Happy 6th Birthday Trinity Church!

Happy 6th Birthday Trinity Church!

– [Pastor Mark] Howdy and welcome to Trinity Church. We can’t wait to meet you and are so glad you’re visiting us today. At Trinity Church, we open our Bibles to learn and we open our lives to love so that lives and legacies are transformed. Every weekend, we get to experience powerful worship from our team and worship alongside our church family. Then we open our Bibles to learn with in-depth practical Bible teaching with Pastor Mark. We open our lives to love and life groups. These are small sermon-based groups that meet on a weekly basis. We have groups for men, women, young adults, students, and home groups that meet throughout the valley. You’ll be sure to find one that works for you. We love celebrating Jesus and having fun with our Trinity Kids Ministry. Each weekend, we throw a huge party in the backyard with games, bouncy houses, and so much more. They also get to hear about Jesus in a safe and loving environment. They’re going to love it so much they’ll be dragging you to church. We love great Bible teaching, encouraging healthy relationships, and having a whole lot of fun. Thanks for coming and welcome to Trinity Church.

– I will build my church. That’s what Jesus said. And that’s what Jesus has done. Jesus Christ is alive and so are we, amen? Happy sixth birthday, Trinity Church. We’re so excited to see you. We’re so glad to have you, and we’re gonna celebrate all night everything God has done for six years in and through the wonderful people in our church family. I don’t know if you’re excited. I am for sure. Now, usually, when you come, you get a very long sermon. Tonight, you’re gonna get a sort of long sermon. And usually, I go through books of the Bible. We’re gonna do things a little differently tonight. I wanna tell the testimony of God’s faithfulness to and through our church family. The difference between a biography and a testimony is really who the hero is. In a biography, you’re the hero of your story. In a testimony, who’s the hero? Jesus is. If you’re new, I ask a question, say Jesus or carne asada. Those are the answers, ’cause whatever your problems are, those are your solutions. So Jesus is ultimately the one who is the hero of our life, so he is the center of our testimony. And so I wanna tell you a little bit about my testimony, the testimony of our family, our church family, and then I wanna talk about your testimony at the end. But God has been so good to us. How many of you God has been good to you? Amen? That’s why we’re here. I know the world is a disaster, but we have a savior. I know things are dark, but the light of the world has come. I know the world is going to hell, but I’m not. Amen?

– [Congregants] Amen.

– And so we’re here to celebrate the person and work of Jesus. So little bit about me. I know I don’t look it, but I’m 51 years of age. And what happened was, I looked 70. When I was in high school at 17, I met this really cute daughter of a pastor. And I was like, “Do you wanna go out?” She’s like, “Well, are you a Christian?” I was like, “Does it matter?” She’s like, “I only date Christians.” I was like, “Well, praise the Lord, sister.” So we went out. Probably shouldn’t have done that. So then she kind of realized I probably was not a Christian, so she bought me this Bible. This Bible. And I got saved reading this Bible in college, and then we got married. So that was when we were dating in high school. I’m the one on the right. If you can’t tell the difference, call 911, ’cause you’re having a medical emergency. Fast forward, we did get married. Grace got

best hair and my bangs have gone home to be with the Lord. So we would appreciate your prayer. Grace, how many of you, Grace still looks the same, right? She does, adorable. I say this. Women age like wine, men age like milk, okay? That’s the way that it works itself out. So we’ve been faithfully married 30 years, and we’ve got five kids that all love and serve the Lord. They’re on campus here and they’re serving your kids if you’ve got little ones in the back. And what I wanna do, I wanna share the testimony of God’s faithfulness to our family and our church family. And the Bible does this a lot with a simple word. Remember, remember, or remembrance. Different variations thereof. About 300 times, the Bible stops and it tells God’s people to remember, ’cause what happens is God is faithful, but a lot of people either have forgotten or they’re new. They weren’t there to witness all that God did previously. You come back next week, we’re gonna talk about the future. Capital campaign, studying the book of Nehemiah, launching all of our ministries in a great future. But today, what we wanna do, we wanna stop and we wanna remember. What are all the good things that God has done? And how has God showed up? And many times in the Bible, this is in the context of worship. I’ll read one section to you from Psalm 111 from the book that Grace bought me. And the moral the story is, if you’re a single guy, if a gal buys you a Bible, buy her a ring. That’s the right girl, okay? That’s what I did. And it’s worked out for 30 years, at least for me. Pray for Grace. So nonetheless, Psalm 111. I’ll give you one example. This would’ve been read and sung by God’s people when they got together for worship as we are. And it’s a time to remember. It says, “I will extol the Lord with all my heart in the council of the upright in the assembly.” It’s a church meeting like this. “Great are the works of the Lord.” True or false, that’s still true. It’s still true. “Great are the works of the Lord. They are produced by all who delight in him.” He’s saying that God works through people. So we like to say, “God works for you.” That’s through the death, burial, resurrection of Jesus. God works in you by the presence and power of the person of the holy spirit. God works through you to give generously and to do ministry faithfully. And I’m happy to tell you, you have been a tremendously wonderful church family for six years. God has done incredible things through you. And if you’re new, you just need to know this. I’m not a flatterer, like I tell the truth for a living. And you’re some of the most wonderful dear amazing people I’ve ever met. You need to know, as your senior pastor, I love you. And I like you. And the last is really up to you, okay? The first is a requirement from the Lord. But as people, you’re easy to love, you’re easy to like, you’re easy to lead. And they’re stopping here as a church family, as we’re stopping as a church family, and they’re celebrating God’s work for, in, and through them as we are. “Glorious and majestic are his deeds and his righteousness endures forever. He has caused his wonders to be remembered. The Lord is gracious and compassionate.” And I’ll be honest. When I first got this Bible, I could read it, and now it’s very blurry. I’m 51. If you’re young, two things I would recommend, see things and eat carbs while you can. Enjoy those two things. I can’t hardly read this. The font is very small. I may need to call up someone from our student ministry in a moment. “He provides food to those who fear him. He remembers his covenant forever. He has shown his people the power of his works, giving them lands of other nations. The works of his hands are faithful and just. All his precepts, everything in the Bible he says is trustworthy. They are steadfast forever and ever, done in faithfulness and uprightness. He provided redemption for his people. He ordained his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name.” And ultimately, we know that his name is Jesus. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of

