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Andy Stanley - Our Turn

Andy Stanley - Our Turn
TOPICS: Ekklesia

So once upon a time there was a chair with your name on it. Now you didn't know it at the time, you were attending a different church or perhaps you weren't attending any church and perhaps you had no interest in church and somebody invited you to our church or to your church. And you said no because you weren't a church person or maybe you had a church. And they kept inviting you and they kept inviting you and maybe they invited your kids and your kids went and they came back and it's like, oh no, you know, now my kids want to go back to that church. It was a best friend or maybe somebody from work or a neighbor or maybe a relative that just kept inviting you and you weren't sure but eventually you gave in. And you showed up and everybody seemed pretty normal and they seemed pretty happy and they seemed pretty friendly.

And the person you didn't know at at the time, but the person that invited you was so nervous that you were here with him. It's like you said yes and you finally came and here's what they were thinking. They were thinking, "I hope they don't preach too long and I hope they don't sing too long. I hope they don't preach too long and I hope they don't sing too long". Or maybe nobody invited you, maybe you just came on your your own and you sat toward the back. And you were looking for something. You were needing something. You'd just gone through something and you thought, wow, maybe if I go to church. But you showed up and it was way too big and then it was way too loud and it seemed so impersonal, but nobody yelled at you and nobody tried to make you feel guilty for something and the content was actually helpful and maybe you brought your kids. And you were nervous at first about leaving your kids with strangers.

Or perhaps you asked, "Can you keep them for lunch"? Maybe keep them through dinner. And your kids actually enjoyed it and you thought, oh no, they enjoyed it, that means they're gonna wanna come back and I'm gonna have to go back to that church. And you surprised yourself and you did come back and you kept coming and then you really surprised yourself and you invited someone and now you're sitting in church and you're thinking, "Oh no, I hope they don't preach too long and I hope they don't sing too long," 'cause now you're experiencing what the person who invited you experienced and you're experiencing our church through somebody else's ears and somebody else's eyes, but they didn't hate it.

And then you took a huge step. You went to a starting point group because you had some questions about faith. You had some questions about church, some questions about God, you maybe you had some church hurt or maybe you had questions no one had been able to answer them before. And you kept hearing us talk about starting point. And it was a big risk 'cause now you're kind of stepping to a more intimate environment and you met some of the most amazing people and they didn't make you feel strange. In fact, they let you tell your story and you had never had an opportunity to tell your story to anyone because nobody cared and nobody ever asked you about your story. And you got some answers to your questions. And you were shocked to discover that the leaders in the starting point group didn't pretend to know answers they didn't have, they didn't pretend to know things they didn't know. They just said, "I don't know. Well, we've never figured that out either". They were so honest and they pointed you in the direction of resources that helped you get some of your questions answered.

And then, you know, maybe you took the big step and hit the big screen and shared your story with the rest of the world and you were baptized. And after you were baptized, people cheered for you. And it's the first time anyone's cheered for you since you were in elementary school or maybe middle school or high school. And now you're a regular routine attender. Or maybe your story's different. Maybe you walked in all in. Bible toting, scripture quoting, I love Hillsong, yes I do, Jesus calling and Tomlin too. It's like you knew all the songs. I say John 11, you say Lazarus. I mean, you're such a Christian. I mean, you're just so Christian. You know, you just came in and you found your seat and you found your people and you jumped into a small group. And I mean, you've just loved it ever since. But however you got here, now you're the routine Christian.

This is your place. This is your home church. And the reason I say all that is this, we're at a season where your church, because this is your church needs you to serve some folks who were you were. Unchurched, worried about faith, worried about life, trying to figure stuff out, and trying to figure out how faith and real life connect. Some church hurt, some people hurt, gone through a difficult time trying to sort things out, dealing with stuff, maybe recovering from stuff. And now their spouse is bugging them to come to your church and their kids are begging them to come to your church. And in some cases, their parents are somewhere in the country or somewhere in the world praying for them to come to your church. And they're coming and we need to be ready for them. In fact, we want to be ready for them. We want be ready to do for them what someone did for us. You want to be ready to do for them what somebody perhaps did for you and for your kids and maybe for your faith.

