Well, if you have your Bible this morning, I'd invite you to take it out and begin to turn it to Genesis chapter 12. I became the pastor of this church 14 years ago, which seems like a really long time ago.
The Bourne Identity and the Harry Potter movie franchises had just begun, if that helps you track time a little bit. It was one of the craziest situations. My wife and I originally were convinced that God had called us to plant a church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Our logic was God and lost people are everywhere, so why not live at the beach? But God made so remarkably clear that the triangle is where we are supposed to be. Since that time, we have grown passionately committed to the triangle. We feel like it is the best, one of the best and most strategic cities in the world to live in.
That is not just our opinion, by the way. Raleigh-Durham, our cityplex here, is the fourth fastest growing city in America. And it is projected by a recent United Nations Census survey to be the fastest growing large city over the next 15 years in America. Actually, just to be clear, it's tied with one other city for fastest growing city for the next 15 years, and that's Charlotte. But Charlotte, North Carolina, will always be inferior to us because we are the state capital. You hear that Spence Shelton Mercy Church, our church plant in Charlotte?
You better recognize that we're the capital. It has been a crazy journey for us for the last 14 years. Fourteen years ago, there were 300 of us who covenanted together to do whatever God had called us to do to prioritize the reaching of lost people.
We were going to put comfort to the second place and we were going to put our preferences second place and just say, what do we got to do to reach the people of the triangle? Shortly after that, God brought college students to our church, which changed the personality of our church forever. I think I've told you the story before, but one week we had five college students show up. The next week we had 500 because college students travel in herds.
I think they all showed up in three cars during that time. Our attendance basically tripled and our weekly giving went up thirteen dollars and forty eight cents. But today is somewhere around 9000 of us gather on the weekends at one of the nine different campuses of the Summit Church here in the Triangle. So I want to spend a few weeks talking about where we are going as a church and what God is doing in us as a community. God has blessed us, Summit Church, and we're going to ask the question of why it is he has blessed us and what he intends for us to do with that blessing.
And I'm going to present that same question over the next few weeks to you personally. I'm going to ask you where and how has God blessed you and what does he intend for you to do with that blessing? We're going to look to the life of Abraham, who is one of the most important figures in human history. It is hard to overestimate Abraham's significance to human civilization.
Think about this. Three major world faiths, which together account for more than half of the world's population, look to Abraham as the father of their faith. So even if you're not a believer, understanding Abraham and his journey is essential to understanding human civilization today. Personally, I love the story of Abraham because Abraham is a guy that life did not just happen to him. Abraham happened to life. He didn't just go with the flow. He stood against family and society and culture and literally redefined the future for all of us.
I like people like that. Abraham was a man who multiplied his life. And in so doing, he gives us a picture of how God wants to multiply us and use each of us in the world. But when Abraham's story begins, he's got nothing. There's a little tragic irony, in fact, in how the writer sets up the life of Abraham. Abraham's name literally means father, but he's 75 years old and he doesn't have any kids. Later on, he's going to lengthen his name to Abraham, which means the father of many.
In other words, Abram means daddy. Abraham means big daddy, but he ain't got no kids. His life is like a cruel joke. He seems to have this destiny written into him, but he's nearing the end of his life and he's got nothing.
It's almost like life is mocking him. I want to convince many of you that you're in the same spot as Abraham. God has destined your life to have eternal significance. And maybe it's not written into the name that people call you, but it's in your heart. You know that God has created you to have an eternal, significantly impact. But many of you look around and you don't see it happening yet. Abraham is going to have to walk a path towards significance and multiplication. And it is the same path that you're going to have to walk also, whether you're young or middle aged or old. I know that many of you yearn for this. You want your life to make a difference.
You don't want to just go through life and feel like it just amounted to nothing. Over the years, one of my favorite stories that really kind of captures this is the account of the crazy flight of a guy named Larry Walters, who lived in California and went out to the Army Navy surplus store and bought 75 used Army weather balloons so that he could, in his own words in this article, so that he could observe the neighborhood from a slightly different perspective. And so on the fateful day, he gets into the lawn chair. He, with the help of a few friends, unties the rope so he can, you know, kind of go up to the altitude where he can see the neighborhood. He takes with him a six pack of beer, a BB gun and a peanut butter sandwich. Two and a half hours later, the Los Angeles International Airport reported an unidentified flying object at 12,547 feet, 300 miles from where he began his journey. Larry Walters, the pilot of the 737 who radioed in what he saw, he says, Well, I'm not quite sure how to report this, but I see what looks like a perfectly steel figure lying in. Is it a lawn chair? I'm not sure. I think he might be dead.