wisdom. All who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belong eternal praise.” Over and over and over, 300 times in the Bible, oftentimes in the context of worship, the people stop and they look back and they remember who God is and what God does. We find that word here as well. Well, in that same spirit, I wanna share with you the testimony of Trinity Church. Trinity Church really started as a burden in my heart on July 9th, 2014. I sat down with a pen and a pad. We lived in another state. We weren’t in Arizona. We weren’t thinking of coming to Arizona. We didn’t even have a fleeting notion of this church. But I sat down and I wrote 15 things. I called ’em Pastor Mark’s resolution so that they sounded serious. And so I wrote them down and it was 15 things that were in my heart that if I got to be the senior pastor of a church, that this is what I’d want our church family to be like. I’m happy to report, God has answered all of those prayers at Trinity Church. But number 15, the last on the list was this. We will open our Bibles to learn about Jesus and open our lives to love like Jesus. What I wanted was a church that basically had two wheels on our bike, Bible teaching and relationships. And that everything would go together and flow together through these two simple things. And I wanted to plant a church or at least pastor and lead a church that did things very simply: Bible teaching, relationships. I wanted to pastor Five Guys Burgers and Fries, not The Cheesecake Factory. Have you been to The Cheesecake Factory? It’s lunch, they hand you the menu. By the time you read it all, it’s dinner. It’s a very long menu. You’re like, “What do you want?” “A shorter menu.” You go to Five Guys Burgers and Fries, you have burger, fries, and a drink. It’s a trinity. Obviously, that’s how God wants it to be. It’s very simple. And so I thought, “Well, can we do Five Guys Burgers and Fries, not The Cheesecake Factory? Can we make a simple church that it’s about Bible teaching and loving, healthy, joyful relationships with God and one another?” Interestingly enough, 2015, the next year, we still weren’t in Arizona. Every year, God gives my wife Grace a verse for the year. Usually, about enduring a husband or something. But in 2015, she got the verse for the year from the Lord, and it was Isaiah 43:19. Here it is: “Behold, I’m doing a new thing, a new move, a new church, a new ministry. Now it’s springs fourth. Do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Remember, Grace came to me, it was January. She’s like, “What a weird verse. We don’t even live near a desert. We’ve never really been to the desert. And it seems like God’s calling us to the desert and he’s gonna provide supernaturally streams of living water through the holy spirit in the desert. What do you think that means?” It’s like, “I don’t know. Apparently, we gotta find a desert.” So we prayed, and then all of a sudden, our whole life transitioned and shifted and we were contemplating moving to Arizona. And so I was in Florida. Some of you bits and pieces of the story. I was in Florida with some pastor buddies of mine. They’re great guys. They had a conference. I just wanted to go hang out with him. And so the conference was going well, but I felt like God wanted to speak to me. And so I felt like I needed to meet with him. So I drove around and I was looking for a coffee shop and I couldn’t find it. And I was running out of time. And then I saw Mexican restaurant. And I told you, the two answers are Jesus, carne asada. I didn’t see Jesus, but I found the carne asada. So I pulled over. I pulled over and I was gonna eat carne asada. And I walk in and the waitress is like, “Would you sit here?” I was like, “Yeah.” I said, “Let me go wash up. I’ll be back in a minute.” Some guy had his back to me on the other side of the Mexican restaurant recognized my voice, which it is a little different, right? You’re welcome. My sons have this voice my daughters do not. So it’s going great at our house. But