Today, we're in part three of our series, Ekklesia. Ekklesia is the word in Greek that was used to describe Jesus movement, his assembly, his congregation, the thing that he launched in the first century. The Greek word is actually translated in our English bibles as church but the word Ekklesia doesn't mean church. We talked about this in episode one. The word Ekklesia in Greek means assembly or congregation. It pointed to a movement. And the first time this word shows up in the English or in the Greek New Testament is Jesus uses it and he's with his guys in the middle of nowhere and there's 12 of them and Jesus and he turns to them and basically says, "Hey, who do you think I am"? And if you'll remember, Peter answers the question correctly.

Peter turns to Jesus and said, "Well, I'll tell you who I think you are. I think you're the king. I think you're God's final king. I think you're Messiah. I think you're the Christ". And then he says, "I think you're the son of the living God". And to their surprise, Jesus doesn't say, whoa, whoa, whoa, that's a lot. Jesus says, "You're exactly right Peter". And then he makes this bold statement that made no sense when he said it. You know, multiple occasions they thought Jesus had lost his mind. In fact, we find out later, his family literally thought Jesus had lost his mind. But when Jesus said what he said next, it was just too much. And he turns to Peter, he says, "You're exactly right. That is who I am. I am God's final king come to earth to explain God to the world and to give my life a ransom for many".

And then he says to Peter, he says, "On this rock, the declaration you just made, that I'm the Christ, the son of the living God, on this rock, this monolith, this extraordinarily huge not a stone you can hold in your hand, but a big piece of stone on this immovable rock, this immovable foundation, I will build my Ekklesia". In our English New Testament, it says church, but the word is Ekklesia. I'm gonna build my assembly, I'm gonna build my congregation, I'm gonna build a movement and the gates of Hades, in other words and death isn't gonna stop it. And as we discovered, Jesus' death and resurrection actually launched it. So in this series, we're looking back to the early church to make sure that we stay on track in our generation as a church. Because as you know, expressions of the Christian faith change from generation to generation.

Expressions of the Christian faith change from culture to culture. We don't all use the same Bible. We don't all baptize the same way. We don't all take communion with the same rhythm. We don't all sing the same songs all over the world. There are things that have changed culturally that should change culturally, but there are some things that have not changed and cannot change and we dare not allow them to change. Jesus' original mission for his assembly, when he stood there that day and said, "Guys, I'm going to launch a movement and it will never ever end". And we wanna make sure as a group of local churches and churches that are spreading out more and more in the United States and now around the world, we wanna make sure that we're a collection of local churches that don't drift from Jesus' original intent.

Because as we said last time, when the church veers, things just get weird. And all of us know enough about church history or all of us have seen things happen in some local churches that are just weird. They're just wrong. People get hurt when the church goes off track, hurt in Jesus' name. God's name gets associated with things that God despises. Church hurt, people being hurt by church leaders. Church leaders signing God's name to promises that God never made. So we don't want that to happen to us. We wanna be in sync with Jesus' original idea when he said, I'm launching something new in the world for the world. And here's why this is important for you and here's why this is important for us. And this is hard for us to get our minds around. But we are the church. We are the church for our generation.

Think about this. When people outside the local church, when people who are not Christian or people who used to be Christian, think about Christianity and think about the church, they think about you and they think about us. We are the church for our generation. We determine what Christianity looks like, what Christianity acts like, and what Christianity reacts like. Lemme make it more personal. If you're a Christian and your friends know you're a Christian or claim to be a Christian, you determine for them what Christianity looks like. It's kind of scary. You determine what Christianity acts and reacts like. We determine that for our generation. And because our churches have so many children and so many middle schoolers and so many high schoolers and so many college students, we are determining what the church looks like and what Christianity looks like for the next generation as well.

So we've gotta get this right, which means we've gotta do for others what some others did for us. We need to be for the next generation what some of you might say I wish the previous generation had done for me. And there are three things in particular that we have to get right. Three very practical things that we as a group of local congregations have to get right. Now here's the thing, you are smart people. Our churches attract very smart people, which I love. You're organized, you're busy, you're doing big things, you have a lot of things on your mind. It's hard sometimes to even sit through a message like this because there's so much going on in your life. But there are three things we have to get right. And some of you can put a check in all three of these boxes already.

