Make This Place Our Home: Dream Blueprints
I Peter 2:4-6
I Love a New House!
There is nothing like seeing a house being built, especially when it’s your own. We’ve had the privilege of seeing four of the homes we have lived in over the years built from scratch.
While the first one we built was a bit of a blur with us living in a different city, the last three were absolutely enjoyable to watch go up in front of our eyes.
To walk through the unfinished house and imagine what it will look like once finished, and where furniture will go, was incredible. To be able to choose where the doors and windows will go along with outlets and flooring was a treat.
Of all the houses we lived in there was only one that was pre-owned and while we could still give it our feel and decorate it to our liking, the house was essentially there and in place.
The walls were the walls, the doors were the doors and the windows were the windows. It came to us as it was and there was very little we could do about it.
And I can tell you that between the two I would much rather see a new house go up.
The Life Cycle
In some ways this is what we have here in front of us at Scott St Church.
We have the opportunity of a clean slate and of giving shape to something marvelous right here at our church.
The surveys could not have been clearer in pointing this out.
You may recall that we invited you to fill out a survey about nine months ago that started this whole thing rolling.
It was actually an identical survey to the one done a number of years back asking the same sort of questions about our church and the answers could not have been more different.
Both surveys had to do with where we were on the life cycle.
Everything has a life cycle with a beginning, the surge of new life, a leveling off, and an eventual decline until death. That’s the cycle of life and the way all living things go.
Just like all living things have a life cycle, so do churches like ours.
We don’t need too look to far to realize that sometimes churches die (Maranatha Reformed, Carlton United) and other churches are on life-support with the end not far up ahead.
When we did the two life cycle surveys, the responses could not have been more dramatic.
Only a couple of years back we thought we were nearing the end of our life and that things did not look good for us. I don’t need to go into details but those of you that were here know exactly what I am talking about.
But that same survey done earlier this year showed a completely different feel and perception. Overwhelmingly, the responses showed a sense of new birth, optimism in the future, and a new day.
The only uncertainty was what that would look like. What shape, what direction and what focus would this new thing would be?
That led us to do all of that work that we have done with our town hall meetings, round tables, committee work and finally the rolling out of exactly the shape, direction and feel of this new thing.
The Spiritual House
This new thing would be like a new house being built. This idea of building a house, so to speak, is absolutely scriptural.
Peter talks about a spiritual house being built, with us as living stones:
“As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 1 Pet. 2:4-6
Peter talks about the spiritual house being built, with Jesus as the cornerstone and them as the living stones that would be cemented in.
Paul says the very same thing within the Corinthian setting:
“10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.” I Cor. 3:10-13
Paul talks about his work in laying down the foundation of Jesus as Lord and then acknowledging that others are now building on it.
This is really key, since quite often others are building on the foundation we have laid.
My church in Lindsay is a great example of that. I am sure that I would not recognize the place some 11 years later. New pastors have given shape to the ministry, with God raising up new workers who are giving it a different shape and look from my day.
I knew that I was never the owner, any more than we are owners of this church. We are mere stewards entrusted with building the house of the Lord in our day.
So Peter talks about the foundation and the living stones being used.
Paul also talks about the foundation as well as ownership and the raw materials being used (hay, wood, straw, gold, silver, precious stones).
What neither of them did was talk about the shape, size and positioning of the houses they were building.
The reason for that is that no two houses are the same, with each one reflecting the mission field around them.
So in Jerusalem it was going to be this great multinational Jewish church with Peter leading the building process. While in Ephesus, it was going to be this amazing multicultural family of God, as diverse as the colors of the rainbow, with Paul at the helm. In Antioch, it was going to be this great mission and sending forth church, under the direction of prophets and teachers including Barnabus.
Here at Scott St. Church we are building on the sure foundation of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, that our fathers laid down using the raw materials – the sand, cement and water – of loving God and loving others - with God providing the living stones to be cemented together.
Oh friend, be a living stone in this building. Be a part of what God is doing here!
Don’t be standoffish; don’t opt out by criticizing everything that is happening here.
