Last Sunday we spent a little time talking about some of our key values, giving an update on some practical details of our financial situation and then answering questions... and eating delicious pizza. It was a lovely time and we're more encouraged than ever that God is up to something amazing at The Surge!
Here is a quick recap...
1) We are a Bible-based church.
- We believe the Bible is God's word, drafted by people under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, so that we would know what God wanted us to know about him and us and our world that we would not otherwise know.
- We believe God preserved that word--spoken through the early fathers, through the prophets, through Jesus, and through the apostles--intact through the ages so that we would have before us today what God spoke originally.
- This belief results in one central driving principle: It's the bible and God's word that comments on culture, that assesses culture, not the other way around. So, we take what he wrote as valid today, as relevant today, and as authoritative today, despite the fact that we'd like to think sometimes that God surely didn't anticipate our day and age.
- So, what we are about as a church is driven by what God says in the bible that God's family, God's people, the church should be doing: It's so simple, it's baffling: Go into the world and introduce people to Jesus Christ, then do everything possible so the relationship and love affair with Jesus grows to the point that those people introduced to Jesus then go into the world and introduce people to Jesus Christ.
- We have set up The Surge to be led as the bible guides us - by elders selected because of their close walk with God and a calling to lay down their lives in service out of love for people.
2. Reaching people far from God.
- The organization of the Surge won't save anyone. People talk to people, that means YOU. It can...
- Be a help
- Create environments and opportunities for people to connect
- Provide some organization to let us band together
- Help provide community and encouragement
- What is the strategy?
1) Continue to encourage Surge members to talk to people in their network about the love of God
- If I talk to 2 people a week about God, that's ~100 people a year. If 50 people do, it's ~5,000 people
- Think of an aircraft carrier, you don't bring the target TO the carrier, you send planes
2) Leverage Sunday morning as an opportunity, State Theatre, music we do, specials, slides, style.
- People are 7 times more likely to come if invited by YOU vs. a pastor. 7 times.
3) Church planting - most effective tool for evangelism on earth
- Nimble - can meet the Specific need of local community
- People love new things, it doesn't carry negative weight of church perception, knee jerk is positive
- Opportunity for people to step forward in real ways, for leaders and members
- A church planter would benefit us as a community and we could bless him in turn
4) Social justice... finding opportunities to meet real needs and love people in the name of Jesus
- looking at helpful training on finances for community
- coordinating corporate sponsorship to feed hungry kids (things like Generosity Feeds)
- Unity club - investigating ways to bless / open a door for these folks
3. Developing the Love Affair with Jesus.
- We also want to be a church that encourages that love affair with Jesus to continue, to grow, to mature. Why? Because we believe that our joy is found in Jesus, and all that God has for you and me rests in this relationship with Jesus.
- To grow, you need to eat. To mature the love relationship with Jesus, you need to invest in the relationship with Jesus. As the lead pastor here, I am absolutely passionate about this: that God wants joy to be yours and to have it to a level that you can hardly contain it. So, I do everything I can to persuade you that Jesus is better -- better for you, better with you, than all the other things you think will satisfy you at your deepest level.
- We are all parts of the body. Together, we comprise the body of Christ--the expression of Christ in a local church. And Jesus loves the church -- He calls the church his bride. And if Jesus words are true, He has designed something magical to happen in community, when the body parts come together.
- So, practically speaking, please be here, please engage as a member of the body. And this is especially important right now, when we're trying to get this up and running. Even a few people missing makes a huge difference. This isn't about setup or teardown, this is about how Jesus intends to use his church to bring people to Himself.
- Evangeline, all by herself, praying after vaccination...good stuff is happening in our nursery
- Greg's goal of showing God to be worthy of trust - a little more every week in his time with grade schoolers
- The energy and power of a youth group is just amazing for a church
- Selma, using practice and ministry principles from Young Life, ministering from relationship has good things coming, our official launch of a team group is Oct 13th
- The goal is that our teens would be a vibrant part of our vision, not just a club
- Who needs God more than teenagers? So much change, uncertainty, shaping of identity... it is a critical stage of development
- The goal is a youth group that can really find God and grow in Him... and be a light to their friends / schools
-- Some basics first. The average time for a church plant to become fully sustainable (if they survive) is about 5 years), we knew that going in.
