From the very beginning of Watermark, God built this because we believe that Jesus came to seek and save the lost. As we continue our series, “How He Built This,” Todd Wagner walks us through God’s heart for the lost and what we—the church—are called to do about it.
Authenticity and Repentance
Focused on Ministry and Service
Speak the Truth in Love
Relentless Pursuit of Oneness
Committed To The Uncommitted
Discipling the Next Generation
Love Is a Verb
Biblical Not Big: A Commitment to Measure Our Success by Our Ability to Be and Make Disciples
Why Not Us? A Confidence That the Lord Wanted to Glorify His Name
The Foundation, Fabric, Mortar and Maintenance Program of Everything
From the very beginning of Watermark, God built this because we believe that Jesus came to seek and save the lost. As we continue our series, “How He Built This,” Todd Wagner walks us through God’s heart for the lost and what we—the church—are called to do about it.
Hello, Watermark. We are in the middle of a series called How He Built This, and it has been amazing for us to look back, as we enter into our twentieth year, at the foundational ideas and principles that have made this a place that is a tremendous blessing to us. I was with my daughter last night as we were talking to some different people, and she dropped Psalm 16:6 on them as she was giving testimony with what has happened in her young life. Because of the almost 20 years Watermark has existed, it captures about 90 percent of her life.
She quoted Psalm 16:6 in telling people about what has happened to her because she has lived in the midst of this community of grace and walked in the ancient paths where the good way is, as it says in Jeremiah. She quoted Psalm 16. It says, "The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me." If you want your heritage to be beautiful, then you want to be a part of God's plan for your life.
It says in the Scripture, "This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth…so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success." That prosperity, as we say here all the time, isn't tied directly to your finances; it is directly applied to what my daughter Kirby said, who, believe me, as a young woman, married, and now pregnant with her first child is not prospering with all kinds of silver and gold, but she's prospering in so many other ways.
Her heritage is beautiful to her, and the lines have fallen to her in pleasant places. We have an amazing privilege to be people who get to declare the way of life to other folks. The very first week of this series, we simply began by saying we're not going to teach on prayer. We talked about how everything we do here that's meaningful and, frankly, anything we do here that has any kind of significant involvement or involvement from God at all is going to be done prayerfully, not just with the activity of prayer but the attitude of prayer.
We did something really unique that particular week, and we're going to do something really unique again today, so hang in there with me. You have to listen. That very first week I said, "Listen. I don't want to just tack on prayer at the end, like, 'Oh yeah, how he built this is prayer.'" That sounds like we're just trying to be spiritual when we make it one of our messages. How can you talk about building a church without having some reference to prayer? Well, I want to tell you everything we do is by prayer. We believe apart from him we can do nothing.
So that very first week, I had all of our members pour out of this room and spread out all over our campuses and just hit their knees praying the very same prayers we prayed the very first time we ever began gathering together almost 20 years ago. We got the rest of you guys to move in, and we just spent some time with you in this room. We talked about anything you wanted to talk about, answered any questions you had about the faith or about what motivates us or drives us. We're going to do something amazing again today.
What was so funny about that situation is I could almost feel in the room… When I said, "If you're here today and you know Christ, you're a member of this church, I'm going to ask you to go pray," people were like, "Man, really? I got up. I took a shower. I combed my hair and dropped my kids off, and that guy is going to now make me go pray?" How crazy is that, that you would think it's crazy that you gather with God's people and we're imposing on you when we ask you to pray?
Well, I'm not going to ask you to go pray today, but I'll tell you what I am going to do. Just hang tight until I'm all the way done with this. I'm going to ask you to go in just a moment, and we're going to have folks who don't understand this truth move in, folks who aren't members move in, and people who are members, we're going to send you out. I'm not going to talk about evangelism; we're going to go out and evangelize.
I know what you're thinking. "Who? Who's going to go evangelize? Me? I came here to listen." I want you to think about how crazy it is that in a minute when I ask you to go out there and share your faith you're like, "I'm not going anywhere to share my faith. That's nuts!" I want you to think about how nuts it is that the church of Jesus Christ thinks it's an unusual or unreasonable ask that we would send you out to share your faith while those who don't know our faith gather in here with me and ask me any question they want about it.
Before you leave right now, I'm going to tell you I'm not going to send you out right now. We're going to let you stay for just a little bit. We're going to ask you to stay, and we're going to remind you why in 40 minutes I am going to send you out and if you know this gospel I'm going to ask you to go share it and go tell it on the mountain. So here we go.
