Todd shares about the community core value of "Engage Missionally". We gather on Sunday together "huddle" to be equipped for every good work. The purpose of this "huddle" is to "scatter" and engage our circles and the world around us with the good news of Jesus. In this gathering, Todd also shares ways to connect with what Watermark is doing to engage the community and the world.
Admonisher and Admonishable, Two Things We Must Be
External Focus: How Watermark Serves Its City
Don't Let Your Mouth Be a Minaret. Counsel Biblically
Pursued and Pursuing: Our Story, Our Script
The Authentic Life and the Life That Comes With It
The Danger of Fools and How Not to Be One
We're talking about a series that is called Together. It's a series where we discuss what life should be like if we are God's people, how we live together. We talked the very first week about how, as individuals who have come to know who God is, we sing "Hallelujah, I want to know you more," so we devote ourselves daily to our understanding of who he is and our relationship with him. We're daily individually running after this God that we might know him, and as we know him we're going to be free to live authentically with one another.
I don't have to act like I'm not poor and powerless. I don't have to act like I'm not, at times, lonely or hurting, and I can share it with you, another lonely, poor, and powerless person who has been rescued by the grace of God. We can tell each other where we're rescued from, and we can also tell each other, because of the brokenness that is our flesh, where we're prone to wander. God's people who dwell together first dwell with him. They devote themselves daily.
They then live authentically. Thirdly, they pursue each other. Every single act of God since man has rebelled against him has been a missionary act. Do you understand that? Every single act of God since the fall of man has been a missionary act. God is not over there tapping his foot, wondering what's going on with you. He's not up there like some caffeinated Zeus waiting to fire a lightning bolt at you. He is running toward you, seeking to reconcile you to himself.
He says, "If you're my people, you ought to love as I have loved and pursue each other relationally." God's Word is what sets us free. The reason God tells us things is so that our hearts could be restored, our souls could be renewed. So as his people, we love each other, and when we gather together, not only do we live authentically, not only do we pursue each other relationally, but we counsel biblically.
What I'm going to talk about today is the fifth characteristic of biblical community, of biblical individuals who gather together. You need to know something. The first four I've talked about we'll be able to do forever. We'll never stop enjoying God. In fact, when we get to heaven, it says we'll know him as we are now fully known, and we will delight in being devoted to him. We'll sing praises to him. We'll enjoy him. We'll benefit from that intimacy we have with him forever.
We'll get to be free from insecurity, fear, guilt, and shame, and we'll live extremely open, authentic lives. We'll no longer be naked and ashamed. We'll be fully known. We will forever get to enjoy the depth of relationship God intended for us. Our relationships will be something that forever God gives to us. That's why you want to commit yourself to God's Word and God's people, because they are the only eternal things you're going to come across in this world. And we will delight in the goodness of God's Word forever.
But the fifth one we will not get to do forever, so it is time to get busy now. That fifth characteristic of what a biblical community does is it engages missionally. That word engage means it is active. You initiate. You don't just sit back and wait. You go forward. In fact, there are really only two commands in Scripture. One is to come, and having come and being healed, being loved, being rescued and restored, you are then called to go and to love and serve.
It is not intentional that we're doing what we're doing today on Super Bowl Sunday, as it's commonly called in our land, but it is a fitting analogy that it would be absolutely tragic for us to flip the TV on today… Let's just say the Patriots win the toss, they get the ball, and Belichick has worked his mastery all week long. He knows how to take apart the same defense that he builds famously.
So they get in the huddle, and Brady calls the play, and they go, "That's a great play. That actually will work against even that defense over there. I don't care how great their D-backs are and how intense their rush is, how solid their line backing is. That's an awesome play, Tom, and we have some great guys here who are really good at running plays like that. That is great. What will we do if we don't do that play?"
"Well, here's another play we could run."
"Oh, that one will work too. I remember that."
