922 Ministries - The CORE & St. Peter Lutheran

When a church grows, it’s easy to coast. Some think, “We have plenty of people here. We don’t need any more.” But God says that their soul still matters —the soul of your friend, your family member, your neighbor. And nothing makes church life better than seeing someone you love sitting next to you in worship. Praise God for the souls he has already saved! And may God inspire us to go out into all the world and save many more! 

What is 922 Ministries - The CORE & St. Peter Lutheran?

The episodes are the weekly sermons from 922 Ministries (St. Peter and The CORE) of Appleton, Wisconsin.

My Best Church Life
Week 6 - The CORE
Pastor Mike Novotny

It has been a crazy 10 years here at our church. Here's anyone been part of our church 922 ministries for 10 years or more? Hands? There, one. All right, Austin you win. Just you maybe two or three? There's a post that carried the back, right? Three out of a few hundred of us here today. What God has done. And I say this, hopefully not boasting a break in any way we got, is done over the last decade here, at both of our campuses has been unique and wonderful and complicated and insane. And so joyful because most of you weren't there, let me show you just a glimpse of what I'm talking about. Like back in 2014. Just as my family was moving here to Appleton, our North Appleton campus called St Peter built this, massive new beautiful church. What had once been a small country church up on French Road, exploded into something more with people of all ages, from all backgrounds hearing the good news of Jesus their Savior Four years later, our church began a partnership with time of grace. Which you heard about today? I'm sure you know this, but Time of Grace pays my entire salary back to 922 ministries which a allowed us for the first time in our history to bring on our first full-time worship director. So we're able to add on Jonathan Favorite, the man who's playing guitar today, who just blessed our music in such profound and amazing ways. But God wasn't done because in 2020. This happened. If you're the story, we've got our old church location on Franklin Street. We kind of liked it. We thought we'd be there for many years, but we didn't own the parking lots. And the people who had just bought the parking lot decided to turn it into their Wisconsin winter. Snow, dump site. We saw for church one day there's literally a mama because it's on the side of our trigger building and signs up to say no parking. We thought, oh, we need to do something. We start looking. We find this old building which had been vacant. Remember this for three years. The old Thompson community center, no one wanted to touch it. It was kind of crazy inside. I walked in, looked around and said, no, this would not make a good church. Which proves you should always listen to the past because sometimes they are very, very wrong. We bought it for a bargain basement price, remodeled it. And now it has been just such a gift to our church family and our worship life. But that wasn't it, either? Because two years later in 2022, that happened a massive school edition at our St Peter campus, which allowed us to serve hundreds into hundreds of more students from Monday to Friday. From late August to late May with the simple message of Jesus, love which we find in the scriptures. And just because we were exhausted and tired, we decided to do this. Then after that, this year 2023, we opened about 50 feet. That way in the same building the Lighthouse Youth Center to serve, not just the teenagers from our church, but especially those in our community project after project after project after project for the last 10 years, it is about like 92 miles an hour here at our ministry.

But that's not even the best part.

The best part are the 99% of you. That didn't raise your hands.

That in the last 10 years have come to call this your church home. For many of you your first ever church home. The first church, you've regulated for the first time in a long time. Maybe the place where you first like, understood the forgiveness of your sins. What the cross actually means that your eternity is set and guaranteed because of what Jesus said that the people that have gathered here have been the biggest blessing. So many people, not one or two or 10, or 20 you've heard in a sermon series, our church on both campus is now numbers over 3100 people.

And that. And all those pictures, maybe in the back of your mind. Make you wonder about today.

The focus of today's service is that we're not done.

That not just a few of us but all of us that you personally have a calling and a commission and a mission from God to invite more people. To reach out to your family, your friends, the person you're related to the person you're dating. You're next door neighbors, your teammates. The message is, it's time to love them. Serve them, bless them, invite them, evangelize them, share the good news with them, and when you're that message on a Sunday like today, you might get a look around and say, oh, its not the best idea.

It holds us. Would invite just one person who would come to church next Sunday. What, how would that work? Pastor. I love my friend, but I don't want to sit on my lap for 70 minutes. Like, isn't there enough going on here? Hasn't been God, been good enough to us already. And with so many people isn't important to like, slow down, and serve them. Well, to disciple them and not just get them through the doors and in a seat. Should we really be pushing after all the projects, all the efforts, all the ministries, and that an old presumptuous unwise?