Don’t grumble, complain and murmur about either the raw materials of loving God and loving others, nor about the kinds of living stones we are schlepping back from the quarry.
Most of all, don’t grumble and complain about the shape, size and feel of the house we are building.
As in Paul’s day, so it is also in ours. Yes, someone else may building on it, but with great care. The foundation has been laid. Gold, silver and precious stones are being used to cement in the living stones.
God will bring living stones with or without us.
What it Looks Like
Here is what we are building. Here is what we heard you tell us needs to rise up on this spot:
We want to step into God’s dream for the North End that sees us becoming a welcoming spiritual community where we live out passionate faith, support personal growth, provide holistic care, match resources with needs and spark innovation.
This is the artist’s rendering of the house. This is what a sketch of it looks like. This is like saying “we envision a 2000 sq. ft. house with three bedrooms, two baths and an open concept kitchen/great room.”
This is what we envision our house to look like at Scott St Church. Again, we didn’t just pull this out of thin air but this is what our surveys and roundtable conversations told us.
Build it as a welcoming spiritual community. That’s like saying have a big old country kitchen that is warm and inviting, with a rec room that puts people at ease so that everyone feels welcome and at home.
Don’t have it so sterile and cold that no one feels welcome. Furnish it in such a way that makes people want to stay and, for gosh sake; take the plastic off the couch.
And don’t mind the mess, the dirt on the shoes and the fingerprints on the glass. Our neighbors and friends are not perfect people and they will bring their messy lives with them so yeah there is going to be mud on the rug sometimes.
It’s not a model house nor a museum, but a livable place that puts everyone at ease in this welcoming spiritual community of ours. In that old house of ours no matter which room you go into……
What does that look like? While I could easily pontificate on what this looks like, how much better to hear it directly from the horses’ mouth.
1. When I think of living out passionate faith, many come to my mind including Bob Ratelle. I love his passion for the Lord, love his strong commitment to God and his deep prayer life.
2. When I think of supporting personal growth, I think of the many here who have grown in their faith and development none of whom has taken greater leaps forward than Aaron Giesbrecht.
3. When I think of someone who has stayed above the water despite struggles in many areas of life I think of Bev Klassen who can testify to benefiting from the holistic support we have provided in her physical, spiritual and emotional struggles.
How Do We Do That?
In this house of ours you will find an incredibly welcoming spiritual community – and no matter how muddy you are or where you’ve been – you are welcome here!
And here you will find a home where we live out passionate faith, support personal growth, provide holistic care.
How do we do that? Notice the last two things in our artist rendering: By matching resources with needs and by sparking innovation and creativity!
Matching resources with needs means we are not going to go into debt financing, so to speak. We are not going to overreach or over promise. We are not going to build bigger or offer more than what we have available.
It’s the old story of figuring out the financing before you build the tower:
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ ” Luke 14:28-30
There is nothing worse then the guy who overreaches in his build and has to leave the place half finished.
So this won’t be a mega church but will be within our means and within who we are. This spiritual house will not be more than what and who we are.
Yet it’s also going to be a house of faith, meaning that it’s easy to settle for the little that seems to be apparent when with eyes of faith we see bigger, greater and more.
That by reaching in faith to feed the multitude at our doorstep we will see the Lord provide the same miracle of increased resources we saw with the boy and his few fish and loaves.
“Taking the five loaves and the two fish …. he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.” Matt. 14:19-21
That’s the flipside of matching resources with needs. Don’t overreach but also be sure to step out in faith.
That is how we will be this spiritual community where we live out passionate faith, support personal growth and provide holistic care.
And we do all of that in the most creative, innovative and ‘out of the box’ way possible.
Not only do we want to see a spark of creativity and innovation in our church, but also in our desire to create a welcoming community we want to try new things for the Lord, venture out into new areas of ministry and enjoy a new breath of fresh air
All of it as we seek to “to step into God’s dream for the North End that sees us becoming a welcoming spiritual community where we live out passionate faith, support personal growth, provide holistic care, match resources with needs and spark innovation.”
Here you can find several messages. Feel free to write your thoughts or questions in the comment section.