Good morning. How are you? Doing well? All right. If you have your Bibles, go ahead and grab those. Acts 13 is where we’re going to be. We’re going to tackle really the first three verses of that text here in a minute. Before I get started, let me just say it’s good to be back, and I want to say it this way. We’ll talk some about this at our members meeting tonight. About every five to seven years, several of us on the pastoral staff get a sabbatical. We get some time to kind of pull away, get some clarity, get some real rest, and then reenter.
That’s what the elders and the members of The Village Church graciously extended to my family and me this summer. I know there are many of you who work very hard in your domain with what you do and how you do it, and you don’t get blessed with such a thing, so I wanted you to just hear me say right out of the gate that I know that was a good, beautiful gift from you to me and my family, and I so appreciate it.
I also wanted to say it’s fun for me to pull away for eight weeks and be reminded of just how much my heart is woven into this place and how much I love you and love being here, and I’m eager to get back and be among you, not just to preach but just to be among us as a family. I have, for the last seven or eight years, just talked about our 40 years together, and it is fun for me to come back off of an eight-week sabbatical and just feel all the more inclined to finish my race with you, among you, in this place for the glory of Christ. It’s good to be back.
If you’re a guest with us today, you might be wondering what I’m talking about or what is going on. It’s a great opportunity for you to learn about the heart of The Village Church. If you’re not a Christian, it’s going to be a great opportunity for you to figure out what Christianity is all about at some level. We have a singular statement here that we use as a type of litmus test or filter about what we should be doing or shouldn’t be doing, lest we do everything and nothing well. Are you tracking? We believe that statement was distilled from the Bible.
There’s nothing in it we don’t believe we couldn’t biblically argue in a robust manner. With that said, here’s the statement. The statement is on the wall at this campus, out in the foyer. It’s on a lot of things we send to you. Here’s what it says. We, The Village Church, as an organization and as an organism, exist to bring glory to God, because everything exists to bring glory to God. Everything. Right? I’ve oftentimes said that everything brings glory to God.
Even if you’re the most hardened, atheistic person saying, “This is ridiculous,” you, by that rebellion, will bring glory to the justice of God on that day. No one gets to choose whether or not they glorify God. Nothing gets to choose whether or not they glorify God. All things do. It makes sense that we would exist to bring glory to God because all things do. We exist to bring glory to God by making disciples, followers of Christ.
How do we do that? Through gospel-centered worship, gospel-centered community, gospel-centered service, and gospel-centered multiplication. Now, I know that’s redundant. I know we could have made the wall outside a lot smaller. We could have made our letterhead a lot shorter. Why not just say… Isn’t it better English, more proper, just to say, “…gospel-centered worship, community, service, and multiplication”? That would be easier, right? Again, the wall would be much smaller.
There is a purpose behind the redundancy, right? We wanted it to be redundant because gospel centrality is what shapes each of those things. It’s the gospel-centered nature of worship that helps us make disciples. We’re not just after community and some sort of surface, eat some guacamole and watch a football game together, “How are you?” “I’m fine. How are you?” “I’m fine,” type of way.
We want a deep-rooted gospel community, and that’s only birthed in an environment where you understand the cross of Christ, his outing us all as needing help, as being imperfect, and him being the perfect Savior, right? We wanted service not motivated out of guilt or because we ought to but out of outer adoration for Christ and love for one another. Ultimately, multiplication is what happens when you believe and understand and grow in the gospel.
If I could walk you through kind of how we think about this statement and tell you what I want to talk about today is… First of all, we exist to bring glory to God by making disciples through gospel-centered worship. Now, gospel-centered worship is the fuel of discipleship, right? It’s what fuels following Christ.
When we talk about worship, we’re not talking about singing. That’s not all we’re doing. Now, you can worship with song, but worship is so much bigger than singing. In fact, worship is, at that heart‑level motive, what is driving your life. We’ve been created by God to worship. Everyone in this room worships someone, whether it’s Christ or not. Worship is the fuel of discipleship.
Community is the context of discipleship. God has called you not just to himself, but he has called us to one another. This feeds into adoration, right? This feeds into the fuel. Worship is the fuel of discipleship. Community is the context of discipleship. Because that’s true, here’s what you need to know. Christianity isn’t a set of truths that are affirmed but a heart transformed by the Holy Spirit of God.
You can have a lot of head knowledge and be as far away from Christ and his redemptive work as you can possibly be. You can have your head full and be as lost as someone who has a head that is empty. Are you tracking? Community is the context. Service is the overflow of adoration in the context of community. We say that when all is said and done, multiplication is the result of discipleship.
When we say multiplication, we mean just that. Webster’s says that multiplication means to increase, to grow, to duplicate, to reproduce. What we’re saying is that, fueled by an adoration with Jesus Christ in the context of community and glad-hearted service overflowing out of that adoration and community, leads to multiplication, duplication.
We already know this to be true on several levels. If we think about it individually… Again, I don’t know your story, but I became a Christian because a young man adored Jesus Christ and walked with a group of people who were serious about Jesus Christ and served one another and others around him. He began to talk to me about Jesus Christ, and by the grace of God, my heart believed. That’s multiplication. Right?
