Speaker: Tim Bollinger
Scripture: John 20:19-22

From the series Step Out & Serve Celebration 2024

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So this week, one of our members was actually, in the church office, and I happened to run into her in the hallway. And she looked at me and she said, Pastor Tim, you look so tanned. Have you been on vacation? And you know what? I got to tell her? No. I’ve been stepping out and serving with our church and being out in our community and rolling up our sleeves and being in the hands and feet of Jesus to people all over metro Detroit. Amen. Isn’t that incredible? We’ve been able to do that last weekend.

And guess what? We get to work on our tan next weekend for the outdoor service, so we’ll just keep that going. as Shepherd’s Gate continues to truck along. if you are a guest here this morning, maybe this is your first time here. You’re here for the baptism, or maybe you’re streaming in online for the first time.

This is a great Sunday to be here because you’re going to learn all about who we are as a church and what we believe that God has actually called us, specifically as the church here to do in our community. and as you heard, if you were here at the beginning when Ron opened the service, this last weekend, we actually did not meet for Sunday morning worship. 

We actually moved the Sunday morning worship to Friday, and we had a Friday service. So that all last weekend, Saturday and Sunday, our church would be deployed out into our community all over Metro Detroit, 44 different sites to go in, to serve and to just be the hands and feet of Jesus. And you’re going to be hearing more about that, as the service goes on. And so this is actually our annual tradition that the weekend after step out in serve weekend, that we pause to honor and to celebrate and to once again to look and see what it is that God did through ordinary people willing to give up their resources, willing to give up their time, and also their financial resources for us to be able to go and to be a blessing to so many others, including people that we have never met before, people that were referred by others here at our church. And so congregation, I am so proud of you. I am so proud to be part of a church that is willing to give up so much that others could come to know Jesus. Amen. So I want to start by asking you this. 

And again, if you’re new here, just, you know, this is a responsive congregation. It’s kind of a conversational way that we approach preaching. So if I ask a question and people respond, that’s perfectly normal here at Shepherd’s Gate. And so let me ask you, church, what kind of church do you actually want? Shepherd’s gate to be loving, loving, kind, serving, faithful, compassionate, charitable, open, accepting, generous, generous. Non-judgmental. How many say amen to that one? All right, well, you exemplify Jesus. And think of it. Think of this of of who we are. And or maybe there are some areas that that that were weakened or some areas that we need to focus on or some things that, that maybe we we could grow in together as a church. Because maybe another way to get at this is to ask this question, well, what kind of church do we want Shepherd’s gate to continue to be like? When you look back and you look at the past, what are some values that you think are important to this place? Serving. 

Being in the community. Being in God’s word. Do you guys agree with being in God’s Word? Some of you are quiet like, I feel like this whole area has not responded at all. I feel like all the answers are coming from over here. You guys awake over here? I know I can see you so I know you’re out there. So let me just walk through different types of churches and as I walk through the different types of churches, realize that none of these are in themselves bad. They’re all just different focuses. Like what a what a local church feels that God has placed on their heart. And specifically, I want you to think of it this way, because the phrase that we often use in life is, you know, you know, something is valuable by the dollars that someone places on it. And so that is true in our own lives. It’s true with our family, but it’s also true with churches. If you really want to know what a church is passionate about, follow where they spend their money. And so one of the churches that I would submit to you today is a secret church, and we have secret churches that are very guest first focused, and they’re willing to do anything to, to, to reach the person that maybe didn’t grow up in church or doesn’t understand what a relationship with Jesus is like. 