All of a sudden, 30 seconds transpire, the whistle blows, the flag goes up in the air, and they go, "What are you doing?" They go, "We're talking about how awesome our team is and how great our strategy is to take apart that defense over there." And they go, "Well, why don't you do that five yards farther back?" So they huddle up and do it again. The same thing happens.
You can actually see them in the huddle giving each other high fives. They might even put their arms around each other and sing a song about how great Bill Belichick is and how impressive their opportunity before him is. The whistle blows. The flag flies. They're now five yards farther back, and this continues until they do it four times, and finally they say, "Hey, why don't you guys go celebrate on the sideline?" because it's now the Seattle ball on what would be the two-and-a-half yard line, because they moved that last time half the distance to the goal line.
You would go, "That is the stupidest thing I've ever seen." You have prepared, you have trained, you have been equipped, you have been edified to engage, not to huddle. It's right that you huddle. We gather so that we can encourage you, so we can remind you of the greatness of God and help you remember what it is you should do. We seek to equip you and to build you up. That's what the word edify means.
But the reason we gather is so we might scatter and we might accomplish an offensive movement against that which destroys people. It is a tragedy when all you do is huddle, when all you do is get together. Let me ask you a question. What do you call 50 men who do nothing but sit and watch the Super Bowl? The Dallas Cowboys. That's what you call them.
What do you call 15,000 people who gather together all day long to sing about the greatness of their God and how amazing the power of his name is and that his Word goes out and doesn't return void, who have been encouraged and edified and equipped in every way to batter down the gates of hell and to rescue people from darkness and call them into his marvelous light, who all they do is huddle? I call it a dead church. I call it a tragedy.
There are churches all across this country where people ought to go in and blow the whistle and throw a proverbial yellow flag and go, "Whoa! This is insane. You guys have everything pertaining to life and godliness. You've been given every spiritual blessing, it says in the Scripture. God has told you that they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for he is with you to defend you in his sovereign state, but all you do is gather and sing about how great he is and what he can do with you, but you don't ever engage missionally."
That is tragic, and that is often the dead, compromised state of the American church. I believe that God wants every church in America to be a prevailing church that engages missionally, and if every single church in the world is going to be an Acts 2 community, where the Lord adds to the number day by day those who are being saved, this church right here must be. Coincidentally, it's the only one I have an opportunity this morning to speak with, to huddle up with, as we should.
It is right that we huddle, but there is a reason we come. There is a reason we gather. It is so that we might know what we should do when we go worship. Authentically locking arms, filled with the counsel of God's Scripture, overflowing with our personal devotion, we engage, and we don't sit and watch. We go. One of my favorite verses in Scripture that I look at a lot is Philippians 4:9. It says, "The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."
Paul when he went to Thessalonica said, "I didn't just give you a bunch of words. I imparted to you my very life as well." Let me ask you guys a question. Right now, you who know God, who are already in relationship with him, who sing, "Alleluia," who are the ones that God said, "It's my program to serve and reach and rescue others to work through you…" That's God's plan A, and guess what? There is no plan B.
Christ in you is the hope of glory. Christ in you is the salt and light he determines for the world. It is through you that God says his glory will be declared through the earth and that others will be brought into a relationship with him. How many people learned something about God from you this week? How many people received something from God through you this week? How many people heard the name of Jesus lifted up, the clarity of the gospel story through your lips this week?
How many people saw the redemptive, transforming power of God lived out before them in an intentional way that they demanded for you to make a defense and to give an account for the hope that was within you this week? Gang, if that has not been your story, something is not as it should be and you are not engaged as you should be or you are potentially deluded that you're even on the team.
We do this thing called Real Truth. Real Quick. where we gather and answer a bunch of questions for you that are going to help you. One of the questions that was submitted early on was, "What about those who have never heard, Todd? What about those who can't believe in God because they've never had anybody who has gone to them and told them about who God is? Can those people who have never heard be saved?"
There's a great answer to that, by the way, but let me just, for the purposes of today, say something else to you. Rather than ask, "Can those who have never heard be saved?" I have a better question. How can it be that those who have heard of the love of God and the goodness of who he is and what he does, who don't tell others about God and the goodness of who he is and what he has done…? How can they be saved?
