Reunion Values: We Want People to Belong Before They Believe | 3-13-2022

Photo Cred: (1) | Updated: 9/3/2022

Sermon Prep

This of the 3 sermons I taught on Reunion Church‘s values, was the most difficult to pen. I really didn’t like that I couldn’t match theme and text. Meaning, I just couldn’t for some reason or another connect the two when the other sermons were so seamless. The pieces were present, but it still puzzled me.

Usually when a disconnect like that happens, it throws me off in the performance of preaching. If I don’t quite get it, neither will the audience. The orator has to understand first and I just didn’t give my self enough time. Preaching back-to-back weeks is tough, especially when you’re unsure of what the layout needs to look like. Either way, here’s the notes of what I ultimately shared:

Sermon Notes

Opening

  • Reunion Values -> the why behind the what
  • Tonight, we’ll end our series w/ Value 7

Intro

  • Where did you belong in high school?
  • Kyle Story
  1. Alone and sat by himself.
  2. Befriended him at lunch.
  3. Created belonging with his own group.
  4. Developed trust to share my faith.

Transition To Main Point

  • Like Kyle and I, Jesus created belonging before people believed.
  • Belonging changes hearts, belief cements the change.
  • Belonging is the group assurance that you can be your authentic self.

From that city many of the Samaritans believed in him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all things that I have done.” So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. Many more believed because of his word; and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this one is indeed the savior of the world.”

John 4:39-42

Main Point

  • Jesus invites us to belong before we believe.
  • Here at Reunion Church, we do the same.
  • We want all people to belong here, even before they believe in what we do here.

Why It Matters

  • A lot of church world is believe, then belong.
  • This is just putting the cart before the horse.

Information and choice doesn’t transform a person. People transform based on where they find their identity.

Jessie Cruickshank

Where you find your identity is where you belong. Where do you belong? Let’s pray.

Final Thoughts

I can be very critical of myself and my own work. In my heart, I know this isn’t the worst sermon in the world. It gets the job done. But I do obsess over how to craft the best message when I’m preparing and speaking.

When it’s not up to my high bar, I’m a little disappointed. Yet my performance isn’t why people tune in and hear the message in the first place. They need and desire God. I just need to step aside and allow that to happen. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless.

Footnotes

  1. https://www.pexels.com/

Reunion Values: We Train and Send Out Excellent Leaders | 3-6-2022

Photo Cred: (1) | Updated: 9/3/2022

Sermon Prep

In early March, I was flying on a kite. I just had my first date on the 4th with my future wife. I had been recently promoted at work. I’ve never felt more fit in the gym training for USS Nationals, which was a Strongman show in June. Nothing could be better.

That positivity and sense of peace really poured into everything I did. Especially here with this sermon. It was a less personal teaching and more knowledgeable about the discipleship process we do at Reunion Church. Not necessarily the most invigorating, pulse-pounding message yet one that’s needed to balance those ones out too.

I can’t recall the prep all that much given I was feeling so good. All I could think about was my girlfriend. So this prep felt like a breeze and went well. Anyways, here’s my notes from that message:

Sermon Notes

Opening

  • Reunion Values -> the why behind the what
  • Tonight, we’ll continue w/ Value 6.

Intro

  • What is an excellent leader?
  • Like who? Any examples?
  • Cory teaching creative content role:
  1. He selected me based on potential
  2. He schooled me in his own process
  3. He sent me out to make it on my own

Transition To Main Point

  • Jesus trains and sends out excellent leaders. To create legacy is to build leaders.
  • His Leadership Process:
  1. Chose Peter (Luke 5:1-11)
  2. Chose the 12 (Luke 6:12-16)
  3. Sent the 12 (Luke 9:1-6)
  4. Sent the 70 (Luke 10:1-3)

[Jesus] had started his ministry by exposing some curious converts to the nature of ministry. This was the four-month come and see period. It was followed by the ten-month come and follow me training period, when those curious converts became established disciples. The third phase of training, come and be with me, was a twenty-month segment when those established disciples were transformed into equipped laborers.

Bill Hull,  Jesus Christ, Disciplemaker (P. 198-199)

Main Point

  • Like Jesus exemplified, we too must train and send out excellent leaders.
  • Why? Because life with God is a shared experience, not selfish enlightenment.
  • Jesus led his disciples, so that they could eventually lead their own.
  • How? Be led by a personal teacher and then lead a teachable person. That’s it.

Why It Matters

  • Jesus led personally and leads us to persons who need his care.
  • He could do everything himself, but he invites us into the process (i.e. Adam, Moses; Jonah).
  • Don’t just call for change, be the change.

