Gaining By Losing

Answering the call to be a church planting congregation.

George Wright
Feb 2, 2020    40m
In this sermon Pastor George Wright talks about church planting. He explains that a crucial part of accomplishing the mission to live sent, is to plant churches in underserved areas. He and Pastor Billy Judge update the congregation on the status of Shandon's first church plant in Pittsburg, and how Billy answered the call to live sent. Video recorded at Columbia, South Carolina.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

George Wright: 00:00 Let me invite you to stand with me as I read this scripture. And I ask you to stand just because when we gather together as a church, we all need to be reminded that the Word of God is our authority, and so we stand upon this foundation of the Word of God. We are unwavering in our commitment, uncompromising in our belief, that the Word of God is exactly what we need to hear, to understand what God says is right and good and true. So we stand on the authority of scripture, we stand on the Word of God.

George Wright: 00:38 And this is what the scripture says, in words of Jesus recorded for us in John chapter 12 verse 24. Jesus says this, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." This is the call to follow Jesus, and this is the Word of God speaking to us, inviting us into something that is so much bigger than that which we could find, acquire or achieve on our own.

George Wright: 01:34 So let's ask the Lord, through his word, to speak into our lives today as we turn our attention to him. Let's pray together. Would you pray with me? Father, as we stand now at the reading of your word, as we turn our attention to who you are and what you say. I pray, Lord God, that you would have your way among us. We need to hear from you. There are so many voices fighting for our attention, so much noise being broadcast our way. I pray, Lord God, that in this moment, this sacred moment, that you have set apart for us to gather together, I pray that we would hear from you, and that we would heed what you say. That your word would not return void, but your word would go deep into our heart and mind, that we would then live as a result of what you have done and what you have said. We fix our attention on you now this morning, and pray through the power of your Spirit at work among us, that we would not be the same as a result of what you say. We thank you for this privilege to gather together, and we ask you to speak for your glory. It's in Christ' name I pray. Amen. Amen. You may be seated. Thank you for standing.

George Wright: 03:06 This is a special month in the life of our church, and if you're new to Shandon and you've never been a part of a Live Sent month before, this is something we've done in February over the last few years. And this is an opportunity for us to be reminded that we really are a part of something bigger than what God is doing through us, this is not just about what's happening here at Shandon. But it's about what God is doing beyond these walls, and the way God has invited us into this mission to take the good news that we've received and to take what he has done for us, and to spread it out. To scatter it out, to use the words of Jesus, the way a seed would be scattered, to go into the ground to be planted, that there can be a new harvest, a new batch of fruit that comes forth.

George Wright: 04:03 In John chapter 12 here, we are seeing this call to follow Jesus, and here's what's so challenging about this call. If you're new to church, or you're new to the Christian faith, or maybe you've been around church for a long time and you're just trying to understand what does it mean to really follow Jesus? Not just to attend a service, not just to be religious, not just to have a religion that's part of your life, but what does it mean to follow Jesus? We're given some insight here, and Jesus is showing us that to follow him, is to answer this call to lay down our lives. That's hard to hear, lay down our lives. It's a call that certainly is to something so much bigger than we could find on our own. Certainly so much greater, according to the scripture, than what we could acquire on our own. But this is a challenging, challenging call. It is a step of faith, it is a step of faith that says, I will lay down my life, and lay down my plans, to pick up the life that God alone can provide, and to walk in step with the plans that God has for me. I will not try to play God with my life. I will not try to be God of my life. I will trust there is a God, who has given me a life and who has great plans for me, if I will follow after him.

George Wright: 05:50 It's a call to lay down my desires, it's a call to even lay down my way. It's a call that says, I believe that God's way is the best way. And I believe that if I open my hands and trust God with all that he has entrusted to me, he will use my life for immeasurably more than I could ask, imagine or think. In short, this call to follow Jesus that we see in John 12, is a call to surrender. And in that call to surrender, Jesus uses this very simple illustration about scattering seeds, scattering seeds of the gospel. What is Jesus talking about? Jesus is saying, scattering the good news, scattering the gifts, scattering the treasure that you have received if you are a follower of Christ, that others might receive what Christ has done.