It's kind of like if you're sitting with your best friend who had five kids and seven years and you can barely have a conversation because the kids are just running like mad throughout the house. And he says you know my wife and everything about having more kids

And you say you're fertility is not my business but maybe, maybe we can talk about this. Good push pause and the baby making plans for a little bit. This is enough already, isn't it?

Is it'd be good question and maybe it's not just, you know, the congregational numerical thing. Maybe it's more personal for you that when you hear that, like a classic Christian message we should share our faith and tell others about Jesus, maybe think? Yeah. is it really my job to tell another person what to believe. I don't want to force my religion, cram, a Bible down someone's throat, and I don't know if I'm even the type to do that. I mean, I would never like to knock on a door and talk about religion with someone. I don't sabotage, like a good friendship that I have, and I don't even know, like a ton about the Bible. I can't answer the the toughest questions about science and religion sexuality and Christianity. I don't know if I'm the person to be doing this thing that pastors always talk about to go and to share your faith.

I'm not sure your reaction to this basic encouragement to go and invite more people. But if you had hesitations, I wouldn't blame you.

That's why today I want to try to get on the other side, and get over those roadblocks so that you would come to see yourself as the perfect person to be part of this mission.

Because if you ask me today, well Pastor Mike, why would we do this as a church? Why would we keep pushing so hard when it comes to outreach and evangelism? It could be my answer.

Because they started it.

The first followers of Jesus when their church exploded from a, you know, a little medium-sized church of this massive mega church. They did not slow down. They did not push pause, they did not decide that they had enough, people through the doors, they kept going and going and going, and going. If you asked why 21st-century Christians and big churches should keep going, my answer would be because the 1st century Christians started it.

And put that here from the Bible. The book of Acts tells us things like this, when Jesus left that, Peter stood up in a group numbering about a hundred and twenty people, And maybe a third of you who are here today, that was the whole church. A chapter later. However, the day of Pentecost came Peter, preached, and we read these words about 3,000 were added to their number that day. Have you versus later acts to say the Lord added to their number daily? Those who are being saved?

Facts don't end, with chapter 2, we get chapter 4, the number of men it says drew to about 5,000. And then in next chapter five, it says more and more men and women believed in the Lord and you get to the end of five thousand. I mean, that's a huge church. How do you do that? Well, But the apostles didn't take 10 years off to figure that out. Instead, Peter kept going and John kept going and the apostles kept going. And then a guy named Paul was converted to become a Christian and he started going. And he went on like international, intercontinental, intercultural mission trips first one, then another, then a third and he got arrested, it took him to Rome. So he kept preaching to the guards, and once he got out, he kept going and going, and going to the book of Acts ends in chapter 28. And this is the final verse Paul proclaimed, “The kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness, and without hindrance.”

Apparently, the early Christians did not care if there were ten of them or a hundred of them or a hundred thousand of them, they never ever, ever took their foot off this mission that Jesus had given to them.

The wife. There was so much to do. There was so many people to serve, they're not enough hours in the day. Why would they be so insistently? Committed to sharing their faith and why would you? And I will be so today,

Well, the call my message. If you like to take notes is to give you three biblical reasons why that. So the three reasons that we still as modern Christians in a big church, go love serve. Invite invest and evangelize Your grapple pen to give you three reasons, three Bible passages like God is calling you today to be part of his great mission to reach the world. Here's the first one.

Because Jesus said so.

When you were 12 did you find that as a convincing argument from your dad? Because I said so yeah dad probably said it just because he was exhausted with you and don't explain himself but when Jesus says it I think we should take it. Seriously. Mean Jesus is the son of God? He is the truth when he's speaks it's not just because he's frustrated or exhausted. He speaks what's good and rights for his people. And the fact that this is the same Jesus, who sacrificed his very life that you could have life with God, he died on a cross so that you could have a crown in heaven. He's the kind of guy that you should trust. So he says, it makes sense that his followers would do it.

11:33 AM
Here's what he said. Matthew chapter 28. After his resurrection, Jesus said go and make disciples of all nations.

And just in case you skip that verse as you were reading the book of Matthew, Jesus said this and the gospel of Mark preached, the good news to all creation.

And just in case you somehow got a copy of the Bible that didn't have Matthew or Mark. Jesus said in the Gospel of Luke repentance and forgiveness will be preached in my name to all nations.