God built this church because from the very beginning we believed that our Jesus, as it says in the Scripture, came to seek and save the lost, so we ought to be about seeking and saving the lost our own selves as well. God built this with a philosophy and a mindset that simply said the most important people at Watermark are the next 100 people who come.
I never said that without following it up with this: It's because those next 100 people are so important that we invest so deeply in you. It's why we proclaim Christ and admonish Christians and teach every Christian with all wisdom so that we could have every Christian, every follower of Jesus, be complete and lacking in nothing.
For this purpose, we labor according to his power, which mightily works within us, to equip the saints for the work of service so you can have the privilege of participating with the Holy Spirit in bringing people to a place of conversion, a place of understanding, where they're convicted of sin in their own life and the righteousness of God and the gap between us and the judgment that's there as a result and the incredible good news that God has done something to bridge that gap.
The Lord wants you to stop paying other people for having the privilege of ripping you off of doing ministry. I'm going to tell you an amazing stat. Pollsters, people who go around and ask questions of others about what they think about certain things or what kinds of activities they're involved in, have for decades been asking people who identify as Christians, people who identify as people who understand that apart from a work of God there is no way for man to be reunited to God…
They ask them how many of them have been used of God to bring another person to a place where they have a faith with Christ, and the number is so shockingly low we can't even believe it. It's like 2 percent of all professing believers have ever had the privilege of being the individual who brought somebody to a point of faith. I read a study one time that basically said that if we define a healthy church as a church where 1 out of 20 or 5 out of 100 or 5 percent…
If 5 percent of its members regularly share their faith with others, then it's considered a healthy church. This was the standard that was not set by Jesus in the Scripture, but this is the standard by which these particular sociologists were going to label churches as healthy. It said, "If we can just get 5 percent of the members of a church to be individuals who are actively sharing their faith and participating with others in bringing them along on a spiritual journey to the point of transformation, then we're going to call that a healthy church."
By their own studies of their own numbers, they found that only 3 percent of the churches in America would be called healthy churches by that standard. I say it here all the time. Is it any wonder, then, why we find ourselves in the situation we're in? Jesus says you are the hope of the world, church. You are salt and light. You're God's plan A, and there is no plan B.
The Spirit of God is going to go to work to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment, but God's decree and plan is that he would do it through us, he would use us to be the means through which other people would come to know him. It is how God built this. This has never been a place where we can do a little holy huddle and grab people together who already agree with us. This has been a mission, and we're training missionaries and equipping the saints.
We've said that there are people who are far from God out there, and God wants to use us to bring them to a place where their lines will fall in pleasant places, where they'll take this Book of the Law and commit their heart to it so they can experience the prosperity and success of living where there is life that God intended. If this church, which is to be salt (which means to preserve from decay) and light (which means to dispel darkness), is not doing its job, it is no wonder that we have a society that is increasingly decaying and dark.
There was a study that came out this week that talked specifically about the Millennial generation. This is, again, practicing Christian Millennials, by their own definition. It went and studied all age groups, and it said basically that 95 to 97 percent of every single age group of effective Christians, whatever their generational label was, whether they're Gen Xers or Millennials or Boomers or Elders, is what they would call certain generations…
They all believe to the tune of 95 to 97 percent that a central part of being a Christian is that you would be a witness and share your faith. Every single generation of Christians who are alive today also believe, up to the tune of 95 to 97 percent, that the best thing that could ever happen to somebody is that they would come into a relationship with Jesus. So there is like 97 percent agreement that our job, as believers, is to share our faith. There is 97 percent agreement that the best thing that could ever happen to somebody is that they would come into a relationship with Christ.
Specifically, 75 percent of Millennials feel equipped to do that, but here's what's really interesting: only 40 percent of them agree it's something they should do. Let me say it this way: less than 50 percent of them believe it's appropriate to share their faith with somebody in a way that might have them potentially agreeing with them and that they would be used to bring them over to what they believe.
There is a major disconnect right there, and it has a lot to do with what they have been told again and again, which is, "Hey, what's true for you may not be true for somebody else. Don't you go imposing your beliefs on other people." So these people who believe it's their job to witness and who believe the best thing that could ever happen to somebody is they would embrace that witness feel like it's wrong to share.
It's not really just a problem with Millennials; it's a problem with all of the generations, but Millennials alone had almost 50 percent of them agree it's at least somewhat wrong to share their beliefs. Amazing. What I wanted to do today, in addition to freaking you out and telling you I was going to make you go share your faith right now… Again, I want to tell you I'm not going to make you do it right now, but I'm going to ask you to do it in 30 minutes, so just sit tight. I'm going to try and make a case why you should.
