If you have your Bibles, let’s turn to 1 Corinthians 12. We’re going to pick it up in verse 12. “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” Now I love this first part of the text because he’s simply saying, “Ethnicity, background, socioeconomic status, none of it matters. We are brothers and sisters, and our family is bound together and background doesn’t matter.” Like some of you were born in church and you have never not known church. And that’s a great testimony. I’m begging God to let that by my kids’ testimony. But some of you went a different route. Some of you thought you were a bit smarter than God and went a different route and it took God lighting you up or, as Hebrews 12 would say, “scourging you as a son as evidence that He loves you” to draw you back into the kingdom. But the truth is, whether we cuss like a sailor or never cuss, whether we knew the party scene or have never partied outside of a birthday party that involved children, we’re one family. That’s the thing that binds us, not our socioeconomic status, not our personal preferences. It is the Spirit that reconciled us to God in Christ that makes us family. That is Paul’s point as he gets into what the church is.
Look at verse 14. “For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, ”Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,“ that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, ”Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,“ that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.” Now it’s moving into the diversity of who’s here to the diversity of how those things function together for the glory of God and for the good of the body of Christ. We’re not all hands and we’re not all eyes and we’re not all teachers and we all don’t have the gift of hospitality. We’re not all prophets, we’re not all apostles and we don’t all speak in tongues. If you continue reading, these are the lists he begins to break down. He says, “But each one is given what God chose to give him,” which means you are who you are and have been gifted by God as you’ve been gifted because God knew that at this time, this place, in this local community, we would need how He gifted you to become all that He would have us be. He even actually goes to 1 Corinthians 13 after this, which has been turned into a wedding text because it talks about love, but it’s actually talking about how the motivation behind how the church functions is love. It’s not jealous, it’s not arrogant, it doesn’t boast, it always protects and it always serves. You’ve got this drum that’s being beat that our relationship in regards to how we walk with one another, serve on another and do life together is rooted and driven by a deep love for God that overflows into a deep love for one another. That is why John is going to say, “If you say you love God and hate your brother, you are a liar.” You can’t say, “I love God, but hate my brother.” There is an overflow out of a love for God that oozes out on our brothers and sisters in Christ. And that’s why the competition in the Bible is not, “Who can grow the bigger church?” The competition in the Bible is, “Who can outdo the other with honor? Who can serve the other more effectively? Who can love for, care for and give to the other more than the one can give to them?” That’s the competition in the Bible. It’s not who’s the best church, but it’s His church and may we love and serve one another.
Now, I was saved from bitterness by Beltway Park Baptist Church in Abilene, Texas. I was kind of a bitter church kid. The reason why was because to me the church had become a place where everybody pretended to be okay despite the fact that it simply wasn’t true. So church for me was Camelot where everybody looked beautiful on the outside, but once you get on the inside, Lancelot is sleeping with the king’s wife and there’s about to be a civil war. But everybody acted
like everything was fine. Everybody pretended they were okay. And I, coming from the background I was in, was a mess. I loved Jesus with all my heart, but I was a mess. So I sort of grew a little bit bitter, a little bit angry. And every once in a while, that still comes out here. I am a work in progress. But Beltway Park and some of the ministers there and some of the elders there were very patient to love on me and encourage me that it didn’t have to be the way that I had seen it up until that point. And so I came to the Village Church eight years ago, and we have tried to live open and honest with you about the truths of the Scriptures, about life and sanctification and how it works and how it doesn’t work and why it’s difficult sometimes and how it can not be difficult in other times. We’ve always tried to be above board with you in regards to how we communicate, which is why you can go online right now and see our financial statements from last month. We don’t hid financially from you. We vote sometimes when we’re not required to vote. Last year, we voted on new elders, and our constitution does not require us to vote on elders. It simply requires us to present them to you, gives you thirty days to tell us biblically why they’re not qualified and then they’re instituted. But we voted because we need to all be on the same page if we’re going to trust our lives, heart and the direction of our church to a group of men. And so over and over again, we want to be above board.
So we have made some organizational structures that I don’t think you’re going to care about. I don’t think you’re going to care because historically you have proven that you trust us and you don’t care. We do budget meetings every year that four of you out of eight thousand show up to. The entire staff is required to attend, so it ends up being like a staff dinner. There is like one or two guys who are like, “Let me ask you a question here.” Outside of that, you don’t show up. I don’t think that’s a bad thing either. I think you trust us, and until we screw all that up, I think we can expect the same. But we’ve made some tweaks.
