Leap of Faith User’s Manual

I Love Leap of Faith

And I’m not alone! Leap of Faith (LOF) is a 6-week faith experiment designed specifically for people who are eager and willing to see if God would offer them something out of the ordinary. The best part is that it’s a shared experience with our entire church family.

Why do we refer to it as an experiment? An experiment is a test carried out to support, refute, or validate an accepted fact or principle. Experiments provide insight into cause-and-effect relationships by demonstrating what outcome occurs when a particular factor is engaged; in our case, the factor being “engaged” in is our faith (not God, our trust in Him). Leap of Faith is an opportunity to ramp up your faith, a time to pursue God by faith for something specific (more in this later).

CAUTION: Leap of Faith Can be a Bit Scary!

Here’s the thing about exercising faith; by definition, there are no guarantees, which is why it requires faith. That means that there are risks in doing this. The risk you take by engaging in something like this is …disappointment. If you do this, you’re going to be engaging your faith for something that you care about, something that benefits you, the people around you, and our church.

It’s important that you know that there are no guarantees with this sort of experiment (except that God will be with you every step of the way—I do think that’s guaranteed, but sometimes that doesn’t soften the blow of disappointment). Let me be honest; if you decide to engage in this faith experiment, which I am hoping you will, you’ll need to also decide how emotionally available you’re willing to be under the terms of this year’s LOF.

You have two basic options

Option One: you can choose to go through the six weeks by doing a few of the suggestions as your time permits. This option doesn’t involve much risk, and really, the potential for disappointment is very low. You also need to know that it doesn’t hold much potential for any breakthroughs, either. This is sort of a business as usual approach, which means that nothing really amazing will happen. It’s a Low Commitment-Low Return investment. I want to encourage you not to adopt this approach.

Option Two: is where you choose to enter into these six weeks with all your heart and mind, seeking to do all of the recommended things in pursuing God for some big things. As you can imagine, this is the only real option if you want to experience God in a new and fresh way. If you’re going to experience anything from God, then you need to know that the only way you’ll have a chance of experiencing anything happening is if you’re ALL IN on this experiment. This option is a High Commitment – High Return investment, but, hey, we are only asking you to focus on this for six weeks – anyone can do this for six weeks. We think the investment is worth the risk.

As you probably already figured out, I encourage you to be courageous and choose option 2. Doing that will mean you’ll need to invest a bit of time and energy; perhaps find someone at North Point that you could partner together for encouragement, holding each other accountable, and sharing your experiences.  Again, there is a potential of not get everything you are hoping for. That’s the downside; yet, think of the upside!

Because LOF is a shared experience, you’ll have lots of support. A big part of how LOF works is doing this experiment in a supportive community; yet, even that carries risk …it’s possible that something profound might happen for someone around you, but not for yourself. You might be tempted to ask questions like, “Why them! How are they so special?! Why not me?”

It’s helpful to remember that Leap of Faith is foremost a concentrated time of pursuing God, whatever that looks like for you. It must include a willingness to let God call the shots; that is, trusting God to determine the results. What we have learned from past L.O.F. is that the best way for this to work is for you to focus on doing the stuff and let God determine the results.

So, what do you think? Is this a risk you’re willing to run for the next six weeks?

Please don’t take this lightly. Your willingness to fully enter into this experiment will determine your success, or at least your ability to come to the end of the six weeks and know that you fully did your part (remember results are God’s part to play, not yours).

The Rules of LOF – sorry, there’s always those

Leap of Faith has a few rules that we’ve discovered through repeated trial and error. For example:

LOF Must Involve PERSONAL Faith. A big part of what we’re hoping will happen for you during these six weeks is that you’ll have an experience with God that is unprecedented for you. The only way that can happen is if your faith is engaged in the process. It doesn’t matter how much I or others around you trust God – this will require your personal faith involvement; you must be engaged daily.

LOF Also Involves Faith for PEOPLE Around You. For reasons that seem irreducible, the sort of faith that we’re asking you to engage in must go beyond yourself; it must extend to people around you; people who, otherwise, might have little hope for having the connection with God that you’ve experienced.

We’ve discovered that these two things seem linked, personal faith, and faith for something beyond yourself, even beyond your inner circle. Through previous Leaps of Faith, we’ve seen money raised for missions and outreach to disconnected people; these are not add-ons; they are an essential part of the faith experiment.

LOF Also Involves You DOING Things. There are two parts to play to Biblical Faith. There is a part that God must play, a part that you cannot play for yourself. Equally true is that there is a part that you must play, a part that God won’t play for you.

I am confident that God is faithful to play His part. It’s OK if you’re unsure of that right now; after all, that’s why we refer to LOF as an experiment.