Someone was asking me what I was going to teach on this weekend, and I said, "Well, I'm going to both freak people out and tell them they have beautiful feet," which kind of seems like a crazy message, doesn't it? The "freaking out" part is done and the "beautiful feet" part is coming, but I want to tell you what else I really would have done had I been able to pull it off. I would have had our little plastic Communion cups here filled with a little bit of vinegar.
Now what I want you to do is just play along with me. Are you ready? I want you to imagine that we actually did this. I know you probably don't much like vinegar, but I want you to imagine that you have some vinegar in that little Communion cup. I want you to put it to your mouth, and I want you to taste vinegar on your lips and kind of make the face you would make if vinegar hit your teeth. It's one of those faces. Right? When you put vinegar on your teeth, it makes you turn away. It makes you want to spit it out. You don't want to do it.
This is what Proverbs 10:26 says: "Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes…" When smoke comes into your eyes you're like, "Get away from me. I don't want that." "…so is the [lazy one] to them that send him." I don't know about you, but I don't want to be somebody that when my Lord thinks about me he makes a face based on my unwillingness to be the messenger he wants me to be. I don't want to see his face crumple up in bitterness.
This is not a message where I want to motivate you at all by guilt; I want to motivate you by love. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians, chapter 5, it's the love of Christ that constrains us. We're compelled because of what Christ has done. Since one died for all; therefore, all should live for him. When I see what God has done for me, all I want to do is live in a way that others can see the goodness of God so they, too, can have the lines fall for them in pleasant places.
There is no shortage of understanding biblically, or at least there's no shortage of clarity in the Scripture about what God wants from us and for us. We already shared this text in 1 Peter, chapter 2, in this series. I'm going to read it to you again. This is who we are. We're God's people. We're a chosen race, which means we are a part of something, that God has chosen us to be a part of something that is privileged.
We're a royal priesthood. That means we have a job to do. We're a part of something to do something in a specific way. We're a holy nation. We're to sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts. We're to experience the joy of walking in God's way and that our line falls to us in pleasant places and, indeed, that our heritage would be a blessing to us and that others would see us and we would, as the Scripture says in 1 Peter 3:15, sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts.
When others see our joy and the peace we have even in the midst of a broken world that would ask us to make a defense and give an account for the hope that is within us and we do it with gentleness and reverence… We ought to live our lives in such a way that people say, "You have to explain to me your relationships, your marriages." As we talked recently, we're people whose sign is love. We're part of something to do something in a specific way. We've been left here for a specific reason.
We're a people for God's own possession so that we may proclaim the excellencies of him who has called us out of darkness and into his marvelous light. God built this because we believe this about us. This was never about us. We weren't trying to build a larger group of folks who joined us, and then we could maybe put together facilities, like we have at least on three of our campuses, that are great to be at and to gather with one another and celebrate our friendship and the increasing blessing in our lives. That was never the intention.
The intention from the beginning was that there are people who are out there in the cold and darkness still who need to know what we have come to know by the grace of God because he chose to show it to us through other believers who believed it was their job and the best thing that could happen to us was for us to hear it, and they loved us enough to share with us what had radically changed their life, and it radically changed us.
They proclaimed his excellencies to us, and they called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. Those of us who used to not be a people, it says in verse 10, have become the people of God. Those of us who used to be outside of the mercy of God have now received mercy. So now, all of a sudden, being brought into a relationship with God, we, as aliens and strangers, are living differently than the rest of the world.
We're not trying to have pleasant things happen by doing what the world does, but we're following the Word of God. We're returning, as it says in Jeremiah, to the ancient paths where the good way is, and by the grace of God, not so he will love us but because he loves us, we're abstaining from what our flesh is longing for, which wages war against us, and we are to live our lives in a way that is excellent, the Scripture says, among those who are far from God still.
So while they slander us about our confidence in the love of God and his redemptive power and maybe even some of our convictions about what is righteous and unrighteous and what is true and what is not true, they may, because of our good deeds and the way we live as a sanctified holy people, not pulling away from them but living in their midst in a way that is not natural, in the way we love and reconcile and serve and generously share what God has given us for the advancement of his name and the good of other people…
That when the God we say we know finally shows up on the day of visitation, they would say, "You know what? God, thank you that you put a Christian in my way, because I saw the good way. I saw the heritage of the saints. I saw the holy nation. I saw your royal priesthood, and they loved me, and they did what you asked them to do. You left them here for a specific reason, and they told me this day was coming, that you would return and there would be a consequence to rejecting you," and they will thank God that the church of Jesus Christ was here.
