November 9, 2003
The young college student was frustrated, lonely, and a little bit homesick. College life was not really what he thought. He thought he knew a lot about the world. You know what I’m saying. But in reality, he had grown up in a sort of cloistered environment. The temptations of life—the girls, the parties, the drinking binges—were kind of alluring, but amazingly this guy remained pretty strong. He met this guy named Scott. Scott had a lot of problems. Scott was a young man who really needed the Lord. And Scott came from a pretty well to do family. His father was a successful college coach. Because of that, his dad was on the road a lot and he and his mom had some serious battles. As a young guy, Scott got involved in the drug scene and began to do some shoplifting. The drugs segued into harder drugs and the shoplifting moved into burglarizing homes. Scott didn’t need the money, but it was just something to do. Scott, though, was a lonely guy and he was empty. And this college student, Scott’s friend, did something one night in his dorm he had never done before. He hit his knees. He rested his arms on the air-conditioning unit and looked out over a darkened parking lot, and prayed for his friend to come to Christ.
Well, the next day, this guy and Scott were walking to class and Scott turned and said something to this guy that shocked him.
He said, “There’s something different about your life, something unique. I would love to have what you have,” he said.
That evening, this young sophomore was able to lead Scott into a personal relationship with Christ. I know that lonely college student pretty well because I’m describing me.
That was my first interaction with tonight’s subject matter, multiplication. If you have been around here lately, you know that I’m in a brand new series called STILL COUNTING. We’ve discovered that math matters to God. And because math matters to God, it should matter to us as well. We kicked it off talking about addition. Last time, we talked about subtraction. Today, we are talking about multiplication.
When you think about multiplication, you’ve got to think about Jesus, because Jesus was all over multiplication. Think about the bookends of his ministry. Do you realize Christ’s public ministry only lasted about 36 months? When he kicked his ministry off in Matthew, chapter 4, he talked about multiplication. He looked at a bunch of first century fishermen and said, “Hey, follow me. I’ll make you fishers of men.” Multiplication.
Christ said, “Hey, I’ll show you how to multiply me in the lives of others.” Think about his life right before he ascended to be with the Father. Push the clock forward three years. He looked at some people and he talked about multiplication. Matthew 28:19-20, we’ve been talking about this Scripture a lot around here.
“Therefore go,” Jesus said, “and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
When I read that text, Matthew 28:19-20, I just read to you a serious word problem. I just read to you a big equation. The front end of this equation is all about multiplication—that’s going and making disciples. The back end of the equation is all about division. That’s what we’ll talk about next time. We can’t really understand division until first of all we understand multiplication.
What does it mean to go and to make disciples? That’s what Jesus was all about and he’s given us something. He’s given us a venue where our math, where his multiplication should matter and should play out. That’s the local church. That’s right, the local church, the bride of Christ, that entity that Jesus anointed, is all about multiplication. It’s multiplying Jesus into the lives of other people. It’s seeing them multiply themselves within the church and outside the church.
That’s why Fellowship Church is the church it is today. It’s because of multiplication. And we’re doing the math within the confines of church, within the confines of the Dallas/Ft. Worth community. I look at Fellowship Church and I realize that about 98% of the people who attend showed up because someone they knew invited them. And that’s our strategy. Our strategy is simply multiplication. And here’s the deal we work with you. I’ve said this many, many times. Let me say it once again. You know people that we will never know. Isn’t that cool? You know people that I will never know and I know people that you will never know. There’s certain people that you can identify with that I could never identify with. On the other hand, there are some people that I can identify with that you cannot identify with. So, if we use our influence to build relationships, to pray for others, and to invite them to Fellowship Church, those who are gifted in the arts, those who are gifted in putting together videos, in working with children, and doing mission trips, greeting and teaching, we will bust it on our end. And together we will reach this community, this nation, this world with the life-changing multiplication power of Jesus Christ. That’s our strategy. It’s very simple. It’s very basic.
Now some of you at this point might be saying, “Whoa! Whoa, dude! You know, I’m not a Christian and I’m just checking church out at Fellowship Church. You know, I like this church because it’s kind of big and I can kind of hide, you know. Are you saying I’m a marked man or I’m a marked woman or whatever?”