nonetheless, he recognized my voice. He turned around, he’s like, “Pastor Mark.” I’d never met him. He heard me through teaching online. I said, “Yeah?” And visited with him, went in, washed up, came out. He’s like, “Hey, would you be willing to sit with us for a minute?” He was a pastor who had a church and a prayer ministry in Florida. I was like, “Sure.” So we’re meeting. And he says, “Hey, can I pray for you?” Answer? “That’s always a good idea. That’s always a good idea. I believe in the holy spirit and prayer. And if you wanna pray for me, I’ll take it. I mean, look at me. Obviously, I need it. Pray for me.” So he prayed for me and then he closed, and I was gonna get up and go and he said, “Can I share something with you?” Answer? “Yeah, please do.” He said, “When I was praying, I saw a vision. You and your family were moving to a desert.” He quoted Isaiah 43. He said, “God’s gonna provide for you there. It’s gonna be supernatural. And the holy Spirit’s gonna show up. And he is gonna do a new thing.” He said, “I see your whole family packing up, moving across the country to a desert, but there you’re gonna flourish and God’s gonna bless and provide.” He said, “Does that sound familiar?” I said, “Yeah.” My flight leaves in like two hours. I’m flying from Florida to Arizona. My wife and kids are flying to meet me there. We’re asking God if he wants us to move to Arizona and to do a new thing. We’re gonna meet with the pastors in the city who are kind of the gatekeepers and I’m gonna tell my story and give my cell phone number and answer any questions and see if they would welcome us ’cause we wanna honor spiritual authority. We love all Christians and churches that believe the Bible and preach Jesus. We wanna come in and be part of team Jesus, not a problem for team Jesus. So I jumped on the plane. Grace and the kids met me here. We met with the pastors. They said, “We’d love to have you.” So then, we packed up and we moved our whole family across the country. We had kids in elementary school, middle school, high school, and college. We have five kids, three boys, two girls. Pray for me. Grace can’t keep your hands off me. It’s really been a struggle. I was like, “Hey, I’ve got a brain too. I’m not just a face.” So nonetheless, we got five kids. I don’t know why that’s funny. I don’t know why that’s funny. Like that’s offensive. So we moved here and then we didn’t know what would be next. And I wasn’t sure we were gonna start a church and I wasn’t sure what God was gonna have for us. So we came home from church one weekend and the kids called a family meeting. I think it was the boys who were in high school at the time. Said, “Dad, we miss your Bible teaching. We think we should plant a church as a family. We wanna do it together.” I’m like, “That’s amazing.” ‘Cause oftentimes, when kids grow up in ministry, they’ve got a little church heart, but these kids love and serve Jesus. And I wanna publicly honor all five of our children for being godly and resilient in loving and serving Jesus. So to start this church, we started at the dining room table as a family, and we asked the kids, “Okay, what’s in your heart?” I had some things that were in my heart. They had things that were in their heart. Grace had a vision for women’s ministry, I had a vision for men’s ministry, that division for kids’ ministry and student ministry. We needed to name this church. So the kids decided to name it after grandpa Gibb, Grace’s dad who has passed away. He planted and led a church called Trinity Church in another state for more than 40 years. And so we named this church in honor of grandpa Gibb. And so we didn’t know what God would do, but we were praying as a family. We kept a prayer journal at the dining room table and we started praying for things, and then God would answer and we’d check them off the list. Well, now, we needed a building. And so this is one of the most amazing stories in my entire ministry history. I flew out of state to meet with Pastor Jimmy Evans, him and Pastor Robert Morris were

our overseers and still our pastors and we love and appreciate them. And I met with them. I said, “I think we’re gonna plant a church and I’m running it by my pastors, my spiritual authority for confirmation.” They said, “It is God’s will, you need to do that.” Okay, and so then I met with pastor Jimmy Evans and I was like, “We need a building.” He’s like, “Are you gonna rent or what are you gonna do?” I said, “I’m thinking about renting. ” He said, “Don’t.” Some of you know this story. He said, “You’re gonna buy a building in Scottsdale off the 101. It’ll be grandfathered in as a church. You won’t need to bring it up to code. You’ll be able to purchase it, not rent it. And it’s gonna seat 800 people. Wait for that building.” I thought that’s very specific. And just by the way, to get somebody who’s a prophet on your board, super helpful. If you could tell me what’s gonna happen, that would be great. And so we started looking for a building and nothing was available. And then suddenly, supernaturally, this building that had housed a vibrant church that had died, had gone through a series of renters and it was in really bad shape, but it came available for rent. And so we entered into the contract, and what I told him was, I said, “We can rent it, but if it comes available, I wanna buy it.” Now the problem is, I don’t have people or money. Other than that, I’m ready to go. ‘Cause usually, you get people and you ask ’em for money. If you’ve been in church, you’ve seen how this works. Usually, you don’t get a building and hope that people show up and bring their money. I said, “So here’s the deal. If it comes available, I wanna buy it. I’ll put $150,000 down payment, but I’m gonna need a year to raise the rest of the down payment ’cause I gotta get people.” At this point, we don’t have any people. And then you’re gonna serve as the bank, ’cause if I go to the bank, they don’t just believe in Jesus, they also believe in math and they’re gonna run the numbers. It’s not gonna be good for me. I need people who believe in Jesus, not math. That’s what I need. So they said, “Okay, we’ll serve as your bank, and we’ll give you a year to raise the down payment if and when it comes available.” They gave us the keys to this building and we got the keys on the 50th anniversary of the grand opening of the building to the day they opened the building Easter 1966. We had our first informational meeting, Easter 2016, couple hundred people in the room. The property was in terrible shape. No sound system, no band, no kid’s ministry. Right now, the backyard looks great. At the time, it looked like a prison yard. It was cactus and it was just sand and cigarettes. You’re like, “What? Like what kind of children are you raising? Like dumbbells?” And I mean, it was just a situation. So we got the building and then we started doing renovation on it. And our first meetings were just a Bible study and a work party. I would show up with construction boots on and so would my family and we did demo and we hauled carpet out. And some of those dear people who served in those early days are still here. We had a Bible study, no band, no kids, no sound system, nothing was here. And then I got the call from the church denomination. They said, “Hey, the building’s available. You need to buy it right away. We wanna execute the purchase and sale agreement today. A lot of complex variables.” I was like, “Oh yeah, that’s $150,000.” I said, “When do you want it?” They’re like, “Today.” I was like, “Okay, I’m $150,000 short.” And I kid you not. We called a family meeting and we started praying and the phone rang. And a buddy of mine out of state said, “Hey, God just spoke to me. Said you need something. I’m calling you. What do you need?” Praise the Lord, brother. Thanks for calling. So I asked him, I was like, “Okay, man.” I said, “I need money so I can buy a building.” He said,
“How much do you need?” I said, “Well, I still wanna be friends after the call.” I said, “So why do you tell me how much you could wire today if I go open an account?” That’s where we were. He