Now, you and I got into this room through a long chain of simple men and women being obedient to Jesus Christ. And it actually started, as crazy as it sounds, in Genesis 12 when God tells Abram and says, “I am going to make right everything that went wrong in the fall through you. I’m going to let the nations be blessed, the nations be glad and the nations celebrate through what I do in you and through your line.” And then you see this actually progress throughout history Him accomplishing exactly what God told Abram he was going to accomplish. You can read it in the prophets and in the psalms. There is this great and glorious day of the Lord that is coming. And just so you know, Christianity didn’t begin in America. I know a lot of you are a Texans and don’t trust things that come from the outside. This comes from the outside, from the Middle East even. It has worked its way in every direction since the Holy Spirit fell at Pentecost. And the plan was for it to do that all along. So from the fall until the flood until Abram being told all nations are going to be blessed. And then it moves from the Quaker missionaries Carolinas all the way up to this place, this spot. In 1845, the Southern Baptist Convention formed a missionary organization whose plan was to head West. In 1869, Holiford Prairie Church was formed by 13 families on the prairies that is now the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. In fact, where Old Hall Cemetery on McGee Road is, that’s the church that was started by the Baptist in the 1800’s in the hopes of reaching this area with the gospel of Jesus Christ. So people moved out to prairie land and did homesteading and built homes, worked the land in order to reach people for the gospel of Jesus Christ. In 1882, the little church out there had blown up. There were like 37 people. So from 13 to 37, they decided that they can’t be a prairie church, they needed to start writing books and doing conferences. So they moved into town and formed what is now First Baptist Church of Lewisville. In 1962, First Baptist Church of Lewisville planted Lakeland Baptist Church. Lakeland is right down the road off of I-35E. And First Baptist Church of Lewisville planted First Baptist Church Lakeland. In 1978, Ben Smith, the pastor of Lakeland, decided that the heathens over here in Highland Village needed to be reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ. So they spent their money and sent their members out to plant a church in Highland Village that became Highland Village First Baptist Church. And that’s our roots. Right here, where we are now, in a renovated Albertson’s, there used to be a Presbyterian Church that spent a great deal of time praying for God to move powerfully in this city, in this town, in this metroplex.
You and I, for all that God has done over the eight years, are living off the prayers of older saints, men and women who besought and bothered God endlessly to do a powerful act amongst them. So for all credit, all the turnover and all the new staff, in the end it was faithful men who would rather wear a suit than jeans to church, who begged the Holy Spirit of God. He heard and He answered, which I wonder sometimes what we’re leaving, what’s next and what we’re praying for. Because they’re envisioning right now what you and I are walking in. Dell Steele, who was the first chairman of the elders, told me from day one that we were eventually going to get the Kroger or the Albertson’s. And here we are. Now God pulled him home before he got to see it, but he got to see the renderings. So these are prophetic old guys who would not leave God alone about moving in this area, and this is your roots. We did not get here by ourselves, we did not discover anything new. That is an arrogant position to say that we somehow unlocked Pandora’s Box. The Holy Spirit of God has been on the offensive since the beginning. It has not stopped and it will not stop until there are representatives from every tribe, every tongue and every nation on Earth that are glorifying God and singing praises
to Him and living lives that glorify Him. This is God’s plan. It’s what He told Abram. It’s going to happen. It is happening. It’s exploding in China, it’s exploding in South America, it’s exploding in Africa and you’re even seeing signs of faith once again in Europe where everyone has said it has been dead for years. God is accomplishing exactly what He said He was going to accomplish.
Now over that period of time, philosophies and strategies have changed. Even since I’ve been here, philosophy and strategy has changed. What has not changed for us is why we exist. And so I’m just going to read here our mission statement. It’s as simple as it gets. “We exist to bring glory to God through lives changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.” You and I got to this point, we are here, we exist to bring glory to God. Now let’s chat about this for a second. This is what we might call a “space maker.” No one in this room has a choice of whether or not they’re going to glorify God. You will glorify God as either being an object of His mercy and grace, or you will glorify God by being judged rightly by a holy and just God and damned because of your rebellion. But even the most hardened, wicked atheist who says, “I want nothing to do with You, I hate You and don’t even think You are there,” is in the end going to bring glory to God by being an object of His justice. There is grace and mercy, and then there is justice. Those are your only two choices. There’s not a third option. That is the end of every man and woman.