Just in case like you're friend ripped, all the gospels out of your Bible. Jesus said this, in the book of Acts, you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all day and Samaria period. No and Samaria. And Jesus said to the ends of your earth, deuces ascension, he believes So the last thing that Jesus said to his friends was not well, you'd play it by ear. The last verbs he used with them, were go make disciples, preach, forgiveness will be preached. You will be my witnesses to the very ends of your earth. As Christians, we don't believe that Jesus come and to love our neighbor expired after the first century. We don't believe the promise that our sins are forgiven by his blood expired after the apostles died. And in the same way, we don't believe that the mission that Jesus gave us has changed. He is the same God who said back then, go preach, share love. You see that to you? And to me today your savior Going to shed his blood to rescue you. From your sins has clearly said, go.

Which brings us to reason. Number two,

What else would you do? And share your faith?

One responsibly because some people that, you know, don't go.

You know, people, I've been a lot of people Double digit people, maybe more who don't go to church on a regular basis.

Now, you might say, well that's, I mean a huge deal, right? You also be in a church to be a Christian. You don't have to go to church every Sunday to believe in God. And that's true, right? It's not just, the only saved people are here in this room or in a church on a Sunday morning. But here's what I've seen to be true, 94% of the time. I've seen that when a person loses connection with this,

A regular church service. They very often lose connection with this.

The book that has this unique message of the free forgiveness that Jesus offers us. I've seen that to be true. Like when you're 15, maybe if your parents gave you the choice to come to church or not, you said I'm good. You just don't have a great habit of reading the Bible, even when you didn't go to church.

Yeah, you can it's not impossible but in our busy lives it's really easy to take for granted the connection that we need to this book.

It should be coffee with a guy this week, who said, I've always been spiritual, you know? I still pray. I'm connected. But, you know, something's just missing And I said, well, for sure, Imagine if you texted a friend, Sent the message, and the next day, you texted him again. Sent the message the next day. And just the one way you sending messages to your friend, would you call that a great relationship?

Oh yeah. You need to hear back right? There comes a point where you realize this is not a healthier relationship. In the same way, a person who believes in God and praises to God and asked God for help but doesn't hear the response of God that he shares in this book has a shallow not robust relationship with our heavenly father

Something you can't be saved. But I would contend as we said in the baptism today, that's really hard to believe the amazing things that God promises us through Jesus. And there's a lot of people that you know that just don't go not because they're anti-Jesus or anti-religion or I don't want anything to do with the Bible they just you know got out of the habit.

Something happened. It was busy tournaments on the weekends. They got a new job, moved to a new city and they just never made a good connection. The pastor that they had a close connection with left and they kind of drifted and now. It's been years, sometimes decades and if you just invite them to come with you, You might be shocked at what happens.

I think a passage in Hebrews chapter 10.

It encourages us, lets us consider how we can spur one. Another on towards love and good deeds. Not giving up meetings together a summer in the habit of encouraging one another.

And even the first century they understood, you know sometimes people get in the habit of not meeting together. So what do we do? We encourage people to reconnect. Have a Sunday habit that hopefully leads to a daily connection and conversation with our Heavenly Father.

Step, please, if you remember of this church, don't don't freak yourself out with all the things that Michael wrong.

Convince yourself that you might be the person that God uses for things to go, right?

If I knocked on your brother's door and invited them to church, they would say who are you? I'm a local pastor that wants to share my religion with you, but if you invited someone some that you know, someone that you love someone who trusts you I wouldn't be shocked if they came. Let's do a quiz. How many of you are here at the court today? Not because you just happen to walk by the church and come to the doors or saw some ad on TV, or Facebook. How do you are here? Because someone, you know, invited you to come As a person. I keep for a second.

Was crazier. 25, 30, 40% of the people who come here, come here because of a simple invitation. You have to answer every biblical question. Some people just get out of the habit and God is going to call you and use you for that simple. Next step that reroutes them in the good news of Jesus.

So the question, you share your faith because she's said so because some people don't go

But here, I think it's the most important. Reason, number three

Because some people don't know.


I was thinking of this one, we were singing those songs today. For God. So loved the world that he gave his one and only son to save us that whoever believes in him will live forever. There is someone that you know and love who does not know that.

Like logo the basics of the Christian faith. That we don't get to heaven by being really good people or better than the bad people. That the way you get eternal life is simply through believing in this great gift that God has given us through his son, Jesus.

Yeah, I gotta tell you I'm I shouldn't be shocked by this. But it's almost always shocking to me that when I ask that simple question to people, I do it all the time if today was your day. And you died. And you had to stand before God, and there's everything about you. He knows the highlight reel. The best moments. And those embarrassing moments that you hope no one finds out about if you're standing before. God has asked, you shouldn't I let you into heaven and tell me why.

