place where people learn how the Bible applies to their daily lives. That’s why our messages are always relatable with action steps that you can take home and apply tomorrow.
That’s why we plan our messages in series because you have a better chance of grabbing on to a Biblical concept when we stick on it for several weeks and look at it from a few different angles.
Here’s the fourth thing that guides our church services:
A place to accept Jesus.
We believe that church should be a place where people can accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. So every Sunday, every service, regardless of what we talk about, we’re going to give people an opportunity to receive Jesus.
So, if you were wondering why I work my way into a call for salvation at the end of every service, now you know. The whole reason we’re here is for people to find God. And every Sunday, we’re going to give them that opportunity.
So, if church isn’t about you, what does all this have to do with you?
Well, I want you to join me in this mission. The best chance we have at helping people know God is for you to bring your unchurched, far-from-God friends to church. That’s your part to play!
You don’t have to bring someone with you every Sunday. But there should be several Sundays throughout the year that you have an unchurched, far-from-God person sitting next to you.
And you know what? Those are going to be the most exciting services for you. You’ll be sitting there all antsy, praying that your friend experiences God and decides to give their life to Jesus.
Because here’s the deal. You have a circle of influence that I don’t have. I’ve been called to reach those around me. You’ve been called to reach those around you. And when we all do our part, it’s going to blow our minds.
If you’re nervous about inviting your unchurched friends to church, let me give you four things to help you out.
How We Share Jesus with Others
Accept the personal responsibility.
Your first step is to accept what we just talked about. Accept the fact that your family, your coworkers, your neighbors are your responsibility. God put you in their lives to help them know God.
You’re not waiting for someone else to come along and reach them, you are going to reach them. And it’s important to you because you realize that this is about their eternity.
You see, when we get nervous that we’ll get made fun of, or that we’ll make someone upset by inviting them to church, all we’re thinking about is the here and now.
But we have to get to a point where putting our relationship temporarily at odds is worth it because eternity hangs in the balance. We have an opportunity to lead people to Jesus and change their eternity from hell to heaven.
Build a personal relationship.
When we think of sharing Jesus, often our minds go to the person walking the streets of downtown Tulsa telling people they’re going to hell without Jesus. Well, this probably isn’t the best approach.
People aren’t looking for a debate. They’re not looking for you to tell them what is wrong with their lives. No, they are looking for real relationships. They want people in their lives who truly care about them.
It’s interesting, we often feel like sharing Jesus is a rush job. And because we are in such a hurry, we actually end up word vomiting on someone when we try to share Jesus.
Let me encourage you to relax. These are real people who need real relationships. And all of this can happen in a normal conversation. Actually, the Holy Spirit will open the door for you in a way that is seamless.
Share your personal story.
Telling other people what is wrong in their life, or arguing about the Bible is not what leads people to Jesus. But, sharing what Jesus has done in your life, now that is something that works.
The Bible says we are witnesses for Jesus. And a witness in the court system is not someone who tells another person’s story. No, they tell their own story. And that’s the best way we can lead people to Jesus.
Give a personal invitation.
Building a relationship and sharing your story are both part of this process, but at some point you need to ask them to do something. You can either lead them to Jesus on your own or you can invite them to church.
The temptation at this point is to stay quiet because you feel like asking is going to be invasive or inconvenient for the other person. But, you know what? I bet there is someone in your circle right now that is just waiting to be asked.
Like, they want to come to church with you. That want what you’ve found in Jesus. But they’re not going to ask you for it, they’re simply waiting for you to ask them.
Sure, they might say no. But always remember, they are not really saying no. They are just saying “not right now” and you’re going to get another opportunity to ask them and they might just say yes next time.
So, step one in the spiritual journey is all about knowing God. And the primary way we help people know God is through our Sunday services.
And they way we get unchurched people to our services is when everyone takes responsibility for their circle of influence and brings them to church so they can know God.
I know this first step took awhile to get through, but don’t get nervous because the other three aren’t going to take that long. So, let’s get to the next step:
Step 2: Find Freedom
Once you know God, the next step in your spiritual journey is to get rid of all that stuff from your past. It’s time to step into freedom. And surprisingly, the way God intends this to happen is through relationships.
Let me show this to you in two places:
James 5:16 NLT – Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
Hebrews 3:13 NIV – But encourage one another daily … so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
So, do we help people find freedom here at NoLimits?
The goal is for Sunday services to get bigger because there are a whole lot of people out there that need to know God. But, we also need the church to get smaller so you can have real relationships.
Small groups are where we build those relationships. It’s where you get a group of people close enough so that the others in your group notice when you’re hurting and help you find healing.
We believe life change happens in the context of relationships. So, small groups have one simple purpose: to bring people together. You need these relationships. I need these relationships.
3 Things Small Groups Will Give You
A place to connect with others.
If you only come to Sunday services, you are probably never going to feel very connected to those around you. It’s just too large of a gathering with too much going on for you to really connect with others.
Small groups solve this problem because there are only around eight people in your group. And there’s plenty of open time in these meetings for you to really get to know people and even share your heart.
A place to protect each other.
When we are on an island living life by ourselves, it’s really easy to get off track. But when you have a group of people around you who genuinely care about you, they are going to love you back to wholeness.
They care too much about you to let you go left field. So they are going to reach out a helping hand and pull you back on track.
A place to grow together.