This has happened with churches. It has happened with small groups. It has happened with Bible studies. In fact, if you were here, when we preached through the book of Acts, we said that the whole book of Acts, which is a historic narrative, is about this. Out of joy, the church multiplies. Out of adoration in the context of community and the service to one another, the church grows. It multiplies.
The church started in Jerusalem, and we’re worshipping Christ here this morning. That’s multiplication, and it didn’t jump from Jerusalem to Dallas. It spread across the world, spread across the globe. I want to spend my time with you today talking about gospel-centered multiplication. Let me tell you why.
After this service, our Denton Campus, the 991 covenant members there and the hundreds who orbit that community of faith will officially be an autonomous church. They will no longer be… Although with strong relational ties and a lot of shared history, they’ll still be a sister church of ours, but they will no longer be under the central elders of The Village Church. They have their own elders. They no longer will be a part of our kind of central resourcing. Rather, they are their own autonomous church. That has been a lot of prayer.
I just want to say we love you, Denton. We’re going to talk about that. This is the dumbest thing imaginable. Here’s what just happened. This is what we just did. We literally said, “Hey, let’s shrink by 1,000 and take all that money and… Let’s take a building worth millions that sits pretty much on the campus of the third largest university in the state of Texas, and let’s just give it away.” That’s just dumb.
Why are we doing that? What would compel us to do such a foolish thing? What would compel us to shrink the church, to get rid of a ton of resources, to say goodbye to people who we love? They are us. We are them. In fact, over the last eight years, over 400 people have come to know Christ as Lord at the Denton Campus. Many of them are college students.
Right now, even as we’re right here… They’re watching me. Hey, Denton. There are members of that staff and campus outreach that are up at UNT, and they’re helping students move in and building relationships to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Close to 16 family units or individuals have headed overseas to the nations to preach the name and renown of Christ to people who don’t know it. Everything between us is beautiful. They are us. We are them. So why?
I hope already in just walking through our mission statement I’ve alluded to some of the reasons why, but let’s talk about gospel-centered multiplication. Charles Spurgeon… I don’t know that it’s important that you know Charles Spurgeon. You can know that he has had a tremendous mark on me, on how I think and see, but Charles Spurgeon said this about the Christian church.
“The Christian church was designed from the first to be aggressive. It was not intended to remain stationary at any period, but to advance onward until its boundaries became commensurate with those of the world. It was to spread from Jerusalem to all Judea, from Judea to Samaria, and from Samaria unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Listen to this. “It was not intended to radiate from one central point only; but to form numerous centers from which its influence might spread to the surrounding parts.”
The reason we say gospel-centered multiplication is the result of discipleship is because there is an ebb and a flow to multiplication. “Ebb and flow” is a phrase that is used to describe the tides, right? The ebb is the coming in of the tide, and the flow is the going back out to sea of the tide. There is an ebb and a flow to gospel-centered multiplication. There is a time in which it comes in and stirs and mingles and marinates, and then there is a time it goes out and flows out.
Really, that’s what we see when it comes to gospel-centered multiplication. That’s why we say it’s the result of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Let me show you that in our text today. It really is simple. It’s so simple it’s stunning, but I want us to look at it. Acts 13:1-3. We’re going to look at the ebb and flow of gospel-centered multiplication. Here’s what it says.
“Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ’Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.”
Let me try to explain what is happening here in this ebb and flow. First of all, if you’re Type A, this is the most frustrating elder meeting in the history of mankind. They showed up. “What are we doing in the elder meeting tonight? What’s the agenda?”
“We’re going to treasure Christ.”
“We’re going to just treasure Christ together. We’re going to get together, and we’re going to adore Jesus.”
“Yeah, okay, but don’t we need to establish some deacons?”
“Yeah, we need to do that.”
“Are we going to talk about our mission strategy?”
“Are we doing home groups? What are we doing? Are we going to do this home group thing they’re doing in Jerusalem? Here’s the deal. In Philippi, I’ve heard this is going on. We ought to look and see what they’re doing in Philippi, maybe do a conference out there in Philippi and then bring that back and kind of put it into…”
That’s not what they did. They literally… I’m telling you, if you’re a Type A, a get-stuff-done kind of guy, this is a nightmare. “What are we doing tonight?” “We’re just going to treasure Christ together.” Really, that is what has happened. These men are in a room. They’re leaders in the church at Antioch, and they’re not talking business in a way you would think they would be talking business.
In fact, the Bible says that what they’re doing is they’re simply adoring and treasuring Christ together. It says they’re doing it in two separate ways. They’re treasuring Christ together by worshipping and by fasting. Worshipping is simply to ascribe value to. That’s what worship means, to ascribe value, to exalt, to make much of.
Now, hear me. You were designed by God to worship, and you can’t help but do it. Everyone in this room is worshipping something right now at the core of their being. There is a throne in your heart, and something sits there, and you serve it. We were designed by God. We can’t help it. Surely you can see this most clearly in Texas in the fall.