Absolutely complementary to having received the message of hope and redemption comes with it the obligation to share it with other people. The reason God blesses you is that you might be a blessing to others. I have been with my community now largely for 15 years, and we get together no less than three times a week, and we are probably interacting every single day together.
Some of you guys have a mindset that getting together every other Wednesday for a couple of hours and just catching up is community. That is not biblical community. I am always running with the men and women I am in community with, but we are not just some holy little huddle that gets together and just talks about how we need to care for one another.
We are sharing with each other what we are learning in our daily devotion, what we're memorizing, what we need to memorize, what we're reading, what we're learning, where we've been in God's Word, where we're prone to wander, how we're insecure in our commitment to each other, what God's Word says about whether we should build a house, buy a car, discipline a child, respond to a spouse, and we get together to encourage, edify, and equip each other, and then we break out.
Our community is leading Equipped Disciple groups. Individuals in our community are leading re|engage groups. Our community is leading Foundation Groups. Our community is leading in the women's ministry. Our community is leading in the Summit men's Bible study here. Do you hear that? We are together practicing the "one-anothers" of Scripture, but it is for the purpose of launching us out into these things.
I pray with my friend for his re|engage group. I pray with my buddy and go with him to meetings sometimes with his Foundation Group. They pray with me on the ministry events I'm involved with. They are aware of guys on my top 10 list who I'm engaging on a regular basis. Some of you go, "Todd, you just mentioned this thing called a 'top 10 list.' What is a top 10 list?"
A top 10 list is something we give every single member to write down on a little book card that fits in your Bible, and if you're here and you don't even know what that is, it's because you're just in this big holy huddle and are not even actually showing up on the roster in a way that portrays your professed love for Jesus Christ.
In our effort to help people believe in Christ, belong to his body, be trained in truth, and be strong in a life of ministry and worship, we break that out into seven simple little steps. The steps start like this: you should initiate a relationship with those who are far from God. Secondly, you then share your story of grace.
Thirdly, you then invite them to come and see around one of those many ministries we've talked about right here that are happening, whether it be The Porch or re:generation or re|engage or Equipped Disciple or the women's ministry on Wednesday or Thursday night or any of the other plethora of side doors of ministry. DivorceCare, GriefShare…it doesn't matter. Come and see. Then God has to go to work, and we pray for each other in those ways.
Let me ask you a question. If God answered every single one of your prayers this week that you said, "I am praying for this person by name, that they would fully surrender to God, come to know him, and be fully deployed for God's glory and their good…" If you prayed that prayer this week and God completely redeemed that person and answered that prayer to its fullest extent, how many people would have been added to his kingdom and become fully devoted followers of Christ just because of your prayer this week?
If you shared your faith and the person went, "No one has ever told me that," and they responded to it and got on their knees and asked for God's grace and mercy to overcome and flood into their life, and then they became a person who absolutely became ravished for God's Word and forsook sin and ran hard after holiness and became a godly man or a godly woman, a discipler of their children, a generous giver… How many more godly men or women would there be in this city because you shared your faith once this week? I could go on.
If we're not engaging that way, something is terribly wrong. It is not as it should be, and we are deluding ourselves that we're ready or that we're even on the team. Jesus said, "I have come to seek and save the lost." That story comes in the back of him engaging with somebody who was so far from God that people said, "What's he doing hanging out with that guy?" It was a guy by the name of Zacchaeus.
If your kids are here in our Starting Blocks ministry, they're learning about Zacchaeus today, and they're learning about how Jesus came for guys like Zacchaeus, lonely people who have come to understand that everything in this world that you can have that Zacchaeus had (he was a very rich man) did not give him peace in his heart, and yet he had heard something from Jesus and others who knew him, who had learned his ways, that there was peace with God and with man and with your own soul.