Final Thoughts

For some reason, I remember more about the success of the small group that followed this sermon than the actual sermon. I loved learning under Hannah Morrison and how she navigates the small group setting. I hope she knows just how good she is at small groups and being a leader who can teach us.

As far as my preaching performance, it was good. Nothing extraordinary, yet that’s alright. Sometimes after the last one being deeply touching, the next doesn’t need to be that way.

We’re not here to play heartstrings, but submit to God’s word for us today. I’m just the translator in that process. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless.

Footnotes

  1. https://www.pexels.com/

Reunion Values: We Befriend and Uplift Those the Rest of the World Has Given Up On | 1-30-2022

Photo Cred: (1) | Updated: 9/3/2022

Sermon Prep

Re-reading old journal entries of mine during this month, I was going through a lot. I was tired and exhausted from the pace of life. My mind was bogged down and muddled.

I had a well-earned promotion coming up at work. The end of the fiscal year was within 30 days, so I had my best month-to-date in January. Producing 3x my average sales performance, which was astounding but grueling.

I was trying the dating scene going back-and-forth on the various apps trying to find connection. It didn’t really work. A couple conversations, but nothing beyond that. I was also mustering the courage to ask out my now wife on a date, but wasn’t ready yet.

Ministry was tiring too. We had survived the holidays and were moving into the slow season of church. My body ached too from training for USS Nationals, which is one of the biggest Strongman shows of the year. All-in-all, I was worn out.

I remember that David Margosian was almost too sick to teach the first value in our sermon series (2), so I began prep for it. I think he had a cold or something. At the last second, he said he was good to go and taught but I had already worked some things out. I took those ideas and scattered them throughout this message and other messages in the series.

Ideas like “Church isn’t just 4 walls per se, but is with those we walk with day-to-day.” or even the simpler “Jesus always went after the willing, not the worthy.” There were a lot of interesting, but untapped concepts from those notes. I especially liked this one:

The Kingdom of God is a people, not a place… Artificial growth is committees, but organic growth is communities… Too many of us are focused on ministries and not the mission of Jesus. We would rather have a comfortable life, instead of a life that crafts godly character.

That was all from that incomplete sermon and more, but that’s how it goes sometimes. Focusing on this though, I really enjoyed the prep because it was similar to our first value as a church. So I took those previous concepts and tweaked them for our second church value, which is the one I taught on this night (3). Here’s what I actually taught and my notes for this sermon:

Sermon Notes

Opening

  • Reunion Values -> the why behind what we do
  • Tonight, we’ll continue w/ Value 2

Intro

  • Therapy day is the one time a month I engage with my feelings because I’m a robot.
  • Therapy -> First Memories
  • Jack (One-ear, Transformers, etc.)

Transition To Main Point

  • Everyone is an outsider somewhere, but not when we’re with God.
  • For every group that excludes, God’s always including you.
  • No matter where you go, you will always be a child of God.

We are children, perhaps, at the very moment when we know that it is as children that God loves us- not because we have deserved his love and not in spite of our undeserving; not because we try and not because we recognize the futility of our trying; but simply because he has chosen to love us. We are children because he is our father… before we loved him, he loved us.

Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat (P. 135)

Matthew 9:36-38 (ESV) + Mark 10:13-16 [small groups]

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Matthew 9:36-38

Main Point

  • 2nd Value = We befriend and uplift those the rest of the world has given up on.
  • Jesus befriends and uplifts outsiders that the world gave up. We dare to care for those outsiders.
  • Find the people that don’t belong anywhere and include them in your life somewhere.

Why It Matters

  • If Jesus in his greatest loving act brought you in when no one would, then the least you can do is befriend the lonely and uplift the unloved.
  • Jesus saw everyone and we need to see them too.

Transition Out

  • I’m thinking about a lot of friends who used to be alone, but I could go on-and-on about that.
  • Who can you befriend and uplift?
  • Find them and friend them.
  • This is what Jesus did and does.
  • Do likewise.

Final Thoughts

This was personal for me. I really believe in this value whether or not I’m apart of this local church. It means something. To be there for the destitute. The downtrodden. The outcast.

I think that conviction was conveyed in the delivery of this sermon. I recall the emotions I felt from the audience in the room. They had a visceral connection to the message I believe because of God’s great love for them. Shining through every letter of this sermon.

I hope they still know they’re loved. I know I need the reminder every now and again. With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless.

Footnotes

  1. https://www.pexels.com/
  2. https://youtu.be/H-wNCQScPws
  3. https://youtu.be/bdcNl6JfLEk