said, “I could wire $150,000.” I kid you not. $150,000. And so if you’re here and you got $150,000, call me, okay? So then, we started the church six years ago. We got off to a good start. And then we’ve been doing work on the property and improvements. Things have been growing. And Pastor Jimmy Evans gave us another prophecy. And that was, he said, “I feel like there’s gonna be a veil over the church for the first few years. And then there’s gonna be a season of transition. The veil is gonna get lifted and the church is gonna grow very, very quickly so you need to be digging deep, ’cause if you wanna build high, you gotta dig deep.” And I was like, “Okay, I don’t know what that means.” And then our oldest daughter was getting married, and we had the wedding right here on the stage and I got to officiate it to her husband who we love very, very much. And I was planning on taking the following weekend off from the pulpit because when your oldest daughter gets married, you get a nervous breakdown. It’s like a Groupon, marriage breakdown. So I thought, “I’m gonna be a hot mess minus the hot. I’m just gonna take the next week off.” And then God spoke to me and said, “No, no, no, go preach the following weekend. Someone will stay over from the wedding. They’re gonna pay for all new sound, light, video, and technology as a first time visitor if you’re in the pulpit.” So I told Grace, I told the kids. I said, “Well, it looks like I’m in the pulpit.” Preach, somebody came forward. All the technology was gifted by one person who was a first time visitor and has only been to the church one time. And around this time as well, it was very interesting because God spoke to me again and he said, “Get ready for the church to be closed.” For those who are in leadership, you know this is true. And he said, “The church is gonna be closed. And while it’s closed, you need to upgrade your HVAC ’cause it was 50 years old.” The air conditioner here was 50 years old, right? So Jesus still does miracles. That’s what I’m telling you. It was still going. And it wasn’t really blowing cold. It was like an old man breathing on you. It was just kinda little warm and not very powerful, but still trying. So all the old men are like those eventually. Well, we’ve only started. Come to Real Men on Wednesday night. I’ll get you again. Anyways, so I was like, “Lord, how are we gonna do this? We can’t shut down the AC and the bathrooms.” And God said, “Upgrade your video technology. get ready to grow in person and online.” And I was like, “What does this mean?” So I told Grace, I told the staff. Like here’s what God said. So we ordered everything. We ordered all the gear. We ordered the HVAC. We ordered and got permits for the bathroom. We did all of that. And then I kid you not, it was a Sunday. We were having a family dinner. Governor Ducey said, “Hey, we’re gonna shut down all the churches.” I was like, “Oh.” The next day, the staff arrived and the crews were scheduled. We didn’t take 15 minutes off. We closed publicly very briefly while we still had services for our leaders on the weekend. We built junior interns, interns, expanded kids’ ministry. And then we opened back up and the prophecy came true. The veil was lifted. Our attendance doubled. Our kids’ ministry tripled. And we started the Real Faith live show that last year reached over 110 million people online from Trinity Church in Scottsdale, Arizona. God did all of that. So over and over and over again, here’s what I’m so glad to tell you. Vision, provision, vision, provision, vision, provision. Every time God has spoken, you guys have provided. So I wanna tell you a little bit about what we’ve been doing and what we intend to continue to do. So we start with, we open our Bibles to learn. If you’ve been here for a while, do we go through the Bible?

– [Congregants] Yes.

