My name is Keith Snow and I’m the pastor at Cross Creek, and I am so thankful for what God has been doing in our church family. But tonight we want to talk about the future. This is our moment. This is our opportunity. What do I mean?
Did you know that we live in the
- Fasting growing county in North Florida,
- the 3rd fastest growing county in the whole state,
- And 14th fasting growing county in the United States of America?
Every day we get new neighbors pouring into our community. Just take a look at this quick excerpt from a recent local news story:
Why do you think all of those those people are leaving their homes and their jobs and their families to come move to sunny Saint Johns, Florida?
- Sun. (No snow!)
- The beach.
Do you know how I would summarize all of that? People are moving here because they hope to find LIFE here.
- They hope to find LIFE at the side of the pool.
- They hope to find LIFE on the golf course.
- They hope to find LIFE by getting their kids in just the right schools that will secure them a bright future.
But as followers of Jesus, we know that, as wonderful as all of those things are (and praise God for them!) they will not deliver on their promises. Those things in and themselves will not bring life. They will disappoint. They will let down.
And they will not bring healing to the hurting that all of us experience in this broken world.
Many of our neighbors, like us, are dealing with real hurts.
- Some have marriages that are struggling.
- Some have children who are struggling with substance abuse.
- Some are doing everything they can to numb their pain with whatever they can find to distract themselves with.
- And many of them do not know where to find the true healing that they so desperately need.
What they need is an encounter with the great Healer, the divine Physician, Jesus, who came to make all things new, To reclaim what is lost, and to restore what is broken.
Nehemiah was a man in the Bible (Old Testament) who’s heart was gripped by the brokenness around him. Literally, Jerusalem, the holy city, had been devastated. It was in disarray, its walls were broken down, its gates were burned down, the people felt defeated, they were in constant fear of attack.
He couldn’t stand it anymore. He knew that staying passive was not an option. He was driven to move into the brokenness in order to bring restoration.
So he called upon his fellow countrymen to join him in that work:
Nehemiah 2:17–20 (ESV)
17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in, how Jerusalem lies in ruins with its gates burned. Come, let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer suffer derision.”
18 … And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work. … 20 Then I replied to them, “The God of heaven will make us prosper, and we his servants will arise and build…”
WE CAN’T STAY WHERE WE ARE
My friends, God has been kind to Cross Creek in so many ways. He has called us, he has saved us, he has brought us together. He has used each and every one of you for his kingdom purposes in our community.
But we can’t rest on past successes. We can’t let our guards down. We can’t sit back and relax. We can’t stay where we are. God wants to take us somewhere new. He wants to use us like he used Nehemiah to rebuild that wall for his glory. He wants to use us to see broken things restored in Saint Johns.
So it is time for us to say yet again “Let us rise up and build.”
How? What does that look like? Where is God calling our church family?
When I stepped in as the pastor of Cross Creek last year, we began a process of praying and seeking God’s face for his will for our church. We began seeking a vision. We began to pray and talk together, asking questions like:
“What might God want our church to look like 3 years from now? 5 years from now? 20 years from now?”
Over the last year and half, this process has involved elders, deacons, staff, ministry leaders and volunteers, church members, guests - sometimes through informal conversations, other times through hours-long brainstorming sessions with white boards. But it has all been couched in prayer, and driven by a desire to see the broken things restored. We’ve been praying for you. And thank you for praying for us and for our church.
As a vision began to emerge and take greater shape and focus, this simple statement came to the forefront as our rallying cry:
ALL IN is a rallying cry. It is a simple yet powerful call to radical discipleship, to lay our lives down.
To be ALL IN means to be
- ALL IN with Jesus, offering up our lives wholly and completely to our Savior and King.
- To be ALL IN with Jesus means that we will also be ALL IN with his church, coming together as the people of God, the family of God.
- And to be ALL IN means we will not just be concerned for ourselves, but we will move outward on mission together. And so we are ALL IN for our community.
Our mission as a church is to obey the Great Commission, that call that Jesus gave to go and to make disciples.
In shaping a vision we have identified a FOUR STEP pathway of discipleship.
