Speaker: Tim Bollinger
Scripture: Mark 6:30-44

From the series Live Generously

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Once again. It’s so good to have you here this morning. My name is Tim. I get the privilege of being the lead pastor. Whether you’re joining us in person or you’re streaming in online. today we conclude a two part sermon series called Live Generously. In every single year, for 2 or 3 weeks, we pause our congregation, and we specifically do a sermon series on our mission and vision. And so you’re getting part two of that today. we do know that we have a lot of guests with us. Those of you that are here, to honor your graduates. And right after this service, you guys have a special luncheon. So just want to warmly welcome all of you. if you are one of those guests or you just, happen to come here for the first time, this is a great week to come. because you kind of get to see a behind the scenes, a look of who we are as a church and what it is that we believe God has called us to do, and how he’s called us to use our resources, to be a blessing to our community and all of our global partners around the world. If you have been here the last couple of weeks, you know, we’ve been talking about this idea of resources that are most valuable. Resources are what, and out of those two, if you had to rank them, which resource is the most valuable? Our time. I want you to think about something. What is next Sunday? 

How do you know that it’s Mother’s Day? Because we reminded you of it. Thank you for being. How many of you? You pulled out your phone and you said 32 reminders that you have to do what next week? Spend time with your mom because moms in the room expect us to spend time with them and buy them a gift. And all the women said, ladies in the room. If you had to pick between having your family spend time with you or your family, give you a gift, which one is more valuable to you and you guys, did we hear that? I mean, do you notice how loud that was? Hopefully you heard that online. so much so, I just want to make sure that you didn’t miss this in the announcements this morning, that we are adding a Saturday service just next weekend. And the reason is, is last year, especially at the second service, 60 people actually had to go watch the service in our overflow room. And so we want to make sure that that everyone has a chance to be able to watch the service and be part of the service live in the room. So if those of you that are able to come on Saturday to kind of   alleviate, and make some room for those that are coming on Sunday, if that works in your plans, we greatly appreciate it. 

Just want to make sure that you’re all aware of that. And so think of that in view of of who we are and what we believe. God is leading us as a church. And so as Dan shared, part two of our vision statement is that we believe we have been called to local and global missions. The last part is really this is that we agree as a congregation that we’re going to live generously with what and the reason it’s in brackets, the reason that we say everything is because we believe it’s not just our financial resources that God actually calls us to use our time to leave the four walls of our church and to go out and to be a blessing to people that maybe we don’t even know, people that maybe are connected here through various means or through some of our other local nonprofit connections that tell us there’s these families that are in need, or there’s a widow in need, or there’s a single mom who’s in need, or there’s a single dad that’s in need, or there’s a widower or indeed, whatever the case is, we want to be available as a church to let our community know that we just don’t gather for worship on Sunday morning, that it’s not just about us and what we can get out of church. 

That we just believe that God has created us and positioned us, and more importantly, called us to go out and to meet people where they’re at and to love them. Now, I will say this again, the way that we do that, the the fuel that gives us the ability to do that is through people’s financial sacrifices. We cannot do what we do as a church without each and every person giving a portion of their income to be able to, to fund mission projects. What you just heard from our mission team and the ability to give 17% of every dollar that comes in back outside our doors is not possible without the people who call Shepherd’s Gate home. Because let me ask you this. What’s the alternative? If people aren’t willing to share their financial resources here at Shepherd’s Gate, what’s the alternative? Two things. One, we just closed down the church, and then you wonder, will anybody in the community care if Shepherd’s gate doesn’t exist anymore? Well, the people that call this place home, will they be affected because they don’t have a place to come and worship anymore? The second alternative ready for this, is what we see being played out in professional sports. Now, how many of you you’ve been watching professional sports? 

Are there any hockey fans in the room? You watching playoff hockey? See, not many people have seen at the first service. How many of you are watching the Detroit Tigers? All right, a few more. Do you realize how much we are inundated with advertisements? And now that we’re in this digital age and they can change the advertisements on a pitcher’s mound, or even what you see in the background, and how many more logos are being added to their uniforms. I mean, isn’t that crazy? Has anyone else notice that other than me? You’ve noticed that. So here’s the alternative. If people aren’t willing to give a portion of their income, then this is the only other option we have here at Shepherd’s Gate. And I like my shirt the way that it is. And here’s the crazy part. We’re willing to go to sporting events. We’re willing to pay $3 billion for a beer. And then when it comes to supporting the mission of the church, we’re like, I’m going to sit this one out. I’m going to take a pass. How many come and I’m to receive the blessings of this congregation and even be able to go and be deployed to do things. 