You know, 82% of people say,

Of this conversation three times I can think of in the last month. All through people had a church connection somewhere in their past and asked for some number one. You think you're going. They said, I think so, I've tried to be a good person. As person number two, they say, I hope. So, I've tried to be a good person. As person number three and they said, yeah, I think I'm in because I've been a pretty good person.

But in our community saturated, saturated with so many churches. So many Christians. We might make the assumption that people understand the basics and have just been challenged by the more advanced parts of Christian theology on just want to show you today is not true. It's not true.

The human heart assumes that just like you have to work a lot in school to get a good grade. And just like you have to work a lot at work to get a good raise. So also we think you have to work a lot for God to get a place in heaven.

But that's not what Christianity teaches. Christianity teaches that all of us. Have fallen short. You might not be the worst person in your family, but neither are you good enough to stand in the presence of God. That the only way for you to get in is that Jesus does everything. If you're not a co-savior, what Jesus Christ, but he 100% finishes, the work of forgiving redeeming, and saving you. This is why the Bible says God, so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him, shall not perish but have eternal life. Maybe some of you didn't know that until this very moment, it's not Jesus plus Is, she's a period.

In fact, I have some homework for you. It's gonna make your poem sweat, but I hope you do it. I want you to ask someone that you assume knows the answer to that. Question that question. Ask your brother, your sister, your cousin, your grandma. If today was your day, do you think you make it to heaven? Listen to what they say.

Yeah, I bet you will be surprised that so many people right here, so many people who have a church background, don't know the very basics that forgiveness is a free gift that comes to the name of Jesus Christ. I think I've actually chapter 16. The apostle Paul has a conversation with this jailer who didn't believe. He says the jailer brought out Paul and Silas these two Christians. And he asked sirs, what must I do to be saved? What do I have to do? How do I fix it? I've been a perfect person. How can I make this up to God? You should answer.

Verified believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved. Period.

Getting right with God and getting a place in heaven, is not something you do. It's something you receive. It's like Jesus starts you on the race, but you got to run the last five km. From start to finish your relationship with God is all about Jesus, period. There are people that, you know, that don't know that And God wants you to tell him. Just God wants them not to wonder not to have to hope not to be looking in the mirror, trying to earn their salvation. But just to rest and rejoice in this free gift that some of us have known since we were really little kids.

So, put that all together.

Persuasive answer. Why should you go and tell your friends and the people, you know, about Jesus? Because he said so Because I might take a simple invitation because some of them don't go. Because I think a massive percentage of them don't even know the simple message of salvation that can save.

If you're not convinced by that, talk to me in the lobby and I'll try again, there more reasons, more passages about only leave it to those three points today. Now before I say, amen, let me make this super practical. Okay? So if you're convinced all right, I guess I am a person that Jesus is sending. How does this work? What do I do? I'm gonna give you some real clear next steps, our grandpa write this down. There's not a blank in your bulletin for this one, but our church is gonna be hosting a huge evangelism event, in five months. It's on March 2nd and third. I want you to write down those dates right now. March second, and third, and it's called everyone outreach.

So you've been coordinated, and we're bringing in some outreach and evangelism experts to help. You kind of see your place. Overcome your objections, and see yourself just like the early apostles did as a messenger of God's love. Now, some of you are thinking March, pastor, I don't know what I'm having for lunch. It took me about March, That's true. If you have kids I mean you're just trying to think of how you're going to get through the service surviving But I know your calendar is going to fill up really quick and there's a really big deal. We don't want to spring like a big weekend event on you at the last minute. It's love for you to put this in your calendar Save the date, reserve that spot, March 2 and 3. We would love to have a hundred. Plus people, We're joining us on this mission, not just to serve our church internally but to reach out to this community that's so desperately needs Jesus.

But last thing I want you to write down if you don't wait five months. Let me give you a really crash course. A quick crash course on outreach and evangelism. What I call outreach 101, if you ask me how I do it. How does this work in real life? Do not condors. Do you stand on street corners like how do we share our faith? Here's my simplest recipe to invest, and invite

I'm actually this past week, I had lunch with our local pastors, kind of new to the Fox Valley. And ask me that question because pastors still ask this question? Like how do you actually do that?

When your brother hasn't gone to church, since your mom, got a divorce and there was some drama with her pastor years ago, like how do you do that? And you live in a culture that says don't talk about politics or religion. You don't like to mess with the friendship, by forcing Jesus into it. Like, how do you, how do you do that? And you're kind of new to the, you know, what's this working real life? The pastor asked me.