So this is kind of blocking and tackling a little bit. This is kind of 101, but these are the things we dare not drift away from or we lose our way. Three things, number one, none of these will come as a surprise, you have to create and commit to a plan to support your local church financially. Everybody should have a plan for how they plan to support their church financially because here's why. Because some somebodies who didn't know you did that for you. Think about this. If you grew up in church as a kid, the first time they took you to church maybe as a baby or maybe as a child or middle school or the first time you showed up at church, isn't it true? It was all there, it was all paid for, it was all built. They already had staff, they had curriculum, they had chairs, they had electricity, they had a PA system. You walked in and it was all done waiting for you.

If you came back to church as an adult, isn't it interesting you walk in, it was all done for you. And now it's your turn and now it's my turn to do for this generation and the next generation what a generation did for us. Even for those of you who didn't grow up in church, there were churches everywhere, the church was available to you if and when you needed it because somebody had gone before you and done something for you who didn't even know you. So you need to have a plan for how you plan to support your local church financially. And it's very simple. You just pick a percentage and you commit that percentage to your local church. Now if you're generous, here's what I know about you, generosity isn't responding to an ask. That's what everybody does. That's what average people do. And you're not average people. Generous people have already set aside a percentage of their income to give to the things that they love.

So if you love your local church, you need to pick a percentage of that percentage and commit it to your local church. and we've made it so easy, as you know, all of our local churches have apps. You just go on the app, you set up recurring giving. Sandra and I have been giving that way for years. It's the easiest way to do it. You can set it, in some ways, you forget it. And here's the thing, and you know this. You're not gonna miss the money because you never miss money you spend on people you love and you never miss money you give to organizations you love. You never miss the money you spend on people you love. You never miss the money you give to organizations that are doing great things in the world. So you need to set that up and do it. It's what another generation did for you. Second thing we all gotta do is this. And this is gonna be difficult for some of you, depending on your personality.

I want you to listen out for what we call the three little nots. The three little nots. Anytime you hear one of the following in the grocery store, when you're out in the mall, when you're in the neighborhood, when you're at work, anywhere you go, anywhere you are, whenever you hear one of these three little nots, I want you to respond. Here are the three little nots. Number one, I'm not from here. Number two, things aren't going well. Number three, I was not prepared for. Not from here, not going well, not prepared for. And when you hear any of those phrases or anything that sounds like one of those phrases, you immediately say, "Hey, you need to come sit with me at my church. I want you to come sit with me. I want you to come sit with me".

It doesn't matter who's preaching, it doesn't matter what the series is because your churches are equipped to interface with people and engage people who are going through these three nots. They're new to town, they need relationships, they need friends, they need healthy friends, things aren't going well. We have so many resources for people who things aren't going well. And we are so good at preparing people for the things they're not prepared for. And you just say to them, "Hey, just come sit with me". When somebody's new town, it's easy.

"Hey, I don't know if you're a church person or not, but I go to a wonderful church. I'd love for you to come sit with me". Hey, you know, "Our marriage, things are not so good in a marriage". "Hey, you need to come sit with me. We talk about that stuff". "I've got a son, he's just kind of off the rails and I'm worried about his friends". "Hey, you need to come sit with me. We talk about those kinds of things". "Financially, things aren't going well. Job's not going well. My wife is sick and I'm having to care for her and try to keep things going at home". "Hey, come sit with me. We have resources at our church. Come sit with me". Whenever you hear one of these three things, you just invite someone to come sit with you.

Now Sandra and I have been doing this for years. We have some funny stories. My favorite one of hers is she was at a retail outlet. The lady in front of her was talking to the person who was checking her out at the store. And the lady behind the counter, I don't know if these two women knew each other, but the one behind the counter was talking to the customer about her boyfriend and was just going on and on and Sandra's listening thinking, they need to break up that he sounds terrible. So when she got up to the counter, she said, "Hey, I couldn't help but overhear so I know this is none of my business. You need to break up with him and you need to come sit with me in church, okay? You need to break up with him and you need to come sit with me in church".