You probably need to send somebody up here and take care of this. By the way, he has a rifle. What his friends tell us he had intended on doing was he thought that when he untied the rope, that he would sort of lazily saunter up to a nice altitude, at which point he would take the BB gun and he would shoot the balloons to keep him at the proper altitude, eat his peanut butter sandwich, drink his beer, have a great afternoon, then pop the other balloons so that he could lower back down and land back down on the ground.
What could possibly go wrong with that plan? His friends say that he didn't lazily saunter up to a nice altitude. They said that when he untied the rope, it looked like he'd been shot out of a cannon. And so he did. At that point, he was so afraid. He didn't want to shoot the balloons because he thought he'd turned himself over. So he did the only thing he knew how to do in a stressful situation, and that is drink beer. And so he passed out because the blood alcohol level, all that deal.
And so that's how he got in the situation he is. Well, and with a rescue stunt that would have made Chuck Norris proud, the Los Angeles International Airport Police sent up a couple of helicopters, somehow managed to lasso Larry and get him into one of the helicopters, get him back down on the tarmac, revive him. The first people to confront Larry were not the reporters who wrote this story, but the police who issued Larry a ticket for the obstruction of airport traffic to the tune of $4,000.
He would later get it plea bargained reduced to $1,500, but that's still awesome. The second group of people to get to Larry were the reporters, and they asked Larry three questions. Question number one is, Larry, were you scared? And Larry said, yes, I was very afraid. Question number two, Larry, would you do it again? And Larry said, no, I would not do it again. That's how we know, by the way, he wasn't from North Carolina.
I ain't scared. I'd do that again. That's exactly what one of our boys would have said. Question number three they asked Larry is, Larry, why did you do it?
Why did you do it? And Larry said, I just got tired of always sitting around. Now, undoubtedly, there are some of the details of that story that have probably grown with internet legend, but the core of the story is true.
I know, I read it in an article on the internet. But I've always thought that what Larry said there captures how many people feel in their lives. They're just tired of sitting around, and they just don't want to get to the end of their life and feel like their life just accounted for paying bills and just kind of recycling everything. And that's the end of all that they did. That's the end of all that they did. You want your life to eternally count.
I know that because that's how I feel. And so Abraham is going to give you a path that shows you what that looks like. Genesis 12, this is where people always start Abram stories, Genesis 12, but it really begins back in Genesis 11.
So scroll back up just a couple of verses and look at Genesis 11. This is the story of the Tower of Babel. The Tower of Babel was a project that symbolized humanity's rejection of God. The building of the tower was their declaration of independence from God, and it represented humanity's wholesale worship of idols.
In other words, spiritually, this was a very dark age. There is one family line that belongs to God, only one, the descendants of Shem. But by the end of chapter 11, they live in a place of idolatry called Ur, and they're just consumed by it, they've compromised to it. The final guy in this line, Terah, has one son, Abram, and Abram is childless. In other words, this looks like the end. Terah's name in Hebrew means literally moon, which was a Hebrew metaphor for the end.
It's like us saying the caboose. Furthermore, in Ur, where they live, people worship the moon. So the fact that Terah is named moon means that his family had succumbed to the idolatrous climate, and they've become idolaters themselves. So as Genesis 11 ends, the last candle seems to be flickering out. The only godly family on earth has capitulated to idolatry, and they aren't having any more kids.
The darkness is about to completely swallow up the light, and there's no hope. Chapter 12, verse 1, Now the Lord said to Abram, Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you, and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great, and you will become a blessing, and in you, Abraham, all the families of the earth shall be blessed. In the midst of this great darkness, God calls a man who barely even knows who God is, and one who is childless to boot, and tells him that he's going to make from him a great nation of people who will worship and follow God, and bless the whole earth with the knowledge of God. That is a promise that you and I inherited, because you see, to make a long story really short, one of Abraham's descendants was Jesus Christ. In fact, you can make the whole Old Testament really short in one sentence, and that is, one of Abraham's descendants would be Jesus Christ, and in Christ, God was going to offer salvation to the whole world, and we who are in Christ are now commissioned to bless the world by taking the news about Jesus to all the families of the world. You see, it's really interesting in Matthew's Gospel, the first Gospel in our New Testament, where it's where we get the clearest expression of the Great Commission, which is the commission of the church to preach the Gospel in all nations. Matthew opens up that Gospel by tracing the family line from Abraham to Jesus. In other words, the Great Commission is an extension of the promise given to Abraham. So Abraham's promise becomes our promise, his command becomes our command, and how he responded to that promise and command serves as a model for how you and I respond to God's promise in our lives. All right, and so Abraham's experience is going to ask you three questions that you need to ask about your own life. Here is question number one, am I really following God? Am I really following God? This is a question about who is really in charge of your life.