Yes, I am. We’re not going to pressure you or coerce you. Fellowship Church is a church where you can ask questions. Don’t check your intellect at the door before you walk in. Jesus wants thinking people to make thinking decisions, to understand the equation and to do the multiplication. But I’m going to tell you something. We will respect your questions. We will respect your investigative efforts. We do believe, though, one day you will step over the line of faith and we are planning a lot of stuff here at Fellowship Church just for you. We’re white hot about multiplication. We love multiplication because Jesus loved it and loves it so very much.
So, yes, I believe you will become a Christ-followers and that’s up to you. That’s a God thing. We are, though, going to give you an opportunity many times here at Fellowship to make that decision. I can’t do it for you. You’ve got to it between yourself and God. I can, though, show you how to do it and I will show you constantly here from God’s word.
Let me say a word right now to those here who are believers, to those here who had Christ multiplied in your life. I want to tell you over the next several moments how all of us can involve ourselves in multiplication. Whenever you work multiplication, you’ve got to do the multiplication sign, the big “x.” You know what I’m saying to you. That “x” means that you multiply something. Something times something equals something. Or something multiplied by something equals something else.
So, I was thinking about that multiplication symbol. I thought about words that have that symbol in them, of course with my own little creative spelling. Like the word “extreme.” People like that word, extreme. Extreme sports. You’re being extreme. That’s extreme. We need to think about something that’s extreme right now. Because God wants us to pray extreme prayers, prayers of multiplication.
The thing about Christianity is this—we’re never told to play it safe in the Bible. Never. Christians should be risk-takers. We should be out there on the bleeding edge.
In Acts 1:8, Jesus said, “…you will be my witnesses…”
What’s a witness? A witness is someone that tells what’s happened. They’ve seen something and they say, “Here’s what happened. I saw it with my own eyes. Bam, bam, bam!”
Jesus said to begin to extremely pray and to extremely ask. “I,” Jesus says, “will give you some incredible insights, some extreme insight.” And a lot of us don’t have insight. Jesus wants us to have insight, but we just don’t have it.
[Ed puts on a pair of polarized sunglasses] It’s like these polarized glasses right here. Do you have a pair of these? If you don’t, I suggest that you buy some. I love these things because if you are at Lake Grapevine, for example, or somewhere on the coast and you’re looking at the water, its like, “Well, the water looks okay.” But whenever you put these babies on, wow!
[Ed does an impression of Stevie Wonder] “I just called to say I love you…”
With these polarized glasses you can see within the water. You can see fish down there. You can see seaweed down there. Maybe if you are in the ocean you can see a crab or some minnows. You can see. I love polarized lenses. Buy some. They are good for you.
As a Christ-follower, when I go extreme, when I ask my extreme God for extreme stuff, he gives me extreme insight. He gives me insight into people, insight into situations, and insight into relationships that I normally wouldn’t have. Case in point would be Luke, chapter 19. Many of you know this story. Let me read some Scripture verses and tell you about it.
I’m talking about Zaccheus. Jesus went through Jericho. I’ve actually been to Jericho. I was in Jericho, oh, about six or seven years ago before the Middle East started going crazy. We were on a tour bus and we cruised by Jericho and our guide says, “On our left is Jericho. See, the sycamore trees are still standing. Many people think those trees are 3500 years old.” It was incredible! And probably one of the those trees was the exact tree that Zaccheus found himself in that day when Jesus walked through Jericho.
Well, here’s what happened. In Luke chapter 19 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. That’s all we’re doing with our lives aren’t we? We’re just passing through. I don’t care if you live to be 80, 90 years old. I don’t care if you dine on bean curd and carrot juice. You’re going to die. You probably won’t make it to 100. We’re just passing through. We’re aliens here. We’re strangers here. We’re just passing through to eternity. And if we are Christ-followers, we are passing through to heaven.
Why aren’t we zapped up to heaven the moment we become Christians? Have you ever thought about that? Why aren’t we just all of a sudden looking around and saying, “I’m in heaven! Yeah! I like that! I prayed the prayer with Ed and I’m in heaven now, man. Yeah!”
