14th Anniversary Celebration

September 12, 2023

If you are new this morning, usually we would teach through a passage of Scripture, but today we are going to reflect on the Lord’s provision in our church family, cast some vision for where we are going as a church family and celebrate baptism!

Our church in Austin started with 17 adults sitting in our living room, probably had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.  Many of those people have moved on to serve the Lord in other churches around the world but we still have a few with us from the very beginning.  (Rhesa / Geraline / Jessie / Holly).  We all rallied around this vision:

North Village Church is a family who places Jesus at the center of our lives so that it moves us to chase after every man, woman, and child in Greater Austin to experience the life-transforming power of Jesus Christ.

That’s our vision.  We want to see the city of Austin transformed for His glory.  I know that’s a long vision, a big vision but if I had to whittle those 39 words down to just a few words we would say the most important is Jesus.

We love Jesus!  We love obeying Jesus, we love reading God’s Word about Jesus, we love thinking about Jesus, we love talking to Jesus, we love Jesus because Jesus is eternal God in the flesh.

Listen to me, that’s never going to change.  Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary.  Jesus lived a perfect life on earth, laid down His life at the cross for our sin.

And then Jesus did the unthinkable, Jesus validated all His claims on earth by resurrecting from the dead and ascending to the Father and the Spirit where He intercedes on our behalf today, as our advocate, where one day, He will return as King of Kings and Lord of Lords and make all things new.

We not only love Jesus.  It’s because of Jesus that we love people.  People are made in the image of God.  People are fearfully and wonderfully made.

We love people inside our church in north Austin and outside our church family.  We love people who agree and disagree with us.  We love people who vote Republican, Democrat and even Libertarians.

And this is key, Jesus has come to invite all people to live in His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, which means we are all learning to turn from brokenness of our day, the despair of our day to live in His Kingdom and invite others to live in His Kingdom.  That’s why we exist as a bible believing church in Austin.

We’re not interested in political arguments.  We’re not interested in creating self-help groups.  We’re not interested in religious habits.  We are solely interested in learning what it looks like to live in His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

To help us accomplish that goal we focus on three areas every three and we rotate through those areas; Jesus, Community and Church Family, and the last 12 months we have been focused on our relationships with one another as we “Build and Belong at North Village Church.”  Hasn’t that been good?

As elders we noticed there was a coldness in our church family, a lack of relational depth, a distance from one another, so we asked the Lord to help us make three commitments:

Sharing a meal together.  Last year we prayed for men, women and children to lean into our relationships with one another through getting coffee, going for a walk, play-dates, share food and based on the data you provided we saw 22 of people tell us they responded to this commitment.  Praise God!

Listen to me, this might sound simple but for this to happen we had to break through some fears that were built up through the pandemic.  We had to break through some fears of anxiety, fears of rejection, fears of insecurity and we know we haven’t arrived in relational depth but by God’s grace we have made some growth in this area.

We also wanted to grow in our understanding of Spiritual Gifts.  We provided a class last fall on spiritual gifts.  We taught through 1 Corinthians on spiritual gifts.  We encourage people to learn their spiritual gifts and based on the data you provided we saw 39 people participate in spiritual gifts.

The top 3 spiritual gifts in our church family were Discernment, Leadership, Administration and the bottom 3 spiritual gifts were Exhortation, Mercy, and Prophecy,  so we can rejoice where we are in our spiritual gifts and pray for where we are weak as a church family.

We need everyone utilizing their gifts in our church family weekly, so if you don’t see that happening, please talk to us about what that might look like practically.

We also wanted to be open to where there might be some unresolved conflict in our relationships with one another.

We didn’t know of any hardships toward one another but in light of all the transition in our church family we wanted to do our best to come before the Lord with clear hearts and clean conscience, so that based on the data you provided we saw 19 people participate in seeking peace with one another.  Praise God!

This doesn’t mean we are all 100% with one another.  That’s not going to happen till heaven.  But it means we are trying to build trust with one another.  We aren’t giving up on one another.  We aren’t shutting down on one another and by grace through faith we will keep working in that direction.

These last 12-months have been a lot.  I am especially proud of how our church in Austin has faced adversity over the last 12-months.  It’s easy to give into despair, it’s easy to waffle, it’s easy to become faint hearted; but by God’s grace I think we are building something special here.  Let’s look at where we are going.

The focus of our next year is our relationship with Jesus and more importantly, who we have in Jesus, so that we might be emboldened in our walk with Jesus.

This summer I was talking with Roberto Moctezuma and he was sharing stories of praying for people in the work place.  I said, “Oh, you pray for them right there at work?”  Roberto said, “Yeah.”  I said, “Do they get uncomfortable?” He said, “I have them pray first!”  That’s bold!  Roberto said, “If they have expressed any type of faith in Jesus, I have them get started and I pray for them” and it’s led to many conversations.

Listen, we don’t all need to do that in the work place but isn’t there something in you that resonates with that type of boldness in our faith?  How does that happen?  How do we break free from this grip of being worried about what people think?  This is our key verse for the next 12-months:

Joshua 24:15, “15 If it is disagreeable / undesirable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Our culture might not be interested in Jesus.  Our media might make fun of people who follow Jesus.  Our children might not have the same influences in life for Jesus that some of us had growing up.  We’re still going to follow Jesus!