George Wright: 07:00 This is where we get our mission statement, it's what it means to live sent. It's what we talk about all the time here at Shandon, the mission live sent, is this leveraging who we are and what we've been given for the sake of the gospel, wherever we are, and wherever God takes us. That we are scattering the seeds of the gospel wherever we are, and wherever God takes us. This beautiful treasure of what Christ has done, was never intended just to stop with us. It's a gift to be shared, it's a gift to be leveraged, so that others can experience the good news of life that is found in Christ. This language of John 12 is so important, that this treasure of life in Christ, this treasure of the gospel is like a seed. And if a seed is not planted in the ground, if a seed is not scattered out where it can then die so to speak, to then bring about new life, that seed is actually useless. Jesus is saying to everyone who follows him, to every church who believes in him, to every individual Christ follower, you have been given seeds of the gospel. You have been in trusted with this treasure, and this treasure that has been entrusted to you is not yours to horde, it's now yours to just keep to yourself. No, it's yours to plant, it's yours to scatter that others might experience this beautiful gift of who God is and what he has done. And in God's economy, when we scatter seeds of the gospel, the gospel multiplies in kingdom impact beyond anything that we could ever hope for in and of ourselves, and certainly beyond anything that we could accomplish had we kept the seeds to ourselves.

George Wright: 09:21 About five years ago, I was given a book that forever changed my perspective as it relates to living out this calling that God has placed on my life. Certainly to follow Jesus, but then secondly, to be a minister of the gospel. And here's my confession, early in ministry, my primary focus was building something that would look good, building something that provided some evidence that hey, God is at work. So let's work really, really, really hard and let's build something that we call a church where people will come so that when people see this church, they'll go, yeah, God's doing something there. The primary focus for me was on me, and what we were trying to build for ourselves, so to speak, in the church. And yet, through the work of God in my life, and through some circumstances that brought me to my knees in prayer, and then certainly through this book that I'm talking about. God began to open my eyes that actually this calling to ministry that was on my life, this calling to pastor that was all my life, was not just about what God was doing in one specific location that we could keep for ourselves, it's about what God is doing to build his Kingdom.

George Wright: 10:57 And there are some things that God has invited us to be about for the sake of kingdom impact, that on paper may not benefit us at all. In fact, on paper, they may feel like if we are involved in kingdom impact outside of ourselves, outside of the walls, outside of what we receive and experience, it may feel like or even look like at times that it's a loss. If we send resources over there, if we send people over there, it may seem like a loss. But in God's economy, anything that is leveraged for kingdom impact is not a loss. In fact, in God's economy, what might first appear like subtraction actually becomes multiplication. God moves in power when the seeds of the gospel are scattered and planted, and God does immeasurably more than if we had kept the seeds to ourselves.

George Wright: 12:02 The beginning of this book that I'm talking about, it's called, Gaining By Losing, that's the title of our sermon for today. In the beginning of this book, there's a question that was posed that really rattled me, a question that got my attention. And the question was this, how many seeds, that God has blessed you with, are you planting in the kingdom fields? That's a simple enough question. How many seeds, that God has blessed you with, are you planting in kingdom fields, fields that are not specifically and primarily for your personal benefit? The question is this, how much of our resources, our time, our energy, our efforts for those of us who are followers of Jesus, for those of us who are involved in the church, how much of our time, energy, resource, finances, and effort are we planting to benefit ourselves versus planting in kingdom fields that will benefit others? That's a convicting question, at least it was for me. And this began a wrestling match with the Lord, going, man, am I trying to build something that's just about me? Or am I trying to be involved, Lord, with what you're doing to build your kingdom, for your glory? Because when we are at work for your glory, then is becomes for our good, and we get to reap the benefit of what you’re doing for your glory. That's what I want to be about.