My son is playing flag football, and one of the things that has come out of me seeking clarity for my life is I have tremendously shrunk my travel schedule. I’m trying to travel less and less and less and less to be here more and more and more and more. I actually get to coach a little bit this year. He’s on the Cowboys. Praise God. We were on the Redskins one year. It was very difficult…difficult because it really lined up with what was happening in the NFL. We just kept getting beaten a lot.
We’re on the Cowboys this year. I don’t own a Cowboys shirt. I just don’t. I’m not anti-Cowboys, I just don’t have a Cowboys shirt. I went to Rally House or whatever that thing is, and it’s like a temple in there. I don’t know if you’ve been in there. You have to pay homage. There are sections you’d better not go into. There are sections you can go into. It’s really a strange ordeal, and this time of year, you can really see what we adore, what we put our hope in, what we spend our time and money on, what we think about, what we’re hopeful for, what affects us emotionally.
You were created by God to worship. It’s why grown men can be affected by what 18-year-olds do with a ball. I’m not anti-sports. Some of you are like, “You read poetry.” Yeah, I like poetry, but I like football a lot. I go to games every year. I’m in, right? Ultimately, we want to adore something bigger than us. We want to make much of something bigger than us. You were created by God for adoration, and here we see adoration going to the place that it belongs.
They’re just treasuring Christ. They’re just worshipping him. They’re not worshipping him because Jesus needs to be worshipped, but rather our hearts need to be reconnected with our Creator. It’s not like Jesus had a really terrible week, he’s just pouty in heaven, and then he was just so grateful for this group of five or six guys in Antioch who were saying good things about him.
Then he picked up his spirits. “Now I can do good for people again,” because he was encouraged by… That never happens. Far more than Jesus needs to be worshipped (what we see in the Bible is the universe is constantly praising its Creator), you need to worship rightly. Everything you worship that is not him will betray you as you seek to serve it, which leads me really to the second way they’re treasuring Christ.
They’re worshiping. They’re ascribing value to him. Then we see they’re fasting. Now, if you did a quick Google search of fasting, it’s incredible that when you talk about fasting in our day, 2015, it rarely is referenced in any type of spiritual manner now. It’s all about health. Intermittent fasting is going to make us impervious to disease. How is that working for us? “This is what makes us healthy. This is what makes us strong. This is what helps us not get sick.”
Really, what is happening in this place is they’re going, “Hey, Jesus is better than this.” They’re adoring Jesus Christ by ascribing value to him and by living in such a tangible way to say, “Jesus is better than.” In their case, “He’s better than food. We don’t need to eat. That hunger in our guts just reminds us that he’s better than eating.”
Really, this lesson needs to be cultivated in the hearts of Christians. Jesus is better than. If Jesus is better than, then everything else gets righted. Since you were created to worship, and since you were created to adore, the brokenness of our hearts, the sin in our hearts will oftentimes have us looking for saviors…Jesuses…that aren’t Jesus. That leads to all kinds of relational conflict. That leads to slavery.
If Jesus is better than, then I don’t need Lauren to be Jesus. Are you tracking? If Jesus is better than, then I don’t need my money to be Jesus. If Jesus is is better than, I don’t need my friends or my work or my hobby. I don’t need them to be better than because Jesus is better than. If you don’t quite know what I’m saying, I’m saying I don’t need any of those things to save me.
I can have money and it not have me. I can love and serve Lauren and not demand that she fills places in my heart and head that only my Creator can. Out of this ebb of adoration, worship, and Jesus being better than… In fact, let me tell you how Jesus himself taught on this. In Matthew 13:44, it says, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
Did you hear that? There is something huge there. Christ is so much better than everything else that Jesus is saying, “Hey, the kingdom of heaven is like this. A man finds a treasure in a field, and then in his joy, not in his reluctance, not in, ’I sure hope this works out,’ in his joy, he sells everything he has to have the field.” He’s like, “Who cares about all of this? Just give me the treasure, the field.”
Christ is so much better than everything else that the loss of everything for the gain of him is infinitely worth it. In the same way, to have everything else and not have him makes everything else eventually dry. Come on. You already know this to be true if you really pay attention to your own life. Without Christ, we’re totally just stuck on the treadmill. Do you know what I’m saying? You just run and run and run, but at the end of the day, you didn’t really go anywhere.
Since your earliest memory, you were waiting for the next thing. Since your earliest memory, you couldn’t get wait to get into junior high. Then you couldn’t wait to get into high school. Then you couldn’t wait to drive a car. Then you couldn’t wait to get out of high school. You couldn’t wait to get into college. You couldn’t wait to get out of college. You couldn’t wait to get married. You couldn’t wait to have kids. You couldn’t wait for your kids to get out of your house. Right? Your whole life is marked by, “What’s next? What’s next? What’s next?”
That’s driven by a deep-rooted dissatisfaction at the gut level because only Christ can fill the hole of eternity, and that’s what’s in there, according to Ecclesiastes 3:11. He has placed eternity into the hearts of men. What your soul longs for is not more vibrant relationships but being reconnected to its Creator. It’s funny to think that what drives all of this is adoration of Jesus Christ, a love for Jesus, an, “I’m blown away by, captivated by Jesus Christ.”