– Yes. I get paid by the minute. So it usually goes a long time. Here’s the books of the Bible we’ve covered in six years. We just finished Genesis. We did a few series in Proverbs, Ruth, Daniel, Jonah, Habakkuk and Malachi. In the New Testament, we went verse by verse through John, Romans, Colossians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 and 2 Peter, 1 John and James, and then some topical series, Worship the King, Spiritual Gifts, Pray Like Jesus, a book I authored with our oldest daughter. Christians Might be Crazy, Spirit-Filled Jesus, Parenting on Point and the series on Real Marriage. I tallied it up. I have been talking for over a thousand hours in six years. That’s all the words of a heterosexual man. That’s all I got. I go home, Grace is living with a silent man. And so I have preached between weekends and men’s and a few classes over a thousand hours. And we take the content and the teaching and we distribute it through Real Faith, which is a separate ministry that actually funded and founded the church and allowed me to volunteer here for the first 18 months. And so all of the Bible teaching is at realfaith.com: audio, video, transcript, sermon notes, daily devotions, five days a week, full study guides like this one. We’re gonna start Nehemiah next week. Lots and lots and lots of Bible teaching. True or false, we studied the Bible here at this church, amen?

– [Congregants] Amen.

– And we’re gonna start a great brand new book of the Bible next week. Come back to join me for Nehemiah. And at that time, we started this church literally with nothing but a Bible study. And the goal was, “You know what? We don’t have kids ministry yet. We don’t have a band yet. We don’t have anything yet, but we’re gonna get together and we’re gonna open the Bible.” People would come to church with work boots on and hammers, and they would have a Bible study. We’d pray and then we would work. And you know these are good people ’cause this was in the summer in Arizona. And if you’re new, you’re like, “Well, they say it’s a dry heat.” So is hell. Still very uncomfortable. June, July, August with the beast, the false prophet, and the anti-Christ. They just bring hell up. We’re not going to hell, but we sort of interned there every summer. And so these dear saints were just doing hard labor around the Bible study to get the church up and going. And so if you would just join me, just take a minute and just thank everybody that was there serving in those early days. Wonderful people. Well then, what we started doing, we started adding what we call life groups. So we open our Bibles to learn and we do that on the weekend. And I tend to take an hour usually, go right through books to the Bible, and then we open our lives to love. And this is about getting together, doing life together, giving life to one another. So our sermon-based small groups are called life groups. They’re kicking off this week. There are ones that are in homes all around the valley. And if you’ve been to some argumentative Bible study, that’s not what this is. This is where nice people have dinner, pray for each other, build friendships and relationships. In a world that it feels like everyone and everything is against faith, freedom, and family, we wanna be the people who are for those things. We want you to find your people and your relationships. And at the end of the day, the life groups include not just home life groups for families all over the valley, where our regional church scattered. In addition, Saturday nights, we’ve got student life groups. They usually meet across at the cafe. They come in once a month for our first Saturday. We want the students to

have appropriate Bible teaching, but also relationships that are of people their own life stage. But we don’t want them to be absent from the church. We want this to also be their church home. So they come in every Saturday. First Saturday is going to be a special thing going forward. Extended worship. We’re gonna record a live album, have music videos that we distribute as a result, live stream it on Real Faith, and the first one coming up is a great gospel collective, The Bridge. And then Arizona Christian University’s bringing out their students. We got a bunch of other bands lined up for first Saturday. Life groups include groups for men and women. And so Grace, my wife, leads Real Women in the morning and the evening. Sermon-based small groups around table prayer. This includes a bit of worship and Grace does teaching and she’s far more amiable than me. You’re gonna love her. She lives up to her name, Grace. My initials are MAD, so that’s just kinda how we roll. On Wednesday nights as well, Grace runs Real Women over at the cafe, teaching, worship, small group, friendship time. And I have the honor of leading Real Men. We’ll start this week. I’m gonna do a nine-part lecture, Act Like A Man. And if you disagree, you need to show up early ’cause you really need these talks. And we’re gonna talk about what a man is and what a man does and how to be a man like the best man, the God man Jesus Christ. And so we do Bible teaching and relationships in the context of life groups. And so next week, we’ll jump into Nehemiah. We’re gonna have a capital campaign. We’re gonna build a park out front by God’s grace. We’re gonna finish and expand kids’ ministry. We’re gonna increase the broadcast. And the goal is, in the next two years, pay off the mortgage before the election, ’cause I think we’re gonna be doing the purge right around there. And so the goal is to get everything done and set up so that we can grow and be healthy and have our freedom to exercise our faith as a church family. After that, next January, we’re gonna jump into a book of the Bible called the Song of Songs. And if you don’t like books of the Bible, you’ll like this one. It’s awesome. Unless you’re single, then it’s frustrating. It’s like, “Okay, here’s all the things I can’t do. Ugh.” And so nine months later, we’re gonna need that kid’s ministry expanded. That’s not a prophecy. That’s just cause and effect, yeah. And there’s parts in the Song of Songs that are too hot to handle for church. So I’m gonna teach those sections at men’s. Grace is gonna try and preach those sections at women’s. Woo, pray for that. It’s gonna be good. After that, I’m gonna do a series on Elijah from 1 and 2 Kings. Joining me, I’ve got pastor Jimmy Evans and Dr. RT Kendall are gonna be part of that series as well. All kinds of fun Bible teaching coming up in the next year, but opening our lives to love. And one of the things that I’m so grateful for, we are a multi-generational church family. When we moved here, we wanted a place that would work for our whole family. Grace’s mom moved here. Some of you know and love where everybody calls her grandma Linda. I love her too. She’s the best. And then there’s Grace and I, and then we’ve got our five kids, and then some of them were getting ready to get married. And now, they are married. And eventually, we’ll be grandparents by God’s grace. And so we wanted a place that the whole family could be together and Arizona is one of those places. You’ve got great colleges with ACU, GCU, ASU. Then you’ve got a great place for young professionals to start their career and buy a starter home. And then you’ve got, especially in the southeast, in the northwest, you’ve got explosion of families and kids. And then you’ve got a lot of retirees. We are a regional church. We’re a multi-generational church. You older saints, we love you. You have wisdom. And sometimes, you’ve made mistakes and that’s part of your wisdom, and we love you and we welcome you and we value you. For those of you who are a