And do you know how mad she got? Zero mad. She's like, "You're probably right". And Sandra started telling her about the church. You know what she said? She said what many people say when you invite them to one of our churches. "I've heard of that church". In other words, this isn't the first time I've heard of it. It's not even the first time I've been invited. Now here's the thing about the three nots. The worst thing that can happen, the worst thing that can happen is they can laugh in your face. "What do you mean church? I'm not going to your church". And then you have been persecuted for righteousness sake and you have rewards in heaven, okay? Or they may actually show up and then you get rewards in heaven.

So this is a win-win. There is no reason not to invite people to come sit with you. You can't lose. Now lemme tell you why this is important 'cause I know what you're thinking 'cause if I were sitting here, this is what I'm thinking, "Oh, Andy, you're just trying to have a big church". We already did that, okay? We've already done that a whole bunch of times. It's not about that. Here's why this is important. This is mission critical because we don't wanna just have a big church. We want to be an outward facing church that impacts the community and impacts the world. And here's the thing, if you are inviting, if you're an inviter, if you make it the habit of your life to invite, if you are inviting, you'll ensure your church remains inviting. In other words, you'll evaluate everything we do like sitting next to someone who's here for the first time.

When you hear it through their ears and you see it through their eyes and you experience it through them as opposed to your Christian, I know what to do, where to park, how to get in the door and how to get out before the traffic experience, right? So if you are an inviter, you'll help us ensure that our church remains inviting, that our church remains, come and see, come sit with me, come and see, come sit with me. Here's the thing. And if you do, you'll complain about all the right things. But when church people stop inviting people to the church, they start complaining about dumb stuff, just silly stuff. And churches get into squabbles and fights and split over the dumbest stuff. And when they tell you what happened, you listen to these stories. 'cause this is the world I live in, you listen to the stories and you're like, "That's it? I mean I was waiting for something big. The carpet, really"? I mean, not.

You know, it's just this silly stuff. So we don't argue, you don't complain about dumb stuff. We complain about important stuff. And when we accidentally do something programmatically, it becomes an obstacle to you inviting your unchurched friends or people who are new to town to church. Then we listen and we adjust. But you'll complain about all the right stuff as long as you are inviting. Think about it this way. The reason you came back to your church the second time is because something about it was inviting. And here's something that, you know, sort of a ding to what I do, but, you know, most people decide whether or not they're gonna attend a church a second or third time before the preacher ever gets up and starts preaching. It's about the environment, it's about the people. It's about how friendly.

So in other words, you know, the good news is if people don't come back, it's your fault not mine. And if people come back, I can't take any credit for it, okay? Because what people experience in terms of an inviting congregation makes all the difference in the world. And this is why, you know, I say this all the time, you follow Jesus through the gospels people who were nothing like Him liked Him and they were confident that He liked them. There was something magnetic about Jesus. And you are not a standalone representative of Jesus but according to the New Testament authors, when we come together, there should be something so inviting and so attractive and so others first about us that it's inviting to people regardless of what they believe and regardless of what they don't believe.

So in light of that, here's what I want to ask you to consider. And for some of you this is easy, some of you already doing this, for others of you, this is gonna take a little effort. I want you, and this is kind of corny, I'll admit, I want you to show up in host mode, not coast mode, okay? Coast mode is, you know where to park, you know how to get to the door, you get your seats, you put something on this side so nobody will sit there and you save somebody off this side and you got your whole thing all worked out and you know the four people that always sit around you and you get there and you have your chitchat. I love that. I don't want you to mess up your routine. All I want you to do is I want you to think more in terms of host than coast and here's why.

Isn't it true that when you have guests in your home, you break your normal routine? Well hey, this is your church home. Now, when I was growing up, and some of you can relate to this, I was told about the church building, I mean I heard this all the time, this is God's house, this is God's house. I think they just wanted us to behave. I think that's why they told us that. So it's don't run in God's house and don't write on the walls in God's house. And as a kid, here was my thought, some of you may have had this same thought, I thought, God's house has so many bathrooms and no bedrooms. This is the strangest house but anyway, this is not God's house. Look up here. You are God's house. You are the temple of the Holy Spirit.

