Lakeside Vision Sunday

Dr. Jon Morrissette - 2/2/2020

We’ve been working our way through the Book of Mark story by story. This morning we’re taking a break. Once a year we set aside a Sunday to talk about Lakeside—who we are, where we’ve been, where we’re headed. In the back of VISION booklet there is a place to take notes this morning. At the very end of the service, we ask our members to stay behind and affirm our slate of leaders for 2020. Let’s take a look at these three questions.

First, WHO ARE WE AS A CHURCH? Lakeside is guided by 3 missional imperatives. 

Non-Negotiable #1: We Exist to Help People Find God. In Mark 2 news circulates that Jesus was at home, in Capernaum. So many people gather together there was no room left—not in the house, not even in the doorway. When some men hear Jesus is home, they carry their friend who was paralyzed (from birth? An accident?) to see Jesus. They are so determined to get to Jesus they literally “wreck the roof” of the house to lower their friend before Jesus. This should be the ETHOS of every church! 

I visited a church last year that had this FAQ on their website. It read, “Can I attend if I’m ______.” Fill in the blank with whatever fear you have about not being accepted: divorced, a single parent, broke, an addict, biracial, a skeptic. Everyone is welcome. When I first visited their website the list was longer; but by the time I visited it was shorted. The original list included LGBTQ, but it stirred up so much controversy they removed it! Of course, the Bible answer is “EVERYONE” is welcome. 

Jesus greatly expanded the list of who was welcome into the Kingdom. Jew & Gentile. Male and Female. Free and Slave. Those vile tax collectors, who did Rome’s bidding. Those immoral impure adulterous gluttonous drunk carousing “sinners.” The emotionally, mentally, and spiritually unstable demon-possessed. Those highly contagious/ chronically sick outcasts (A.K.A. lepers). Jesus was crucified in part because he indiscriminately welcomed everyone, “repent and believe!” Instead of erecting barriers (like the religious people in Jesus’ day), our job is to obliterate barriers, wreck roofs, move mountains, to help people find God. 

Non-Negotiable #2: We Exist to Help People Follow Jesus. Fill in the blank. Anyone can come to Jesus. But the moment a person turns to Jesus, the transformation begins. The first thing Jesus said to the Paralyzed Man in Mark 2 was “Son, you’re sins are forgiven.” The only sin that cannot be forgiven is “Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.” Blasphemy isn’t an accidental slip, or even a single decision. Blasphemy is an ongoing, perpetual, hardening, God-defying, Holy Spirit insulting, “condition” of heart. What a profound moment. Jesus declares, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” That’s God’s first order of business in our lives—to forgive us, wash us, cleanse us. But it doesn’t stop there! 

In Mark 3, Jesus’ family is feeling humiliated, because he is stirring up so much controversy. In fact, they come to take “charge” over Jesus and make this big scene. As he’s teaching Jesus is told, “You momma’s calling for you.” But Jesus says something quite profound. In Mark 3:33 he asks, “Who are my mother and brothers?” Mark 3:35 answers, “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” 

Just like we don’t get to dictate who can Find God, we don’t get to dictate what the Church is. At one time we followed the cravings/desires of our sinful nature. But then Jesus called us to follow him. Here is the bottom line. We are a community of Christ followers, a people eager to do the will of God. Not think about it. Not talk about it. Not debate it. But eager to JUST DO IT! Jesus alone is the Lord of His Church. Christ alone governs how we think, feel, believe. He governs the doctrine we teach, the values we hold, the priorities/principles that guide our energies. 

Whatever sin brought us to God isn’t just forgiven! It’s to also be cast away. As a church we’ll walk alongside anyone who genuinely seeks to follow Jesus. But if what you are most looking for is a Church to embrace your sin, you are self-deceived. You probably won’t like hanging around. 

Non-Negotiable #3: We Exist to Help People Flourish in Christ. In Mark 4 we find the Parable of the Soil Types. The Word of God is sown into the hearts of men, but not all hearts are equal. Some hearts are like seed sown on the path, Satan comes and snatches away God’s word before it has a chance to work. Some hearts like seed sown among rocks. The seed quickly springs to life! There is an emotional response to Jesus! But its superficial, but God’s word doesn’t take root. A person’s commitment withers away as fast as it started. Some hearts are like seed sown among thorns. The word really does take root, but so does everything else in your life. Soon everything else (your work, play, worries, greed, family demands, ambitions) chokes God’s work in your life. 