There's no confusion about what God wants his church to do. We are not, as I said, supposed to make ourselves comfortable by building us another place. God built this, because I would read parables like this. This is a parable from an old saint. I actually included this in my book Come and See, and I want to read it to you now, because it's how God built this. We had this conviction from the very beginning.
We said the most important people at Watermark are the next 100 people who are going to come, but it's because those people are so important that we're going to disciple you and build into you and equip you and remind you that you don't want to be vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes. You don't want to be lazy to the one who has sent you and left you here to be salt and light. Here's the parable:
"On a dangerous sea coast where shipwrecks often occur, there was once a crude little life-saving station. The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea, and with no thought for themselves, went out day and night tirelessly searching for the lost." That's what life-saving stations do.
"Many lives were saved by this wonderful little life-saving station, so it became famous. Some of those who were saved and various others in the surrounding area wanted to become associated with the station and give of their time and their money and their effort for the support of its work. New boats were bought, and new life-saving crews were trained, and the little life-saving station grew." We saw it happen.
"Some of the members of the life-saving station were unhappy that the building was so crude and poorly equipped. They felt a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea. So they replaced the emergency cots and beds and put better furniture in the enlarged building. Now the life-saving station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they decorated it beautifully and furnished it exquisitely because they used it as sort of a club."
May it never be. I've said before that the facilities we've built are either a $100 million mistake or the best investment we've ever made. If this becomes just a little yacht club for us to gather with our friends and sing songs about our God while people still drown in the seas that he wants us to go out to and, with the gospel, declare to others the hope we have received and live in such a way that we don't sink in the world that's causing them to drown, then shame on us. This is then the biggest mistake we've ever made. In the parable, that's exactly what's about to happen.
"Fewer members were now interested in going to sea on life-saving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do this work. The life-saving motif still prevailed in the club's decorations, and there was a liturgical lifeboat in the room where the club held its initiations. About this time, a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in loads of cold, wet, half-drowned people. They were dirty and sick, and some of them had black skin and some had yellow skin.
The beautiful new club was considerably messed up [in their opinion]. So the property committee immediately had a shower house built outside the club where the victims of shipwrecks could be cleaned up before coming inside. At the next meeting, there was a split in the club membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club's life-saving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal social life of the club.
Some members insisted upon life-saving as their primary purpose and pointed out they were still called a life-saving station. But they were finally voted down and told if they wanted to save the lives of various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own life-saving station down the coast…which they did. As the years went by…" Prayerfully, not 19.
"As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old one. It evolved into a club, and yet another life-saving station was founded. History continued to repeat itself, and if you visit that coast today, you will find a number of exclusive clubs along the shore. Shipwrecks are frequent in those waters, but most of the people drown."
God built this place because we had a zeal for our friends for whom the line had not fallen in pleasant places. God built this place because we cared about one another. In the early days of Watermark, we would meet in high schools and office buildings and hotels and universities. We met all over. This was even before the days when the Internet was really a thing. It was kind of like if you could find us, you could hang out with us and be equipped and encouraged.
One of the things we used to have to do is walk our kids almost a 10-minute walk away and come back, so our meet and greet originally started because we would have kids who were 5 years old and over in our time of corporate celebration. We'd care for 0 to 5, but the 5 through the junior high years we would have in the room with us before we sent them away for a short period of time. So we had about 10 minutes of meet and greet.
One of the things we were committed to do from the very beginning in that meet and greet time was to make sure we didn't run to our friends who were starting this thing with us, but we were passionate to have our eyes go to and fro throughout the room looking for somebody who maybe looked like they were there for the first time or just somebody whose name we didn't know.
We would go and be committed to spending at least the first 5 minutes of those 10 minutes welcoming others, and not just saying, "Hello. How are you doing? Have you been here before?" but building a relationship with them and being committed, then, to people who had actually come here, to grabbing lunch with them afterward.
We were the follow-up ministry. Everybody who was here was a part of the group that sought people and dealt with their first impressions and did the follow-up. Story after story of life change happened because people came inside this room and people loved them and committed to sharing their life with them, and not just imparting the gospel but, as Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 2:8, their very lives as well. We did ministry to one another.
We believed they were the most important people who were here, especially when we found out they weren't just checking us out from some other church (which if it was a life-saving station church that had lost its purpose, we were glad they were coming to be reminded of what God wanted them to do) but they had just heard that maybe this was a place you could come to and ask questions and they weren't going to love you more if you agreed with them.