And so the value, the money then is put on a kind of a high production, that there’s a lot that’s put into their weekend worship experiences because they’re focused on a specific type of person. Well, some churches would be described as teaching churches and teaching churches usually have a lot of pastors on staff just, you know, and they do something called exposed to preaching. And if that word is new to you, expository preaching means that you go through a book of the Bible, chapter by chapter, verse by verse. If any of you ever heard of a church doing that before, okay, sometimes we do that here at Shepherds Gate. Also, a lot of a focus on Bible studies, traditional church, believe it or not, the network of churches that we’re actually connected to, most of the other churches that we’re connected to are what would be called traditional churches. And so they would say that there’s an Orthodox and there’s a liturgy and they’re confessional, which means they hold to a certain standard of beliefs, and they’re not afraid to confess those as part of their corporate worship gathering. How about a charismatic church? 

Anybody ever attend a charismatic church? The focus is on spiritual gifts, the manifestation of those spiritual gifts. those of you that know me, I grew up in a very charismatic church my whole life, very expressive church, very passionate about reaching people for Jesus. Some churches are school, church. And again, there’s nothing wrong with this, but the focus is on the school. And so the school actually came first, and then the church is there to kind of support the school. And so even the dollars that that a church has goes to help facilitate. And so their reach into the community is through the school. And so they want more and more people to come to the school as part of their outreach endeavors. How about a community church? And this is a church that that’s really good at positioning themselves in a community. In fact, one of the best examples that we have in our network of churches is Ed Dorner, who’s up in Midland. And Eddie is absolutely incredible. He loves his community. He has actual several properties that he has purchased all throughout his community. 

I mean, their church owns a grocery store, but the grocery store people can go and get groceries at a reduced cost. He owns an appliance repair store. He owns an auto body shop. So you can go for those that are single moms or or people that have fallen on hard times, and they can go and get their tires, oil, change their engines, serviced, all sorts of stuff. He’s in the process of buying homes now to be able to how some of the homeless in his community, I mean, what God’s doing in and through him is absolutely incredible. And then there’s missional churches that believe God has positioned them to send their members out into the community to not just stay within the four walls of their church, but to actually go out and again, give their time and to give their resources to blessing others that maybe God would open up doors of opportunities for them to share Jesus. And so as you look at this list, what comes to mind for Shepherds Gate? Oh, all of them. They didn’t see that at the nine. That’s great. We’re kind of a weird bird, aren’t we? 

Because we do some things during certain times of the year and other times of the year we function. You might be like if you came here for during the summer, you might say, oh, the shepherds gates like this. And if you came here in the winter, you’re like, no, no, no, shepherds gate is this which is kind of fun to be a church that’s not afraid to shift into pivot. And we’ll get into more of that in a moment. But I want us to go back to where we left off a few weeks ago, which was Easter. And it’s crazy how fast time has gone by. And what’s so intriguing is when you read the text immediately after Jesus rises from the dead. Now there’s four Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and they all have kind of a different way of explaining, different details of what took place after Jesus actually rose from the dead. And so today, I want us to look at John, John being kind of the most unique out of all the gospels. And so here’s the context. So the disciples think Jesus is dead. They haven’t seen him yet. And they’re living in fear. And so John, in his last chapter, he says this, that on the evening of the first day of the week, the disciples, together with the doors, what? 

The doors are locked. They’re inside and they’re full of fear because of the Jewish leaders. They saw the Jewish leaders put Jesus on a cross. They saw him go through his trial. He saw all of these things take place. And then all of a sudden they’re sitting in this locked room in fear and boom, Jesus comes and stands among them, which must have been wild to see how did he get in the room? And he says these words, peace be with you. After he says these words, he shows them his hands and his side, where the sword pierced him. And as the disciples are coming into the reality of what’s actually in front of them, their fear turned to joy, their fear began to subside, and the joy of the Lord and the fact that they were in his presence began to overwhelm them. To the point that they were overjoyed that Jesus actually did what he told them over and over and over again. He did that he would rise from the dead. Just imagine that moment for these guys. And here they are. They’re probably pinching themselves saying, is this really happening? Is this really Jesus? Is this really taking place in this moment? And watch what Jesus does. He says to them again, peace be with you. Oh, by the way, as the father has sent me to this earth, guess what? Guess what guys, you don’t get to live in the locked room. This isn’t the end. 