Are you in charge that you let God be an influence in your life, and he influences you to do good, not bad, or is God the one who owns your life? Last week, we talked about it as offering a blank check to God, a blank check, which means no restrictions, no limitations. All I am, all I have, all I ever hope to be, I offer without reservation now and forever to you, God, to do whatever you want with it. One of the ways we say it around here is you put your yes on the table and you let God put it on the map. You see, God's command to Abraham, listen to this, was intentionally open-ended.
Go to the land that I will show you later. And Abraham says, where are we going? And God says, don't ask that, I'll tell you that later. And Abraham says to God, will you tell me I'm going to have a kid? How's that going to work?
Because I'm 75, my wife is 60. And God says, I'm not going to answer that either. I love how John Calvin summarized Abraham's interaction with God. He says, God says back to Abraham, just close your eyes and take my hand. I love that statement, just close your eyes and take my hand. But God, what about this, and how's this going to work?
And he says, just close your eyes and take my hand. I see so many people who are unwilling to do this. Because when God starts to work in their lives, as he does in many of your lives, and God begins to call them, they got all these questions.
They would say, well, God, if I surrender everything to you, where are you going to make me go? Am I going to have to become a missionary? Do I have to change careers?
Am I going to have to break up with my boyfriend? What if you tell me to change some part of my life that I don't know how to change or don't want to change yet? God, am I going to become one of those annoying people who puts bumper stickers on their car and tells everybody to have a blessed day and who self-righteously corrects people at Christmas time when they say, happy holidays?
And I say, no, it's merry Christmas. Am I going to become one of those people? God, I don't want to be one of those people. I used to try to answer those questions for people when they would ask me until I realized that it was usually just people wanting to know where God was going to take them before they agreed to follow him. In other words, they wanted to follow God without relinquishing the driver's seat in their life.
And that's an impossibility. God doesn't come to you to say, hey, let me be a good influence, and then you can decide in a minute if you want to follow this. He says, you come and you agree to follow or you don't come at all. He doesn't come to you to serve as an onboard navigation system whose suggestions you can take or leave as you choose.
He comes as the new car owner. Now, shortly after we got married, my wife and I had an argument in our car. That was one of our first marriage fights. And after a few moments of awkward silence, because she disagreed with something that I thought we should do, and after a few moments of awkward silence, I thought of something. I thought, well, this will be cute.
This will relieve the tension. I said, you know, I think our marriage will go a lot better if you'll become like my other favorite woman in the world. She said, who is that? I said, the little British lady that lives in my dashboard.
It's our navigation system. Because when she makes a suggestion to me, and I don't take her suggestion, she doesn't get mad. She just kind of sighs and says, recalculating. I was like, if you would do that with me, you would give me a suggestion. If I don't take it, don't get mad, just recalculate. That was not the greatest thing to say in your marriage.
I would not suggest it. God does not come to give us suggestions and then recalculate based on your response. He comes for total surrender. And we always want to know the what, the where, and the how of God's will, and God says all you need to know is the who. You're asking what and where and how, and God says, I'm not gonna tell you that. I just want you to follow because I'm God.
Just close your eyes and take my hand. Now, let me point out one other thing before I go on to number two, because I'd never seen it before in this passage, and I found it this week, and I wanted to think it really helped, further is what we're talking about. This is a decision you gotta make personally.
Here's why I say that. You go to the end of chapter 11, and what you find, watch this, is that Terah, Abram's father, actually began the journey. He brought the family out from Ur and brought them toward Canaan, where Abraham was gonna go, but he stopped at Harad. It was like the halfway point. And so when Genesis 12 opens, Abraham and God are in conversation, and God is saying, I want you to go, and Abram says, but you know, we've already come halfway.
None of the family wants to go. They like Haran. We wanna stay here. And so literally what God says in Genesis 12, if you transliterate from the Hebrew, what it literally says is, then go yourself out. In other words, get out yourself, is basically what God says to Abraham. The point is, listen to this, at some point, you gotta make your own decision to follow God. It's not enough to be in a Christian family.
It's not enough to be attached to a Christian movement. Here at the Summit Church, because we're trying to do a lot in God's mission, my question for you is, are you personally engaged in it? You see, we did a church survey recently that revealed something really encouraging about our church. The majority of you, the vast majority, are really excited about what we're doing as a church and where we're going, right?
Here was what was less than encouraging. Not nearly as many of you are personally engaged in what we are doing. People love to watch our videos or hear me talk, and they're like, woo-hoo, I love to hear stories about people coming to know Jesus. Yeah, orphan care, prison ministry, mission trips, volunteering.
Man, I sure hope other people will keep doing that so we can keep these stories coming. God does not reward you for associating with the right group. You can't piggyback on our engagement in the mission.
You have to do it yourself. Movements by definition move, and if you're not moving personally, you're not part of the movement even if you sit here every week. Are you engaged in the mission because the choice to multiply your life is a personal choice that you have to make and act on. Number two, second question presented to Abraham is what is your security?