I’m telling you, folks, we cannot do this without you, all of us. Compelled by the Holy Spirit, seeing the resources that God has given us so that we can send more and more people out to serve. And that’s what these last two weeks have been about. Last week we talked about Step In and Serve and all of the serving opportunities that we have here at the church. Because we are called to take care of each other. We are called to raise up our kids and and to make sure that our teenagers understand who God is. And again, our graduates that we got to honor today. But we’re also called to step out and serve. Now, if you weren’t here last week, we had our our, annual ministry fair where everyone went into the former worship center. And so many of you went in there, you talked to our ministry leaders. Some of them are staff, most of them are volunteer leaders. And you connected. And so make sure that you do that. Make sure you pray about what gifting God is giving you and where he’s calling you to serve the people in this church. I also shared with you last week this statistic. You remember this, that 23% of people that call Shepherd’s Gate their home serve in some capacity here within our walls. And how many of you were surprised by that statistic? 

Many of you were like, oh my gosh, you guys run this place on 23%. I’m thankful because hopefully in a few weeks we can announce an increase in that number because of so many people that have signed up to help us as we move our church into the future. Now, as we shift to thinking about stepping outside of our walls and serving our community, what percent of people do you think that call this their home, have taken that leap of faith, have taken that first step and went out and done some type of mission project? How many do you think 10%, 20, 40, 20? Here it is. Now, I’m really happy that you’re kind of like hesitantly clapping because you’re like, Is Tim going to think this is good or bad? I want you to hear me loud and clear. Our goal, our goal for our congregation is 100% every man,  woman and child I know. Last week we had a pregnant lady with us and she said, hey, can I opt to step in and serve some of you? You got like 20 children. I get it, by the end of this year, you will see the culture that we are building here at Shepherds Gate. 

You will see what it is that we want to stir in the hearts of our people and from from the pregnant mom to the one that’s pushing strollers to to the to the oldest member of our church. We just believe that everyone can do something and we have opportunities for every single person who comes through our doors to be able to be deployed outside of our walls. But before I get into that, let’s go to God’s Word and let’s see the pattern that Jesus sets for us over and over and over again in Scripture. Mark chapter six, Jesus is going around. Look at where he’s going from village to village. He didn’t set up shop in Jerusalem and tell the disciples to go out and bring him back to one location and do all of his ministry from one location. Jesus was willing to go town by town, village by village in the entire region where he lived. He calls his 12 disciples to him and then look at what he does. He sends them out. He divides them up two by two, and he gives them authority over impure spirits. And he tells them, you are going to go out and you are going to practice what it is that you have been watching me do. You’ve watched me teach. You’ve watched me tell people that I am the Son of God. You have watched me perform miracles. 

So now I’m going to give you my spirit. I’m going to give you the ability to go and do what it is that you have seen me do. And by the way, here’s his instructions. Take nothing for the journey except for a staff. No bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals, but not an extra shirt. Do you know what this sounds like? A spirit airline ticket, doesn’t it? Why would he tell them not to take anything? Man, they’re walking everywhere. It gets hot and sweaty. Why can’t they have an extra t shirt? Why can’t they have just a little bit of money or a little bit of bread? The reason is, is because he knows the resources that are going to help fund the mission that he has given them is going to come from the community. He literally tells them to go to homes and the people that let you into their homes, and they feed you and they allow you to spend the night at their homes. Those houses will be blessed. Those homes that you go to and they turn you away, shake the dust off your sandals and go to the next house and watch and wait, because I will provide for you. Remember that the resources came from the communities in which they were called to serve. Well, what’s so incredible is the apostles. 

When they came back, they gathered around Jesus, and they reported to him all that they had done and everything that they had taught people. Those of you that have gone out on local mission trips, those of you that have gone into global mission  trip, do you know one of the one of the most enjoyable moments is at the end of the day, when the team circles up and begins to share testimonies of where they saw God at work, as they were willing to give up their time and to go and to serve others. Make no mistake, folks, it’s nothing special in us. We are ordinary people. But when ordinary people make themselves available and we go with the Spirit of God inside of us, God is the one that then begins to form miracles on other people’s behalf. We begin to see things happen that we never thought possible because we found time, and we found margin in our schedules to be used by God. Look at what happens. So many people are= coming and going that they didn’t even have a chance to even imagine the ministry. They’re cranking out town by town, village by village. And he looks at his disciples and he realizes that they’re getting tired. He realizes they’re getting fatigued. He says, come with me by yourselves to a quiet place. 