Well, do you know why we are not zapped to heaven the moment we become Christians? It is because God wants us to take as many people as possible to heaven with us, through multiplication.
So, Jesus entered Jericho. He was just passing through. A man there by the name of Zaccheus was in the city. He was a chief tax collector and he was bling-blinging. He was wealthy. Now, you think people don’t like the IRS around here? That pales in comparison to the way the Jews felt about people like Zaccheus. I mean, check this out. Zaccheus was a Jew working for the Roman government, taxing his people in an unfair way. He was not popular but he was bling-blinging. And he had a poor vertical jump. And I’ll tell you why I know that.
Look at Luke 19:3. “He wanted to see who Jesus was…” Let me stop there. “He,” Zachheus, “wanted to see who Jesus was.” He wanted to see Jesus. Don’t miss this now. People in your life and mine are the same way. They are like Zaccheus. They want to see who Jesus is. And in many situations, you’re the only Jesus; I’m the only Jesus that people will ever come in contact with. And the Zaccheuses in your life seeing Jesus in you? I mean, be honest. We’re in church. “To be honest with you…” Do you remember that? Are they seeing Jesus?
The Bible said Zaccheus tried to see over the crowd, but I think he had a poor vertical jump. He couldn’t see. He was too short, so he climbed a sycamore tree. He was hanging there trying to see who Jesus was, out on a limb. How many people are out on a limb in our lives? We don’t even realize it, a lot of us don’t, but we are out on a limb financially. We are out on a limb our family is about to mess up, but no one else knows it but you. Maybe your marriage is on the rocks and you are out on a limb, trying to see Jesus. People in your life and mine are trying to see something that will help, something that will change how they are.
What did Jesus do? Jesus had x-treme insight. He had polarized lenses on. People were pressing up against him. And religious leaders, the intelligencia of Jericho, he wasn’t having any of those guys. He was looking with insight, with polarized vision at Zaccheus, someone who was out there on a limb.
Look at Luke 19:9-10, because Jesus, you know what he did? He said, “Zaccheus, jump down from the tree. I’m coming to your house.” And they had the first power lunch. And Zaccheus walked outside and his life was changed and here’s what Jesus said, [the verse reads] “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost.”
The Son of Man, Jesus, came to seek and save. We are to come and seek and save those people who are lost. We are to come because of multiplication and see with extreme insight. We are to go for the extreme ask and get down and say, “God, show me people, show me Zaccheus in my life. Show me those people who are out there on a limb.” When we pray those extreme prayers, what happens? We have extreme insight and we see people like Jesus did and awesome things happen.
So, I just want to challenge you. I just want to dare you to do what I did when I was about 19 years old. Hit your knees tonight and ask God, ask him for extreme insight.
Say, “God, who in my life, who’s checking me out? Who’s watching me? Who is out there that needs you?”
Watch out, though. Because God will answer your prayer. Every time I pray a dangerous prayer like that, whoa! It’s extreme. It’s extreme. One of the reasons extreme sports are so popular is because there is nothing like them. And there is nothing like this prayer. It’s like a Christian narcotic. I probably shouldn’t have said that, but you know what I’m saying to you.
Talking about multiplication, here’s another “x” word. You know, Jesus wants us to go extreme. I don’t mean weird, though. When I say extreme, I’m not talking about some of those whackos on television. I’m talking about the real stuff, you know. Here’s another word—exponential. So, it’s extreme and it’s exponential. When we’re extreme and we have insight, our multiplication will occur exponentially.
Let’s go back to Acts 1:8. Let me read the verse for you. Jesus said, “But you will receive power…”
Do you remember that show a long time ago with Jimmy Walker, “Good Times?” He would say, “Dyno-mite!” Do you remember that? I love that show. I use to have a shirt that said, “Dynomite!” on it. I loved him.
The word “power” in its original language is pronounced “dunamis.” We get the word “dynamite” from it. I thought that was kind of cool.