George Wright: 13:44 This book would go on to say, in talking about John 12, if John 12:24 is true, then Jesus measures the success of our ministries, not by how large we grow the storehouse, but how widely we distribute the seeds. If Jesus's measure of the church is not seating capacity, but sending capacity. Then every church, every ministry, every follower of Jesus Christ, ought to be devoted to giving away what they have for God's kingdom. It's a challenging idea, giving away what we have, for the sake of the kingdom of God advancing through us. Not being so focused on ourselves, that we're willing to be a part of kingdom ministry, scattering seeds of the gospel that the Lord can multiply as he sees fit. Here's what's amazing, and here's what we've experienced at Shandon, as it relates to God's economy and scattering of kingdom seeds so to speak. You and I cannot out give God, we can't do it. You can try I hope you'll try, but you and I cannot out give God. And what may seem, again, like a loss, actually becomes a gain when we are investing in kingdom purposes. And what may seem like subtraction as we send resources somewhere else, or we send people somewhere else, or we help establish new works of ministry outside of ourselves that we don't control and we don't own, what may seem like a loss actually becomes this kingdom multiplication, where God does far more with what we have entrusted to him than we ever could have done had we kept it for ourselves. God measures success, this is the thought, through our sending capacity, not our seating capacity. Are we more focused with our seats than we are with kingdom seeds?

George Wright: 16:23 The call to follow Jesus, is the call to lay down our lives, lay down our plans, trusting that God is offering us an even greater path, and an even greater story. One of the ways all throughout scripture that we see kingdom seeds being spread, is something we call church planting. In fact, I believe one of the greatest ways that we as a church can share this treasure of the gospel, and scatter seeds of the gospel that we have received, is through church planting. Where we empower others to go out and establish new churches to do the work of the ministry, where the need is great.

George Wright: 17:14 And church planting is part of God's design for multiplication. You see this in the scriptures, specifically in the Book of Acts, and following. If you read through the New Testament, you're seeing story after story after story of new churches that are being planted and established, so that the gospel can spread to those who have yet to see it, hear it and receive it. I love to say this about our history here at Shandon, we are a church plant. Y'all realize that, right, as you look around? We're not a brand new church plant, we're kind of an older church plant, but in 1907 we were a brand new church plant. I kind of half joked with the first service, I know some of them were there when Shandon was playing the 1907. But in 1907 a church down the road, First Baptist of Columbia, realized that Columbia was growing beyond the city. And there was this new community you way out in the sticks called Shandon, where there needed to be a new church, a new work of the gospel. So that people moving in to this kind of country area called Shandon, outside the city, could have the opportunity to hear the good news of what Jesus had done. And in the grace and provision of God, First Baptist of Columbia launched out a group of people to start this new work in the Shandon community, and we get to reap the benefits of that church plant as we look around and see what God has done through the faithfulness of some over a hundred years ago.

George Wright: 19:00 What a privilege it is to look around our room today and to consider what God could do through us, the more we evolve ourselves, and get invested in this call to church planting to be about reproduction. To be about multiplication, to be willing to utilize some of these seeds that have been entrusted to us, and scatter them out where the need is great. In January of 2018 we laid out a vision for the church, some of you may remember this, that we were going to be involved in church planting specifically in the city of Pittsburgh. We talk about Pittsburgh a lot around here, and the reason why we do that is because the North American Mission Board, which is our national missions arm of the Southern Baptist Convention that we're connected to here at Shandon, identified 32 cities around North America. Growing cities, large cities, where there was not much traction for the gospel, and where new churches needed to be established so that the gospel could spread where the need was great. Pittsburgh is one of the cities on that list, one of the thirty-two send cities. Where we as a denomination are saying, okay, we want to do whatever it takes to plant new work, to plant new churches, so that there can be a new generation hearing the good news of the gospel where the church right now is just not very effective.