But the golden ideal is that your heart is good soil. The “good soil” allows God’s Word to flourish! It produces thirty, sixty, a hundred times what is sown! The good soil, the good heart, is the heart that is forgiven… that listens… and keeps on obeying. If a church is willing to listen and obey God there is no limit to the good that will come! In our Welcome to Lakeside Class we like to say that the potentiality of an orchard lay in every seed. We exist to unleash people’s Kingdom potential! 

This is WHO we are: We exist to help people Find God, Follow Jesus, and Flourish in Christ. If that’s the kind of Church you are seeking, check out WTL class. 

Second, WHERE HAVE WE BEEN AS A CHURCH? 

You might be surprised, Lakeside was planted by area churches in back in 1962! Back in the day churches grew as wide as big. We first met in Hazel Dell School. In time, we secured land on Rita Road, built a sanctuary, and then a Christian Education wing. The church grew from dozens to hundreds strong. Around 2000, we secured land here at Toronto Road. In 2013, we built a Children’s wing and substantially renovated our building. Every step of faith we’ve taken has led to remarkable growth. This is a church that has always been willing to “WRECK THE ROOF” to bring people to God. 

The deeper truth however, is that Lakeside has been a Mark 4:26-29 church. In Mark 4:26-29 Jesus says, “The kingdom of God is like this. . . A man scatters seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day; the seed sprouts and grows, although he doesn’t know how. The soil produces a crop by itself—first the blade, then the head, and then the full grain on the head.” In the pride of my flesh, I’d love to brag that Lakeside’s growth has been BIG/FAST, SENSATIONAL/EXPLOSIVE. But it hasn’t! Our story is a Mark 4:26-29 story. Seeds got planted. Nothing seemed to happen. We slept a little. Waited a little. Scratched our heads. But then seeds sprouted, blades grew, heads of grain formed. 

Here is the takeaway. We don’t get to microwave what God’s doing here! Every Spring and Fall, to the West of our Church, there is a virtual farm show. Whoever owns that field has millions of dollars, of state-of-the-art, cutting-edge, satellite-guided, high-capacity, multi-row, shiny bright current-model equipment. They use helicopters to spray chemicals! They have an army of workers. It’s quite a show! Now the guy to the East has a single tractor, a single tractor/plow/combine, and is a one-man operation. The corn doesn’t grow any faster to the East as the West. Both have to wait on God to bring about a harvest in his time. Friends, Lakeside is just one field among many! We’re not the flashiest church, or the largest church, but we are a faithful church. And God has continually honored our work. 

Third, WHERE ARE WE HEADED AS A CHURCH? 

In Mark 4:29 Jesus says, “As soon as the crop is ready, [God] sends for the sickle, because the harvest has come.” At the end of the age, God is seeking an abundant harvest! On the day of Christ’s return, nobody is going to be wondering whether some corn kernel came from this field or the next. No, they are going to see God coming on the clouds. They are going to see this glowing mountain of yellow kernels spilling over the edges, too great to be contained by any wagon, or barge, or silo, or building. In Mark 4:30-32 Jesus says, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use to describe it? It’s like a mustard seed that, when sown upon the soil, is the smallest of all the seeds on the ground. And when sown, it comes up and grows taller than all the garden plants, and produces large branches, so that the birds of the sky can nest in its shade.” God’s Kingdom is rising across this earth! The future is bright indeed! 

When you came in, you were handed a VISION booklet. Allow me to speak on behalf of our Elders and Staff. #1) We are very hungry. Every leader at Lakeside wants to “wreck the roof” to bring people to God. Since 2000, ten thousand people have been touched by our ministries. Last year, 1000 people visited Lakeside for the first time. That’s just the number of people who told us their names! I’d say 2-3x that number of people have trafficked our campus. We want to maximize our potential for both numerical/spiritual growth—that’s always been our ETHOS! 

#2) We are Humbled. When we moved to this location, we imagined we would automatically double, triple, quadruple. But you know what, God’s work is hard! It takes tremendous faith, labor, and generosity to grow God’s Kingdom! As Jesus taught in Mark 4, the soil is hard, and unpredictable. Every year Lakeside (and most every church) experiences a 10% attrition rate. People go to be with Jesus. People go off to college, get married, get mad about taxes, get job transfers, fall out of fellowship. Corn walks, and transplants itself in other fields! To grow just 10% we actually have to grow 20%! To grow by 45 people, we have to reach 90 people! It’s very hard work indeed! 

At the same time, people are engaging Church less/less. The average believer attends church 1-2 times a month. In the past, a church of 750 people could expect 500 in attendance every week. Nowadays, it takes an active pool of 1000, or even 1200 to have an attendance of 500! Engagement is flakey! A lot of people ask why a church of 450 needs so many staff. It’s simple. We’re not a church of 450! We minister to nearly 1200 people regularly! These are humbling times. We’re continually exploring how we can help people get more engaged, how we can keep growing, please pray!! 