Oh, no. Guys, this is just the beginning of the plan that I have for each and every one of you. And in fact, I’m going to be with you a few days. I’m going to reveal myself to some other people. But there’s going to come a moment in time when I’m going to return to the father. But here’s this incredible gift that I’m going to give you to help you navigate every area of your life. And he breathes on them and says, Receive the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit that raised Christ from the dead, the same Holy Spirit that God gives us in the waters of baptism. What an incredible gift. So much so that when that day came, when Jesus knew he would ascend back into heaven and he gathers disciples again, he brings them together. And there starting to question him. Hey, are you now going to restore you Rose from the dead? I mean, who does that? So is now you’re just going to return everything to the way, way it should be. And you’re going to restore the garden, and everything is going to go back to the way that it should be. And this is how he answers them. Just so you know, it’s not for you to know the time or the dates. The father is set by his own authority. Hey, you can be excited about Christ coming back and you can pray for Christ to come back.

But that is not to be your focus. You are not to hunker down in a locked room. You’re not to just go build a church and build a bunker and have everybody come into the bunker and just wait for Jesus to come back. No. Instead, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you’ll do what?

You’re going to be my witnesses, and it’s going to start in your local community of Jerusalem. And then when you’re done witnessing in Jerusalem, you’re going to be sent out into into the surrounding areas of Judea and Samaria and all. By the way, some of you are going to be sent to the very ends of the earth. Do you see the heartbeat of our God? Do you see what it means to follow Jesus that we live in a world that’s so easily becomes the focus of everything that makes us happy, and everything we want to pursue, and everything that we feel that we deserve and that our time on this earth. And Jesus comes along and he flips the script. He says, no, no, no, no. Your life from here on out is not going to be about you. It’s going to be about serving others and loving others and being on missions so that others would come to the saving knowledge of Jesus. And so again, if you’re new to Shepard’s game, this is why we believe our mission statement is that we exist to impact the world with the love of Jesus. If that’s what he told the disciples to do, that’s what he still tells us today. 

And the way that we live out our mission here at Shepherd’s Gate is through our vision, where we believe God has called us to value everyone we meet, that we’re not judgmental, that we influence everywhere that we go the grocery store, the school, our places of work, walking down our street, the park, whatever it is. Even waiting for a pickleball court for people that are hogging pickleball courts everywhere we go. And we will live generously with everything we have. And I don’t know why I said that pickleball thing. It just came into my mind. And the third part of this is the hardest one, because everything, even though we sung about it, I’ll follow you anywhere and I will give you everything always comes back to our time and our resources. What you might not know about Shepherd’s Gate. And I’m just going to give you a teaser today, because in two weeks and in three weeks, we’re going to continue this discussion after our outdoor Father’s Day service. But here at Shepherd’s Gate, we actually are a confessional and sacramental church. 

And again, confessional just means that we stick to a certain view of Scripture. And so our confessions guide us in what we believe, teach and confess about the Bible. And it’s why we’re not afraid to say the Apostle’s Creed. That is part of our confession. We’re sacramental in that we have communion in baptism. And isn’t it incredible? You saw the sacrament at work today in the waters of baptism. That’s why if you come here in the in the coming weeks, you’ll see we’re at church that does communion about 75% of the time because we believe that Christ is present in communion and that it’s good for us. It’s the nourishing of our soul, while at the same time we’re a modern church. We have modern worship and our approach to ministry. I mean, here we are in a gym and and we’re and the way that we design our services in the way that we want to be a unique expression of the gospel. And the reason we’re like that is because it goes all the way back to when this church was started in 1980. The reason they started this church was to try to reach people that maybe our other sister congregations couldn’t reach, with a very unique approach. And part of that is being relational. 

