Taking the Training Wheels Off, Part 1 | Vision

Note: As a part of our sermon on February 26, we talked about the next step of faith we are taking as church. We describe this step as “taking the training wheels off.” Unfortunately, we had some technical difficulties with the recording that day, and we are unable to provide audio from the second half of the message. So, we are going to post some of that information here. You may listen to the first part of the sermon by clicking here. Thanks for your understanding and willingness to read.

This is the first of two posts on this topic. Click here for “Taking the Training Wheels Off, Part 2.”

If you’ve ever watched a kid take the training wheels off of a bike, then you know it’s lots more fun to ride without training wheels! As a dad, I’ve helped multiple kids take the training wheels off and learn to ride a bike on their own. I’ve observed four specific things you have to do when your child is taking the training wheels off:
1) give focused attention — it takes some effort
2) help him or her stay on course — it is easy to drift the wrong direction
3) keep turning the pedals — if the pedals stop moving, kids fall down
4) offer lots of encouragement — there will be some bumps along the way

As a church, we sometimes talk about how we need to act our age. We just celebrated our third birthday, and we are excited to continue growing as we head into year four. We are at a place where we have the opportunity to take a significant step of faith. That’s why we are calling this our “taking the training wheels off” season. We believe it is time to take this step for several reasons.

First, we are no longer a new church. We are already a healthy, growing church!

Second, we are no longer a small church. Statistically, we are already bigger than about 90% of the churches in America. This means that we need to operate differently if we want to continue to reach new people without losing our focus on our relationships and discipleship of those who are already a part of our family.

Third, we are no longer a church that can rely on outside support. When we started our church, we received financial support from lots of outside people and several other churches. Those were mostly 3 year commitments, and our external donors have started investing in other ministries and new churches, which is awesome! This is part of the normal progression as a new start up church.

Lastly and most importantly, we can accomplish a lot more for Jesus once the training wheels come off! It will help us do what we are called to do as a church.

So, what needs to happen for us to take the training wheels off?

Do you remember the four things I mentioned above that help in taking the training wheels off? The same four things are true of the church. For us to take the training wheels off:
1. We need to give the church some focused attention
2. We need to stay on course — Our mission stays the same: To make authentic disciples of Jesus who live for the glory of God and the good of our world.
3. We need to keep the pedals turning and moving forward — This means we continue “to serve and give so that others may live.” Let’s keep going!
4. We need lots of encouragement for one another.

We are asking you to be all-in partners of the church to help us grow, to personally own the mission of the church, to commit to see us through the next few years as we establish a real and lasting presence in this community.

The Bible calls the church the body of Christ. To be a thriving body, all parts of the body have to work together, each part doing what it can. If one part of the body is pulling and others are not, we won’t be able to take the training wheels off. It will take everyone working together to get this done.

We are excited about where we are going. We are moving forward. It’s time for the training wheels to come off. We need you to help us learn to ride together!

What do we gain by taking the training wheels off?

I am regularly asked questions about the future of our church. Almost always, these questions come from people who are excited about what they see God doing here. They want to know: when are we buying land and building a church home? What will student ministry look like when my kid is a teenager? How can we maximize all that our Redemption Kids are learning so that they are ready to thrive in a changing world? When can we start parenting roundtables to equip our families to face the tough questions? When can we do more about caring for the poor and the orphan? The answer to those questions, at least in part, is “when we take the training wheels off.”

These are enormous opportunities still ahead for us as a church. We have a big vision. We always have. The risks and commitments we made early on have gotten us to this point. We believe those same risks and commitments are what will carry us forward by faith.

As your pastor, I am encouraged by where we are. I am convinced God is going to grow us and mature us through this season. We are moving beyond our toddler years, and we are learning to take responsibility for the church together. I think it’s a great reminder that church requires all of us to pitch in. That’s what healthy churches do.

How can we help take the training wheels off?

Click here for “Taking the Training Wheels Off, Part 2.”