This is not God's house. This is our house where we come together and worship. So when you show up, if this is your church or wherever you're sitting today, if that's your church, I want you to think in terms of I'm hosting people at my house today and some of you know how to do this and some of you're learning how to do this and people like me, we've had to learn how to do it because I am married to the host of all hostesses and I've had to learn, right, even when people come to our home. So you can do this. So when you come, 'cause you kind of get here early, you kind of know the routine, put your phone down, look around, maybe even walk around, look for lost people, not that kind of lost people. Look for people who are like looking at signs, they don't know what to do 'cause some of our buildings are so intimidating. Look for people who are walking slowly down the aisle.

Like, can I sit anywhere I want? I don't know what to do. And just go introduce yourself and then you can practice, you can say, "Would you like to come sit with me and meet some new people"? And come in host mode, not just coast mode. Some of you are fabulous at this. Some of you already know the people that sit around you every Sunday and when you see somebody new, you introduce 'em to those people. It's amazing. So this is our responsibility because we want to be outward facing and we want to emulate tone, posture, approach, tone, posture, approach of our savior. And Sundays when we gather is the perfect opportunity to do that. Then the third thing, and this is what's always most urgent during this season of the year, is if you're not currently volunteering at our church, I want you to attend an information meeting.

And we make this easy for you. We do it on a Sunday morning. If you're not currently volunteering in a weekend environment, I want you to attend an information meeting and give us an opportunity to introduce you to one of the best investments, literally one of the best investments of time in your lifetime. Because the best investment of time and life outside of your family is the local church because it is the activity of God on planet earth. And it is an invitation and it's the opportunity of a lifetime. And literally at all of our campuses, we either need dozens and dozens or in some cases hundreds and hundreds of people to step up just to get off, you know, the sidelines and into the game a little bit and to volunteer some time on a Sunday morning in our fabulous environment. Basically we need about an hour and a half or in some cases, every week, in some cases, every other week, in other cases, every three weeks.

And just a moment, somebody at your campus is gonna come up and explain exactly how to get involved. But before we go there, this, and I would prefer that we keep this in the room, okay? 'Cause this could be misunderstood. The easiest thing for us to do, the easiest thing for you to do, the easiest thing for me to do, the easiest thing for you to do is nothing. 'Cause I'm fine, you're fine. All God's children are fine. Plus more people, more hassle, right? But if the group that came before you, if the group that got here before you thought that way, served that way, gave that way, worshiped that way, facilitated groups that way, if the group that came before you is like, "Somebody else is gonna do it, somebody else is gonna pay for it, I don't need to give any money, that church doesn't need my money".

If that's the way the group that came before you thought, there would be no, you ready for this? There would be no North Point Community church. There would no Browns Bridge Church. There would be no Buckhead Church. There would be no Decatur City Church. There would be no East Cobb Church. There would be no Gwinnett Church. There would be no Hamilton Mill Church. There would be no Woodstock City Church. There would be no Athens Church, the fabulous church in Athens where so many of our students have been able to leave one of our churches in the Atlanta area and go to Athens and plug right into small groups and right into college ministry and right into serving and right into giving. And that dynamic church that's so strategic, there would be no Athens Church.

There would be no Lake Oconee church. There would be no Southside Church Chatt Hills, one of the newest churches. There would be no Southside Church in Fayetteville they're killing it down there. There'd be no Southside Church in Henry County. There would be no Southside Church in Newnan. There would be no Southside Church in Peachtree City. There would be no Wiregrass church in Dothan, Alabama. And there are more. Is that for Dothan or you just think I'm doing a good job, either way? So here, look at this. Look what you've done and you had no idea, but you are a part of this. You're a part of all of these stories if you've served, because by serving, we multiply, by giving, we multiply. And this is why when people say to me, and again, you can understand why I take this maybe differently than you do.

"Well, Andy, you know, I don't give to the church 'cause the church doesn't need my money". Hey, if we didn't have this big of a vision, that works. But if this is what God has called us to do, and if this is what God has enabled us to do, and if this is what through your generosity and through your service and through your selflessness, we've been able to accomplish, this is a good, good, good investment. And if the group that came along before you thought the way that some church people think, this would have never happened. You can't preach this into existence. You can't just inspire this into existence. This is thousands and thousands of Jesus followers saying, hey, when Jesus said he was launching his Ekklesia and it was for the whole world, and the little Ekklesias in the communities are to be outward facing churches, we think there should be an outward facing church in every community in America and we're willing to do whatever we need to do to make sure that happens because Jesus is the hope of the world and the church are the hands and feet of Jesus in the world.