It's about that enough. I've been here for nine years in the Fox Valley. I've seen a lot of friends teammates neighbors, a bunch of you here today, kind of connect like, how does this work in real life?

Now, the kind of guy that's always been looking for shortcuts as a Christian, Like, what's the one fit? What's like? The one question that I can, like Jesus Judo flip them, you know, about this, like somehow we just thought, we're talking about the weather in the packers and oh my God, Jesus into there. Like are you like, oh, you got a new bicycle? Interesting. Well, if you crash on that bike and die instead before God do, you know, I look like your friends are looking like, how did that happen? I don't know how we're talking about Jesus. I like, I've always been looking for the Jesus Judo. Flip it really works. It just makes things awkward, but here's what I think does work. When you invest in someone's life,

When you stop trying to share your face with like 70,000 people. And you think about seven people and just love them. Well,

We try to be the best partner, the best employee. The best neighbor. When you actually care about someone enough to ask them questions and listen to their answers and pray for the things that they need.

When you stand out, by the way that you love someone. Jesus said that's letting your light shine in a dark place and show up and you make food and you, you introduce yourself to the next door neighbor. Who doesn't know any of the other neighbors.

You just share a little bit of the love that Jesus has given to you and invest in someone personally.

Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. But things just happen.

Everyone goes through stuff in life where they kind of realize they need something more.

And if you have loved a person, well and they know that you are connected to something more to some one more. Now, you'll be surprised.

You have to Jesus Judo flip, anyone you have to squeeze in like a Bible in their glove box without them looking instead evangelism becomes a much more relational conversation. Just sharing the peace and forgiveness that you have found in a natural and non-pushy way. This is I think the secret sauce to outreach.

Is to avoid shortcuts, and simply do the things that Jesus said to love people. Well, as you have first been loved,

Maybe you're in church and you you think about your brother or your best friend.

And if you have loved him, well, How easy is it to text and say, hey, this is random but I thought of you in the church today, it was at this part of the sermon. Can I share a link with you?

Nothing crammed on your throat about that. Or hey neighbor. I know you're dealing with cancer right now. It's super scary. I just learned that our church is about to launch this whole series of messages about how you move from like panicking and being afraid to place a piece in confidence and I'll still love you if you don't come. But if you want to come, let me know. I'll pick you up.

Yeah, stranger knocks on my door. I think. Who's that? If a friend text me, I say, look at that.

So fun people invest in them. You'll be surprised what a simple invitation can do.

After our first service this morning, a gentleman came up to me. He's the best. I got to share this sermon. I just heard with you, it was about a pastor who said This church will die.

Historically every Christian church has died. You know that The churches we read about in the Bible, the church of the Ephesians and the Colossians and the Philippians, they're all dead, they're literally piles of rocks. Are you inspired? This is the end of the servant, by the way. Now, that's true. Every church even this community just has seasons, you know, where people come and then seasons when people go. And I have no doubt that we will be exactly the same. But right now, Well, God has given us a season. When God has given us an incredible people with incredible, love and incredible connections. Musical talents digital, outreach a partnership with time of grace. This is just like an open window that God has given to this church. That will not last forever. And that's why I want you to join me to join us to say, what we're not going to stop now right now. Don't stop, can't stop, won't stop. We're gonna go and go and go because there's some that I know that doesn't just not go to church that they don't know, the simple message that has changed my whole life. That God is love, and he love me so much. He gave his one and only son. My brothers and my sisters members of our church family and guests ready to go. That's right. Of God, give us courage.

So this idea that somehow and in some ways, it's going to work every time Think that there's some recipe or shortcut or silver bullets. It sounds happened to Jesus, or the apostles. And yet God, if we're persistent and if we're courageous we can see people's family trees changed for the cause of Jesus.

Give us thick skin when we need it, give us a big compassionate hearts. As your word says, help us to be quick, to listen slow, to speak that. We can understand people's stories and their questions and your spirit guides us to give the best answers in the moment.

Father, don't want to be greedy. It's such a gift to be the pastor of this church but man, I know what it would mean when some of my friends would sit here. To hear about your son. In order I mean, to some of the grandparents here today to see their grandson or granddaughter. Singing the praises of their Lord and their savior Jesus. I mean, you have a heart for the people, we love even more. So took out, help us to do what we can in this moment. Bless us with contentment, whatever, the results help us to believe that faith comes from hearing the message and this is the message that we get to preach in Jesus' name. Okay? This all because of your son, our savior who has not changed and all God's people said amen.