So how is God glorified? Creation glorifies God. We were up early this morning and the sunrise was unreal. It was just pink and orange and it blew up the sky. It was amazing. Common grace glorifies God. When God allows man to progress and evolve in regards to his mind and heart and they discover things God is glorified. Science and faith are not at odds with one another. It is only a fool who tries to pick one. Here would be my example. On Thursday I’m going to to go the doctor, they’re going to do a couple of tests and then on Saturday I’ll start my next round of chemo. And here’s what I know. The surgery that I had in November, the radiation that I had for the six weeks that followed and the chemotherapy that I’ve been on for seven months, that is all a part of God’s glory being offered to all man. It’s called common grace. He has given it as a gift to all men. Now do I believe that God has healed me? I absolutely do. I think I get to be an old surly Baptist preacher. I’m actually excited about that, because when you get old, you can say crazy stuff and get away with it. When you’re young, you get blasted for that and called an arrogant punk. And so I’m kind of looking forward to that. So I believe that and have embraced that. Am I going to keep taking my chemo? Absolutely. Why? Because it’s wisdom and the common grace given to me by God. Do I think I’m already healed? I know I’m already healed. Do you know how I know that? Because there is nothing in my scans. They’re clean. They’re like, “Well, it’s going to come back.” Okay, we’ll see about that, but I’m saying that God has healed me and I’m going to walk in that. And then we’ll find out in the end what God has for me. But God is glorified in common grace, in the fact that He gives wisdom to man, He gives technology to man, He gives insight to mankind for all sorts of goods. There are thousand good things that occur because of common grace, and He is glorified in those things. In fact, I’ve pointed out to you over and over again, one of the things that really reveals how wicked your heart is is when you’re healthy, well fed and everything is going right, tears don’t stream down your face and you don’t worship Him for how good He is. But let something go wrong, let you lose
your job, let you get sick, let a plane fall out of the sky, let a loved one you know die, and all of a sudden we go, “God has betrayed us.” So He gets the blame for anything you don’t like but doesn’t get the praise at all for the billions of common graces He’s given you day in and day out. That is a sure sign of the wickedness of our hearts and need for the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ.
We exist to bring glory to God. Now the way we want to see it happen here at the Village Church is through lives changed. We need to do a little bit of work here on this one. Because we have to be really, really careful with lives changed. One of the things that confused me to no end for years is that if you would listen to testimonies, they always went like this, “I used to smoke a lot of weed, and now I don’t. . .I used to drink a lot of Jack Daniels, and now I don’t.” It was just like the testimony wasn’t, “O the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. . .O the goodness and loveliness of God. . .O the magnificence and splendor of the Creator of the universe.” It was, “I used to do this, and now I don’t” or “I used to behave like this, and now I behave like that.” Now is there some glory in that? Maybe. So in the end, what we’re celebrating is not you subduing your heart. No man subdues his heart forever. It’s like mowing the weeds. You can mow it down and it will look good for a couple of days, but then it will grow back. In fact, if we could be honest, most of us would say that there are areas of our life that we submit to the Lord and say, “I’m going to change.” And some of us do really well for an extended period of time only for some other issue to creep up or for that issue to come back and whip us. Do you know why? Because what you need is not to control your heart. Your heart is deceitful above all things. You need a new heart. So when I say “lives transformed,” I don’t mean you pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and working real hard to change your own life. That’s not what I’m talking about. We’re not humanists. We don’t celebrate how awesome you are. We don’t think what has gone wrong with the human soul can be fixed by human effort. And
all we have to prove that is thousands upon thousands of years of human history as well as the Scriptures. This is one where they line up perfectly. From the Enlightenment to education to technological advance, every time there is a, “This is what’s going to solve it,” we find out a few decades later that it actually created more problems than it solved. So we don’t glorify God by changing our own lives. That’s not what we celebrate and that’s not what we do.