Did you hear me? Part of that means that when people come through our doors that we’re excited that people are here and we want to get to know them and we want to hear their stories and we want to walk through life with them. Or when we go out into our community that we’re there not just to do the service projects that were there because we want to invest in their lives and we want to learn more about them, while at the same time we can be an attraction. Church. Next week, as we gather on our West lawn, as we invite people to come to our Father’s Day service, that’s an attraction model of hey, come and just get to know us. And you know that oftentimes when we invite people to church, that it’s very intimidating for people to walk inside a building. Did you know that’s a real thing now? And so one of the blessings of having an outdoor service is that people are more likely to say yes to coming to an outdoor service. Do you know why? Because they don’t fear that they’re going to come inside our building, and we’re going to lock the doors that if we get weird out there, they know all they have to do is run to their car and leave. I’m not joking. It’s a real thing. 

Well, at the same time, a church can also be deployed to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the community. Now, I want you to think about the early church. I want you to think about the way in which Jesus gathered the disciples together. He gave them specific instructions to go, but that wasn’t the only person that he called to go out into the community. As the disciples are doing what God had called them to do. At the same time, God picks this other guy named Saul who’s actually think of this. He’s persecuting the disciples. He’s going after the exact people that Jesus told the disciples to win. And so there’s this battle going on until miraculously, Jesus gets a hold of Saul’s life, literally knocks him off his horse, completely transforms his life. And here’s what happens next. He tell someone that’s a follower of his to go and to place their hands on Saul, who’s he’s going to change his name to Paul. And he says, here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to put your hands on this guy and you’re going to bless him. And this guy says, no, no, no, no, you don’t understand. Maybe you got something confused. 

Maybe you’re thinking of a different Paul. Like, remember the movement that you started with your disciples? This guy’s the one that’s going around in persecuting them and throwing them in jail. You want me to go and put my hands on this guy and to pray a prayer of blessing over him when he’s doing the exact opposite of what you set out to do. And I want you to think, I want you to see how the Lord responds to Ananias. He says this. Look at what says go. Isn’t it interesting how many times the word go is in Scripture? This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and to their kings, and to the people of Israel. So he’s going to go out and he’s going to reach people that maybe the disciples aren’t able to reach, while at the same time he’s also going to be able to reach even the people that are in his community. And then he says, I will show him how much he must suffer for my name. Let me be crystal clear. There is a cost to following Jesus. When you begin to go all in for Jesus and you realize that your life isn’t just not about yourself or about your hair and having fabulous hair, or what your clothes look like, or how pretty your shoes are, or what purse you can buy, or how good you can swing a golf club. 

When you start to realize that you have such a greater purpose on this earth, there is a cost involved in it. But I can also tell you this there is an unbelievable reward in following Jesus. There is a joy and a peace that the world will never be able to give you, that a perfect golf score will never be able to give you that. Being on Lake Saint Clair will never be able to give you all of the things that we think are going to fill our lives, following Jesus and walking in his ways and following his commands and being a vessel for him far outweighs anything we could hope, dream, or imagine on this earth. You know how I know, Paul? Look at his life. Had everything you could possibly need this side of heaven in a moment’s time. God grips his heart and he responds to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and working. So much so to go from acts now to to going all over the world and planning churches and telling other people about Jesus. And so I want you to hear this all in language, because he’s writing a letter to a church in Corinth.

And this is Paul writing these words. 

Think of the transformation this guy has been through. He said, though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave. And he’s using that word on purpose. He’s willing to go to the nth degree, to everyone to do what? To win as many as possible. He already realizes that even though he’s proclaiming Jesus as Lord and Savior, that not everyone is going to receive his message, but he’s willing to do anything he can, and he’s willing to live his life in such a way that it reflects what it is that Christ has done in and through him. So much so that he said to the Jews, I became a Jew. To do what? To win the Jews, as to win those under the law, to those not having the law. I became like one not having the law. So as to what? When those not having the law. And it gets confusing in this passage, but really what he’s saying, if God’s going to send me the Gentiles, I’m going to the Gentiles. If God’s going to send me the Jews, I’m going to the Jews. If God’s going to send me the people that have no faith at all, then I’m going to do everything that I possibly can do. Because he goes on to say this to the weak, I became weak to win the weak. Those that are going through difficulty, maybe they’re going through a divorce. 