Our Great Questions ministry was the people who were here who were greatly devoted to Jesus. That's how he built this. Can I just remind you of this? Even during our short little meet and greets right now on our campus, one of the things we're encouraging you to do during those three to five minutes is to really introduce yourself, get to know them, say, "Are you here? Do you know people? Let me help you make this very big place small.
Don't just fill out the perforated section. Let me be your perforated friend, and rip me out from the rest of what I was going to do today, and let me walk you over there to the Welcome Center. Let me answer any questions you have. Do you have somebody to go to lunch with? Come with us." Start to love the people who are already here and coming. Take personal responsibility. How God built this is when individual members got serious about caring for other people.
I was visiting a friend one time, and I went to the life-saving station he was at. I grabbed their little bulletin, and I could not believe what I read. It said, "It is with deep regret that we inform the church that we are canceling the planned evangelistic outreach. After over a year of work and planning, we're forced to call the outreach off due to a lack of participation. We have only a small handful who responded to our numerous calls for help out of the 1,200 people who are members here."
So the leadership just called it off and said, "We're not going to do it," whatever "it" was. Can I just tell you? We don't have evangelistic programs or outreach programs. It is the program. What they shouldn't do is cancel their evangelistic outreach. What they should do is acknowledge that they have canceled out God's will for their church. You don't just surrender this thing. This is why we're here, chosen race. This is why we're here, royal priesthood.
I challenged my staff this week. First of all, one of the things we want every Community Group to do all the time… This is built into the DNA. It's how he built this. To just start our Community Group times, start our team leadership meetings, not our staff but every one of us in our ministry, by saying, "Hey, when's the last time you had a meaningful relationship with somebody who's far from God?"
For me, that was hardly 12 hours ago. I'm not talking about because I was a pastor. I don't want people to know I'm a pastor when I'm out there, because when you tell somebody you're a pastor it's like vinegar to their teeth or smoke to their eyes. They're like, "Come on, man." So I don't even tell them. I just love them. I have to tell you, just last night, just engaging with somebody out there, I think somebody made a decision to genuinely engage with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I could see it in their eyes.
Sometimes I share the story of God's grace and love, and they're like, "Well, thank you. I'll think about that," and sometimes it's like, "I've never heard that." I asked them why they think they have a relationship with God, and it drifts back to works and "I hope so." I literally let them read the Scripture. "You don't have to hope so; you can know."
"Really? I'm not sure you can know."
"Well, hey, let me just show you what God's Word says."
I literally took my phone out. I turned to 1 John, chapter 5. I had them read verses 11-13. I'll jump to 1 John 5:13. "These things I've written to you in order that you might know that you have eternal life." Before that it says, "He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son does not have the life." "This is what it means to have the Son," I told them. I explained to them about God's love and rest and peace.
I'm telling you, I could just see their heart melt. What a privilege. I didn't just leave them. We're going to engage with them. We want that to go somewhere. Here's what's amazing. When Jesus grabbed his disciples, the first thing he said to them was, "I'm going to make you fishers of men. If you're going to follow me, you're going to be fishers of men. That's what I'm here to do: to help you participate with my Spirit to do the only thing that matters on earth."
I've told you again and again that I know I am living right now in the day that is an answer to the very first plea I will have of God when I'm in heaven. There are people I know and I say I love and I'm friends with that if I'm indifferent to them and their spiritual state, when I get to heaven and I see fully and know God fully as I'm fully known right now, I'm going to go, "O Lord! I believed, but now I know. Please just resuscitate me. Send me back. Give me 24 more hours. Let me go tell people the truth that those who believe in you should not perish but have eternal life, that they'll pass out of judgment and into life. Let me go tell them that, please."
I am living right now in the privilege of the answered prayer that I'm going to beg God to allow me to do when I see him, and I think he's going to say, "Hey, man, your time is done, that vapor of opportunity to be a faithful servant, not smoke to my eyes or vinegar to my teeth. I died for all your laziness and disobedience." I got that, but I have to tell you, am I ever going to want to go. I read a poem. How he built this is I read this poem before. I've read it eight or nine times over the 19 years we've been together. It's a good one. It's called "My Friend." It's one I am reminded by all the time.
My friend, I stand in judgment now
And feel that you're to blame somehow.
On earth I walked with you day by day,
And never did you point the way.
You knew the Lord in truth and glory
But never did you tell me the story.
My knowledge then was very dim;
You could have led me straight to him.
Though we lived together on the earth,
You never told me of the second birth.
And now I stand this day condemned
Because you failed to mention him.