We exist to bring glory to God through lives changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. So here’s where we’ve got to talk and spend some time with one another. It’s been my experience here that most of us don’t know what the gospel is, which is crazy. Now you know the word, but to actually get it and know it and believe it, to have the Holy Spirit ignite it in your heart, that’s a completely different animal. And I’ve tried to point out to you for eight years now that there are all these things you can watch that reveal that we don’t understand and we don’t get the gospel. The fact that you stumble and fall and don’t run to God but run away from Him instead reveals that you don’t understand the cross. Because when you understand the cross, you run to God when you need help, not away from Him in order to clean yourself up so that He might accept you back after you’ve smeared the mess you’ve made all over yourself and pretend that it’s clean.
So I just want to define the gospel very quickly, and I want to do it the way the Bible does it. There is the gospel on the ground, and there’s the gospel in the air. So let me give you the gospel on the ground first. The gospel on the ground is God is holy, infinite and ferocious in a good way. He is beyond our comprehension, He creates everything, He is involved in everything, He holds all things together with the word of His mouth and this is God as He rules and reigns. It’s not God as men have thought Him up. This is how He is, and whether you believe it or not does not matter. You believing that He is that doesn’t make Him any less that. This is who God is. So the gospel on the ground goes like this: God, man, Christ, response. You and I are sinners by our birth. Sin is not something that happens when you figure out the difference between right and wrong. Sin is a nature that you are born with. You’ll find that in Ephesians 2. You are by your nature objects of God’s wrath. This is David in the Psalm, “Surely I was brought forth in inequity.”
If you’ve had children, there can be no doubt to this reality. They do not have to be taught how to rebel. They do not have to be taught to shove, to bite and to push. It’s intrinsic. It’s there. They don’t learn that from their environment. They
come out like that. They come out in rebellion. And even those who have a tendency to be more obedient, if you’ll pay attention, usually are just obedient as a means of manipulation to get what they actually want. So they don’t have an obedient heart that says, “Yes, I want to please you.” They say, “I’ll be obedient because when I’m obedient, I get candy. If I’m obedient, I get to stay up a little bit later. If I’m obedient, I get to do this with my friends.” And so obedience is not an act of submission, but an act of manipulation to get what they really want. And that’s how many of us are also. And so you and I are, by our sinful nature, objects of God’s wrath. We are all in rebellion, we all think we’re smarter than God, we all think we know how things work better than the God who actually wired those and we choose rebellion and line ourselves up the kingdom that is warring against God. It is not an equal war. We already know how it ends. There can
be no frontal assault from the enemy on the throne of God. It would be suicide. And so what Satan will try to do then is get the glory due God and put on himself. And he will come after you and me and haunt you and me so that we might follow him. Every act of every day is an act of allegiance to one kingdom. You and I daily choose to glorify and honor what is dark and rebellious rather than glorify and honor what is beautiful and lovely. And this is the state of your heart and my heart.
If you read Ephesians 2 it does not seem to bode well for us, but there is this beautiful three-letter-word at the beginning of Ephesians 4, “but. . .” In the end you have Jesus Christ who comes and lives a perfect life. You and I are born sinners because our fathers were sinners, and we are broken and fractured like our fathers were broken and fractured. So we are born sinful. Jesus is conceived in Mary’s womb by the Holy Spirit. He does not have the line of generational sin. He is not born a sinner, He is not born biting, pushing and breaking the remote control. He is born holy, perfect and spotless, and He lives that way. And then He goes to the cross and dies. On the cross, He absorbs the wrath of God towards our rebellion, and at the resurrection, He imparts to us His righteousness. So here’s the gospel as simple as I can make it for you. None of your righteous acts gives you right standing before God, none of them. So for all the exhausting religiosity that you buy into of, “If I behave this way, then God loves me, but if I behave this way, I’ve got to stay away from God so I can fix myself up only to come back and then make God see that I’m great, good and worthy of His affection,” there is this impossible lie in us chewing at us constantly to earn what has already been paid for. And that’s why Paul is going to come back to the cross over and over again. The gospel is not for those who are lost; it’s for those of us who are saved, lest we buy into the lie that our moral behavioral modification is somehow going to make God’s affection for us explode. The cross is there to remind us every time that we screw up that God knew it was coming. No matter how you came in here tonight, you’re not surprising God. He’s not surprised. You had a tough week? He knows. That’s the point of the cross. You haven’t pursued Him very well this week? He knows. . .the cross. You have some things you really struggle with? The cross! He knows. The cross is always there as evidence that He knows you’re imperfect, but He has imparted to you what is perfect, His Son’s righteousness. And He has taken on the wrath that you rightly deserve and put it on the Son for the Son to absorb. God, man, Christ.