So this is a really big deal. Aren't you glad the folks who got here before you did something on your behalf even though they never met you? And on behalf of your kids, even though they'd never met your kids? Aren't you glad they didn't decide to let somebody else worry about it? And do you know what they did? I mean, you know, the way I think about it, one thing they did is they bought an awful lot of chairs, an awful lot of chairs. Back during COVID, word got out that I had said in some interview that I didn't think the church was an essential service in the community. I'm like, are you kidding? Do you know how many chairs we bought? Of course, the church is essential. But less specific in that, do you know what the people who came before us and before you and some of you are some of those people, do you know what they did? They did what I'm asking you to consider. They did what needed to be done in the moment and it's fuel a movement.

And this wasn't the goal. The goal was just to be a great local church that took advantage of opportunities. And you have, and we have and there are more opportunities for us to take advantage of, but we have to get it right week after week after week after week because this isn't about growth, this isn't about numbers, this is about individuals. And here's what's gonna happen, it happens every single week, next Sunday, at all of our churches, a woman is gonna show up with her husband and her children in tow. And her husband has told her, "Okay, okay, okay, I'll go. I'm gonna give it one shot". And she's praying like crazy that it'll go well, that maybe her husband will see somebody he knows, that the sermon won't be too long and the songs won't be too long and everything will work. And she's hoping that when they get to Waumba Land and up street and transit, that their kids are just gonna go right in and they're gonna come out with smiles on their face.

She's banking on us getting it right for her and there's so much at stake for her. Every single week, at most of our campuses, a kid in twenties, young man in his twenties, a young woman in her thirties gonna show up by himself, by herself and the community she's living in, the guys he's running with, it isn't good. And they want something different, but they don't have any friends. They don't have any Jesus following friends. So they've heard about our church and they just show up and they're gonna sit in the back and they're gonna wonder, hey, is this for real? And do I belong here? Am I ever gonna meet anybody? And what hangs in the balance of their decision is huge. And somewhere there's a mama and a daddy praying for them and they're praying that we will be the answer to their prayers. And for years, sorry, we have been and we're gonna continue to be, but that means we gotta be engaged, stay engaged.

Every year we graduate hundreds and hundreds of high school students, high school seniors out of our student ministry who have spent years in small group, leading small group, in small group, leading small group, and I'm telling you, when they leave home and go to school and they find a church, they don't go to the church for the preaching, they go to the church to find a small group, accountability and to lead a small group because they think, don't tell 'em otherwise, they think that if you're a Christian, you're supposed to be in a group and lead a group. That's what you teach them and that's what we've modeled and that's what's happening literally all over the country and in some different places of the world. If it was your son showing up with your grandkids next week, what would you want them to experience? If it was your brother showing up with your niece or nephew and his new wife or his wife next week, what do you want them to experience?

If that was your brother or sister showing up by himself or by herself far away from home in the big city looking for connection, what would you want him or her to experience? Help us do that. If you've ever thought, and I know you have, some of you, if you've ever thought, I wish there was a church like this when I was growing up, hey, this is your opportunity to ensure that there's a church like this for this generation as they grow up. And look, I know you don't have time, you're busy people, we track busy, productive people. I know you don't have time. I'm just asking you to consider making time and to begin with, I'm asking for one hour on a Sunday just to attend an information meeting to find out what the opportunities are and if this is right for you.

Now, last thing real quick, for those of you who know what this is, because you sit on one every Sunday with a bunch of little kids. Bill, thank you. For those of you who knows what know what these are because you're surrounded by children talking about how much Jesus loves them and how he'll be their friend forever, thank you. For those of you who give to buy this kind of stuff, thank you. For those of you who serve in the parking lot, I got here this morning, it's misty and it's muggy and it's yucky, and before I even got here, those gentlemen are out there setting up a thousand orange cones so you can get on and off the property safely Thank you. For those of you who lead small groups, for those of you who serve in guest services, for those of you who are percentage givers, for those of you like our family who are tithers to this church and you're not sure where all the money goes, but you've trusted us with your income and with your wealth, thank you.