family, we care about you and we want this to be the best place for your family. We wanna strengthen your marriage. We wanna raise up your kids. And ultimately, if you’re a young adult, you can actually meet someone here that you might fall in love with and isn’t crazy like the rest of the world. And so I love the fact that we’re a multi-generational church family. And on that, I wanna say as well, wow. The world just feels true or false like it just hates children and family.

– [Congregant] Amen.

– And here’s what we’ve seen. I mean, I think we should change our verse to be fruitful and multiply. You guys have called dibs on that verse. This year, every single month this year, we’ve set a new record for kids’ ministry. In August, we set a new record every week. We grew during the summer with kids. And if you’re new, we do water slides and squirt guns and popsicles. You can always tell the kids that are first time guests. They got like a little tie on and profound disappointment on their face, ’cause they realize, we teach about Jesus in a fun, safe, loving, enthusiastic environment. There’s so many places you can’t take your kids ’cause you can’t trust what’s gonna happen. We don’t want that to be the case here. We throw a party every week. And every once in a while, a religious person will come. And if you’re here, thanks for being my illustration. So what happens is, every once in a while, religious people will come. They’ll be like, “Why are we spending so much money on fun?” I’ll tell you why. Heaven is a party that never ends. And kids loved Jesus. They ran to him ’cause he was safe and always a good time. And so we throw parties to practice for heaven. That’s what we do. And we invite people to those parties. And when they ask, “Why do you throw parties?” The answer is because we belong to the party that never ends. And we’d like to invite you to join us in the eternal party that never ends. And so it’s just really fun. On Saturday nights too, recently, this is a newer service. We are now approaching 50% 18 and under on Saturday nights. You need to know that the average church in America is running 50% pre-COVID. We pray for all churches and love them. But some have gone totally woke, which means they deny the gospel. Others have become soft woke and they’re ashamed of the gospel. We’re not. We believe in the power of the gospel. And we are seeing people get saved. We’re seeing lives get changed. We’re seeing families being healed, and we’re seeing children coming to Christ. So part of the open our lives to love, I wanna just briefly thank you for being a generous church family. It’s astonishing to me this fact. So the last few years at the end of the year, we sort of pull up all the data. Okay, how many people attended? How many people give? And you know what? It’s the same number. Pretty much everyone who attends this church gives. I’ve never seen that in my whole life. And it’s not because we’re a prosperity church and not because on the way out, you gotta give us your debit card and we’ll pray about an amount or anything. We don’t do membership. We do relationship. People give because their hearts are for the Lord. And I just wanna thank you for continually being a generous church family. Since we started, 40% of our total giving has gone to fixed assets and capital assets. We’ve paid off our mortgage by 40% in the first six years. We have paid cash for everything. All the upgrades to the property, including the beautiful new lobby that somebody in the church did as a gift for you this week, all the improvements to kids’ ministry, all the technology, all the furnishings, the cafe across the street, even a brand new worship studio that allows our band, and just, hear me in this, the band is volunteers that are part of our church