And then here’s the fourth piece of the gospel on the ground. Will you respond to this? Will you hear and believe? And don’t think that means you can go, “Oh, I can take that and do whatever I want.” Because the Bible is going to go, “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means!” and that it’s is the kindness of God that leads to repentance. So for those who say, “If this is true, I’ll do whatever I want and live any way I want,” it just simply states that you don’t understand the gospel. When men and women get the gospel confused, they either go to legalism or license. And this is the gospel on the ground. Every class, every sermon, every song, from what your preschoolers are learning right now to what your children are learning right now to what you’ll learn in Recovery, whatever we do here, this is the central message, that God delights in you and that delight is based on Jesus Christ, not you. That is the most freeing truth in the universe. The Bible says that the angels look in on this with wonder, they look in on this with amazement. Ephesians 3:10 is going to say that God is showing His manifold wisdom to the principalities and powers, to the spiritual realities
in the universe by loving us and saving us through Jesus Christ, because it looks like a foolish plan. So the Accuser gets to go, “Look at these fools.” And God goes, “Yeah, I see them as holy and spotless and blameless because of Jesus.” So
the wisdom works. God reveals His wisdom by becoming sin on our behalf so that we might become His righteousness. That’s gospel on the ground.
Now let me move to gospel in the air. Gospel in the air is also four words: creation, fall, reconciliation and consummation. God is the Creator of all things. Nothing that was created was created to terminate on itself. So food was created not to terminate on itself, but rather to create worship in our hearts towards the One who created it. So when you eat food, when Adam and Eve, naked in the garden, are eating food, that food doesn’t terminate on itself, but they’re filled with gratitude towards the God who created those flavors, the God who gave that in His provision, that God who granted them that in the garden and food and wine led to worship. Companionship led to worship. Everything that was led to worship. Because nothing that has been created was created to terminate to hold the weight of being god, of being fully exalted and being worshiped. That’s the whole point of the book of Ecclesiastes. “There is nothing under the sun that will sustain you. There is nothing under the sun that will satisfy you. The eye is never tired of seeing, the ear is never tired of hearing. You will never be full.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God has put eternity in your heart. You will never be full, because there’s only one thing that can completely fill your heart and mind, and that’s the God of the universe. Now the fall enters and it fractures all of that. It fractures every bit of that shalom, that flow, that rhythm and now mankind, according to Romans 1, begins to make creation god. So now food doesn’t lead to worship; food leads to gluttony or indifference. Both are wicked. Wine no longer leads to worship; it leads to drunkenness or indifference. Sex no longer leads to worship, but instead it leads to indifference or lust.
Literally, from the tiniest part of creation to the largest part of creation, creation is fractured by the fall and you and I begin to make ultimate what was not designed to be ultimate. If you’re expecting your spouse to satisfy all your frustrations and all your unhappiness and all your desires and wants, we’ll see you at the church offices. Because it’s not a weight they can bear. They are not your savior. Women make horrible gods. Men make miserable gods. To try to exalt them to that level, you’ve set yourself up for frustration and heartbreak, because you will crush them under the expectation that they be that for you. There’s not enough romance in the universe to satisfy your soul. There’s not enough frequency of sex in the universe to satisfy your soul. Those are lies that take glory away from the creative order of God and put on your heart, “I can make myself happy. I can make myself satisfied if I just had this, this and this.” No, the only thing you have that will ever be your eternal joy is Him. That’s the gospel. You get Him. So we have creation and the fall.