You have made and continue to make a remarkable difference, not just on this piece of real estate, but all over our country and more and more all over our world. I just thought of this, I'll share it real quick. We have a church planner friend in Ireland and he shared a story this week with our staff here at North Point Community Church. I don't know if I can get this out. Here's what he said. He's part of our church network. We help support what they're doing there. And he said, "Hey," he looked at our staff for this campus, for those of you at our other churches at North Point Community Church today, he looked at the North Point Community Church staff, but he really was looking at staff for all of our churches. He said, "Hey, I just want you to know if you go away, we go away. We can't do what we're doing in our difficult environment without you".

That's what you're doing. That's the difference you're making. That's why we gotta keep going. Years ago, a gentleman some of you know named Kelly Miller sat through a presentation just like this one. He was very busy and he had a very difficult situation going on at home that even distracted him more from just his work and his career. And he sat through a presentation like, and he responded. In his words, he took a step. And here's what happened. Take a look.

My name is Kelly Miller. I've been serving at our church since 2003. Yes, so my wife and I started going to North Point, 2001. For the first two years, we sat comfortably on Sundays, enjoyed the service, but we really didn't have much inspiration or thought about serving or engaging. But then the annual strategic service Sunday rolled around, and Andy gave his pitch and all of a sudden I felt a fairly strong conviction that I should serve with high school students. And I'm like, there's no way I'm serving with high school students. I had all the excuses. I was successful, which meant I had a demanding job, which meant I was busy all the time. And then my wife was also sick and so we had every reason to not do this. The conviction was so strong, I just said yes to taking a step. My yes to take a step turned into them saying yes to me and I agreed to take this group of guys. And in that time, I think the greatest gift that I've received other than my faith growing is the quality relationships that I have with so many people including young men like Bradley. The night we first met was at Inside Out and I remember seeing this guy in my small group for the first time that had this long red hair. He was really cool. I hate saying that now he's really cool. And I was thinking, there's no way this guy's gonna come back, like he's too cool for what we're doing. I don't think he missed a Sunday after the first Sunday.

On Sundays, Kelly would ask us to hang back and just get to have a little more conversation one on one. It was kind of nice meeting someone new who was interested in getting to know me a little more. We knew he was super busy, big time business guy. He would be there every Sunday. He made it a priority to be there for us and there was never anyone like that for me. I learned that to live a better life was to live a life surrendered and to have Jesus at the center and I was able to see it right in front of me from my small group leader.

After we finished that group, I was exhausted and all the excuses that I had for not wanting to start the group in the first place came back. But a good friend came to me and said, "Hey, would you consider, you know, taking another group right away"? And I was like, "Okay, I'll do it if Bradley will co-lead with me".

I'm fairly certain I probably was like, "Yes, I'm in".

And I was like, "What? Come on".

Kelly and Danlyn have played such a major role in our lives to where Megan and I decided without a doubt our first child was gonna be named Miller. And then now Kelly is known as Papa and Danlyn is Grand Dany. I have learned so much from you. You said yes 20 years ago and that yes has impacted who I am today as a husband, a father and that yes hasn't just impacted me, it goes far beyond me.

Hi, my name's Miller. I'm eight years old and in the second grade. I asked Jesus into my heart when I was in the car at five years old. I want to get baptized because I want to show everyone that I believe in Jesus. When I pray to God, I feel like our relationship is bonding. My granddad and papa gave me a sign with my favorite truth. It says, "I am a daughter of a king who's not moved by the world for my God is with me and goes before me. I do not fear because I am His". I would like to thank my mom and dad for being with me through this epic journey. I'm here today to show everyone that I believe in Jesus.

That's better than your video. Never in my wildest dreams could I have ever imagined that my life would be so dramatically affected by simply saying yes to taking a step towards serving. Serving at our churches is not just for the benefit of the people that you're directly leading, but can lead to a generational impact. And that's not meant to be said as a pressure. It's meant to be set as an opportunity. It's an opportunity to know your Heavenly Father and grow in a way that you cannot believe is possible. And really all we have to do is just say yes to taking a step.

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