This is the ebb by which all multiplication flows. Any other motivation lands flat. Knowing you ought to isn’t a bad thing, but it doesn’t necessarily drive, right? Let me prove it to you this way. Are we okay? We haven’t been together for a while, so let’s play. How many of you would just say… Even if you’re not a Christian or understanding of Christianity, you can vote with us. How many of you would go, “I know I should probably have a time every day that is set aside to just pray and commune with God.” How many of you would go, “I know I should do this.”
Go ahead. Raise your hand. This should be universal. Surely, not anybody is going, “What? I’ve never heard such things.” We know this. Watch this. Go ahead and put your hand down. How many of you also know that God has uniquely wired you and uniquely designed you and placed you so that you might share the gospel with family members, with coworkers, people in your neighborhood. How many of you know you should be sharing the good news of the gospel with the people around you? Okay, hands down.
How many of you do this with very real consistency? Okay, praise God. In one service, we had five people. In another service, we had three. The poor 9:00 a.m. here at Village Flower Mound had zero. There were 1,500 hands down. I’m not saying that there aren’t those who do this. I’m saying isn’t it interesting that I’m not great at math, but I can tell you that the percentages of this room, consistently doing what we know we ought to, are pretty low, right? I don’t know what it is, like 0.02 percent or something like that. I just made that up. That’s not real.
Ultimately, here’s my point. Adoration tends to drive discipline in a way that discipline can’t seem to drive on its own. Right? Here’s what’s great. If you start to think about this, think about the invitation Christ has just given us. Yes, there are probably things we need to stop doing. Yes, there are things we probably should start doing, but here’s the invitation. Work on your joy. That’s a crazy invitation. When you think Christianity, are you thinking in that box, the box of, “Hey, fill your life with things that stir your affections for Jesus”? That’s the invitation. That’s a crazy invitation.
That’s the driver, adoration for Christ. If you want to work on something, it’s not getting more of this. It needs to be loving Jesus more deeply. That’s where we work. “How do we work in that way?” I’ve tried to say this for a long time. I never tire of saying it. You need to fill your life with things that stir your affections for Jesus Christ. “I don’t know what those things are.” Okay. Well, in some sense, we’re trying to help you with that. In another sense, you’re going to have to do some soul searching.
When we come together like this, what we’re trying to do is adore Jesus. That’s why we’re here. The whole reason we’re here is to adore Jesus Christ together as his adopted sons and daughters and those who are skeptical and those who are busted up and those who have come in a bit grimy, right? We’re here to adore Jesus Christ. We’re singing songs about him. We’re singing songs to him. We’re talking about him. We’re going to do Communion a bit later to celebrate his death and resurrection. We’re here to adore Christ.
Later on tonight, Flower Mound and Plano will have Elder-Led Prayer. We’re going to get together from 5:00 to 6:00, and we’re just going to ascribe to the Lord worth, and we’re going to pray and ask him to do things we know we cannot. Out of this ebb of worship and adoration, multiplication flows. Now, we know this. This church, long before I got here, has a history of this. In my time here, let me remind you of a couple of things.
Over a decade ago, a group of men and women who were driving in from Frisco began to be compelled that the men and women in their neighborhoods didn’t want to make the drive all the way out here to hear the good news, so those men and women rallied around our first youth minister, Barry Keldie, and they planted Providence Church.
They left here. They said goodbye to good friends. They left this place where they had found the Lord, where they had worshipped, where they had become Christians, where they had deep friendships, where they loved the music, where they loved the preaching, and they just went out and started another church, Providence. Afshin Ziafat is now the pastor of that church. They’re just doing so well.
They’ve actually planted a church out of themselves in McKinney. Then Rick White, who on Saturday nights at the old Highland Village Campus, sat on my right-hand side and just got caught up in adoring Jesus Christ, and again began to be compelled that people who he wanted to love and know Jesus Christ who were out in Keller were unwilling to drive this way, so CityView was planted. Since CityView was planted, they’ve planted other churches in Fort Worth.
This is out of the ebb of adoration for Jesus Christ, multiplication occurs, not just individually, but you can see whole churches being multiplied. I could keep going. Scott Brooks down in Coppell at The Door. You have dozens and dozens of men and women who have sold all they had and gone to the ends of the earth. On top of that, all of our campuses have done this in a real way. It’s out of the ebb of adoration of Jesus Christ, love for Christ, an informed mind and inflamed heart, that multiplication flows.
Then there are our campuses. The Denton Campus was birthed out of an extended season of prayer and fasting. How many of you were here when we did Venture? Okay, that was actually what I was expecting at the 11:15. Venture was a six- to eight-week season of time where we pulled aside and just prayed. We did this. We did Acts 13, just asked Christ what we should do, just asked the Holy Spirit what we should do.
We were running six services in the old red brick building. We were turning away from nearly all of them, and we just asked the Holy Spirit, “What do we do? What do you want us to do?” That’s how Denton was birthed as a campus. It was also out of a season of praying and fasting and seeking the Lord among your elders that campus transition, or making Denton an autonomous church, was actually also born. I want you to see a little bit of the story of that, and then I’ll be back here in a minute. Here’s the birth and hope for the Denton Church.