Where is my security? You see, God was not calling Abraham to make God a part of his life or to add a few tweaks to his morality. He was calling him to a whole new basis of security in life. You can see that in what he asked Abraham to leave. In those days, your family connections and your land, that was everything. It'd be the equivalent of God asking us to renounce our education, walk away from our career and walk away from our extended family.
The question that it presents to you is are you willing to put everything on the table, even those most precious things to you? Our former missions pastor was a guy named Kurt Allen. He and his wife, Hillary, rewind the clock about 10 years ago.
They sat here as a, this is called a normal triangle family. They had two kids and they were, he had a great job in a large company with a lot of room to continue to grow. He was an executive, he was making a lot of money. When God began to do the unthinkable with him here at our church, began to put on his heart all these unreached people groups around the world that had never heard the gospel. And he said, this sounded crazy.
You might as well have told me that I needed to raise billy goats in my backyard or that's probably not that much of a stretch for some of you, but I had to raise wild elephants in my backyard. He said, it just sounded crazy to me. He said, so my wife and I are wrestling with this and Hillary, his wife, would later write a book called Scent, which we sell here at the church.
It's a great book about their story. And she says that it all came to a head. She said in one sermon at the Summit Church, this is our pastor, she was talking about me was preaching and he did some at the end of the sermon that I thought was really cheesy, which offended me that she said that, but it just transformed our lives. She said at the end of the service, he said he had the whole church, I had the whole church take their hands and extend them like this. And in their mind, they put in their hands that thing, which was most precious and most important to him, which they held onto for security, to put it in their mind into their hands. And she said, for me, I knew it was my husband and my children. That was my whole life. For Kurt, for her husband, he's putting his career in there.
It's not that he doesn't love his wife and kids, but for him, his ability to take care of his family, that's kind of what was most important. And he said, I asked them to take their hands and to clasp them around that object, symbolic of how tightly they hold onto it is how important it is. She said, now, then I said, imagine Jesus coming to you and asking you to unclasp your hands and your control on that thing. And she said that when I said that, she said, I couldn't unclasp my hands, I just started to squeeze tighter because I couldn't imagine ever letting go. And she said, I must have squeezed it tight, that there was no more blood left in my hands. She said, and right then at the very end, I just forced myself and said, okay, God, you can control this and even this is on the table. Everything I am, everything I have, everything I hope to be, I'm gonna put under your full and complete discretion.
And Kurt did that with his career and she said that's when God began to just dramatically change our lives to take us into people who begin to bless the world through what we were doing and following him. Have you ever opened your hands on everything in your life? Have you given God surrender of those things that you hold onto for security?
Here's how you know what you hold onto for security. It's that area that you won't obey God in. It's that area where you say, no, God, you're not allowed to talk about that.
No, God, don't give me suggestions here. No, God, you can't say anything there because I've got this and I'm not going to let you touch it. Is he the basis of your security and do you show that by your obedience? Number three, have I offered my blessing back to God to be multiplied for his kingdom? Have you offered your blessings back to God to be multiplied for his kingdom?
Because you see, becoming a Christ follower means viewing everything in your life as something given to you by God to be multiplied for his kingdom. There's a key passage we're going to go in and out of for the next several weeks, the 2 Corinthians 9, verse 10, where the apostle Paul says, the one who supplies seed to the sower, God, will supply and multiply your seed for sowing. Question, listen, according to that verse, why has God multiplied and increased your seed? There's one reason.
What is it? It is for sowing, that's right. For why does God increase your capacity?
It is to give you a larger reach to be able to impact and bless the world with the blessing of Abraham, that's why. You see, there's two things you can do with a seed. Most seeds. Most seeds you can grind up for food. Think grain, that's how you make bread. You take the seed and you grind it up and you produce bread. Or you can take that seed and you can plant it in the ground and it produces more bread. Why does God increase the seed that he gives you?
Is it so that you can just create more bread? No, it is so that you can multiply what he's given you so that it can feed the world with the blessing of salvation. God is a rich giver. God loves for you to benefit from what he gives you.
But listen to this. God has not blessed you and increased you so that you could increase your standard of living. He's blessed and increased you so that you could increase your standard of giving. That's exactly what Paul says there. Now I know some of you are like, wait a minute, JD, I'm not really blessed. Financially, I'm really struggling and my life is filled with all kinds of difficulty.
I don't care who you are. God has put things in your life that he intends for you to multiply. The woman that Jesus told the story about who has only had two mites to her name, two mites means two eighths of a penny. She brings that to God and she says, God, here it is. You're gonna multiply it. And Jesus said she gave more than all the rich people combined because she'd just taken what she had and said, God, it all belongs to you.