Maybe there’s a loss of a loved one. Maybe there’s an addiction, somebody that’s really down on life. And Paul saying, I’m going to go to that person and I’m going to sit with that person, and I’m going to listen to that person, and I’m going to love that person unconditionally. If it means one more person comes to know Jesus. In fact, I have become all things to all people that by all possible means I might be used to save Psalm. And the reason I do this, the fuel behind all of this is for the sake of the gospel, so that I can share in its blessings. Do you see what he’s talking about here? Do you see the passion as he’s writing this and being inspired by God to write this? So much so that if you go back to acts and you look at what it is that followed in the following verses, it says this, that the church throughout Judea, Galatia, Galilee and Samaria, they enjoyed a time of peace, and they were strengthened because they were living in the fear of the Lord. Not that they were like under this, like, oh gosh, God’s going to zap me fear.

They were living under this respectful fear of knowing who God is and knowing their mission and purpose on this planet. And because of that, they were encouraged by the Holy Spirit. And of course, God increased their numbers because they made themselves available to be used in church. That’s exactly what we just did this last weekend. That’s exactly what took place as hundreds of people were deployed out all over metro Detroit. And again, it’s something we simply call step out and serve. And so we don’t want to give you a little bit more information about this. Will you please welcome our local mission coordinator, Ron K0, as he comes to share at this time? Big weekend last weekend. Amazing weekend. Can you tell people just a little bit about maybe what took place? We were the hands and feet, the hearts and the eyes of Jesus. We allow doors to open up. we, had a lot of people very curious about what was going on. One of my favorite things of the whole weekend is when I hear stories about people walking by, or looking out of their window or on their porch, just really curious about what’s going on, and to know that that brings them to a point where they might actually start asking people about that and just opening that conversation. 

That’s incredible. Now, I know some people, probably many people, don’t know that. One of your favorite days of the year is not just about the weekend, but it’s the Monday preceding, because you gather all of our site leaders, those are the people that are responsible for each one of the sites. And you have a dinner and you go around and everyone kind of shares their testimony of where they saw God at work. And so could you just give us a little bit a taste of what took place this last Monday as you met with your site leaders? Yeah. So there was about 30 people at this dinner. We break bread. And I think the thing that I heard the most was, you need to tell more dad jokes. We’ll have to verify that. I got one not, It’s just amazing because I still believe that Jesus, is the greatest storyteller. And to hear the stories of what happened at these sites of to hear the stories of the doors that were open, to hear the stories about how generosity spurs generosity, to hear the stories about, how people were overwhelmed by having people to hear the stories about how are we going to get this done?

And God just makes it happen. We don’t have enough mulch, we have too much mulch. And somehow it always happens to be God’s time and the perfect amount. That’s incredible. Can we give God praise for that? Last lastly, what does step out in serve mean to you? I get to see miracles through this whole weekend from a very, amazing perspective, right? It’s the prep work that went into this. But for me, what this means to me is, is watching God move is to watching God stretch people. It’s to watching how God, in his perfect timing, in his perfect ways, takes a weekend and takes broken people and just really makes them perfect for one weekend. It’s awesome. Let me give Ron a hand for all his. So the. There are a few data points up here too, and to me the one is the one that’s bolded up there, right? We had a budget of over $20,000. And without your generosity, without our generosity, this could never happen, right? So $0.17 of every dollar that comes and goes in our community. So it’s it’s got to be one of the greatest things for me to not say no. Or maybe it’s no, it’s not, it’s not. No. But maybe it’s not now. So we have a great budget for this. and I did a little bit of the math, 3000 work hours in this weekend. 