Now Jesus enters the picture again and begins to reconcile all that went wrong in the fall. So what went wrong between the man and woman at the fall is now restored in Jesus Christ. Is it perfectly restored? Not yet, but we’re moving that way. Do Lauren and I still fight? Yes, she is wrong a lot. I can say that because she’s not in this service. Do we fight like we used to? No where near like we used to. Do I still at time have a hard time opening my hands and giving freely as the Holy Spirit prompts and leads? God forgive me and help me, yes. But can I look back two, three, five, seven years ago and go, “Look at how God has grown me. Look at how God has changed me. Look at the value system God has reconstructed where this value system used to be.” And I can begin to go, “He’s working on me.” And let me just say this. Sanctification is slower than anyone wants it to be. Growing and transforming into the image of Jesus Christ is slower than anyone wants it to be. Now the guy that gets the video testimony, he’s the guy that has a story that is unlike most of ours. He had some random thing happen and shekinah glory just blew him up in his bedroom and he has literally fluttered about for the rest of his life. He just has a story that’s different than most of ours. Most of our testimony is
a day in and day out obedience that over time transforms us completely to the point where we’ll surprise ourselves sometimes. Like we’ll be in a situation where somebody is saying something and all of a sudden we’re counseling them and telling them Scriptures. You’ll be like, “I didn’t even know I knew that Scripture.” A lot of people go supernatural at that point and go, “I really think the Holy Spirit landed on my head and was speaking through me.” I’ll give you that because I really believe He was, but if we had to dig, I think you’d probably find that, as you submitted your life to Him
over a period of time and you gathered that kindling around your heart, the Spirit ignited what you had built around your heart and empowered what you had put around your heart through obedience to the commands of God in Scripture.
So He’s reconciling all things that will be consummated on that last day. When every tribe, tongue and nation has a representative that knows and believes and worships Jesus Christ, then the end comes. And I’ve been pleading with you for years now to get the Tom & Jerry picture of you playing a harp for eternity out of your mind and heart. The reality is that creation is made anew. There will be a new heaven, a new earth, a new Jerusalem, a new city, you and I have new physical, imperishable bodies according to 1 Corinthians 15. We will rule and reign with Christ and we are rewarded by Christ for our obedience to Christ here and now. So Jesus tells the parable of the man who trusted and obedient and how he was given ten cities to rule. The man who was faithful at this level was given five cities to rule. The guy that is given this was given one city to rule. And you’ve got this idea that we reign and rule with our Father. And we don’t rule with Him dimly, but face to face. In fact, the Scriptures say that we don’t need a sun anymore because God will be among us, we’ll be able to see Him and He will be our light. And that’s a good day. That makes death not so scary. And that’s when some disciples tell Paul, “Don’t go to Jerusalem. They’ll kill you,” and his response is, “I know. The Spirit told me the same thing,” and then he just keeps going to Jerusalem. In Philippians, Paul goes, “It’s better to get out of here. I love you and there is work to be done, but I’m hoping that God will kill me soon.” You’ve got this, “Yes, let’s get there, let’s finish the race, let’s be faithful and then let’s go home.” That’s consummation. That’s the gospel. The gospel is Jesus Christ is making all things new. You aren’t making all things new: He is. How is He doing that? By grace, by mercy, by reconciling us to God and then making us agents of reconciliation.
Now let me get into some things about us and some things we’re tweaking and some things we’re doing. Our mission statement will never change. Even if there is a new pastor one day and some new methodology, this will still be the mission because this is God’s mission for His church. It might be different words, but this is what God is doing. Over the last eight years, we’ve grown by a thousand a year, and we don’t know why that is. You’re not here because we mailed you a flier about our newest series. You’re not here because there are billboards with me holding a Bible and smiling and welcoming you to come. You’re not here because of a commercial. You’re not here because you were listening to KLTY and there was a little snippet. We didn’t give away cars at Easter. In fact, I yelled very angrily at you on Easter. I kind of used Easter as my chance to pounce. I have one shot at you, and so I wanted to be overly aggressive on that day and see what the Lord wants to do. So you got here through word of mouth by the Holy Spirit of God drawing you here because of the Holy Spirit’s plan for you. And so we have been experiencing this for years, and we’ve just ridden it out to the point now where are one church in three locations. And God has done all this. It wasn’t colonialism where we went, “Let’s take over the metroplex. The metroplex needs us to be a shining light.” The metroplex has the shining light. It’s the gospel. We are one tool of many being used by the Holy Spirit to do God’s work in this city. But right now we’re one church in three locations, and I want to try to explain that to you very quickly. We are one name, The Village Church. Both Denton and Dallas Northway are the Village Church. We are one elder board. There are not elders down in Dallas, elders up in Denton and elders here in Flower Mound. There is one elder body over all three campuses. They attend different campuses, but that’s because of where they live, not where they’ve been assigned. We have one budget, just one. So here’s how it works. The Highland Village campus paid to renovate the Denton campus. The Denton campus helped
pay for the Flower Mound campus that we are now in. Denton and Flower Mound paid for the renovation of the Dallas campus. There is one budget and it is a shared budget. There is one staff. It’s not Dallas staff, Denton staff and Flower Mound staff. There is one staff. On the first Monday of every month, we all come together for the morning to do nothing but worship, fast, pray and minister to one another and be ministered to by the Spirit of God. There is one staff. We do staff retreat together. Staff retreat is not a work retreat for us. It’s a time for us to come together and be encouraged
in the Lord and let the Spirit move and come among us. We have one Christmas party all together. We are one staff. There is one message, one teaching, one theology and one methodology here at the Village. The Denton campus and the Dallas campus don’t believe and teach separately than we believe and teach here. There is one membership
covenant. We are one church. We are not just sharing a teacher. I am not the commonality, although I am one of the commonalities. We are one church in three different locations. And that’s where we currently find ourselves.