How do you wanna multiply it? If God has put pain in your life, God intends for you to multiply the blessing that comes through that pain by turning it into testimony of God's goodness and his faithfulness in the time of trial. You see, what it means to be a Christ follower is you say, God, if you give me prosperity, I'll leverage that prosperity for the advance of your kingdom.
And if you give me pain, then I'll turn my pain into a testimony of your goodness and faithfulness in the worst situations in life. In the Christian life, nothing is wasted. Everything that God gives to you can be multiplied for his kingdom. And Paul says that's what God is doing in your life. And when you do that, when you begin to multiply it, it will increase the harvest, he says, of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be, say the word together, generous in every way, which through us is going to produce thanksgiving to God.
Because you give yourself to be multiplied, listen to this, other people will start to thank and worship God because of what you did. Summit Church, did you know that in the last three weeks, our church has baptized 340 people here in the triangle? 340 people.
I feel like you probably should celebrate that. There are 340 people that are beginning to thank God, many of them for the first time, because you enlarged your capacity to be able to reach people. I got the coolest letter from a family a week or so ago. I'm telling you that their whole family got baptized. The dad, the wife, the kids, they said God has been working in our life through the Summit Church here. He's transformed our lives. He's put our family back together. He's healed some old wounds.
He is just doing this. He is giving thanks to God because you have enlarged your capacities. Our missions pastor told me this weekend that, listen to this, in the last six months, church planting teams that we've sent overseas have planted 30, no, excuse me, 20 churches in the last six months that have baptized over 400 people. Many of those in people groups where prior to our being there, there was not a single believer.
He told me about one of them in Central Asia specifically that in the last six months has baptized 38 new believers, and prior to the Summit Church team going there, there was not a single believer in the entire people group. There are people this morning, listen, worshiping with us together on the other side of the world who are learning to thank God for his salvation and for the blessing of Abraham because you took what God gave you and you multiplied it. You see, God puts in front of Abraham, God puts in front of Abraham a very stark choice. It is a choice that he puts in front of you, and that choice is this, hold on to what you have and you will end up empty. Offer it without restriction to me and you'll be filled, both you and the world around you.
If you wanna live a nice, tidy, safe life without ever leaving your comfort zone, you're not gonna be of much use to anybody. But if you will open your hands on all of it to God, he will use it beyond your wildest expectations. Now, I told you that there were two major points of application for this. One of them is to you personally. The other one is to us at our church, as a church. So our team has put together an incredible presentation of kind of where God has brought us and the opportunities he's put in front of us to multiply.
So check it out. Since the beginning of our church, our mission has always been about people. We remember that we, the local church, are God's plan A to reach our community and our world. We do this through gospel saturated lifestyle, remembering that Jesus achieved everything we need on our behalf. We are now set free to serve him and our neighbors out of gratitude, not out of obligation.
Together we are in an army. Each member of our body is empowered and released from ministry. We are a group sent out in relationship with one another, seeking opportunities to demonstrate the same love that Christ has first given us. And because of this great love displayed in Christ, we can live sufficiently while given extravagantly, using the resources we've been given to serve others as Jesus came to serve us. We are grateful for all that God has done and continues to do at the Summit Church. Lives have been changed forever through the power of the gospel. We are overwhelmed with what the Lord has done for us and in us, and we long for what he has in store for our future. When we relaunched our church as the Summit Church in 2002, we had 300 people committed to putting everything on the table before God and just asking, what would God do through us?
Here we are, almost 14 years later, and there's more than a few hundred of us. In fact, since that relaunch, we've seen over 4,000 people baptized. Just a couple of years ago, we had more than 11,000 people worship together at the Durham Bulls ballpark, whose lives have been changed by the gospel, giving up everything to follow Christ. Every weekend, we see around 10,000 people that gather in one of our different campuses to worship and proclaim the glory of Jesus Christ. Many of these people we've sent out from our church to plant new churches, some of them here in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Cary. Others we've sent throughout our country, from Denver to Richmond, to Washington, D.C., to Baltimore, Boston, New York, and really everywhere in between. We've also sent out many of our members to reach the nations. We now have 92 church plants outside of the United States with more than 200 of our current summit members that are living and serving on one of those overseas teams.
These are, by the way, some of the most remote and most unreached places on the planet. There's a lot for us to celebrate from our past, but we need to look ahead at what God is going to do in the future, and we need to ask, what's next? Our God is a God of the present, and He is a God of the future. And so, this fall, we're coming to God again, and we're gonna put everything on the table before Him again, and we're gonna ask, what does He want to do through us in the days to come? You see, our God multiplies everything that we give back to Him for His purposes.
Here's how the apostle Paul said it in 2 Corinthians. He, God, who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, He's gonna supply and multiply the seed He's given to us for sowing, and by so doing, He will increase the harvest of our righteousness. Paul tells us we will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which our generosity is gonna produce thanksgiving to God from other people.