family and love you. And they’re incredibly talented and gifted, and you bought them a studio where they could record and practice and song write. We paid cash for everything as we have gone. I just wanna say thank you. And we are able to just give things away. And if we believe anything about God, that he is the God of grace, that if you love, you give and God so loved the world that he gave us Jesus Christ, his one and only son. So we give away study guides. We give away Bibles. We throw parties. We give away food. And we just had record camp attendance for middle school and high school students. And you guys allowed a number of kids to go who couldn’t afford it. You just took care of it all. And every time we throw a party, you can clap if you want, every time we throw a party. so when you leave the service, for those that are watching online, I mean, carnival rides and booths and fun and water slides and squirt guns. And what always happens is, when we throw a party, the neighbors come or people are driving by and they pull over. Every time we’ve thrown a party, we’ve seen those people who visit the party, get saved, and baptized. Every time. And we’re gonna baptize some people tonight and all weekend. This is gonna push our baptism total over six years to write around 700 people, meeting Jesus and getting saved at the church. So the way it works is this. Somebody drives by, they pull over. They’re like, “What are you guys doing?” “We’re throwing a party.” They’re like, first question, what do you think it is? How much is it? It’s free 99. It’s free 99. And their question is always like, “Well, that’s a terrible business model.” It is. But again, we believe in Jesus, not math. And what I like to tell ’em is God gives salvation, eternal life as a free gift through his son, Jesus Christ. And he gives to us so we can give to you. This is from Jesus. It’s a free gift to you. And it just confuses people every once in a while to be like, “So what, you want me to get saved?” “Exactly, thank you for bringing it up.” We’re not shy about this. We do overt, not covert. We’re gonna love, we’re gonna put out Bible teaching, we’re gonna throw parties, we’re gonna have fun, and we want people to meet Jesus and live forever. So that being said, we open our Bibles to learn, we open our lives to love so that lives and legacies are transformed. And this is one of the most exciting things that God does work for you through the death, burial, resurrection of Jesus. I’ll visit that in a moment. God doesn’t work in you. He sends the holy spirit to change your nature and give you new desires and new powers. And then God works through you to do ministry and to be used of God, to have life-giving power through you, change the lives and legacies of others. In a little bit, we’re gonna have baptisms. Just please stay and celebrate. I mean, this weekend, we could see our 700th person baptized. That’s amazing to me. All right? All these people that God loves and God saves and he’s changing the direction of their life and their legacy. And if you’re new, we’ve got all the booths outside. Man, if you wanna get married, we got a premarital class. If you don’t have somebody to marry yet, serve in kids ministry. That’s always, let me say if you’re single, if you’re a single guy, it’s not in my notes, but this is just a bonus round for you. If you’re a single guy like, “Where do I meet a nice girl?” In the kids’ ministry. Back there right now, there are sweet young godly girls playing with children. And if you’re a guy and you show up, that’s fishing in a trout pond. That’s what that is. You’re like, “Oh, you like kids. I like kids. We could make kids.” I mean, you’re already there. So simple. You think I’m kidding. I’m not. You’re a single guy right now, go to the kids booth, sign up, then you can go to the premarital class. We’ve got parenting classes to help you with your family. Like I said, Grace and I wanna invest in you as men and women’s. Student ministry doubled this year and continues to grow. So much to be excited about. If your kids are younger, a few things I

want you to know about. We want kids to own their faith in ministry as soon as possible. So if your kids are kind of at the end of elementary school, we have fireside kids. We give ’em a shirt, we train ’em, we disciple ’em, we raise them up, we do devotions with them. And then they become the big brothers and the big sisters in kids ministry and they’re leaders. If they’re in middle school, they can be a junior intern. They get a shirt, they get discipled, they get to go on fun activities. They get devotions and they’re running the water slide park and helping lead worship and teach classes. And the kids are building deep, profound friendships. And they’re having a lot of fun and they’re serving Jesus together. And the earlier a kid can own their faith and serve their God, the better. And then by high school and college, we’ve got a full internship program that is paid, and we invest in you, we disciple you, you get a mentor, you get to do hands on ministry. And what we’re seeing is the next generation of lives and legacies be raised up. Well, let me just say this. We are a countercultural church family. We do sex different. We do marriage different. We do parenting different. We do life different than everyone else, not because we hate them, but because it’s not working. Anybody who still believes in evolution must not have access to the internet. Things are not good and getting better. They’re bad and getting worse until Jesus comes back and makes it all better. The storyline of the Bible is the only thing that makes sense of human history. And so for us, we wanna live in a countercultural kingdom way under the authority of King Jesus and under the teaching of the Bible in the place of obedience that God would bless because we believe that life under King Jesus and life with the word of God open is the best life and the only blessed life. And we’re so honored to have you join us, and we’d encourage you to join us as part of our church family. Well, that being said, I just wanna say two things in closing. Number one, this is my family. This is Grace and I and our five kids and a couple of their spouses. And on behalf of our family, here’s what I just wanna say to you. You are wonderful to us. Wonderful. Wonderful. We love you. We thank you. At least one of you does. I think that’s great. Okay? And so right now, there was a study came out from actually somebody here in Arizona. Said that 42% of pastors are beat up, burned out, wanna quit. Wall Street Journal put that number at 50%. That means that half of the pastors in America go home, have dinner with their family, and the conversation is, “Do we quit this week? We can’t do this anymore.” We love you guys, I’m having a blast. Our family is loved by you, supported by you, encouraged by you, blessed by you. Like my kids are all serving Jesus because they love Jesus, but you love them. It means the world to me as a husband and father that this is a great place for my family. And we wanna help make this a great place for your families. And so I just wanna test, I know sometimes pastors are so frustrated with people. In this occasion, it would be the people are frustrated with a pastor. If that’s gonna be the way that it goes, then I just want you to know you are a blessing. I love you with all my heart and we are totally blessed by you. So let me close with this. I’ve talked about my testimony, our family’s testimony, our church family’s testimony, and my question is, how about your testimony? Do you know Jesus? Do you love Jesus? Do you follow Jesus? Do you trust in Jesus? If you don’t know, let me tell you the most important thing that you need to know, the one thing above everything that you must know, and that is what has gone wrong in the world and the one alone who can make it right. If you look at our world, it’s got a lot of pains, problems, and perils. It doesn’t matter how many dollars we spend, how many wars we wage, how many elections we hold, or how many bullets we fire. It’s just still keeps self-destructing and disintegrating. And if you’ve been paying attention, you