Much has changed over these last eight years. In 2003, we started calling ourselves the Village. Now we didn’t do that because we thought it would be cool. We did that because we were Highland Village First Baptist Church and not acting at all like a historic first Baptist church. Back in the day, people would look up in this thing called the Yellow Pages and they would find First Baptist Church Highland Village. And so they would come in and we would see them dressed in suits, Bleecker would get halfway through the first song and they would be fully offended and leave. So we were like, “Okay, we’re almost being dishonest about how we’re doing things here, so let’s just be straight and tweak it a little bit.” And so I got up on a Saturday night and said, “Welcome to the Village.” And that’s how we got the name. We’re actually still legally Highland Village First Baptist Church doing business as the Village Church. And so that happened in 2003. We also switched from business casual to jeans that year. I had Bleecker just wear jeans and see what would happen. Nobody got angry about that, so I wore them the next week. Yes, I was willing to sacrifice him on that one. In 2004, we changed our constitution and bylaws, which led to a new structure of government. Honestly, all-male eldership is what we did. Before that, we were operating under a leadership council system, which means if you chaired a committee at the church, you were on the leadership council. Now the problem with that, although it works very well in the business world, is that the Bible doesn’t say that the church is governed that way. So we changed the constitution and bylaws and rolled out an all-male eldership. In 2005, we restructured our staff because of growth. We were running well over 2,000 each weekend and Josh Patterson, our executive pastor, was making $17,000 a year. So we had some financial things we had to stabilize, and we had to rework how many guys we had on staff because we were horrifically understaffed at the time. In 2006, we renovated the old Highland Village campus from 440 seats to 725 seats. In 2007, I didn’t want
to build the monster. I didn’t want to build an 8,000 seat auditorium and have it sit empty most of the week except for our offices. I didn’t want to spend $60 million on something that can’t be sustained for the long haul. So we called the church to six weeks of prayer and fasting to seek God’s direction for us. We were running six services each weekend and turning away from all six of them with no real hint of what to do about that. We were still very young at the time. So although we were a church of several thousand, we had a budget of a church of about a thousand. We were just nowhere near what other places our size were bringing in because of your demographic. So we just came together and fasted and prayed. The second Wednesday night, we prayed that God would do something so miraculous and so powerful that we could never take credit or teach anyone else how to do it but simply go, “Isn’t He good? Isn’t He amazing?” That was on Wednesday. On Monday we met with the pastor and some of the guys from Grace Temple Baptist Church in Denton, and they said, “What if marinated the two churches and we signed over the building to you in Denton?” Now the Village Church Denton sits on the UNT campus. If you had a map of UNT, our little church building would be on that campus because they use our parking lot during the week. That’s how close we are. And so we marinate our churches, one church is launched and they sign over that deed to us and the Village Church Denton is launched through prayer, fasting and seeking God’s face. In 2009, once again from prayer, fasting, seeking God and not knowing what to do about space, Dallas Northway is launched. The Flower Mound campus is launched. God taught us all that this isn’t about me and blew me up and took me out of the equation for two months while all of that occurred. All this serves as evidence that it’s Christ who is running this place and no one else. And the multi-site model for us absolutely explodes. So although we had never considered going multi-site, through prayer and fasting, God begins to do things. And now the Dallas campus runs over two thousand a week. The Denton campus now runs over 1,100 with no college student outside of those who are in summer school. So when the students come back, it will be interesting to see how we have space problems at all three campuses. And this is God just doing what God does.
So here are some changes that we’ve made just to facilitate what God is doing moving on into the future. We now have, under the elder body, vocational elders. I am one of three lead pastors. I am the lead/teaching pastor, which means my primary role here is teaching and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and setting the vision of the church as a whole.