That's why we're calling this new season, Multiply. This is how the kingdom of God works. God generously gives to us everything that we have, including our very lives. Then when we give it back to Him, He takes that seed, like a seed, and He multiplies it, not so He can just enrich us, but so that His kingdom can be enriched in every way, and we, by His grace, get to partake in that.
We get to be a part of that. I've been in prison about going on six years. It's many nights that I close my eyes, and I even prayed the prayer that, you know, I don't really want to wake up because there's nothing to live for.
Life didn't have a value on it then. I thought that nobody could ever accept me for who I was and what I've done, but God gave me a second chance, and He did that through regular people here at the Summit Church. That's when I think my life took a shift and began to change for the better. I seen people coming in that didn't judge me. Man, they accepted me first. I met my sponsor there, you know, and him and his family and his wife embraced me.
I honestly can't say where I'll be at if God wanted to intervene through my sponsor, Kerri and his wife, Melinda. God died in my place for me, and now I know what the meaning of that really means, you know. I was sitting at the table, and I opened my son's Bible, and I was just kind of looking through it, and at the bottom of one of the pages, he wrote, one time I went to Baltimore on a missions trip, and it helped me see Christ, and we were just blown away by that.
What more could we want for them than for them to be sent out by the church where we serve and the church that we love, and to see Christ there. It was awesome to see that. And then I came to Summit Church on Saturday, four o'clock service.
I remember JD said, Christo, no hay nada que yo pasar para que dios me hame más, y nada lo que hay hecho para que dios me hame mejos. And I was like, oh my gosh. I start crying. In that moment, I feel like a, like I confess my sin to God, and I ask God to be my savior. My wife and I decided to start with adopting and being a foster family before we had biological children. There are many factors, but I think the primary motivation for us was just a response to the gospel.
You know, adoption care and orphan care is not easy. It's sacrificial. You know, we really see things that we're doing as a response to what God has done.
God calls us to live sacrificially and to lay our lives down like He laid them down for us. During this season, we hope to multiply in two primary ways, multiply deep and multiply wide. We wanna multiply deep by seeing individuals and families grow deeper in discipleship during the season.
For multiply deep, we are setting a financial goal of $30 million over the next two years. Multiply deep is gonna allow us really to be the church in four primary areas. First, in our adult discipleship, small groups and other ministries for people at all life stages. Second, through our family ministries where we disciple and minister to our children, our middle school students, high school, college students. Third, through the weekend worship experience itself as we gather to hear the word of God and to celebrate God's grace together through worship in one body of people that comes together to glorify Him together. And fourth, through our supportive ministries, and by that I mean the finance facilities, the human resource teams who do the incredible work behind the scenes to mobilize and catalyze ministry and discipleship efforts at every single campus of the Summit Church.
The other part of multiply is multiply wide. We wanna multiply wider by reaching people in our community that don't yet know God or His love. We're setting a multiply wide goal of $20 million. 12 million of that will expand our capacity to reach Raleigh-Durham through several new opportunities.
Not because we wanna make a name for ourselves or build an empire, but because most of our neighbors, our coworkers, many of our friends still don't know the eternally transforming and saving gospel of Jesus Christ. First, we're planning to build a new 1800 seat campus to serve as a broadcast facility in Western Wake County, which is the fastest growing area and the most diverse area of the Triangle. Also, we plan to build a new 900 seat campus in the Apex area so that the Cary campus can reach Cary, Apex, Holly Springs, and the southern part of Wake County. We're also looking at purchasing land so that our North Durham campus can have a permanent facility and a permanent home there in North Durham.
We are launching a new campus as well in Alamance County, as well as a summit campus in the Wake Correctional Facility. The other $8 million of multiply wide is gonna go to mission efforts outside of the Summit Church and beyond Raleigh-Durham, to our church planting efforts throughout North America and really throughout the whole world. We hope at God's grace to send 75 more of our members to live overseas and to plant another 90 new churches. We're also planning to send out at least 150 people to 12 new North American church plants.
Additionally, we wanna connect a thousand new people to serve on local outreach teams right here at the Triangle. So altogether, that means we've set a goal to raise $50 million in the next two years. This is a one fund initiative, meaning all of our giving goes toward everything we do as a church. It's all one mission.
So it's all one budget. But that goal, that $50 million goal is only our secondary goal. You see, our primary goal, my primary goal as your pastor, is for every single one of us at the Summit Church to go before God and have a life-changing encounter with Him as it relates to our generosity. God, He doesn't need our money. God is not after our bank account.
God's got all the money and the resources He could ever need. What God is after is us putting Him first in our hearts and in our priorities, which certainly would include our finances. Summit Church, this has never been about us.