Luis Tovar: In 1948, the city of Denton, Texas was small but growing, thanks to its two universities and close location to Dallas. In that year, members of the First Baptist Church of Denton, 23 faithful men and women, met in a home on Oak Street to talk about planting a church. Out of these conversations, Grace Temple Baptist Church was born, and they launched the next year with 146 members. Soon, they found a home at 1106 West Oak Street.
Mark Madewell: It was interesting to listen to the old-timers talk in the early days when I was young about the reasons they chose this location. One of the big reasons back then was the University of North Texas. Most of the students came here and didn’t have vehicles and stuff, and it was real close to the campus where students could walk here to go to church.
Luis: During the 50s and 60s, the church experienced gradual growth, calling several different pastors along the way. By the 80s, Grace Temple had become one of Denton’s fastest growing churches, with over 900 members. As the years went on, Grace Temple faced a season of declining health filled with challenges and struggles.
Becky Kendall: We had two pastors who came and went who were very difficult, both of them having to resign for reasons that really hurt the church. I think that was when it was obvious. Large groups of people started to leave.
Luis: As Grace Temple struggled to keep its doors open, they saw several interim pastors come and go. Then, in 2005, Dr. Landrum Leavell III became the twelfth pastor of the church.
Landrum Leavell: When I first came to Grace Temple as pastor, it was sort of like somewhere between having its tail on fire and there not being any fire. I sort of became pastor by default in a sense. There was a time I became pastor in residence to just see if we were going to live.
Luis: Soon after, in April of 2007, in hopes of keeping the church alive, conversations about a possible merging between The Village Church and Grace Temple began to take place.
Landrum: Matt met with our leadership team one night. We got to that point after a number of other meetings, and I had met with them the night before, saying I thought this was an option. Not really an option. It was our option because we were one or two more roof repairs away from being out of business financially and stuff like that. That all came about. I said, “I really believe this is where the Lord wants us to go.”
Luis: Though it was a big decision, the people of Grace Temple knew it was important to lay down their preferences for the good of the church and its very survival. Following a time of prayer and fasting, Grace Temple united with The Village in a process that took less than 30 days, and in June of 2007, Beau Hughes became the campus pastor of The Village’s new Denton Campus.
Beau Hughes: Initially, I had come on staff at The Village as the college pastor. I had known Matt from way back when early on when I became a Christian. Six months after I got here, this season of prayer and fasting called Venture led into the Denton Campus of The Village Church, the first campus. The elders of the church asked me if I would be willing to be the campus pastor for the Denton Campus.
Luis: The city of Denton has grown into a cultural pulse point with people of all ages, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds being drawn to it. With a great love for Denton and its people, the Denton Campus ventured to be a city within a city, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ in all spheres of Denton’s unique culture, in the arts, businesses, in the schools, and on college campuses.
From carrying on Grace Temple’s annual Denton Thanksgiving banquet to partnering with campus outreach in 2010 to reach more college students, the Denton Campus strived to serve the city well and build relationships.
Stewart Childress: I believe there are students from over 120 different countries who attend school at the University of North Texas, so you have a great opportunity to not only have a significant and fruitful ministry at UNT but a very diverse ministry.
Katina Butler: We have so much artistic ability and so much expression here in Denton. I think we’re taking a look at what moves this city, how the city thrives, what’s important in this culture, and using that to present the gospel.
Anna Tovar: We’re artists, but we’re also believers, and the work we’re doing is to glorify the Lord, and it’s not to glorify ourselves or to make much of ourselves, but it’s to make much of him, and we can do it well. We can make good art. I feel like it opens conversations with nonbelievers that wouldn’t necessarily happen otherwise.
Luis: The biggest focus of the Denton Campus has always been to disciple believers and send them out on mission into the community and into the world. There are believers who came to Denton just to attend school but have felt called to stay in the city for the next season of their lives, and there are believers who came to Denton and were sent out to bring the gospel to marginalized and unreached people groups across the world, in Guatemala, Japan, Europe, parts of Asia.
John Warren: I think as we become more aware of our position in our city and with the people God has brought to us, we’ve really seen that we have a unique opportunity to capitalize on those people God has given to us, to send them to the farthest regions of the globe.
We’re really just trying to play our part and receive the people the Lord has led here, share the gospel with them, equip them with the gospel, and send them out. If you’re not sending people out, if you’re not fulfilling Matthew 28 as a church, then you’re missing out on what Jesus established the church to do, which is to go and make disciples.
Luis: As the Denton Campus flourished, conversations started about the possibility of transitioning the campus into an autonomous church. Compelled by the Holy Spirit, the elders of The Village felt a growing conviction to use its multi-site campus strategy to plant healthy, local churches carrying out gospel-centered multiplication in a completely new way.
Beau: When Matt initiated the conversation initially, it was just not a good time. I was still trying to figure out, “What is a campus pastor? What is a campus?” We didn’t really know what that was. Kind of the turning point moment for me was when some of our elders were on a trip to the northeast to visit some churches we were partnered with there.
We sat down at a breakfast with JR Vassar. He really graciously, yet directly (as JR has a way of doing), just said, “You know, I feel like there’s a way you could actually steward the growth numerically and otherwise that God is doing at The Village, not just to sort of have campuses but to actually use Matt’s gifting and his voice to have a church-planting movement through the campus model.” It was in that moment where my heart really turned at that little table in Brooklyn Heights. I said, “Okay.”