[The verse reads] “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…” That means when you become Christ-followers. And here’s what Jesus said, “…and you will be my witnesses…” What’s a witness? It’s someone that just tells what’s happened to them. Where are we going to be witnesses? Jesus says, “…in Jerusalem…” These are concentric circles of evangelism… “…and in all Judea.” It gets bigger…, “…and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” “You will be my witnesses,” Christ said, “in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Now, how can we get involved in this exponential influence? Well, we first of all, have to pray this extreme prayer. Then, we begin to multiply exponentially. How do we do that though? How do we get practical about that?
Well, we need to get involved in something called strategic shopping. That’s right, strategic shopping. Because when we have this insight with these polarized lenses on, we begin to see our influence. So, suddenly, when we go to Starbucks every morning, we see that Starbucks is not just a great place for coffee or espresso. It’s a place of evangelism, a place where we can build relationships, a place where we can maybe one day share our faith. So, when we go shopping at the mall it doesn’t matter if you are going to Target, or Neiman Marcus’. There could be an opportunity, a chance to share your faith, to advertise the fact that you are a Christ-follower, to get to know people, to build relationships with them, and one day have a chance to talk to them about the greatest thing out there—a personal relationship with Christ. So, ladies, isn’t that cool? Just tell your husbands, “Honey, I’m going to share Christ. Where’s the credit card? Thank you very much.” That’s good. I like that.
That’s what’s so cool about you guys and gals, man. Fellowship Church has grown by multiplication. I said it before and I’ll say it again. Something like 98% of the people who show up to Fellowship Church are showing up because someone has invited them. Man, good for you! It’s unbelievable.
If you were here at this First Wednesday, you know that I brought a guy on stage from Anderson, South Carolina. Anderson, of all places. Speaking of Anderson, have you seen this new movie called Radio? I love that movie. If you’ve not seen it, go see that movie. I love it. Where was I? Anderson, South Carolina, yeah.
A guy was here on stage with me. His name is Perry Noble and he pastors a church in Anderson. Three and a half years ago, he started that church with fifteen people. We’re not talking about New York. We’re talking about Anderson, okay? They now have 2900 people showing up three and a half years later! And you know what he told me and the staff? He said, “I have modeled my church because of the influence of Fellowship Church. We are doing a lot of stuff in our church the way we are because we saw what God was doing at Fellowship Church. We didn’t copy you guys, but we’ve done a lot of stuff like you guys. We’ve done it through our creativity.” Isn’t that cool? Influence. It’s being able to be expanded and multiplied.
I think about our radio show, Creative Connection. We have a radio show that’s nationally syndicated. We’re on in New York, Phoenix, Atlanta, and somewhere out in California. We’re on all over the place. Then we have a television show going on that is literally programmed around the world. And then we are starting this other thing called Fellowship Connection. It will allow us to connect to other churches around the country who believe in the Bible and creativity and doing church like we’re doing it here. And we’re launching a brand new website called CreativePastors.com to help other churches, because a lot of these churches are starting out and they don’t have an awesome video crew like we’ve been blessed with, or the singers, or the staff or they don’t have the time to do the research that we’ve done on certain things. So, we’re making that available on this website to pastors and leaders from around the world. So, we’re doing this as a church, but how about you? How about me?
I mean, forget you for a second. Let me think about me. And you forget me for a second and think about you. What are you doing? What am I doing? Are you using your influence and your insight? Because the kingdom of God is advanced one life at a time. It’s great to talk about these other things, but it’s a one on one type situation.
X-TEND AN INVITATION
I love this multiplication. We have insight and influence. Here’s another “x” word—x-tend. Extend an invitation. Many people are just one invitation away from knowing Christ. Yet so often, we don’t extend an invitation to them. When I think about an invitation, man, my mind jumps over to Jesus again. Do you remember Matthew? He was another hell-raising, out of control guy that Christ said, “Hey, Matthew, follow me.”
Well, what did Matthew do? Matthew knew all these hell-raising people that were his friends. He couldn’t preach. He was a brand new Christian. He didn’t know theology. But what could he do? What could he do? I’ll tell you what he could do. He could party. He could throw a party. And that’s exactly what he did. He threw a big honking party right after he became a Christian. And he invited Jesus and the disciples because he knew, “Hey, if I invite my hell-raising, hell-bound friends to this party with Jesus and the disciples, you know what’s weird, and really cool? Some faith conversations will occur and some connectivity will occur and man, there’s no telling what will happen. And maybe just maybe, what happened to me will happen to them and they will step over the line of faith.”