When I told you that Sunday services are primarily designed to reach the lost, you may have wondered, “What about spiritual growth? What about discipleship?”
Well, here it is. Small groups is where growth happens. Throughout the year, we’ll have groups on prayer, we’ll have Bible studies, we’ll even help you get out of debt. Spiritual growth and discipleship happens best in a small group.
Before we move on to the next step, let me give you a brief overview of how our small groups work.
Our small groups are “free market”.
The topic of the small group is not the purpose of the small group. The purpose is relationships. That’s why we want people to gather based on what they enjoy and what is important to them.
So, you’ll see interest-based groups throughout the year like an entrepreneurs group, or a hiking group, or a Saturday game night group. You’ll also see groups for men, women, marriage, students, prayer, and outreach.
There are three semesters every year.
Life flows in seasons, and we want to make it easy for you to be in the right small group for you in each season. This is why our groups stop and start three times a year in what we refer to as “semesters”.
- Winter/Spring (13 weeks, Jan-May)
- Summer (6 weeks, Jun-Jul)
- Fall (13 weeks, Sep-Dec)
Everyone can join a group.
Our hope is for every person at NoLimits to be connected to a small group in every semester. Actually, we would love to see just as many, if not more, people attending small groups as our Sunday services.
Anyone can host a group.
We all have something to offer others and hosting a small group might just be the best way for you to do that. If you think you’d like to host a group, just let us know and we’ll get you all set up.
Alright, let’s move on to step three:
Step 3: Discover Purpose
Once you know God and have found freedom, you are fully prepared and ready to step into the assignment that God had for you. The problem is, you may just not know where to find it.
There’s a lot of Christians out there who know God and have found freedom, but now they are wandering. They’re frustrated because the feel unfilled and it’s all because they haven’t discovered the specific assignment God had for them.
So, how do we help people discover their purpose at NoLimits?
This is a piece of our church that we’ve been missing all along. We’ve never had a step-by-step guide for people to discover their purpose, but we’re fixing that problem with the Growth Track which starts next month.
It’s a simple four step process that happens over four weeks and is repeated every month. So, first Sundays of each month will be step one of the Growth Track, second Sundays will be step two, and so on.
Let me give you a brief overview of what happens in each step:
stepONE – Become a Member
My message today is pretty much what everyone will get in Step 1 of the Growth Track. They’ll learn about our church, they’ll learn how to progress in their spiritual journey, and they’ll have an opportunity to join our church.
Everyone needs to be a part of a church, and this is an opportunity for people to make a decision one way or the other. Because the last thing we want is for people to be here if they’re called to be somewhere else. And stepONE will give them everything they need to know to make that decision.
stepTWO – Discover My Purpose
This is when we dive into the details of your personality, discover your gifts, and help you find your purpose in life and your best fit in ministry.
Every single person has a purpose and sometimes you just need a little help finding it. That’s what step 2 is all about. You’ll walk away with clarity on what God has put you on this planet to do.
stepTHREE – Develop My Leadership
The word leader simply means “influencer”. And we all have influence in different areas of our life, including here at church.
Whether you identify as a leader or not, stepTHREE of the Growth Track will help you identify those areas in your life where you have influence and help you refine your skills so you lead those well.
stepFOUR – Join the Team
We all have a part to play here at church. Whether its kids ministry, the hospitality team, a small group leader, or on the worship team, there is a specific team where you belong.
So, in stepFOUR of the Growth Track, we help you take everything you discovered in stepTWO and apply it by finding the right team for you.
This isn’t about us finding more volunteers. This is about helping you find the team at church where you show up knowing, “I was made for this.”
So, Growth Track is how we help people discover purpose which leads into the final step of our spiritual journey:
Step 4: Make a Difference
How do we help people make a difference here at NoLimits?
Most people would call this volunteering, but we call it the Dream Team because we want you on a team that connects with your dream.
When you show up to serve on Sundays, or when you go on an outreach activity, or when you lead your small group, we want you to always have that thought in the back of your mind, “I was made for this.”
So, the Dream Team is simply all the teams at church that give you the opportunity to put your gifts to work and make a difference in the lives of those around you.
In stepFOUR of the Growth Track, we connect you with your dream team and guide you through the steps of getting plugged in to that team.
We help people know God through our Sunday services. We help people find freedom through our Small Groups. We help people discover purpose with the Growth Track. We help people make a difference with the Dream Team.
I hope this is starting to make sense to everyone, because this is the future of our church. We’ve had many of these pieces established for years but they were just waiting for us to put them together in a beautiful puzzle.
And now that we have a step-by-step journey for people to follow, I believe that God is going to lead the lost into our church. He’s had a harvest ready for us. He’s just been waiting for us to get ready for them.
There may just be a strong pull on the inside of you because it’s time. It’s time for you to surrender your life to God and receive a new life from Jesus.
You know you’re not that good at managing your life anyways. It’s time to give Jesus the control of your life. It’s time to receive forgiveness and get your past washed away.
If that’s you, if you are ready to do that, I want you to say the following prayer out loud. And when you do, Jesus is going to wash you clean and give you new life. He’s going to fill you with joy, peace and purpose.
“Jesus, I’ve been living without you and I don’t want to do that anymore. I’ve done a lot of things wrong and I need your forgiveness. I accept Your love and grace for me and ask that You would be my Lord. Thank you for making me new. Thank you for washing away my past. I hand my life over to you and ask that you’d help me walk out your plan for my life.”