There will be two other lead pastors. One of them is Josh Patterson. He was hired my second year here. He is the lead pastor of ministry leadership. So he basically runs the staff, loves the staff, encourages the staff and pastors the staff. The other hire that we’ll make or that will come from within is lead pastor of ministry services. That will basically be the operation side of the organization with a pastoral bent. We do not want to burn through operation guys to put a product before you that is excellent. We want them to be cared for, loved and encouraged. So that’s the first change that we’re making. We have expanded the executive staff. All that means is we have invited campus pastors onto the executive staff so that each campus is represented at the highest level. Both of those campus pastors are already elders. This also puts them on executive staff.
Now if you’ve ever been to any of the other campuses, you may have noticed that they are all different. Here in Flower Mound, there are a lot of minivans and Golden Retrievers. There are a lot of SUV’s and a lot of preschoolers. There will be over a thousand preschool to 5th graders at this campus this weekend. That is not the case in Dallas. There are a lot of guys living in $500 apartments driving BMW’s in Dallas. It’s just a different demographic. In Denton, it’s a different demographic. And so we needed to flatten down the org because there are things that they would need to do in line with our philosophy and methodology in those campuses that we might not necessarily need to do here. And so certain ministries become a campus-level thing.
And then we wanted to simplify and make flexible the structure. The only thing that is consistent here is that it’s always changing. That has been the only consistency we’ve had in my eight years here. Every time we go, “We’ve solved it,” we haven’t. We moved into here six months ago and we had to turn away a ton of people last weekend. And we’re getting to the point now where we’re having to go, “Okay, do we add a service? What do we do here? Do we just say, ‘Sorry. God to Bent Tree or Gateway or Fellowship’? What do we do?” So that’s being prayed about right now, and so we’ll see what God has for us there. We wanted to simplify and make flexible the structure.
Now let me leave you with this. This is what we’re trying to do here, to see God glorified by lives changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. And I know that some of you aren’t interested in that at all. You may be coming here because this is what you do to get to heaven. Now you’re going to be horrifically terrified to find out one day that that is simply not true and that church attendance does not save you. If you’re a skeptic and just wandering, you’re welcome to be here. If you’re on the fringe and you’re trying to figure out what it looks like, you’re welcome here. But if you’re here just for the show, here’s what I would tell you. There are places that do the show better than we do. Right now you could be watching lasers, fog and a guy dropping down on a zip line. There are all sorts of things you could be experiencing like fireworks spelling out the different names of Jesus in the air. You can get a peppermint mocha while you watch that shot up into your chair while someone rubs your feet right now. So here’s what I would encourage you. If none of this resonates with you and if none of this is what you want to happen in your soul and life, if you don’t want to be a worshiper of God and you just want to sit and be entertained, I just want to lovingly invite you to go be entertained someplace where the goal is to entertain you. That is not our goal, not our hope and not what we’re after. And at the end of the day, I have no care in the world how large of a church we are. I want to be faithfully obedient to the Word of God and I want to go home like Paul did and say, “I ran my race and I ran it well. I have preached the full council of God. My hands are clean.” And so you coming here and leaving here does nothing to my ego. I am stroked in ego by a God who loved me enough to send His Son to die for me despite me. So I would love for you to come if God has called you into this place, but if you just want to watch, there are cooler places to go watch. You can go see tanks on stage, fully automatic machine guns that fire off. You can go and be a part of that. It’s exciting stuff. But for us, it’s simple. It’s the gospel of Jesus Christ in a bare bones kind of place.
So let me pray for us that God would make us that place. “Jesus, we love You. It’s our confession that we want to love You even more than we love You now. We thank You that You have told us in Ephesians 2 that it’s going to take the
coming ages for You to reveal fully the depths of Your love for us in Jesus Christ. It’s going to take thousands upon thousands upon thousands of years for us to comprehend how deeply and profoundly You love us. The moment You saved us, we have entered into ever increasing joy and peace that passes all understanding. So help us now as we transition into a time of celebrating these things like our brothers and sisters have for thousands of years by singing to You, exalting You, lifting our hands to You, having our hearts get caught up in You and allowing Your Spirit to minister to us deeply. We need You, and we love You. Help us. It’s for Your beautiful name. Amen.”