Imagine if Las Vegas - sin city, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, know the code, entertainment capital of the world - Imagine if that city became the place known worldwide for its love. Imagine if we began calling this city "Love Vegas" or if "What happens in Vegas changes the world" was it's mantra?
I believe with my whole heart that this church - Freedom Life Grace Church - is going to lead the movement for a new day in Las Vegas. You know they call this city "Lost Wages." I kind of like that one. The Bible lets us know "the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23) Imagine if Vegas became know all around the world for lost wages. Imagine if when people walk the strip, instead of seeing the stripped ladies, they see us - handing them a card that says, "Jesus stripped your sin." Or "The wages of sin got lost in Las Vegas."
Imagine if when people came to our city, they experienced the life and love of God. Imagine if our church was "the newest attraction in Vegas."
Here's what I see.
I see -
A diverse community of powerful men and women who freely enjoy life as the church, not just in a church.
I see -
A diverse community of churches coming together as one body for the good of the world, not just their clergy. If the buffets on the strip can work together, you can visit 5 buffets or so for one admission fee, why can't we as the body of Jesus have that type of unity instead of competition.
I see -
Entertainment on the scale of Cirque De Soleil with a Kingdom voice. We can't be afraid of our creativity; it's a gift from God. The best talent in the world comes from our churches. I see the best talent staying connected to our church, using their God given gifts to spread the gospel.
I see -
A church service - we call it Experience Life - that people look forward to all week long. Not because they are so battered and beat up all week that they need a quick fix. No. I see it being such a time of celebration and rejoicing, a message that is so liberating and empowering that it is a joy, not a chore to attend service. Jake Colsen wrote, "No prison is as strong as religious obligation." I see Freedom Life Grace Church being a "get to" not a "got to."
I see -
A safe place where people know it's okay to not be okay. Too often people come to church, look and play the part, and go home just as bad as they came. I see a church where people are real - a single mother with 3 kids, pregnant with a 4th is no different to me than the Senator with a "flawless" life. How many of you know that we ALL have challenges we face? I see a church where we love you because God love you. Gay folks, married folks, seasoned folks, young folks, black folks, white folks, yellow and polka dot - at Freedom Life Grace Church we love you. I love you.
Are you still on this journey with me? I saw a quote on our Instagram page that said, "It's okay to be open minded, your brain won't fall out." I thought that was pretty good. Imagine Las Vegas full of people who just loved people. No judgment, no conditions - just love. I can see it.
What I'm sharing is just the tip of the iceberg. Usually, when I teach I go verse-by-verse through Scripture. Today I just want you to imagine with me.
I teach a lot differently now than I used to because I understand the Bible a lot better now. I've learned that just because it's in the Bible does not mean what God is saying to us, or asking us to do. Have you ever heard the saying the Bible B-I-B-L-E is Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth? Yeah, that's not really it at all. How about "the Bible is God's love letter to you." That's one I used to try to use, but really the Bible is a pretty terrible love letter. How would you feel if your fiancé sent you a letter and within the first few paragraphs they wrote about the whole world flooding and mankind being destroyed. That would kill the mood for me, I don't know about you, but for me that's not a love letter.
The Bible is really God's covenant journey with mankind recorded. There are 5 main covenants, or ways of governing in the Bible. We live under the New Covenant - a covenant of grace established between God and Himself - but there are other covenants that are completely different. God doesn't change, but the covenants have. That's teaching for another day.
So what drives us to do what we do, how we do it? How do we plan to bring what we imagine to reality?
Well, the primary thing we rest in is we believe this is God's vision. I've reached the point where I know that if I never preach another day, write another book, or witness to another person God loves me as much as He can and nothing changes that. I don't work for God, though I used to. Now I simply live like God. And I believe this vision is how God lives in Las Vegas.
We have Core Beliefs, those are in the launch guide you should have, if not raise your hand and we will get one to you. So, we have core beliefs, and we have core values.
Our values are Diversity, Excellence, Unity, and Truth.
Diversity is not something everyone wants. I totally get that. We naturally like people who look like us, act like us, think like us - it's easier that way, but we don't grow that way. This church is a reflection of the kingdom.
We are a church made up of small groups, we don't have groups, we are an assembly of groups. So our small groups will offer opportunity for singles to mingle with singles, moms with moms, musicians with musicians, and so forth.
When we come together there is an intentional design that brings in various cultures and expressions throughout our Experience Life services. We don't do, participate in, or support anything we know to be divisive or breed "cliques."
Excellence. We believe that the life of God is one of excellence. That's why if you notice, we don't have uncomfortable folding chairs; we're not meeting in an environment that doesn't represent our vision. We are demonstrating a couple things with this location - another of our values is unity - we are demonstrating that by working with another church, one that is completely different from ours, but serving the same purpose.
As we grow, our budget will increase, but the size of our budget does not determine our level of excellence.
Unity is so important to me. I believe it is God's heartbeat as well. In Scripture, Jesus constantly says, "that they may be one as we are one." We don't agree with the nuances of every churches doctrine and teaching and we are totally okay with that. We don't have to go along to get along. I used the example of the buffets early. I don't like every dish served at every buffet but that does not stop me from visiting them all. You may not like every song we sing, or every activity we have - that's okay too. We are united in one purpose - advancing the kingdom of God. If another pastor has a program that I can attend, I'll go support. Many of you belong to another church and are here just to support kingdom work. That's beautiful. You may know someone who is looking for a church that isn't going to beat them up for whom they are - send them here. If someone joins us that is a better fit your at church, we will let them know about you. The Scripture says there is no Jew, nor Greek, male, nor female, all are one in Christ. We believe that.
Truth is the core value of all our values. We believe the Bible is the ultimate measure of Truth. We believe Jesus is the Truth. This value in particular influences the lyrics of the songs we sing, and every message that comes across the platform. One of the series I'll be teaching in a few weeks is "52 lies heard in church every Sunday" It's going to be so good. I'll never get up here and preach something just because it sounds good or just because it's the popular flavor of the day. I don't preach what I call the mixture gospel - a mix of law and grace - because that's not the truth. I'm not going to talk about your "haters" and how they make you greater because that's not truth. Scripture says God's Word is truth. That's what you will get here.
We will encourage you, uplift you, and make you feel good - because that's truth. To quote Pharell - nope, I better not. Another preacher just got in hot water for quoting someone. I'll just stick to the Bible. But how many of you know that happiness is the truth for Kingdom people. The kingdom of God is joy and peace in the Holy Ghost.
I think that's a good place to end off for today. If something you heard today touched your heart, we believe that that touch is God speaking to you. We are in our prelaunch phase. What that means is we are not just looking for attendees, but also for pioneers and visionaries to help this church start strong. For the next several months we will meet together and go deeper into the vision of this Church. For those that want, we will go onto the strip and just talk to people about the love of God- obviously most of those people are from other areas so they may never even see our building. That's great. We are kingdom people, not four-wall people.
I encourage you to believe God with us, support the ministry financially, and invite others to join with us. Maybe you know of singers and musicians who don't play at their home churches regularly and would like another opportunity to share their gifts. Give them our info. We would be blessed and be able to be blessing to them.
There are literally millions of people here in the valley that need to know God not only loves them, but He likes them, too. We can give them the best news they've ever heard. You can be a part of the kingdom invasion of Las Vegas.