#3) We are Discerning. Our leaders want to be wise about how we move forward. We don’t have a crystal ball. When we announce plans, or a vision, there are always asterisks next to them. God may be unchanging, but our circumstances are ever-changing. We’re continually praying, seeking God direction, about what is BEST, and what should be NEXT. I can tell you that in the nearly twenty years I’ve been here, we’ve never taken a dark detour. God’s always led us into the next, best thing. 

Our Elders feel the next, best step is to renovate this auditorium. Back in the 90’s churches were building multipurpose buildings hoping to fuel outreach. For the last few decades, churches have been repenting. You can’t make worship an afterthought and expect to grow. Right now we are working with BLDD Architects out of Bloomington to develop some options. What might we do for 250k? 500k? or 1 Million? We haven’t committed to anything. A few years ago we announced our desire to save up to 20-30% of the cost of any renovation. Through our VISION FUND giving, we’ve saved about 175k of the 250k we think we’ll need to take renovate this room! VISION FUND giving first covers principle payments. Anything beyond principle goes toward savings. 

Our elders also feel our next, best step is decimate debt. If you’ve taken Financial Peace, you are encouraged to maintain a budget, you are encouraged to have an emergency fund, you are encouraged to save for long-term needs, you are encouraged to decimate debt. Look how dramatically things have changed in the past year in the State of Illinois, and in our economy. Businesses, jobs, and corporations are leaving in droves. Look at China, and the grave concerns about a potential coronavirus epidemic breaking out. **WE ASSUME NOTHING ABOUT THE FUTURE. 

CORE FUND giving first covers operational costs—it covers our budgeted needs. 10% of anything that’s given beyond our budgeted needs goes to our Mission’s Partners. The other 90% of anything given beyond our budgeted needs covers capital projects, replenishes our emergency fund, and mostly… pays down principle. If something catastrophic happened, we could apply the 175k saved toward debt reduction. 

A few years ago we took out a 313k loan to renovate our parking lot. Our lot will last for generations! To date, we have paid that 313k loan down to 140k, while paying our primary mortgage down to around 700k, while saving $175k toward future renovation, while meeting budget, while increasing missions giving, while also coverings rising costs, building repairs, and unexpected expenses. AND…. Drum roll… We’ve done all of this without any financial campaigns! 

I want to urge you to GIVE sacrificially. Lara and I did a Living Will and listed Lakeside. 100% of our estate is going to the Kingdom. A single estate gift, from one family, could wipe out our entire debt. We don’t want to lose you, but if you’re going to go see Jesus, at least leave a legacy! We give faithfully and regularly to CORE FUND and VISION FUND. We have utilized automated, online giving—the money comes right out and we live off the rest. You can set it all up, right on our website, by clicking give. We’re always finding extra things to do with our talents/abilities so we have more to give. I make sawdust. I teach. I do speaking and consulting. Nothing is wasted! If everyone listening just tithed, we’d decimate our entire debt in months. Half of the people active at Lakeside don’t give even a dollar a week, or month, or year! 

One last note. You have probably noticed a lot of young adults popping up around Lakeside serving. One of our priorities is to develop the next generation to serve God’s Kingdom. We have been inviting Lincoln Christian University students to lead worship, to do children/youth ministry, to help with technology, you name it. We help them with gas money, we pay them a modest stipend to help cover tuition costs, or college expenses. Most of these young people will go on to serve in other churches—but they are getting invaluable experience here. Thank you for paying it forward Lakeside! 

PRAY. ENGAGE. > Worship > Groups > Teams > Generosity CELEBRATE! A mustard seed has been its sprawl!

Scripture Verses

Mark 2, 3, 4

Worship Playlist

Follow You Anywhere by Passion

Be Thou My Vision by Shane & Shane

Reckless Love by Cory Asbury

Christ Is Risen by Matt Maher

Study Questions

Vision Sunday: No Study Guide questions for this week.

Apply It!

Resources

The Lakeside 2020 Vision Booklet is available at the information desk in the Lakeside Lobby. It includes information about our Core Fund, Vision Fund, Vision Projects, Our Demographics, Our Missions and more. Think of it as a guide to add specificity as you pray for the Kingdom work of Lakeside.

The 2019 Annual Report is a look back at the Kingdom work God enabled us to do last year. The booklet includes our yearly financial review, outreach metrics, decisions made, along with photos and names of the elder team and staff team. Pick up your copy at the information desk in the Lakeside Lobby.