George Wright: 20:38 So when we laid out this vision to be involved in Pittsburgh a couple of years ago, we laid out this dream and this prayer that God would use our church, use Shandon, to help establish five new churches in five years And we've seen some exciting things happen, we've got two church plants that are on the ground right now in Pittsburgh and we're involved there. And some of you have gone on trips and you've served there, and you've been praying for Pittsburgh and it's exciting. But in that prayer two years ago, we began to pray that at least one of these church plants, which specifically come out of Shandon. That God would raise up a church planter here from among us, and raise up a core team, a launch team that would relocate their lives. Think about this crazy idea, moving from the city of Columbia to the city of Pittsburgh, just to help start a new church. What a step of faith. And I'm excited today to be able to share with you some incredibly good news in that answered prayer. Today we get to hear from one of our own, who is just up in the baptismal pool, baptizing one of our college students. I want to welcome up onto the stage with me our college pastor Billy Judge. Would you help welcome Billy.

George Wright: 22:04 Have a seat my man.

Billy Judge: 22:08 Hey, after we put our stools down, I do need to give you a hug, because I just love you bro.

George Wright: 22:12 Love you too. I'm so excited for you, and so excited about what God's doing. You can see the Judge family there. Beautiful Sarah, young, strapping William. Of course he is, he follows a good example. That's awesome. That's awesome. And Billy and his wife Sarah, are going to be moving to the city of Pittsburgh at the end of this school year, to launch Steel City Church. That's a really cool name for a church, Steel City Church. Come on man.

Billy Judge: 22:42 We're excited for it, we're still going to be in New York sports fans though.

George Wright: 22:47 Are you? Well man, I want to talk about this journey, because this is really exciting. This is a new direction and a new opportunity for us here at Shandon. I mean, you know the history, we've been involved in church planting through giving, and we've been involved in church planting through sending teams, but we've never been involved in church planting through sending out one of our own, in sending out a launch team to a place where the need is great. So this is a significant step of faith that you're taking. Tell us about it, how in the world did this calling to plant a church even happen in your life? Just give us a little background.

Billy Judge: 23:19 Before I start, we are super excited and were also terrified at the same time, and so that's just a quick prayer point for you. But my story goes back to when I was growing up on Long Island New York, I had amazing family, amazing parents. I grew up in a Roman Catholic home like some of you did. And I always fast forward my story to my senior year of high school where I was going down two paths at the same time. One was primarily religious, I got really good at being Catholic and following all the rules. And one was primarily concerned with climbing up the social ladder, and I would do anything to keep and influence friends. And so the way that I described my senior year of high school, the college students are giggling because they hear me say it all the time, but the way that I described that senior year was that it was a blur of house parties and basketball. And as a 17 year old, I seemingly had everything that a 17 year old could want, but deep inside me there was a brokenness and an emptiness, and I knew that the answer was God. I just needed somebody to teach me how to follow him. And so that summer after graduating high school, before I was coming down to the University of South Carolina for school, you know I was ready for SEC football, hot weather, and pretty girls.

Billy Judge: 24:35 So the Lord had other plans, right? And so that summer, there was an unlikely classmate who stepped out in faith and shared the gospel with me. He told me that God loved me, that God had a plan for my life, that he wanted to forgive me. And so right before coming to college I woke up, literally hung over and broken by my sin, and cried out for the Lord to save me. And here's what's crazy, the first people who I met on campus at Carolina were from Shandon Baptist church.

George Wright: 25:07 Shandon College.

Billy Judge: 25:09 Yeah, that's right, and so I love this church. Shandon is where I was baptized by a guy named Steve Turner, who some of you know, was discipled by David Taylor, who's on our staff right now as my college pastor. And so I really had the opportunity to grow up in Christ at Shandon, and I was pouring into college students after we graduated, I was teaching public school and coaching. And about three years ago, the Lord opened up the door for me to be on staff as the college pastor.

George Wright: 25:32 And it's been incredible having you here as the college pastor. I knew all of our college students would echo that, man, we love what God has done through you. It's been beautiful, it's been a privilege to see it in action, and to be a part of it. But I recognize that in the midst of all of this great ministry that was happening here at Shandon College, the Lord was stirring something in you. Tell us about this call to plant a church. I mean, this doesn't happen overnight. I mean this something that the Lord has been stirring for a while now in your heart, but just share with us about that.