Luis: After the elders moved forward and shared their conviction with The Village Church as a whole, members of the Denton Campus voted on the transition. The response was an overwhelming, “Yes,” with 96 percent in favor, and the church set the official transition date for August 23, 2015, the birthdate of The Village Church Denton. The decision was clear, but it was bittersweet.
Roy Onyebetor: We’re doing something different than what we had done for seven or eight years. That was a big deal, but I was encouraged and heartened and confident that this was where the Lord was leading. It’s not a move that makes sense from a standpoint of, “This is good for our organization.” It’s a weird thing to do. It’s like, “Hey, we’re doing great. Our church is doing great. We’re getting healthier and healthier. Why change anything?” It was real clear the Lord had good plans for us. It was okay. It was good.
John: In that moment, as we were standing there, we were all just thankful to the Lord because what would have happened if it was 60 percent, “Yes,” and 40 percent, “No”? Do we move forward? To have the Lord so clearly and faithfully answer with 96 percent of people saying, “Yes, this is what we believe we should do,” was just unbelievably confirming of the direction the Lord was leading us.
Chris Lam: To think about that, 96 percent… You could get a group of likeminded people in a room and not get a 96 percent consensus, so to get the body of Christ, which is left, right, middle, old, young, black, white, yellow, to say a resounding, “Yes,” I think is a pretty incredible testament to the way the Lord has had his hand on this.
Luis: While The Village Church and The Village Church Denton feel a mix of sadness and joy in the loss, both know that the sacrifice is worth it, and through it all, the hope of The Village Church Denton remains the same: to be a city within a city, to be a light to the lost, hurting, and broken, to bring glory to God by making disciples and multiplying out to the ends of the earth.
Beau: It seems like this has just been God’s desire all along, to have for himself a local church that meets on this little corner. It has already kind of taken me back around to the history of Grace Temple and why this church was planted here initially, so that God would have for himself another faithful witness to this city, to this neighborhood, to these college students.
To be a part of that, to be a pastor of that in any sense underneath the lordship of Jesus is something that just brings me a great amount of confidence, a great amount of excitement, a great amount of awe as I just think about God’s desire and his commitment to have a people who would shine forth his glory both here in this neighborhood and among the nations until he returns.
[End of video]
God has done a profound work up there and in them and through them, so it’s kind of a sad happy day for us. Starting next week, they’ll simply be their own local congregation, so we’re excited. In fact, will you welcome Beau Hughes and his family? They’re actually here with us today. If I had an hour, I could fill it with how incredible this family is. I’ve actually known Kimberly since she was in junior high, and I met Beau just a couple of weeks after he became a Christian.
I have a lot of history with this family and a lot of love for them. I’m going to ask if we have elders who are in this room, even former elders, if you guys will make your way up. We just want to lay hands on them and pray over them. While I have them here, Denton, let me just say on behalf of the Flower Mound Campus and really The Village Church, all of our campuses, that the last eight years of this ebb of adoring Jesus Christ with you and loving Jesus Christ with you and serving Jesus Christ with you have been incredible.
I’m so grateful to God for how he has woven us together relationally. In fact, I have often even thought and prayed this week how fun it is that my parents have chosen to stay there and not come back down here. I don’t know what that says about Beau’s leadership as opposed to mine, but I’m not offended. I’m not offended at all. I’m fine. See you later, Mom. You guys applauded that? What’s wrong with you guys?
We want to pray over them, but I just want to coach us in this way. I want you to participate in blessing this family and blessing this congregation, so don’t get caught up just listening to me pray. Let’s pray for them. Pray over them. Pray for this congregation. This is a good day to rejoice as The Village Church and how generous he is to us. Let’s pray for this family, and then I have a couple of more words I want to say, and we’ll be dismissed.
Father, I thank you for Beau, for Kimberly. Thank you for Haddon, for CJ, and for Elliot. As we’ve prayed in all of the services, Father, I just pray that very early on, these babies would come to know you and love you and worship you, not because Mom and Dad do but because you captivate their hearts. I pray that you would do that, and I just pray for Beau. God, I just pray for a supernatural anointing on him as he preaches and leads.
Again, I just pray that there would be hundreds if not thousands of men and women who come to know you and love you because of his faithful proclamation to your name and renown and of your Word. I pray for Kimberly and just ask, Father, that as she is seen more and more and more as the pastor’s wife in Denton, the expectations and how she serves you and loves you in that context, she would find peace and find a good rhythm.
Father, we pray a blessing over the Denton Campus, now the Denton Church, and we just pray that you would do a profound work in them and among them and through them. We bless your name and praise your name. We thank you for these eight years we have had to adore you together, to cherish you together, and to make much of you together. We pray for decades more to come of them ebbing and flowing as an autonomous church now. We love you. It’s for your beautiful name, amen.
Thank you guys. Love you.