These represent action items, “next steps” that we want to help people take, from not knowing Jesus, to becoming a fully engaged follower of Christ.
Let’s talk about them.
1 - WORSHIP
We want to help people come to know Jesus and encounter his transforming love through warm hospitality and authentic, God-exalting worship.
When people come to Cross Creek to worship, we hope they will encounter Christ.
From the moment they arrive to the moment they leave, we hope they will know him and his love both horizontally (through warm hospitality) and vertically (through authentic God-exalting worship).
- We worship because God is the only one worthy of our worship.
- We worship because our souls need it.
- We worship because God calls us to worship.
- And we worship to be a beacon of light in a world of darkness.
Let me read you an excerpt from a letter that I recently received from one of those new neighbors that we’ve been talking about. It said this:
I grew up in … church with a vague recollection of scripture and a rather muted enthusiasm for living a Christ centered life. I always felt like church was an obligation, in which I was happy to oblige, but was never really excited to delve deeper … and wasn’t necessarily proud to be a Christian.
[My spouse and I] stumbled upon Cross Creek by accident, looking for a church our neighbors attended. The minute we walked in, we were greeted by … the most sincerely caring people. It seemed too good too be true because everyone we met was the same way.
After [having visited several other churches], we left Cross Creek and asked each other, “was it really that great or are we just tired of looking”? We agreed, it was that great. I’ve never felt so at home in a church. It felt like family almost immediately. I had always heard that expression and never understood the meaning until now. I am so thankful … for finding our church family. Thank you … for making me proud to be a Christian.
God has been kind to us, he’s been bringing steady growth to Cross Creek. Our facility is at capacity. So we are adding a second worship service starting on September 9, at 9:30 and 11:00.
This is not going to be easy. This is going to be an all hands on deck situation!
- God is probably calling you to serve in our worship services.
- Assume that he is, don’t assume that he’s not - start there. : )
- In fact some of you may be getting a phone call soon!
- If possible we are asking people to consider serving at both services on the Sundays when they do serve, at least initially while we work to get this well established.
- (For example, we only have 2 people running Slides, and 2 people making coffee...)
2 - CONNECT
We want to help people experience real human connection in the context of a gospel-centered community. Making relational connections is an absolutely critical part of our mission.
We are developing a new ministry initiative to facilitate that: CONNECT GROUPS:
Connect Groups are a perfect next step to take in order to get connected! Every month we will have a CONNECT WEEK with groups that meet throughout our community, in places like restaurants, coffee shops, and homes. The purpose is simply to meet people and CONNECT!
On the website you’ll be able to find a list of days of the week. You select a day and you’ll find Connect Groups info for that day. The Connect Groups meet once per month on CONNECT WEEK, which is the FIRST FULL WEEK of each month. Our very first CONNECT WEEK is the week of September 2. If you are interested in leading or hosting one of these, please contact us and let us know.
This will not only help people already IN the Cross Creek family to sort of ‘mix it up’ and get to know new people, it will also be a wonderful opportunity for inviting friends and neighbors and coworkers! It’s a fun, non-threatening environment, where you can just hang out, have conversations, and get to know people.
Hopefully these will not just be an end in and of themselves, but a means to something deeper. Maybe you’ll spark some friendships that you can continue to pursue outside of that night.
The next step on our discipleship pathway is GROW:
3 - GROW
We want to help people grow spiritually by studying God’s truth together.
One way we would like to do this is through study-based groups called Grow Groups. Whereas Connect Groups are primarily relational, the focus here is on study together.
We’ve got some co-ed groups, some men’s groups, some women’s groups.
We also plan to schedule Special Events that are focused on Growth:
- Seminars, Workshops, Training Events, Retreats,
- Focused on topics like Marriage, Parenting, and Evangelism.
We will not have a traditional “Sunday school program” on Sunday mornings. This is largely in order to accommodate the additional worship service, and we simply don’t have the space to do both things simultaneously.
What about existing Life Groups and Bible Studies?
- Some are making a few tweaks in order to adapt into our new ministry strategy.
- Others are going to simply “keep doing their thing,” and that’s great too.
- We recognize the value that those groups have brought to the life of Cross Creek, and we’re thankful for that and celebrate that.