Billy Judge: 26:05 Yeah, so as a freshman in college I was just on fire for Jesus, I was sharing my faith, excited about what he was doing. But I recognized that there was something happening kind of in South Carolina that wasn't happening in the North where I was from. And so I had this burden of getting back out of the South at some point, back into a place where gospel centered churches like Shandon just don't exist in the numbers that they exist here. And so I kind of always knew that I wanted to head back to the North to plant a church, and I was hired by Dr. Lincoln, which was a privilege. But in the midst of that transition, Sarah and I started to pray with a few others that the Lord would bring a pastor to our church who was also excited about sending, and about church planting. And so this is wild, the first night that I met George Wright wasn't at church, it was at Burger Tavern on Divine Street. And he didn't give me a hug like he did on the staff, in fact, I think he wanted to fire me because I was wearing a suit that night. But you guys can laugh at that, he didn't really want to fire me.

George Wright: 27:08 Not on day one, it was like maybe the end of the second month.

Billy Judge: 27:11 That's right. Yeah, you just can't wait to get me out. But here's what's crazy, the first thing that George said to me was this. He said, I heard that you want to be a church planter. When do I get to send you? And so from that moment, we really believe that the Lord had answered a prayer in bringing you to our church. And so I think it was what, about a year and a half ago we started having these conversations, and we've gotten some training over the past couple months from The Summit Church, and we'll head out in July to start this.

George Wright: 27:42 I knew that call has been on your heart for quite some time, several years, and it's been really beautiful to watch you process that and pray through it. But why the city of Pittsburgh? Why would you move your family from beautiful Columbia, the SEC land, all those things you just described.

Billy Judge: 28:01 It's because we lack the snow.

George Wright: 28:05 It's got to be. Do you really want to bundle up and have chapped lips all the time, and frostbite on your nose and all that, you just really want that? No, why the Pittsburgh?

Billy Judge: 28:16 Pittsburgh is similar to Columbia in that it is this city that is not just a city, but it's a place where the college campus collides with the city. And so you know my passion has been college students, and we've seen some amazing God things happen in our city because of our work. But Pittsburgh is a bigger city, with a bigger campus, several campuses, right? 80,000 college students, but just less gospel centered churches. And so when you guys think of Pittsburgh, many of you think kind of the blue collar mentality, you think of steel. But when we think of Pittsburgh, we think of the 80,000 college students, who, if we could reach and disciple, we could send out the next generation of church planters, and church leaders, and missionaries. We think of the young pros, the urban professionals who are striving to climb the corporate ladder, and that's where they're finding their worth. We think that if we reach them in the city, we could change the landscape, the cultural landscape of the Northeast. And we think of the families, right? Whose Sunday mornings primarily revolve around Steelers football, who if we were to reach them, we could see the renewal of neighborhood after neighborhood after neighborhood. And so just a strategic place with a lot of hurt and a lot of need. And so yeah, we're ready to go.

George Wright: 29:31 Well then talk about where you're specifically going to land, because Pittsburgh is a big city, over 2 million people. And the need is great all throughout the city, but God has prompted y'all, called y'all to a very specific part of the city in the center of the city. I think we've got a map we can put up that just shows the city of Pittsburg. This shows you the city of Pittsburgh, the red dots, you may want to speak to this Billy, are new church plants that we have been involved in over these last couple of years. So those are brand new church plants kind of around the city. And then that blue dot, right, that's Steel City Church. Steel City Church, right in the center of the city, near University of Pittsburgh. Right? Where a lot of young professionals are moving. Why is that area so strategic and important to you, specifically in his calling?

Billy Judge: 30:19 Yeah, so that area of the city is called the East End. And here's how cities work, cities are great for college students, and they're great for urban professionals. In fact, urban professionals that kind of 23 to 33 year old demographic, recent college grads, are really the most dominant demographic in that part of the city. Because people are getting married later in life, they're having kids later in life. And when they do have kids, they tend to move to the suburbs, because you can get a bigger house and more land with better schools for cheaper. Right? And that's where a lot of people are planting churches, you saw that on the map, you saw all those red dots. But we feel like if we have all of these urban professionals, who have the capacity and the potential to change the culture of the city. And we believe with the college campus right there, we've got another unique opportunity, right? Because the college campus brings students not just from all over the country, but from all over the world. We have students, literally, from closed countries where it's illegal to share the gospel, coming to the college campus for much more in God's Providence than an education. Right? It's because he wants them to know Jesus. And so that's a booming part of the city, it's where businesses like Google and Facebook are starting to put headquarters. And yeah, it's a real strategic part that is experiencing what they call in Pittsburgh, not a renewal, but a Renaissance. And so real excited to be in that part of the city.