I remember when I was working with a pastor in Germany who had an American family come to him one day and say, “We need to move back to the United States.”

He said, “Why?”  They said, “It’s too hard to raise children to follow Jesus in Germany.  We need to move home where it’s easier.”  He said, “OK but I am raising my children to follow Jesus in Germany and somehow the Spirit of God needs to work in Germany also!”

Austin isn’t easy to follow Jesus.  AISD doesn’t make it easy to follow Jesus.  Work place doesn’t make it easy to follow Jesus.  That’s okay!  We’re still going to follow Jesus!

How does that happen?  How do we become bold in our faith?  Do we just tell one another to be bold?  This is why we are asking the Lord to help our church family grow in three specific commitments over the next 12-months:

Imbedded in Scripture through scripture memory.  When we know God’s Word, we are strengthened in God’s Word. Therefore, we are inviting our church in north Austin to commit to memorizing 12 key verses; one verse a month starting in October.  You can click on the QR to see more details but we are inviting our non-denominational church in Austin to memorize God’s Word together.

Won’t that be fun?  I am horrible at memorizing everything but the Scripture I have tried to memorize sticks with me, even parts stick with me, and we are going to do this together.

In addition, we are asking the Lord to help us increase in prayer.  The more we talk to the Lord, the more we know the Lord, the stronger we are in the Lord.

Therefore, we are asking everyone to take “one step more” in prayer.  If you don’t pray, start praying.  If you pray for 10 seconds, pray for 20.  If you pray for 3 minutes every day, pray for 6 minutes every day.

If you don’t like praying out loud, try praying out loud.  If you don’t like praying quietly, try praying in silence.  If you’ve never gone to the back for prayer, start going to the back for prayer.  We just want to stretch our church family in prayer, so that our boldness and courage isn’t coming from a made-up bravado to be courageous but our boldness and courage is coming from our communion with the Lord.

Lastly, invested in people. The more we are known by others and know about others, the more confident we will be in the Lord.  The more we walk through the day with the army of the Lord, the bolder we are in the Lord.

Therefore, we are inviting our church in north Austin to commit to a specific group of men or women for the fall and spring.  The focus of the group isn’t about observation.  It’s about experiencing our faith in Jesus.  It’s about moving the needle of our faith in Jesus.  It’s about sitting eye-to-eye with others brothers and sisters and helping to cement our faith in Jesus.

I am going to guess there are some of us who are thinking, “I need a specific group of people, at a specific time, and a specific date for this to work for my schedule.”  That’s not going to work.

It’s called INVEST in people.  There has to be flexibility.  There has to be sacrifice.  There has to be intentionality.  Therefore, if you aren’t in a group this fall, then you need to ask yourself, “Am I hanging on to MY schedule, My comfort, My routine too tightly?”

For those who are new to our church family in the last couple of months, we are hoping to launch a NEWCOMERS GROUP so you can move closer in relationship with people while you get to know North Village Church, so be on the look-out for those invites.

This is the big picture for our church family on where we are going but we also want to address our current reality.

In May we gave an update on where we are as a church, we asked everyone to respond, everyone was generally optimistic and committed to navigate this season together, which was incredibly encouraging.

As a result, we launched BRAINSTORMING MEETINGS IN July, so I wanted to invite our elders to come up and give an update on where we are in those meetings.

Roberto and Kids Village.

Dustin and Community Service.

Jac and Marketing.

Rhesa and Youth Village.

Our worship leader, Jas, is out for September for work, but Jas hosted a brainstorming meeting over worship and said, “Everyone was encouraged and invested.

She had people show up, a number of ideas and suggestions come forward but our overall view of our worship team is keep running!  We’re so proud of what they have accomplished in the last 6-months.

It’s possible you might be thinking, “How does all this happen financially?”  It happens through the people of North Village giving cheerfully, willfully and sacrificially:

We have navigated a lot of transition these last 12-months, so that our elders in conjunction with our financial team are taking a big step of faith this next year.

We could pull back and play it safe but we wanted to take a bold step, so that we anticipate having to lean on our savings this next year, so in the coming weeks you are going to see us presenting financial numbers that are desperate for the Lord to show up, so we would ask you to be praying now, “What does it look like for me to be financially involved at North Village Church?”

I think it’s possible, in light of all the transition, there could be a “wait and see” still lingering in our church family.  Wait and see what happens with children’s ministry.  Wait and see what happens with our worship team.  Wait and see what happens with our budget but for the Lord to lead us through this transition there really needs to be a “go and do.”

We’ve spent enough time sitting on the sidelines.  Let’s “go and do.”  Like Jack in the Titanic.  You jump, I jump.  If there is any part of you; relationally, financially, spiritually, emotionally, physically that is wanting to stand on the sidelines then we ask you to ask the Lord, “Help me to go all in” so that the Lord is moving through you during this season of our church in Austin.

Baptism:  Next, we’re going to move into a celebration of baptism.  Baptism is simply a way to publicly profess our faith in Jesus.

Listen to me, baptism doesn’t begin our relationship with God.  Our relationship with God begins by grace as a gift of faith in the life, death, resurrection of Jesus, so that water baptism is simply a means to celebrate our belief in Jesus.

Therefore, I want to invite Avery, Miguel, and Ben to the front of the stage for us to celebrate this morning.