probably have fear and anxiety and a lack of hope. Well, here’s the truth. We’re not the solution, we’re the problem. That we are all sinners by nature and choice. That ultimately, because we are the problem, we cannot be the solution. So God who made us sent his son to save us. Jesus Christ is God become a human being. He said he was God and we murdered him for that reason. He lived without any sin. He alone lived the perfect human life. He said he was God. He’s the only founder of any major world religion in the history of our planet to declare himself to be God. We killed him thinking there was something wrong with him, which just proves that there’s something profoundly wrong with us. And then he on the cross prayed for our forgiveness so that our relationship with him could be reconciled. And then Jesus was buried. And three days later, he conquered Satan, sin, death, hell and the wrath of God. Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Jesus Christ is alive and well. Jesus Christ is ruling and reining as we speak. Jesus Christ is seated in the most high place. He is surrounded by divine beings and departed saints, and they are crying out day and night, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty.” And we pray, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. You need Jesus. Jesus loves you. You’ve got a God-sized problem and Jesus is the only solution. So this is where you give yourself to Jesus. You give your sin to Jesus. You give your life to Jesus. You give your legacy to Jesus. If you would like to be prayed for, if you would like to receive Christ, if you’d like to have your questions answered, in just a moment, go to the back. Our prayer team is there to meet with you and to help you. We’ll give you a Bible if you need one, a really nice leather-bound ESV study Bible. In addition, if you’ve never been baptized, we’re gonna baptize people now. It’s gonna be awesome, okay? And it shows that Jesus died, was buried, and rose. And it shows that we trust in him for forgiveness of sin. And that this life is as close to hell as we will ever be. And when we die, we enter into God’s presence in heaven. If you’ve never been baptized as a Christian, today is the day. We got towels, we got shorts, we got a place to change. We got people to pray with you and talk with you. Somebody like, “I didn’t come prepared.” I know. He didn’t tell you ’cause you wouldn’t come, but now he’s telling you, you’re gonna get baptized. And he told us, so we’re ready. You’re welcome, nailed it. Okay, go to the back. And so what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna sing and celebrate. We’re gonna show the baptisms. We’re gonna live stream it. And at this point, we’re baptizing all weekend. Why don’t we just bring up the people from this service? And friends, why don’t you just welcome all of these dear people who are getting baptized? Come on up. All the way up here, guys. All the

way to the front. Good to see you. All right, everybody up. You baptizing your boys, mom? – Myself and them.
– You’re getting baptized and your sons? And there’s more. And how old are you guys?
– 12.

– 12.
– [Speaker] 10.

– 10. You get knuckles, all right. Bring everybody up on stage. Just come on up to the front. – Thanks for not asking how old I am.

– No, I might ask in a minute. That’s a good idea. So we’re gonna baptize all these people, not at once, but one at a time. And guys, pray this weekend. If you wanna get baptized, go to the
back. If you wanna receive Jesus, go to the back. If you want a new start in a fresh life with Jesus Christ, meet with someone in the back. All these people are getting baptized. Let me ask this. So Cody, you’re the tallest. How tall are you? 6’5″. Who’s the shortest? I think you brought the shortest with you. So who came the farthest? Who came the farthest for baptism? Are you guys all local in the valley or outta state? Who’s baptizing people in their own family? Your kids, your spouse, raise your hand. That’s awesome, that’s awesome. So here’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna pray for them. Would you do that? Raise a hand, join your faith with mine. Father God, we thank you for all these lives and legacies that are changed. God, it just warms my heart as a parent to see moms and dads getting baptized and baptizing their own children. God, we pray for long life and fruitful legacy. God, we pray that these children who are getting baptized, that it would be true and sincere for the rest of their days, that holy spirit, you would lead and guide them and keep them from trouble and harm’s way. God, for any of these people that need to know that they’re forgiven, I pray holy spirit right now, you would confirm the truth of the Bible and the gospel. Jesus loves them. Jesus forgives them. Jesus died for them. Jesus rose for them. Jesus is available to them. Jesus blesses them. Jesus hears and answers prayer. And Jesus is coming to bring them home to be with him forever. God, as these people get baptized, fill this room with joy. Give us joy in the holy spirit and let us just throw a big party in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Mark Driscoll
[email protected]

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