George Wright: 31:43 It is an exciting part of the city, just seeing the way people are moving back into the city instead of getting out, and just the opportunities there.

Billy Judge: 31:50 But 2030, 60% of the world's population will be in cities, which is just crazy to think about.

George Wright: 31:59 Imagine that, that's incredible. That need to go to the city is so great. Well talk about that spiritual need, because with all these people moving into the center of Pittsburgh, and just the opportunity that God here has provided for you to go and land there. What is the spiritual temperature, and just the spiritual condition right now?

Billy Judge: 32:19 Yeah, so Pittsburghers, we were at a restaurant this week and there was a Pittsburgher on the menu, but that's not what you asked. So Pittsburghers are spiritually wounded, and spiritually skeptical. A lot of that comes out of things that have gone down in the Catholic church, with the influence there. This is a crazy statistic I read, this is the plan, not the projection that by 2023, so three years from now, Pittsburgh will close down two thirds of their Catholic parishes. And you know, it's the third largest Catholic diocese in America, right, New York, Boston and Pittsburgh. In fact, I was reading just this morning on Wikipedia about it, just to make sure I had my facts straight, and this consolidation movement, they're calling it Church Alive. Which is just totally odd.

New Speaker: 33:12 They're closing down two thirds of their churches, and they're calling it Church Alive.

Billy Judge: 33:17 Yes, that's what the movement is called. But a spiritually wounded city is in need of a lot of healing, they're in need of people they can trust. You know, one of the statistics that we have found is that clergy in Pittsburgh is no longer on like the top five types of people that people trust, it is just off the list, and so we're going into a city with hard soil, but believing that God is already there doing a work that we can step into.

George Wright: 33:44 Absolutely, absolutely, well give us a timeline. Because y'all will be launching out pretty soon, but there's still a little runway here before y'all move to Pittsburgh, so just share what the timeline is for all that.

Billy Judge: 33:55 So we have been recruiting people into kind of our midst, or God has been calling out people into our midst, to be part of our launch team. And we can talk more about that in a minute, but we'll continue to build our launch team out for the next few months, we'll meet together on Sunday nights to cast vision and to build a sense of family together. By spring break, we hope to have another college pastor in our midst, and so we want you guys to join us in praying for the person who succeeds me or [inaudible], I don't know what the word is there, but follows me. and we're praying that he's actually better.

George Wright: 34:36 He will be, there is no question about that.

Billy Judge: 34:36 You can clap for that. Cool. And so we'll continue doing that, and then this July we will be launched out. June, right? I'll get to preach, which is cool.

George Wright: 34:48 In June, Billy's going to have the opportunity to share some vision, and preach a message as he leaves to move to Pittsburgh. We'll commission their launch team, and pray over their team on that day. It'll be a very, very special day as we prepare for that. Tell us a little bit about the launch team. I know that's still building right now, but God's done some incredible things there.

Billy Judge: 35:08 Yeah, so we this prayer, Sarah and I, that Lord we were going to go, but we really don't want to go alone. And so I feel like we have been praying for this, but the Lord has provided this in terms of our launch team. There are 15 Sarah corrected me earlier, 15 adults and 7 children who are committed to our launch team, many who are from Shandon. And it's not just some recent college grads who are coming with us, in fact, there are a few families that you know and love who are committed to our launch team. Chris and Rachel Richards, who are right there on the third row. You know, Chris's family was around in 1907 when this church was planted, not him, but you know the Richard's roots. Right? But Chris is coming kind of as our executive pastor, he'll be our right hand man. So the Lord is just doing an amazing thing in terms of our launch team, we're really thankful for that.