Let’s get you some rest. So they went by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But people saw them leaving, and they recognize them, and they recognize the power that was within them. And so they’re running. They’re not walking. They’re running by foot to all the towns to get ahead of them. And so when Jesus lands and he sees this large crowd, what does he do? He doesn’t say, hey, you need to come back tomorrow. My disciples are tired. I’m tired. And if you just come back tomorrow, come back tomorrow early morning, we’ll start this all up again. No, it says he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd.And so he begins to teach them many things. Do you know this is the same way that God is with us? That God has compassion on us, that he sees our lives, he sees our busy lives, he sees our work world. He knows our family commitments. He knows if there’s hardship that is going on in our lives. He knows if we’re sad. He knows if we’re depressed. He knows if we’re in financial trouble. Everything that you’re going through, God sees it and he knows it, and he has compassion on you. And not only so he sent Jesus to this earth, his ultimate mission was to go to a cross, to stretch out his arms, to take your sins and my sins upon himself so that he could die and be the sacrifice. He could do what we couldn’t do for ourselves that three days later, listen to this. 

He could rise from the dead and he could declare victory over sin, death, and the devil for you and for me. His greatest work is our salvation. His greatest work is that he’s restored the relationship between God the Father and us, so that when we’re done with our earthly time, we will go to heaven and we will see Jesus face to face. So let me ask you this morning, do you think there’s more people that need to hear that message? And do you think that there’s people that need to hear that message that will never step foot in a church? Yes. And so we have some options. Shepherd’s gate, we can stay here and do church every Sunday. We can do all of our incredible midweek programing. But I just believe God has called us to be a church that leaves the safety and comforts of our four walls that we have been called to be a church that is deployed into our community because we believe there’s more people that need to hear the hope of Jesus, and they need to have their lives transformed by the power of the gospel, and that God actually wants to use us in our time, in our day and age, in the community that we have been placed with as a conduit to reach people. Amen. Look at what happens. It says by this time it was late in the day. And so his disciples come to and call a timeout. They say, Jesus, I don’t know if you looked around and noticed, but this is a really remote place and the sun is setting. You got to send these people away so they can go get food. 

I mean, they’re starting to get hungry and at some point we can’t just keep doing this, you know, all hours of the night. I mean, they’re responding to Jesus the same way he responded to them when he saw that they were getting fatigued and they needed food. And he said, okay, come on, let’s let’s replenish you and let’s get you some food and let’s get you some sleep. How does Jesus respond to them when they say, hey, we just want to let you know this is what’s going on around you. He says, listen to them. It’s incredible. You give them something to eat. That’s not very fair of Jesus, isit? How are they supposed to give this massive crowd and these people from all these different villages food? How in the world when they’re out in the middle of nowhere, is this even possible? And they’re kind of scratching their heads, and they’re trying to figure this out from an earthly perspective, not a heavenly and eternal perspective and the power that Jesus actually holds. And so they said to Jesus, that would take more than a half a year’s wages. Are we going to spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat? Hey, Jesus. We got out the spreadsheet and we did the math. And, you know, like if you look at the numbers, they don’t add up. This is impossible. 

Just so you know, we know you’re the son of God, but this little task is impossible. And Jesus, knowing exactly what he’s doing and knowing exactly that this is another teachable moment for his disciples. He says this tell me how many loaves you have. Go and see. And again think of this. He sends them to the community that’s gathered there to figure out the resources that reside within that community. Find out if there’s any food among these people and bring it to me, and they bring them back five loaves and two fishes. Then he instructs his disciples to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. Aren’t you glad it’s green grass and not brown grass? How many of you? You’re obsessed with your lawn and you just love green grass. So they sit down in groups of hundreds and 50s. Think for a moment who’s he deploying to put them in groups? The disciples. He’s not doing this. He’s telling them to do this. And I don’t know about you, but sometimes when you’re reading scripture, like I just pause and I. And I try to enter into this moment like you have thousands and thousands of people. 