Zacchaeus wanted some of that with Jesus, and Jesus said, "You're exactly why I'm here, and I'm ready to tell you the story." How many Zacchaeuses heard from you this week? If not, we just need to blow the whistle and throw the flag right now and go, "That is not as it should be, and there is a major delay of game that's a lot worse than just a five-yard setback."
One of the things missional communities do is encourage, inspire, and equip each other to be engaged. I'm talking to you, high school kids. How many kids at that high school where there are no other godly Christian people… How many godly Christian people would be at your school if everybody you prayed for, everybody you shared the gospel with, everybody you invited to Shoreline this week, said "Yes" and decided to come?
How many more fully devoted followers of Christ would there be this week in your high school if God answered every one of your prayers? Then why are we surprised that this city isn't transforming? We are God's plan A, and there is no plan B. Our heart for you is to equip you and help you and encourage you. It's why we gather. If you go, "Todd, I'm scared to death to share my faith," all you have to do is say, "I want to know how to share my faith."
Write that down on the little perforated section of the Watermark News. We'll meet with you. We'll equip you. We'll train you. We'll help you. Your Community Group might want to go, "We have to figure out how to do this. We have to hold each other accountable so that somebody else this week is going to hear what they need to hear so that they can call on the name of the one we sing about every time we gather together."
Having been committed, then, to personal engagement in the way I just described, God also calls us to then be salt and light in the way we love and serve and are a source of good and redemptive work in this city, and that's what the rest of today is about. We are not a bunch of do-gooders. We are a bunch of people who abide with Jesus and tell others… By the way, when I meet somebody and they're my friend, I'm not friends with them long, as I initiate a relationship with them, before I tell them the most significant thing about me.
I don't make them worry every time they're with me that I'm going to shove Jesus down their throat, but you're not my friend for long before you come to understand that the most transformative, powerful, important thing in my life is my relationship with God, who I completely misunderstood, who I thought was there to rip me off, but I've come to understand he's here to set me free, that Jesus is not a judge who wants to prosecute me; he is a lover who wants to rescue me.
Now mark my word. He is a just God, and he will judge us who reject his rescue, but I tell people, "What I want to do is take just 30 seconds or three minutes and share with you my story of grace, and anytime you ever want to talk about anything spiritual, it's my favorite topic. But you don't have to worry that every time I'm with you I'm going to try and work the conversation, and you don't even have to worry that I'm going to love you more if you agree with me.
I'm going to pray for you and care for you. I'm going to counsel you biblically when you ask me about stuff. I'm going to share with you the wisdom of God, but you don't have to worry that I'm going to try and work every conversation. I'm not here to change you; I'm here to love you, and part of loving you is telling you truth."
If I do that with every relationship (and I do), then when I'm with them all I have to do is just, in their presence, let them learn more from the way I live my life, receive from me encouragement, let them hear from me words of truth, and let them see in me the power of God's redemptive presence in my life, so that they eventually would go, "I need more of that, Todd." How are you doing at engaging missionally?
When we break in just a moment, we're going to give you a chance, as people who are always on mission, to partner with other folks in our city who are missional people. We don't believe that Watermark is where everybody needs to come and be committed to. We believe God is who everybody needs to know and be committed to, and we don't really believe in any of the specific ministries out here as being ultimately important. What's important is God's good name. What's important is God's good work.
What I want to introduce you to today are several dozen partners in this city that we have vetted for you and that we have worked with for a long time and that members of our body are leaders in. We want to give you a chance to deploy yourself. Let me say this. If all you do is go deploy yourself but you're not engaged missionally personally with others who are right there in your little circle, you're not doing what God wants you to do.
I would also tell you if all you do is share your faith and never care for the poor and needy, never care for the indigent, never care for those who are downtrodden, scared, who have unwanted pregnancies or who had the courage to bring a child to life and can't raise it, or other parts of the world that aren't as resourced as ours, then that's not as it should be either.
So there are two distinct parts to today: the one I just gave you about personal, missional, relational engagement with others, and then personal deployment and caring in a way that people are going to go, "You know, every time we turn around, we see something amazing happening, and people who do it aren't doing random acts of kindness; they're serving in Jesus' name."