George Wright: 36:05 I don't want to blow past that, because certainly we celebrate that someone who's in full time ministry and he was called to be a pastor, is stepping out on faith. That's huge. But there are 15 adults with 7 kids from our context, that are saying, yeah, we'll move our life from Columbia to Pittsburgh, and we'll find jobs, and we'll find a place to live, and we'll raise our families so that we can be a part of this new church work. That is beautiful y'all, that is to be celebrated. That's a move of God. [inaudible] I'd love for you to share kind of a final word, a final challenge, with the church before we wrap up this time. What's something you can share with us?

Billy Judge: 36:52 Yeah, I'll share two things, because there's two types or two groups of people in this room. There's the people who are following Jesus, and you're kind of sold out, and you're excited about your faith. And then there's the people who are just kind of exploring, you might be here for the first time and we don't know why you're here, but maybe something has happened in your life that's prompted you to get back into church. My encouragement to that group, if you're kind of seeking, is you might feel like, man, I don't know how Jesus could accept me. I'm just not good enough, he could never use me. My encouragement to you there is this, is that I met Jesus with a hangover, true story. And he didn't ask me to clean myself up, he didn't ask me to get my stuff together before I surrendered to him, he just asked me to come to him. So if that's you, if you're in a similar boat to where I was, just know that God loves you, he's pursuing you with his love, and he has grace abundant for your life. And the second group of people, the people who are excited, and you might be a member at Shandon, you're excited about your faith, you're pursuing Jesus. My challenge to you is this, is live sent. Three years ago, George was brought here by God to be our pastor, and he laid out this vision. For some of you it's been intimidating. For some of you it's been hard. For some of you it's been unique. But I promise you it is the right vision, and that's because it's the Jesus vision. And so leverage who you are and what you've been given for the sake of the gospel, wherever you are, and wherever God takes you.

George Wright: 38:26 Thank you for that word. That's a really, really good word. Okay, so folks that might want to find out more about Steel City Church, and just how they can pray for you, support, or be involved. What can they do?

Billy Judge: 38:36 Yeah, two ways. We just need you to pray a ton. I mean just like pray for everything, pray for the building, pray for the people, pray for our team. So pray, pray, pray, pray, pray. But two specific ways to connect, right after this we'll be in the next step center here to answer your questions. Perhaps the Lord is stirring in you to be part of our team, maybe he wants you to move to Pittsburgh with us, we'd love to talk to you more about that. So we'll be in the next step center, but not just for the people who are considering a move, but for those of you who want to be on our prayer team and to stay connected with us as we head out. Next Sunday, during both Sunday school hours, so February 9th during Sunday school hours we'll be in B-103, that's the college room. And we're going to share more about the vision of Steel City Church. We're going to share what we hope to see God accomplish when we get there, we'll talk more in detail about our timeline, and what our team meetings will look like. So we want as many of you there as possible on February 9th in B-103.

George Wright: 39:34 That's awesome. That's awesome. Well, join me just in thanking Billy for sharing a little bit of this vision, and this awesome step of faith. We're grateful for you. I'm going to pray for you. I'm going to pray for you. We're not quite done, but let me pray for Billy, and then we'll continue in this service. Father, we're so grateful for the privilege that it is to see that seeds of the gospel being scattered out to a new place, a new community, a new city in such a way that your love and grace can be displayed for those who have yet to see, hear and believe. And so I pray, Lord, your hand of blessing and provision on Billy and Sarah and their team, on the Richards, and all those who will be called out to go to step out on faith and to live this mission. Lord, use their lives for your glory. We pray for a great, strong, healthy church in Steel City Church to be established, that will reach and impact many people where the need is great in the city of Pittsburgh. We thank you for your love, and we thank you for this awesome picture of faithfulness as you call them out. It is in Christ' name we pray. Amen.

Recorded in Columbia, South Carolina.
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Shandon Baptist Church
5250 Forest Drive
Columbia, South Carolina 29206