-- We also expected that for a time, we'd be running a deficit in terms of expenses and giving. Good news is that we had a nest egg to cover that deficit for a time. And even though we knew we were stepping out on a ledge, we made the decision to move to the Theatre and to hire Selma.
-- We also got the clear sense that debt is not a good thing. Unless slavery is a good thing. The debtor is slave to the lender. So, we have an overarching perspective that we are not willing to go into debt. That sets us apart from many out there, ok?
-- But earlier this year, reality hit hard. The nest egg was getting smaller. We attracted new people, but we also lost many to overseas assignments, and some of our key core decided to move on. We knew this happens in every church plant, but still, it hurt. Then Fairfax County hit us with what was going to be a $28,000 real estate tax bill on the property over in McLean - they said since we moved out Sunday service to the Theatre, we were no longer tax exempt.
- So, the pressure was mounting. With expenses and giving still far apart, what do we do? Did we move back to the barn and try to regroup? Hunker down? Cut costs? How do we stay on target with the mission by doing that?
-- Bottom line is this. I believe that God put us under stress to move us to do something we weren't actively looking for... a real estate agent approached us to ask if we would be willing to sell the property in McLean. Taking a look at all of the options, we decided to put the property up for sale.
Our vision is that the proceeds from the sale will allow us to greatly expand our ministry to the community and open doors for church planting and starting new vibrant ministries.
-- It will be several months before the sale will be finalized, so we'll need to continue to be careful and frugal as a church related to spending. The reality is, we're close to being sustainable now. If we could attract ten families who were willing to tithe, we would fully meet expenses and generate a strong surplus related to our current budget.
6. How you can help?
- Pray, we're asking God to lead us and put us in the center of His will
- Support, come, help - see us as a Startup company and you're on the ground floor
- Keep inviting people, praying for 10 families to start with
- Give generously, it's an investment in the kingdom
- Be patient with the things we can provide right now, in terms of what a church can help provide
- Look to start ministries in the community, let us know how we can help
It seems clear to us that God has put us together, and that He has called us to His work here. Our job is to be faithful and respond when He calls... very good things are coming!
Q: Are you affiliated with an established church planting network?
A: Not as such, but we're open to that relationship. We've met with church planters from Acts 29, Stadia and a couple of independent groups and are seeking counsel from experienced church planters about how to find and develop the next generation of leaders in this regard.
Q: Will we be able to stay in the State Theatre until the building sells?
A: Yes. That's the plan. We won't be willing to go into debt to do that, but on the current glidepath we are planning to stay.
Q: How transparent are financials? Do you share accounting details with church members?
A: Completely transparent and we have nothing to hide. We prepare a statement at the end of each year that accounts for every dollar spent and are willing to open up the books at pretty much anytime if someone asks. That's a good question!
Q: Could you outline some of your spiritual mentors? Or people that you look up to that have shaped your ideals for ministry?
A: One of the great things about being alive today is that so many resources are so easily found, more so than at any other time in history.
For Dwaine, Mike Minter from Reston Bible Church, where I "grew" up spiritually; others I listen to or read currently: Henry Morris, Matt Chandler, Mark Driscoll, Craig Groeschel, Darren Patrick,Tim Keller, Andy Stanley, Dave Ramsey; and Dave Kinnaman of Barna Group.
For E, I am a fan of C.S. Lewis and Boenhoffer and Henri Nouwen in terms of writing. For worship, Dennis Jernigan would be a mentor for me musically and spiritually in that arena. Speaking, I would point to Fred Craddock, Tim Keller and Matt Chandler, Craig Groeschel and perhaps Judah Smith.
Thanks to everyone who came out! We love you dearly!
At The Surge we love doing things together... that includes writing a blog! Here are a few of our main contributing authors:
Our fearless leader, Dwaine is the lead pastor at The Surge. His experience in counter terrorism with the CIA prepared him for ministry and he likes dogs and babies even more than E does.
E (short for Eric Reiss) is the Wingman at The Surge and likes dogs, music, Mexican food, his wife Karen and his little girl Evangeline... not necessarily in that order.