It's never been about what we want to do or thought that we could accomplish. It's about what He wants to do and what He can do in us and through us. For the past 14 years, we have operated according to two basic principles. Number one, do whatever it takes to reach people. And number two, follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
Everything that we have done has been an attempt to pursue those two things. Summit Church, I believe that God is calling us forward again in pursuit of those things, challenging us to take what He's given to us, that seed, and to allow Him to multiply it beyond anything we could ever have hoped or imagined. And by God's grace, I know that we're gonna see a work that produces thanksgiving in others as Christ's power works within us to accomplish amazing things, mind-blowing things, eternally significant things by Him and for Him and to Him and through Him for the glory of His name in this church, in this community, and around the world forever. Amen.
Don't you think that's exciting? You put your hands together, celebrate. Summit Church, we believe that some of the greatest days and some of the most exciting opportunities God has put right in front of us. Let me take my last just four or five minutes here to explain to you why it is that we're doing this. We do it for one very simple reason. God has blessed us as a church and with that blessing comes the responsibility for us to multiply it and use it so that more people can begin to rejoice in God's grace and we can extend the promise and the blessings of salvation. We live in a very strategic place and God has placed us here at this time for a purpose and we want to be faithful in our response to that. To those of you who might say, I just don't like it when churches talk about anything that has to do with money. I don't judge you for saying that.
Honestly, if I were in your place, I might be saying the same thing. What I want to explain to you is that what I'm going to teach over the next few weeks is not primarily about money. It is about us responding with our whole lives, our time, our treasure and our talents and saying, God, it all belongs to you and I want it to be multiplied for you. I trust you with it. You're the owner of it.
What do you want to do with it? That's what the next few weeks are going to be about. It's going to ask three of the most important discipleship questions to you. Are you really surrendered to and following Jesus?
Is he really your trust so that you can do whatever he tells you to do and are you using what he has given you for the purposes of his kingdom and not your own? Here's why I say it's not primarily about money. I tell you guys this all the time. Listen, it's because God doesn't really need our money. God is not in heaven with all these plans that he just wants to get done but we need to spot him a few dollars so that he can get what he needs done on earth.
God has never needed money from us. That's not what it's about. What God does is he takes his people, he turns them into disciples who live for his kingdom and trust him and follow him and he uses them to multiply their effect throughout the world.
That's what God wants to do with us. That's why in the video I talked about the primary goal and the secondary goal. The secondary goal is that we get the resources we need to go where we feel like God is telling us to go. The primary goal is that every single person that is a part of the Summit Church would take a gigantic step forward in being surrendering to God and in trusting him and in multiplying what God has given him for the kingdom and how they engage in the mission.
That's the primary goal. In fact, here's the way I've said it to certain people. If there is a bazillionaire in the audience right now who walks up to me as soon as the service is over and says to me, hey, you know what, man, I just really love what you're doing. I'm in a place I can take care of all your financial need. I can do it for the next 10 years.
Here's a check right now for $50 million for the next two years. If somebody did that, we would still do what we are about to do together as a church and go through this because we would have met our secondary goal but not our primary goal. Our primary goal is not meeting some financial need that God has. Our primary goal is that every single one of us would learn to respond as disciples by using the seed that he's given to us for sowing. To those of you who might say, well, you know, I feel like we've done this before.
A few years ago, we did the whole all-in thing and man, I'm engaged now and I'm giving. Why are you yelling at us about it again? Are you yelling to us again? Listen, the last time we did this, think about this. The last time we did this, 3,400 new families began to give to the ministries of the kingdom of God for the very first time the last time we did this.
Since that time, we've added somewhere around 3,000 people in average weekly attendance since we began that. So if you are already engaged, won't you be excited to have that new group join us? Shouldn't we give them that opportunity? And if you have been here for a while and you're already engaged, will you let God do what I'm asking my family to do, what I'm leading my family to do, will you let God really challenge you again to reevaluate whether you are following him, whether you're trusting him, whether you really are living for his kingdom? Let me tell you my experience with this, and I say this gently but 100% accurately. People who have honestly sought the will of God about this part of their lives, who've honestly sought the will and are really surrendered, they never mind when we talk about this. It's people who are not surrendered to God and don't really trust God, they're the ones who get really uptight about it. I always think of it like you got two guys that are supposed to be digging a ditch and one of them's down in the ditch digging and the other one's sitting on the side drinking lemonade and the foreman yells at him, hey, you guys get back to work. The guy who's in the ditch never minds you saying that. It's the guy who's up there drinking lemonade, he's the one that gets all offended.
The guy down in the ditch is like thank you because I'm tired of being out here by myself. I realize that it's never comfortable to call you to sacrifice. It's not comfortable for you, it's not comfortable for me, but listen, Jesus said if you wanna follow me, you gotta pick up your cross daily.