You taught me many things, that's true
I called you friend and trusted you.
But I learned now that it's too late
You could have saved me from this fate.
We walked by day and talked by night
And yet you showed me not the light.
You let me live and love and die;
You knew I'd never live on high.
Yes, I called you "friend" in life
And laughed with you through joy and strife,
And yet on coming to the end
I cannot call you now my friend!
I don't ever want somebody to think those words of me. God is sovereign. He'll make up for all my ineptness, but I don't want to be inept. We've never wanted to be a yacht club. I won't be a part of a yacht club. It's why I'm so zealous to constantly remind you what I know is true. We're not going to cancel the evangelistic program, because the church is the evangelistic program, and you and I, chosen race, royal priesthood, people for God's own possession, are God's plan A and there is no plan B.
When we stop caring for people who are far from God, what we're really saying is, "God, we don't care about you." I've talked about all of the things love does. Love shares. Love serves. Love seeks. I said love speaks. Do you love people? Are you speaking? When's the last time you had a meaningful relationship with somebody who's far from God? I challenge my staff to just do it two times a week.
Do you know this? There are about 20,000 of us hanging around Watermark. If each one of us just shared the story of grace with two people a week, that's close to 40,000 times a week. It turns out to more than a million times a year. If we upped it to doing it multiple days, every single person in the Metroplex, from Allen to Frisco, over there sweeping to north of Fort Worth, back down through Irving and Arlington and sweeping through South Dallas and up this way…just Watermark alone…every single person in the Metroplex would have heard the story of God's love.
It's not our job to convert people. It is our job to compel them to come in. That's what the Scripture says. How are you doing, church? When's the last time you had a meaningful conversation with somebody who's far from God? When I read verses like Jesus… As I said, he starts in Matthew 4:19 saying, "Follow me. I'll make you fishers of men."
He ends the book of Matthew in Matthew 28:19-20 saying, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I've commanded them. I'm going to be with them, as they abide with me, to the end of the age."
What he has commanded us to do is to go and seek and save the lost as he did. He ends the book of Matthew like that. Mark is ended that way. Mark 16:15 says, "Go into the world and preach the gospel." He ends the book of Luke like that. "Go and tell them that there is repentance necessary for the forgiveness of sins and that it is to be proclaimed to all the nations, starting from the very first church."
John 20:21: "Peace be with you," he says. "As the Father sent me, I'm sending you." That's what God wants. He ends the Gospels that way. When the church is started in Acts, chapter 1, verse 8… I'm just going to tell you he starts this way: "You're going to receive power…" You don't have to do this on your own. "…when the Holy Spirit comes upon you," which we know is at the moment of belief. "You will be my witnesses." The first church did that.
Guys, we know these verses, and we nod our heads, and we believe these things are true. We know we've never locked eyes with another human being who doesn't matter to God. We know that. Those of us who have been to church know that, but we get really adept at affirming statements like this, and then we completely ignore them in our daily lives. We agree they're true, but we don't own it. We just kind of file it into the "Bible story" category and the "Bible truth" category. Kind of like, "Moses led the exodus. Noah built the ark. Isaiah was a prophet."
We just intellectually go, "Yeah, that's what the Bible says we should do," but it doesn't change us. We move on to other topics. When we do that, we're not his church. God built this. He built this place because people in this place, so many of you, have been doing the work of an evangelist. Now, I know it's not always easy. I can think of times I've tried to share my faith and it hasn't always worked out well.
My kids were laughing at me the other day because they were reminding me of a time that we were getting ready to go white-water rafting as a family. We got in a bus with all of the other folks who were going to go to the mouth of the river and get on the river. There were probably about six different groups of people who were going.
The guy who got up there was the typical river guide. He wasn't apparently very creative, because he said, "Hey, we're going to get to know each other. My name is Jeff, and I want you to go around and say your name and your favorite color." Brilliant. So we kind of went around. People were saying their name and favorite color. My son is next to me. He goes, "Cade. Black." I'm like, "Black?"
I was going to be bold for my kids and kind of show them how to share their faith and how to do what God wants us to do as his people. I go, "My name is Todd. Red is my favorite color because that's the color of the blood my 'shavior' shed." It was awkward to begin with, but I said "shavior shed." Everybody kind of looked at me and I kind of looked at them and I kind of shrugged my shoulders.
I wanted to go, "Thish ish my wife Alexsh," and down from there. It was awkward. My kids love to mess with me on that and just tear me up and go, "Dad, how many seashells does Suzie sell by the seashore?" all the time. "Your 'shavior' shed his blood." It's so funny, because they made fun of me. It did turn into some conversation. I wish I could tell you the entire bus got saved, but I think what happened is the entire bus got a chuckle. We did have some conversations.