So, he invited people to this party and Jesus was there with the disciples. And Matthew knew some great things would happen. That’s a strong word to all of us because we all have this sphere of influence. We have these people around us and I’ve got to ask you, “Are you regularly inviting people?” Well, the answer to that is obvious. A lot of you are. But for some of you, I cannot believe you are not taking advantage of something like Fellowship that God has given us. We can invite someone to this church and they can get in contact with a life-changing Lord. They can come and hear a life-changing message with the music, drama, teaching and whatever else is here. We are going to do the work of multiplication.
THE PARTY WITH A PURPOSE
Let’s get a little bit deeper and read about this party that Matthew threw. Luke 5:30 reads, “But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” They were saying that to Jesus.
I’ll never forget several years ago, I was teaching a Seminary class. I asked all these preacher boys this question, “Hey, guys, name me the characteristics of Jesus.” Oh, you would not believe the list. I was writing on the board answers like grace, mercy, wonderful, Counselor, Prince of Peace, Lord of Lords…all this stuff was great. And we had around fifty different characteristics of Jesus. I asked, “Is there anymore?” They said, “No.” I said, “You know what? You’re missing probably the one phrase that a lot of people use almost more than any phrase to describe Jesus. You’re missing it. I’ll give you one more chance.” But no one answered me. So I said, “Friend of sinners. Friend of sinners.”
Jesus was a friend of sinners. Yeah, a friend of sinners. He was chastised and criticized because he was hanging around with hell-raising and hell-bound people. He didn’t put himself in places that would cause compromise. He was, though, getting out there and hanging with them.
The Pharisees asked him, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Luke 5:31-32: “Jesus answered them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’”
The holidays are coming up soon. Yeah! Thanksgiving and Christmas! I love the holidays. We have a chance to throw parties with purposes, friends. All of us do. Do you have a purpose behind your party? You should. Your party should be all about going extreme and should be all about influence and all about extending an invitation. Do you realize that most people will show up at church during the holidays and they won’t come any other time? But they will show up for the holidays. So invite them. We have ten Christmas Eve services over Christmas. And then Easter is coming up. Invite them. Every single weekend it’s like we have a banquet, we have a party here to honor the Lord. And we are all here to invite hell-bound, hell-raising people that God has put in our lives. We want all of you to invite your Zaccheus to Fellowship Church because I’m going to tell you something. Once you have a Zaccheus sitting beside you at church, and once you see the lights come on, and once you see them bow the knee to Christ, you will never ever see church again in the same way. You never will.
And that’s what happened to me when I was nineteen years old.
Two years ago I went to First Monday in Canton, TX with my wife in the middle of the summer. Can you believe I did that? There was only about 5% men in that whole place. And these women were pushing these carts at a Nascar type pace in triple degree heat. It was incredible. They were in a frenzy. Well, after a while, I had to have something to eat. So, Lisa and I stopped and we had some chicken sandwiches. We’re sitting down at picnic tables in this food court eating these chicken sandwiches and watching all these people cruise by. Its fun to watch people, isn’t it? You know, people were like, “Look at that!” You know how you watch people too. We love to watch people. Let’s just admit it. So Lisa and I were eating those chicken sandwiches. All of a sudden, I looked over and this girl who worked in the chicken sandwich restaurant was out serving samples of chicken sandwiches to those us who were stuffing our faces with chicken sandwiches.
She came up to me and asked, “Sir, would you like to try our chicken sandwiches?”
“No. That’s what I’m eating,” I said. “I appreciate it, but no. I’m full. I’m stuffed.”
She walked off and went up to another table with people stuffing their faces with chicken sandwiches and asked them, “Say you want to…”
“No,” they were saying. They were already eating chicken too.
Check this out. Ten feet away from where we were sitting there were hundreds of people filing by. Obviously, they had not eaten lunch yet. All this girl had to do was walk out about ten feet into the sunlight, get a little sweaty, a little hot, with her mascara running a little bit, and hand out the food samples.