It's not something you do one time, it's something you gotta do daily. Paul said you're gonna become a living sacrifice. Here's the deal with living sacrifices, that's the catch 22. Sacrifices are usually dead. If a sacrifice is living, it tries to keep getting off the altar. And so what we do is we tend to try to angle our lives toward the pursuit of comfort and God says, if you're gonna follow me, the pursuit is the cross daily, I want you to pick up your cross.
So it's something that we've got to continually call ourselves to to say, God, what you've given me is not being given to me for me alone, it's being given to me for the purposes of blessing the world through the extension of your kingdom. If you're somebody who says, well, I just feel like churches should never talk about this. Let me ask you an honest question.
I mean, be honest with yourself. How do you think the mission goes forward? How did you hear the gospel? You probably heard it from somebody like me in a church or you heard it through somebody that was trained by the church. We always say, you see, you don't give to the church, you give through the church to the mission. Again, I say this gently and humbly, but I would guess that if you think the church should never say anything about this and should never say anything about your role in the mission it's probably not a real objection on your part, it's probably just a smokescreen for you not wanting anybody including God to challenge you at the point where you're least surrendered and the point of your greatest idol. Will you let God have free reign to speak to you here for the next several weeks or are you gonna walk out of here and close your heart to him? Summit, I believe that what we're about to go through is gonna change us as a church.
Not only is it gonna extend our impact in reaching our city, it's gonna change us as a people. We have a chance to revolutionize this city for the gospel and God's already beginning to do it. We have a chance for God to teach us again what it really means for us to follow him, for what it means to live with reckless abandon and to have our lives make an eternal difference. I wanna challenge you as just a follower of Jesus. Again, this is not about the church as much as it is about you, saying God, here is who I am, here's what I have. I don't answer to the pastor, I don't answer to the summit church, I answer to you. And so what do you want from me and how do you wanna multiply me? Why did you give me what you've given me and how have you blessed me and what am I supposed to do with that? Let me give you just real quick a couple specific things I wanna ask for the next several weeks. I would like to ask that if you're a part of our church that you be here every single week for the next month.
Here's why I say that. Listen, you're my culture, I'm part of you, I'm just like you. Our habit is you come a couple weeks and you take a week off, you need a break. Then you come a week, then you take a couple weeks off. And that's just kind of what we do, all right?
I'm not judging. But for the next month, I'd love for you to be here every single week, not because I think the sermons are gonna be particularly spectacular, but because God is doing something, he's speaking to us as a church. And I want you to be here to experience that and I don't want you to miss anything in the progression of how things unfold. So I wanna ask you, make the exception, and I want you just to say, I'm gonna be here for the next month. It's gonna culminate on November 21st and 22nd, something we are calling Commitment Weekend, where we as a church are gonna respond together and we're gonna say, yes, Lord, we are here, we know that you're doing something in us and we're ready to respond and say, we're willing to go where you are gonna lead us, we're going to follow. Are you willing to pray this prayer for the next five weeks? God, multiply me. God, I'm ready to follow wherever you lead. Let me conclude by telling you why it is, why we can have the confidence to do this.
Here's why, listen. What Abraham was asked to do in Genesis 12 and did imperfectly, he faltered. You're gonna see him stumble a lot and fall on his face a lot. What he did imperfectly, Jesus would come one day and do perfectly. You see, Jesus Christ was asked to go out alone, leaving his Father's house, a place of real security, and go into the unknown. And Jesus did so gladly for you.
Jesus became utterly homeless, utterly fatherless, so that you could have a permanent home, a real home in a heavenly Father. When you understand that the one calling you to follow is the one who left everything for you, see, then you'll have the motivation and the courage to leave it all for him. You can find that you can let go of your little securities for him because you have ultimate security in him. You can say, as I often tell you to say, in Christ, I can give up all that I have because in Christ, I have the promise of all that I'll ever need.
Christ's sacrifice for you will become the motivation for you sacrificing for him, and your security in him will become your confidence to risk everything that he asked in his name for him. Are you willing to pray that prayer? God, multiply me, I'm ready to follow you wherever you'll lead.
Why don't you bow your heads if you would? Here's how I want us to respond today. A lot of times we respond by singing praise back to God, but today we're gonna respond at least at first by just praying, by offering ourselves to God. Are you willing to pray that? God, multiply me, I'm ready to follow wherever you lead. God, multiply me, I'm ready to follow wherever you lead.
I want you just to take a moment to process this and pray, and say, God, give me the courage. Multiply faith in me so that I can multiply wide in the world. And in just a second, you keep your heads bowed, your campus pastor's gonna come and he's gonna lead you. As you continue, we're just gonna continue to pray about how God is going to multiply our church and its ministries and our community. But you take a minute and say this verse, God, multiply faith in me. Multiply a love of the gospel in me, and your campus pastor will come.
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