So one person working 40 hours a week, 50 hours a week is 2000 hours. So the work that we did, it would have taken one person about a year and a half to do. It’s incredible. Thank you Ron, thank you for your leadership. Thank you for all that you did once again this year to make it happen for our church. My pleasure. Thank you God. I’m blessed. Let’s give him another hand. So, as Ron mentioned, here at Shepherds Gate, 17% of our budget is used to be able to go and to be able to do these projects. A few weeks ago, you heard from our mission team, specifically Dan, Ferris, who’s our mission chair. And he explained, kind of our financial situation as far as the dollars that we were able to donate last year because our six members, six members of our church that determine where we designate, mission dollars throughout the year. But what we didn’t tell you was what we’re doing this year. And so I want you guys to be aware of this. This is important to know that since 2020, we have been increasing our mission dollars because we want to step out in faith and we want to deploy more people who call Shepherds Gate home out into our community, because we believe that should be the mission of our church. 

We believe that that is what strategically that what, God has called us to do. but we didn’t go up a percentage this year. And the reason that we didn’t go up a percentage this year is because our general fund offerings actually came in less at the end of last year. And so you can kind of see the seismic change that took place. And we know we acknowledge we know a lot of people are getting pinched at the grocery store. They’re getting pinched at the gas station. There’s there’s expenses that have come people’s way. I just want you to know, we could not do this without those that call Shepherds Gate home with everyone doing something, with people saying, hey, I love this church and I want to invest in this church and I can see where this church is putting their dollars. And so as we go into the summer months, if you are part of this church and if God would lay it on your heart, we would love for you to be a financial partner because what that does is it enables us to continue being generous with everything that comes through our doors. And here’s the crazy part is we want to use you as the conduit. 

We want you to be the ones that go out in Jesus name, and to do these projects and to be able to be there and available as God opens doors to people’s hearts and to people’s lives. Does that make sense? All right, so here’s really the reality as well, because not only do we have our stuff out in Serve weekend, we also have what we call step out and Serve 365. And we actually started Step Out in serve 365 back in 2020, in January of 2020. And so the idea was instead of just having one weekend a year, we would offer multiple serving opportunities all throughout the year. Now, if you remember the slide that Ron mentioned, there was 486 people that went out just this last weekend. But if you look at kind of the trend, here’s what’s happening, okay, this is what we got to address as well is what happens is we have all these other serving opportunities throughout the year, but it tends to be the same people that volunteered for the Step Out in Serve weekend. And what we want to see is we want to see an increase in those that call Shepherd’s Gate home. 

We want every single person, man, woman and child to be able to experience some type of outreach outside of our walls. And so that’s one of the targets that we’re really pursuing. This year. And so that’s why we have our weekend where we serve. But we also have, as I said, step out and serve 365. And so we’re so bought into this, we’re so invested in doing this for the future that we’re going to be splitting kind of the responsibilities. And so this good looking guy on the left is going to continue to be in charge of our immersion weekend. That takes him months to plan. And all of the things that he puts into with his leadership team. But I want to introduce you to this couple on the right. They’re good friends of Ron. They’re good friends of mine. This is Scott and Bevan, coach. And so they’re going to be heading up step out in serve 365. And their primary role is to figure out how we can get more and more people who call Shepherd’s Gate home outside of our walls. How many of you are on board with this? How many of you think this is a great idea right? 

How many of you think we can hit 100% of those that call Shepherd’s Gate home to serve out in the community, right? I think we can do it. And we are going to we are going to continue to pursue this as God through the Holy Spirit gives us the ability to do that. So thank you for being part of this church. If you have any questions at all, please let us know after the service. Fine. Anyone want to step out and serve? Shirt on? They would love to tell you more about what is even planned the rest of this year. Now we know this is the moment many of you waited for. We do this every year. We get an opportunity to see all that God did in and through you last weekend. And so we’re going to watch this video and we’re going to praise God once again for what it is that he’s doing through you as a church. So let’s watch this together.