Just a couple of things in closing. As we created some space this summer and began to really, outside of the grind of the 60- to 70-hour week kind of things that we run, I had an opportunity to really consider us and consider what God is doing among us. I found in me, whether it’s right or wrong or maybe even just a reflection of my own heart, that ultimately, if I have concerns about us as The Village Church, they’re not concerns that are really around doctrine.
What I mean by that is looking at who God has brought here, the men and women he has put in leadership here, the reality is we love the God of the Bible. We love it. We don’t feel like Jesus needs a makeover to be relevant. We just don’t believe that, right? We’re rooted in the Word of God. If the Word of God says it, we just have a lot of confidence in God being God, the fact that cultures always change, and God never does, so maybe we should listen to the One who created everything, right? Maybe he knows how life should work.
I don’t get real anxious that we’re going to start leaning left and spin off into Heresyville or something like that. I just don’t have a lot of concern there, but I am concerned that there might be a day, and that we might drift toward not leaning left or becoming less confident in the Word of God, but I do have concerns that in all of our knowledge of what is right, our adoration of Christ will suffer.
We see this happen in the Scriptures. In fact, at the church in Ephesus, as it is addressed in the book of Revelation, we read this. Revelation 2, starting in verse 1. “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ’the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.’” This is Jesus. If you have a Bible with red letters, this is red-lettered.
“I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.” Now, that sounds like my kind of church. They’re doctrinally sound to the point where they can spot error.
“That’s not true.” They stand on truth. They patiently endure, and they hate evil. They don’t hate people; they hate evil. It sounds like a joint I’d join, until verse 4. “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand [your power] from its place, unless you repent.”
Then he goes on to say, “Yet, you do this well. You don’t tolerate the Nicolaitans,” which were a type of mystical cult in their day. Then he warns them yet again. When I think about The Village Church and think about our history, at least my history with you, these last 13 years, I think of how generous Christ has been to us, how amazing. We are a crazy collection of people. I mean, we have a lot of grimy pasts in this room, and if we’re honest, we have a lot of grimy presents in this room.
For all the prettiness you might think you see… Say you’re a guest with us at one of our campuses or are a guest with us here today in Flower Mound, let me assure you that we have found people in the bathroom with heroin needles in their arms. We have found the type of sexual perversion and debauchery in this area to be through the roof. In all of it, Christ has redeemed and Christ has saved and Christ has wooed and Christ has rescued.
My fear as we grow in a knowledge of Christ is that we will divorce that knowledge from our hearts’ affections. See, I never want you to be small-minded. Christ doesn’t want you to be small-minded, but what goes in our minds must inflame our hearts. We’re committed to you growing as Christian intellects, committed to it. We have a training program that has an orientation this afternoon. We’re about your minds, but only insomuch as they fuel your hearts.
Why? Because it’s the ebb of adoration. It’s the ebb of worship and zeal and love for Jesus Christ that leads to the flow of everything else. Hear me. Whether you’re in this room or down at Dallas or over in Fort Worth or over in Plano. We love ebbing together, adoring Christ, but that adoration must be cultivated and worked on. We must fill our lives with the things that stir that affection for Jesus. We must be serious about that.
Surely you’ve been around the one who has a lot of head knowledge about Jesus and a tiny, shriveled raisin heart. He does far more damage to the kingdom of God because cold knowledge comes off as condescending, comes off as talking down to, comes off as better than. If there is one thing that echoes through the gospel message, it is that you are better than no one. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
Even if you’re a church kid whose mom gave birth to you on the altar, the first time your bottom was spanked you said, “Jesus,” and you were baptized that day, you are just as wicked and depraved of a sinner as the one who has given themselves over to all sorts of evils. This should lead to adoration of Christ. Out of that adoration, everything else flows. Let me pray for us.
If you’re in here today and you would say, “Pastor, if I had to be honest, just with God and not with you…” Ultimately, I don’t matter, right? If you had to be honest just with the Lord, not with me, not with who brought you… If you just had to be honest and say, “I hear you, Chandler, about adoration. I hear you about a love for the Lord. I hear you about all these things, but if I had to be really honest, I’m as dry as I can be right now. I’m who you’re talking about when you’re talking about having a mind full of things I believe are true but having a heart that just can’t seem to catch up with my mind.”
If that’s you, and you’re just like, “Look, I’m in a dry spot,” would you just raise your hand and go, “I know some things, but my heart is not adoring Christ.” Just raise your hand high. Don’t be half Baptist on me. Just get your hand up, all right? This is us confessing. “I’m a little bit dry right now. I’m just not in that place where my heart is really inflamed for the Lord. I want to be. I’m just not there.” Praise God. Why don’t you put your hands down.
Then if you raised your hand, I want you to look up at me. One of the great things we see in the Word of God is that David in the Bible confesses these same things. We make them cute. We put them on coffee cups and junk like that, but David is in agony. He says, “How long, O Lord, will you forsake me?” He says, “As the deer pants for the water, so my soul thirsts for you.” The confession there is, “I want you, and I can’t seem to find you. I want to adore you, but my soul has grown cold. Help me, God.”
Don’t walk in any shame for this dry spell. It could be sin in your life, and it might just be a dry spell. It might just be that the Lord has taken you into the desert so you might learn how to call him husband and not call him master, as we read in the book of Hosea. Be encouraged. Even you being here today is a part of the Lord reminding you to seek to adore him.