I said to my kids a little bit later, "Hey, let me just ask you this. I don't much like the way I did that there either. How did you share your faith with those people?" I just said to them, "Here's the deal. I didn't like the way I did it either, but I like my way of doing it more than your way of not doing it." I wasn't rude. I wasn't condescending. I just couldn't speak.
So what's your way of doing it? We're his witnesses. The more you're involved with people you're close to, your walk really matters. When you're just meeting people for short little instances and all you have time for is to say your name and your color, your words are going to matter a lot, but what you don't want to do is be around people for a long time and never share with them why you live your life holy and blameless. You want to let them know.
I have this conversation almost immediately with every person I know. At some point, we just start to talk a little bit, and I say, "Tell me what interests you. Tell me what you're passionate about." I'll just say, "I'll tell you one of the things I'm passionate about." These are people I'm going to be in relationship with, not just people I'm meeting. I love to ask people… We say this around here a lot. "Tell me, do you have a faith? Do you have an interest in spiritual things? What do you think of when you hear…?" I have all different kinds of ways I enter into spiritual conversations with people.
But when I'm with folks who I have a long relationship with, who I know I'm going to be with for a while, other parents of friends of my kids and things like that, I'll just say, "Tell me your interests, your passions." I'll just say to them when the question comes back to me… It's amazing how many times folks who are not spiritually appraised never really ask you that question. I'll just say, "Hey, we're going to be friends, and one of the things I'm passionate about is the kindness of God. It has changed my life."
I might not say it exactly that way, but I'm passionate about helping people know the one thing that I think is the best thing they can know. "Here's what you need to know about me. You don't have to worry that every conversation I have I'm going to try and work this angle, but at some point I would love to share with you how coming to understand the Bible was not a rule book that tells me I have to keep some moral code, and if I don't, then I'm going to be in a bad way with God…
I thought that for the longest time, and then I read God's Word for the first time. I ran to people who knew it, and I found out it's a rescue story. It's God's love for me expressed. It's the record of God in the context of human history revealing himself that we can know who he is. He loves guys like me who are, frankly, just not very lovable." I say this to people all the time. "Has anybody ever told you what the central message of the Scripture is?"
I've had people go, "Oh, I don't believe the Bible is true." I go, "Well, wait a minute. I didn't ask you if you thought the Bible was true. I get it. If the Bible is not what we say it is, we shouldn't believe it, but you seem like you're interested in intellectual things, so let's just agree that the Bible is by far the most printed, translated, propagated, quoted book in all of history. I'm asking you if you know the central message of the Bible.
I'm not asking you if you think it's true. What do you think the central message of the Scripture is? You just said you blow it off because it's not true. Do you even know what you're blowing off? Because that wouldn't be very intellectual, would it?" Typically, people go, "Well, I guess I really don't know what it says." Then I go, "Well, we're going to be friends. Let me tell you, this truth changed my life." And then I tell them.
On our 4B form this year, we asked you guys a lot of questions. We asked you questions about reasons that you don't share your faith. It's not because you don't know how. Over 90 percent of you say you know how to share the story. There's some other reason. I'll tell you why people don't typically reproduce. There are new converts here all the time. You don't have to know a lot of doctrine to say, "All I know is I was blind and now I see, and that's the guy who helped me see." That's a great testimony. Look at John 9. That was the testimony of that guy.
Sometimes people don't reproduce just because they're immature. I get it. Some of you guys are young in your faith. We want to train you. I'm about to tell you about a way you can be trained. Some of you might be in that 10 percent that says you don't know how to share not just your testimony but, specifically, the gospel. Sometimes people can't reproduce because something is broken. It's not right. Something is not working the way it should. We want to help you. We want to restore you. We want to make you healthy.
We live in a world that is affected by sin and disease. Sometimes people can't reproduce because there is corruption in the world, and if there is corruption in your life… I sometimes am convicted. When I'm engaging with people and I don't find myself being loving and kind and servant-hearted and others-centered, I think, "Todd, if the next words out of your mouth were about the love of God and the ability of God to transform a selfish person to be a person of grace, would they be believed?" It changes the way I treat people.
Some of you guys are silent because you know your life right now… Even though you've accepted the idea that Jesus died for you, you've not been living in a way that is abstaining from worldly and fleshly lusts, so you've completely silenced yourself. We want to help you deal with that. Sometimes it's just because of a lack of engagement or intimacy.