Here's where we're going to direct you. We're going to direct you to three places. First, you can stay right here in this room. If you have no idea what our basic philosophy is of being salt and light in a city, you can stay right in here with Jeff Ward, one of my good friends who is a member of our body.
I watch Jeff, who's a very successful attorney here in town, love and serve others, and we said, "Jeff, would you come here and create relationships with us all throughout the city and help facilitate opportunities for members of our body to get involved in serving and using their gifts externally?" So Jeff is going to talk to you about our overall strategy right here in this room.
One of the guys who also works with Jeff is a guy named Benson Hines. Benson is a gifted administrator and a gifted leader, who's an activator, who can help you go, "What do I do if I'm ready to take the next step and I really don't know what the next step is?" What you're going to hear him say is, "Simply start, and start simply."
Today is a huge opportunity for you, but Benson is going to walk you through what you can do. If you have an idea that right now you want to execute on to the glory of God or if you have no idea what to do next, you would go in what we call our Chapel. Benson will be there for you, and he'll be helping you find your place.
Thirdly, you can go over to the Loft. I have another good friend I've known for a number of years. I've watched Rick devote himself daily to Christ. I've watched him purposely downsize. I watched him leave a very successful law practice that he founded in order to serve us, and Rick has a passion to help us be effective internationally.
When others come to us and say, "Watermark, you guys have core competencies. You're excellent communicators and teachers and lovers of God. Would you come teach us indigenous leaders…?" In Africa, in Turkey, in Haiti, in other places that people have asked us to come and to equip them as leaders, that they might be effective… Rick is up there to tell you how you can get involved with our international efforts to serve the body of Christ.
In addition to that, we have multiple partners, dozens of partners that are trusted and vetted by us that we work with that Watermark people lead in or are part of that are all out there, and what you can do is walk up there, see one that's of interest to you, and just get started. You're not signing up to serve for 10 years.
You're just going to walk out there and say, "In addition to becoming more engaged missionally, inviting people to come and see, sharing my story of grace, I want to also look for a place to take God's heart and deploy it for his glory." That's all out there for you. We're going to have two major rotations, so you get to pick any two of these and go to them.
If you're here and you just go, "I need to connect to a body first, Todd. I need to grow in my understanding of Christ or grow in my connection with this body," then what you do is walk right out this door and take a right, and myself and other leaders of the church will be there to greet you and help you assimilate here so we can teach you to devote yourself daily, live authentically, understand God's Word so you can counsel biblically, and pursue relationship with us, as we then seek to engage missionally.
If you're here and you have no idea what we're talking about and you just want to learn more about the heart of Jesus, that's where you go to connect with us so we can help you connect with God. Right in here with Jeff to understand all we're doing, up there with Rick so you can understand how God is using us in the uttermost parts of the world, upstairs with Benson if you want to know how you can simply start, or one of our partners who are already out there to make that even easier for you.
Father, I pray we would be a people who would be busy, that we wouldn't just huddle up, but in our huddling we would be reminded of your goodness, we would remember what it is you want us to do, and we would get it done. And when we get it done and as we do it, we do it humbly, thoroughly abiding with you, so that you might get the glory, others would be saved, and, Father, we would be thrilled to be your servants.
Thank you that others have run to us and saved us by letting us hear of your goodness. I pray we'd learn to tell that story. Help us to get busy writing more of the story that you in your kindness have prepared beforehand for us to walk in. Lord, we want to respond to grace. May we not be a dead church but very alive people who take the living Word of the gospel of Jesus Christ and boldly declare it to others. Use us.
Help us even to love each other. We know, Lord, there are people in this room who just need somebody to stop and talk to them. I pray today mission would happen right here, right now. I know every week someone's life is changed because somebody in this room loved somebody else in this room. So help us as we move around make eye contact with people here and see what mission opportunity we have even today. For your glory we pray. In Jesus' name, amen.