Father, thank you for these men and women. Thank you for the opportunity we have just to be together, just to make much of you, to just gather. All we’ve done is just talked about you and talked about who you are and what you’ve done. We’ve sung about you. We’ve sung to you, Father. Even now, as we begin to move into this opportunity of adoring you all the more in Communion, in the Lord’s Supper, in the Table, we praise you.
Father, where there are obstacles to our adoration, will you mow them down? Where there are other idols in our lives that we love more, will you expose them for the weak and frail things they are, and might you help us today to repent. I know in Plano and in Flower Mound, I pray that Elder‑Led Prayer tonight would just be jammed with men and women who seek to adore you, who long to meet with you, who long to just be in a room full of people who want to make much of you. Help us, Father. It’s for your beautiful name I pray, amen.
One of the ways every week we turn our attention to and seek to adore Jesus is in the Lord’s Supper, is in Communion. If you’re a guest with us today and are a believer in Christ in good standing with the church you’re visiting us from, I want to invite you to celebrate the Lord’s Supper with us. We are brothers and sisters in Christ, heirs of God, co-heirs with Christ. It would be a foolish thing for us to not celebrate this together.
I would also like to add this. If you’re not a believer in Christ… You were invited by a friend today. You thought Christians were crazy. You’ve come in today, and I’ve just confirmed your fears. Would you do me a favor? We’ve sought to try to honor you today in how we’ve wired things. Will you just abstain from Communion? Will you just let the elements pass before you?
I can promise you this. This will not make you right with God. It does not make you lucky. This will not lead you into a promotion or make you healthy. In fact, the Bible teaches that it will actually take it the opposite way if we approach it without the due respect with which it should be approached. What the Christian celebrates today is that Christ has paid for our sins, all of our sins.
We’re not celebrating the fact that we’re perfect; we’re celebrating the patience of God in Christ, that despite the fact that yet again we haven’t been perfect he still forgives us. He’s longsuffering. We have not dried up his patience this week. We’re just remembering that, and that helps us adore what he has done. While they hand out the elements, I have two questions I’m just going to put up on the screen. These are meant to help you consider, help you confess, and help prepare your hearts for us to take Communion together as a family.
The questions kind of revolve around what we’ve talked about today. The first is just simply, “What currently is utmost in your affections?” Let me tell you how to find that. What do you fall asleep at night thinking about? What do you daydream about? What do you spend all your money on? That’s what is utmost in your affections. All right?
Are there ways we need to confess to the Lord, “Hey, Jesus, you have not been uppermost in my affections. This thing has. Will you forgive me?” Lastly, just the thought of how you can fuel a more robust adoration for Jesus Christ. Again, we’re trying to help you with things like this, with ELP tonight at 5:00. We’re just trying to create spaces for us to come together, but you’re going to have to do the due diligence of paying attention to your heart.
“What stirs my affection?” Then fill your life with it. I mean, that’s not a bad deal there. What makes your heart feel most alive in Jesus? Okay, fill your life with it. That’s a great invitation from the God of heaven and earth. I’m going to give you a couple of minutes to think and consider and pray, and then we’ll celebrate the Lord’s Table together.
The Bible tells us that on the night Jesus was arrested, he took the bread and broke it and said, “This is my body broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” After they ate, he took the cup, and he called the cup the blood of the new covenant. He was saying that the altar is closed. He was no longer taking any offerings for sin because Christ was going to die once and for all for those who were perishing.
He knew that was going to be hard to believe, that Christ paid for all of our sins, past, present, and future, so he institutes the cup as a reminder that his blood has paid the bill in full and as a reminder that we will once be with him. We will one time in the future be with him again, and we will drink from the fruit of the vine there. He is reminding us he has not forgotten us.
What we remember and what should lead to adoration is regardless of our circumstance in this moment, this cup is a reminder that God has not forgotten us. He has not abandoned us. He has not left us to our own devices. He is very real, a very present help in trouble. Let’s remember that together, family.
Listen, we love you. Let me tell you how we’ll end today. Bleecker and the team are just going to sing a song. There are going to be some men and women who come up here, and they’re here for you. That’s what they’re here for. If you’re in a dry season and just want somebody to pray with you… Maybe your marriage feels really rocky right now. They’re here to pray for you.
Maybe you’re addicted. They’re here to pray for you. Maybe you’re frustrated. They’re here for you. Maybe you’re angry. They’re here for you. We are here to serve you and love you and encourage you. Listen. We believe that all of us are a mess, and all of us need a Savior. Will you let us help you? Will you let us serve you? That’s what we’re here for.
I can tell you this. You won’t say anything to us that makes our jaws drop open. I can promise you that. You will not say anything to us that will make us go, “Oh my gosh. We don’t know what to do.” I promise you that you will not shock any of the men and women who come. Did you not hear me talk about the dude with the heroin needle in his arm earlier in this sermon? You’re not going to shock us, okay? Let us serve you. We’re willing to give of ourselves for you, but you have to admit you need it.
I love you. It’s good to be back. Let’s sing together.