The sun is setting, people are getting cranky, and now you want us to organize them in hundreds and 50s? How many at that point would have been pushing back on Jesus? I would have been pushing back on Jesus. Like, how long does it take to organize thousands of people into groups of 50 and 100 people of all ages, people with little kids, people’s kids who are running off into other groups? No. You get back to your group of 50. No, you get back to your group of 100. And yet he’s using them. Don’t miss this point. He’s using them as the vehicle. And here’s what he does. He takes the five loaves and the two fish, and he looks up to heaven. And he breaks it and he gives thanks for it. And then he gives it to who wouldn’t, you know, the disciples to distribute it to the people. He divided the fish among them as well. There’s so many different ways Jesus could have done this. He could have had food just come up from the ground. He could have done what he did in Exodus and just had food fall from the sky. He could have had birds come in nicely, drop them into all the groups of 50 and 100, and the disciples could have just sat on the sidelines and went, wow, this is a really cool bird show. That’s not what he did. 

He tells them, take the five loaves and two fish that I just blast and just start giving it out and trust that I’m at work in this moment and wouldn’t you know, is there obedient to God. They all and they were satisfied, so much so that they had extra.They’re picking up the broken pieces and they’re kind of marveling at the fact that  that God literally just fed 5000 men. And if you include the women and children because they’re only counting the men, it’s easily 20,000 could be up to 30,000 people. Wow, what a miracle. What an opportunity for God. Once again to show his dominion over every single facet of life. And he did it by using the 12 disciples. The 12 disciples didn’t perform the miracle. The disciples were available. You imagine if some of the disciples would have said, you know what? I’m hungry and I’m tired. I’m going to sit this one out. I’m going back into town. I’ll catch up with you guys tomorrow. Imagine if, like half of them left and only half of them stayed. Every single one of them was part of this. 

Every single one of them got to see God at work. And this incredible miracle that’s been recorded for us. I want you to think for a moment as you look at Scripture, if you look at the four Gospels, as you look at the book of acts and the launching of the church, as you look at even God radically saving this guy named Paul, who goes on to be an apostle and plants churches all over the place. What is it that Jesus says over and over and over again to do what’s the first thing that you have to do? Two letters go. And I think this is the hardest part, isn’t it? There’s still this hesitancy from some of you. You’re like, I just started coming to church or, you know, this is this is, you know, a comfort for me and the idea of going out and doing something in the community, it might be frightening or it’s overwhelming or Tim, you just don’t understand my schedule.You don’t understand how busy I am.And here’s what I love about Shepherd’s Gate and what we’ve done over the last several years is that we have one weekend, one weekend every year where instead of having a Sunday morning service, we have a Friday night dinner. 

You can come and get a free dinner. And we have a a really cool commissioning service with Holy Communion. And we pray. And for the next two days, Saturday and Sunday, we ask everybody that call Shepherd’s Gate home to go out and to serve in our community. Why do we do that? We want to move any barrier from an individual or a couple or a family. Having the opportunity to experience what it means to go out and to serve our community. All of these other things follow. If you can’t get out and go, then you’re not going to see any of these other areas come to fruition. This is why folks, we do local mission trips. This is why this is such a huge part of the culture here at Shepherd’s Gate. It’s also why we’re not afraid to put people on planes and send them to other countries. If the Holy Spirit opens up doors for us to serve around our goal, our globe. But likewise, I think this is also important for us. And I really think it’s important, especially in our context and where we find ourselves in the communities that we’re surrounding with, because not only do we understand what Jesus did do, we also need to know what Jesus didn’t say or do. Now lean into this. Follow this with me. 

Jesus never called his disciples together and said, hey, I want you to meet at this place at this time, and I want you to bring your checkbooks. And what we’re going to do is we’re going to sit around a conference room and we’re going to have a meeting, and I’m going to tell you where to write your checks and where you are to, to fund local mission projects in your community. And then when we’re done with our meeting, we’ll hold hands and we’ll pray and we’ll all go home and feel good about ourselves. That is nowhere in Scripture did you know that. But here’s what can so easily happen, especially in a church. Our size in a church with our influence is that this can so easily become the pattern and I’m going to be honest with you, this morning there was a time and place in the history of this church when we started moving into that realm where a group of people sat around a table and they determined what we should do with our mission dollars, and we would write checks to the organizations, but we weren’t deploying our people to go and to serve. And so all of this goes back to 2020. That’s when we formed our new mission statement, when we formed our new vision statement. 