And again, if you are interested in leading or hosting one of these, please contact us and let us know.
4 - SERVE
We want to help people share the love of Jesus locally, nationally, and globally.
Of course, part of that is that we have plenty of NEEDS “in-house”. We need you to be serving on one of our Ministry Teams that helps us accomplish everything we’ve talked about so far.
- Music Team
- A/V Team
- Hospitality Team
- Events Team
- Kids Team
- Facility/Maintenance Team
- Leading a Connect Group or a Grow Group
I Love St Johns
But we’re also excited about a new outward-facing initiative that we’re launching called “I LOVE ST JOHNS:
These are monthly service opportunities that are family-friendly. This is an opportunity for us to go out and be a tangible presence in our community, demonstrating the love of Christ not just in our words but also our deeds. These will be with local non-profits like Family Integrity of St Johns, Home Again St Johns, St Johns Housing Partnership, and more.
We want to be a church that is #allinforstjohns.
Finally, we also celebrate our Ministry Partners. We as a church are committed to long-term, sustainable relationships with other people and ministries that are loving and serving our community locally, nationally, and globally:
- Classical Conversations
- Equipping Leaders International
- Family Integrity Program
- First Coast Women’s Services
- MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers)
- RUF (Reformed University Fellowship)
Cherokee Missions Trip
In addition, we are also planning a missions trip in Summer 2019 with the PCA’s Mission to the World to CHEROKEE, NORTH CAROLINA. This is a “family friendly” mission where all ages are welcome.
MTW serves the Cherokee tribe through Word and Deed ministry:
- Backyard Bible clubs,
- Vacation Bible Schools,
- Sports/day camps,
- Community visitation and
- Senior citizen centers are minds of opportunities through which teams can minister there.
So… What if, Cross Creek?
- What if EVERYBODY who calls Cross Creek their home church,
- what if EVERYBODY humbled themselves before God, ALL OF US,
- and said, ‘God, SHOW ME SOMETHING, break my heart about something that’s wrong in this world!
Acts 2 gives us a picture of a church where
- EVERYBODY was devoted to the word of God,
- EVERYBODY started praying bold prayers,
- EVERYBODY got into relational community,
- EVERYBODY started caring for the poor,
- EVERYBODY was worshiping with all their heart,
- EVERYBODY was opening up their homes in loving hospitality,
- EVERYBODY was sharing the news of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Does that capture your imagination?
What if we in this room were the ONLY Christians in a 50-mile radius?
Wouldn’t we have a sense of urgency about the mission, about the opportunity before us?
What if, instead of having a cruise ship mentality, we had a life raft mentality?
- What if every one of us was laying down our lives to serve each other and our neighbors?
- What if every one of us was faithfully giving tithes and offerings toward this mission?
- What if every one of us made one invitation a week for our family and friends?
- Just one text, one phone call, one email, one invitation?
- What if every one of us were using social media to tell God’s story of Cross Creek to our family and friends?
Imagine a future:
-where kids are being raised, knowing and love the Lord Jesus and being taught his Word in a loving church environment, and become the next ministry leaders at Cross Creek.
-where families that are dead and lifeless are given new life and restoration through Christ.
-where people who are gripped by destructive addictions that seem hopeless are healed and delivered through the transforming power of the gospel.
-where we seeing conversions on a regular basis, baptizing adults and children constantly!
The local church is the hope of the world.
It’s THE single God-ordained agency of redemption upon which the destiny of the entire world hangs.
This is God’s plan, so throw yourself into it!
- If you are newer to Cross Creek, don’t wait. We nee you to JUMP IN!
- If you are a seasoned saint, a Cross Creek veteran who has been investing and carrying the burden of this ministry for years, we need you to RECOMMIT! Don’t miss any part of the action.
If you are ALL IN, what might God do with you? Your family? Your church? Your community?
Don’t hold anything back! Give your life to this!
Give all the money you can give. Give all the service you can give. Give all the prayers you can give. Give whatever you have to give, because for all eternity you’ll look back over your shoulder and be glad you did.
Q&A, with a reminder that we you always welcome to approach, me the elders, or the staff, with any questions you have.