One of the things that's going to be available to you when you walk out is this "Top 10" card we have that helps you write down the names of 10 people who are far from God or don't know him who you're going to pray for specifically. We even walk you through things to do to help you engage with them: initiate a friendship, share your story of grace, invite them to come and see and learn and be around your life and come and hear the truth told.
A lack of engagement might be the reason or indifference to a relationship. There are people who are married who are just indifferent. They don't really care about each other. They don't have physical intimacy. One of the most watched Real Truth. Real Quick. episodes last year was What Should I Do If I Find Myself in a Sexless Marriage?
Well, let me tell you what you should do if you find yourself in a non-intimate evangelizing relationship with a nonbeliever. Here's some real truth real quick: you should repent and admit you're like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes of the one who sent you into this world. That's how he built this thing.
We did an amazing thing last weekend with our high school kids. We mentioned it to you. I want you to watch something we did as an opener on Saturday night. I'll set it up a little bit for you. We had all of the kids turn on their iPhones. It was kind of cute, because in the very middle of this room where we were in Dallas there was a dark spot that was always there. That's because that's where the sixth graders were seated.
We have a bunch of parents who go, "Sixth grade is too early to have an iPhone," so good for you. Seventh grade might be. Age 55 might be, but that's beside the point. What we asked them to do was to turn their flashlights on and then to turn them up every time we asked a question that they had the right answer to. Like, "Are you excited to be here?" and they'd all turn the light on. We would run through a series of questions. I want you to watch some of the questions we asked them, and I want you to see the lights go on and off. Watch this.
First of all, we're all broken. We're all hurting. We're all a little insecure. We're all afraid we're going to lose friends, but some of us have found a friend, a friend who has given his life for us. When we say we want to help our friends who are struggling and our light isn't on when the question is asked, "Have you shared the gospel with somebody recently?" we must not know the Friend who helps people who are struggling and broken and hurting.
God built this place because so many of us are actively doing that. We want to invite you in. If the reason you're not actively doing that is because you need some training, I have some good news for you. We have a thing here called Unashamed. Everybody thinks Unashamed is an evangelistic program. It's not. It is evangelism training. Let me tell you how good Unashamed is. We're doing it almost every month on the Dallas Campus.
There's one coming up in Fort Worth at the end of March, one in Plano in April. Anybody is welcome to come to the Dallas Campus. There's not one right now in Frisco, because the church is built on individuals who use their gifts and a lot of the folks who are there are already using their gifts. Frisco, is there somebody there who wants to help us start leading Unashamed weekends there with you? That's how God built this: believers got in the game.
My buddy Mike Frizzell, who leads our IT and programming and puts together so many great resources here, said not long ago, "If I had a chance to encourage somebody and they could listen to every single mapped-out message of Watermark from beginning to now or I could send them to an Unashamed weekend, I think they would have more spiritual growth by spending that Friday night in prayer and worship and training and the weeks that lead up to that," because to go on an Unashamed weekend you have to go to the training classes.
Then Saturday we send you out in the community to serve and let you engage in conversations with the millions who, if we just shared the gospel a few times a week, would all know about Jesus, and then we gather down there in Klyde Warren Park for a time of worship and prayer in our city. Then we hit other churches and worship with them on Sunday morning. "I'm not ashamed of the gospel," Romans 1:16 says. "It is the power of God for salvation." We want to help you, and God wants you to be a help to others. Would you not be ashamed? That's how he built this.
Father, I thank you that we can be a body that can come together and be reminded that we don't ever want to build something comfortable for ourselves. We don't ever want to be a place that loses its mission. We don't want to cancel an evangelistic program, because the church is the evangelistic program. So help us, Father, to spur each other on to love and good deeds. Help us to, as imperfectly as we will, because we're learning, to sometimes say, "Our 'shavior' saves."
Father, thank you that you did shed your blood for us and that the line has fallen to us in pleasant places. Those of us who were dead in our trespasses and sins, who were once not a people have become a people, who once had not received mercy have received mercy, and woe to us if we stop telling others about the hope that has come.
Would you help us take advantage of the equipping opportunities? Would you help us to pray for our friends who are far from you, to initiate a relationship with them, to share our story of grace, to invite them to come and see, and may they come to you, Lord, and participate with us in being your people for the glory of your Son who died for us? Until we see him, let us walk with you and serve him. In Jesus' name, amen.
As we approach Watermark’s 20th anniversary, the “How He Built This” series examines the ideas, decisions, and values that God has used to shape this community of faith.