It’s also when we said, from now on at Shepherd’s Gate, when someone requests funds, whether it’s one of our nonprofit organizations or somebody that wants to go on a mission trip, this is the team. This is the filter. This is the actual picture that’s on the wall in the meeting, in the room that they meet is they say, okay, this request has come in. Now, who from Shepherd’s Gate is going to go and give up their time and serve this nonprofit? And if no one from Shepherd’s Gate is willing to go and serve, then no check is written. We want you as the church to be the agents like the disciples were the agents to go out. And so our process here is this. The request comes in. We mobilize people. And as people move out into the community, the funds follow. Did everyone follow me? Cause I’m gonna say it again. When the request comes in, we find people to go and serve. And as people go and step out and serve, then the funds on are unleashed and they follow them in that way. And this team has worked so hard. In fact, you can’t even be on this team unless you’re willing to commit to being part of the annual step out in serve, weekly or the weekend immersion. And then they also have to serve 3 to 4 more times throughout the calendar year. And so many of them do so much more than that. This is the heartbeat of our church to see, you know, this is the heartbeat of your pastor. 

I just want you to know, like if our church stopped doing this, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t be part of a church that just churns inwardly. I could never be part of a church that just says, now we’re just going to take care of ourselves here, and we’re not going to give a rip about the people that are lost and dying in our community. And that’s what I love about the people of this church. There’s more opportunity than there ever has for us to be deployed outside of our walls. And not only do we have our weekend that we give up Sunday Church for, and we move people out into the community, we have opportunities all year long because I know some of you, you pulled out your calendars, didn’t you? And you said June 1st and second. I have a golf tournament that weekend. You know, you should do. Cancel it. Make a big, bold move.Some of you are like, I have a wedding that weekend. Okay. Is it on Saturday or Sunday? Do it the opposite day. Maybe you’re going on vacation. Maybe you got other plans. Here’s what’s really cool. There’s so many other opportunities throughout the year. And again, going back to 2020, these are all the additional serving events that we have offered as a community. And you and your family can go and you can serve. And I love that we have these opportunities now. And we have a missions coordinator, Ron, because there are many of you know him and and his primary role is to help deploy people outside of our walls. But what we found is this the state is great, you know, over 50% of people serving is awesome. But we just believe that your life change and the change that can happen in your family is most fully experienced when you get outside of these walls. 

Some of you, you know, I just talked to a couple before the service that that’s been coming here for a while and they still, you know, don’t feel connected because it’s just hard to make friends sometimes. And I’ll see it again. One of the easiest ways to connect with other people is not in a small group. Let’s just be honest. We’ve all, since Covid, become socially awkward and it’s difficult to sit in a living room. And you know, you know, you you press play on the video or you open the Bible, you do the study, and then everyone goes around and gives their prayer requests. The easiest way to be connected in relationship is when we go out and we are shoulder to shoulder and we roll up our sleeves and we serve with one another. Some of you know that some of the friendships that you have made is because you showed up at the same step out in Surfside as somebody else. And here’s the cool thing. We’re not going to send you out without bread or without money or without a t shirt. We’re going to give you a t shirt. We’re going to give you a site leader that’s going to know the place that you’re at and know what the project scope entails. We’re going to put other people with you. He sent them out two by two. 

We sent people out pretty much 20 by 20. And this incredible team of of people are actually going to make you a custom lunch and deliver it to your site so that you are fed and continue to do the work that God has called you to do at your site. And because that’s how strongly we believe in the mission of this church, you will be blessed. You will be blessed far more than you could ever imagine, and you will be blessed in multiple ways on multiple fronts. But it just takes that first step. It’s the hearing of the message. It’s responding to the gospel of what it is that Jesus has done for you, and it’s recognizing that you have been placed on this earth to do far more than you could ever hope, dream, or imagine because it’s the Holy Spirit that’s at work in and through you. It’s just going to cost your time. It’s going to cost your time. And I can tell you, God is the God of redemption. Not only will he redeem your soul, he will redeem your time and the busy life that you thought that you lived in, the life that somehow you have entered into. All of a sudden, you will see God at work in a whole new way, and the opportunities that he opens for you and for your family. Amen.