I said, “Lisa, that’s the problem with so many churches. We’re content with feeding the already fed. We’re feeding those who are already eating instead of walking out about ten feet where humanity is filing by and feeding them even though they have not eaten yet.”
That’s what the church is not doing. We’re feeding the already fed. Now, it’s important for the Christians to feed. You’ve got to feed. We’ve got to feed on the Word of God. But those carbs, the bread of life, should give us the energy to step out and feed those who need the stuff.
So, that’s why at Fellowship Church we try to serve the bread of life, the food, in a biblically relevant, creative and culturally driven fashion.
You know, I wish I could tell you that my friend Scott is doing well. But he’s not. He really isn’t. He’s doing better than he was before he became a Christian. But the last I heard from him he was still kind of out in the deep weeds, floundering around.
What if there had been a biblically functioning exciting creative, compelling, innovative community in Tallahassee, Florida? What if? What if there had been a real, relevant church that was on fire in that area? I’m telling you something. Scott would be a different man today.
We have that opportunity right here at Fellowship Church to get involved in multiplication through x-treme insight, x-ponential influence and x-tending an invitation. As long as there are Scott’s out there, we will continue to do the math.
[A video of Ed interviewing Richard and Nancy Golden (members of Fellowship) is played on the side screens]
Ed: I’m with Richard and Nancy Golden and they have just an amazing story about what God has done in their lives. Tell me a little bit about how God brought you to where you are today here at Fellowship Church.
Richard: We both, Nancy and I were feeling somewhat empty I think in our spiritual life. I was raised in a Jewish household as was Nancy. We just both felt there was something missing. We love that religion. We love the spiritual nature of it and history of it, but it just wasn’t filling an everyday void of having God in our life that we were missing. And so, one night, I guess late at night, I happened to be channel surfing, as so often I do, and came across Ed on television interviewing Daryl Sydor. He was a hockey player with the Stars. I just loved the message and loved what I saw about Fellowship Church and brought that up to Nancy. I said, “Let’s try something different. Let’s go out and check out this church.”
Nancy: I was so jazzed about going to see you on a Sunday. First of all, when I came here that day, it was the most awesome experience. Everyone from the parking attendants, the people you walk in, to the ushers were so friendly. They were incredible. “Hey, how are you,” you know, “Welcome, welcome.” And I just thought “Wow, everyone’s so friendly here. It’s like Disneyland. Everybody’s so happy and everybody had a smile on their face.” Seriously, then you walk in and it just was a very powerful feeling. And when I could relate to you and what you were saying, it kind of goes back to what I was thinking about. I wanted something to relate to me in my everyday life and what I was doing. So, I don’t know if you would call it spiritual guidance or what I was looking for, but when I left Fellowship that day, I got into the car with Richard and I remember looking at him and I said, “You know what? We have really found something here. We need to explore this. And we need to continue doing this. I think it’s going to change our lives.”
I have goose bumps now, but I remember the second sermon we went to. Do you remember that one, Richard? It was very powerful. And I remember thinking to myself, “Today is a great day to change my life.” And you said in your sermon, you said to me, (it was like you were saying it to me, but you said to the audience), “If you want to know Christ, pray this prayer with me and it can change your life.” And I remember thinking to myself, “Now is it. I can do it.” I looked over at Richard and I thought, “Well, if he doesn’t do it, that’s okay. I’ll do it on my own.” I looked over and he had closed his eyes and he had bowed his head and we were both doing it at the same time. And I remember he just reached over and he grabbed my hand, squeezed my hand and we both felt at that moment I think, “Wow! This is it.” And we had such an incredible feeling. I have goose bumps right now. I looked at him and I kissed him and I told him I loved him and I thought, “Our life is about to change. This is incredible.” It’s just, you want to celebrate Christianity with other people and that’s the way we look at it.
Richard: To what Nancy said, when you bring somebody here, the first thing is, we know that they are never going to get let down. The message is going to be so relevant to their life; the music is going to be fantastic. If they have children, they are going to be taken care of so they can really go and sit and listen to what is being said and take it in. Many of our friends just don’t go for whatever reason. There are a million excuses until they find something that really fits them. And this is what Fellowship has created.