This is a six-week opportunity for you to take God at His word and see what God might do through your faith (Hebrews 11:6). If any good results are to come about, it requires that you D.O. the part that you must do; the part that God won’t do for you. The kind of faith that God invites us into, has a partnership quality to it. God speaks, reveals, and woos you to trust Him; yet you still need to choose to enter into it, or receive His invitation; as James says in 2:18; “…I will show you my faith by my works.” Faith, by its nature, can not be works; it’s all about trust. However, a faith that does not act on or move within that trust is not faith.

If you are going to experience anything from God during these six weeks, it will require you to risk investing time and energy doing things; don’t worry; we have broken them down to 5 doable segments. Perhaps at this point (if you’re still reading this – thanks!), you might need some encouragement. Let’s get that from Jesus. Look at what Jesus promises in John 15:7;

“…if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!(John 15:7, N.L.T.)

Perhaps you’ve heard of this verse; in that case, please don’t gloss over it. I mean, what if it’s actually true? What if you can ask for things that are in harmony with God’s values and mission on earth, and because of your relationship with Jesus (by grace through faith in Jesus), God will automatically say, “Yes!”

During Leap of Faith, I encourage you just to assume that Jesus is telling you the truth, so engage your faith in God and expect God to do big things. Hey, remember it’s an experiment.

I’ve noticed something strange about faith; you would think that faith, by its very nature, would grow? That seems like the offer that Jesus makes to us—that our tiny mustard seed amount of faith would grow to a vast size – yet, I think the underlying assumption is that it will grow ONLY IF we cultivate our faith.

Perhaps we could also say that if we don’t exercise our faith, if we are not pursuing the things of the Kingdom of God by faith, then whatever faith we currently have will shrink or at best stagnate.

A Word about the Hanson Bridge Project

I am sure you’ve noticed that the new Hanson Bridge has eliminated not only direct access to our property, it has also eliminated drive-by-visibility. I must admit that there have been moments where I have questioned God’s provision of our building in light of this project. For me, it goes something like this; “God, why us? There are other churches that you blessed with a building, and they don’t have to go through this. It seems so easy for them; why is it so hard for us? What’s the deal with that? Why us?”

While I was in one of those “discussions” with God, I reminded the passage in Isaiah 49:6:

God says: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6, ESV)

In this passage, God is having a vision “discussion” with His people. The people’s eyes were only focused on what they could get from God, which was…well…too small, perhaps a bit self-centered. God says that their vision of what God can do was “too light a thing.” God’s eyes, His vision, included using His people to bring benefits to the whole world!

This verse is about God’s disappointment in His people’s lack of faith in what He can do. God is calling them into His Mission; to be people who would serve God by faith; to be a living, visual example of His goodness to a hurting and disconnected world. God had massive plans for this community of God on earth. The problem was that at some point in their history, they pretty much only wanted one thing: to get back to the comfort of living in their home city of Jerusalem. God wanted them to change the world, and they only trusted Him enough for a building that gave comfort to themselves.

You might not like what I’m about to say, and I understand because the course that God has given us is not a comfortable one. Ready? God has not given us a building so that we would be comfortable or so we would be like other churches. The world is waiting for a group of people, a community of God on earth, who pursues God and His purposes as their most important corporate value. Perhaps the world is waiting for a church to be more concerned with being salt and light in our world than being comfortable. While I think it would be easier to have a building with all the room we want, with easy access and great visibility (which are all good things), these things will not by themselves reach our disconnected world. God’s mission works through the faith and life of His people. Our building is just a tool, a means to mission accomplishment.

That’s what gets me so excited about Leap of Faith. We are challenging ourselves to a faith that pursues God for big things; a faith that seeks to minister through the gifts of the Spirit; a faith that acts on the promises and power of the name of Jesus; these are the things that will draw people into connecting with God and our church.

Perhaps what God wants is a church of people; a community of people who will pursue Him, live free, love others, and impact our world; people who do ministry through the gifts of the Spirit; help the broken and imprisoned to be healed and set free. Perhaps the difficult (not easy path) that we’re facing is one where our faith and God’s faithfulness can shine through like no other situation. We can’t afford to get comfortable; we’ll need to take risks; pursue God for big things, and yes, work hard for His glory. So, all of that, to me at least, seems extraordinary!

What Does It Look Like to Participate in a Leap of Faith?

OK, let’s not kid ourselves; by definition, this thing is going to take a special kind of faith. In Hebrews 11:1 from the ESV, the Bible defines faith this way:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1, ESV)

Notice that faith is an “assurance“; confidence in something; the kind of faith we’re talking about is “the assurance of things hoped for.” Hope refers to an attitude of looking forward to something happening.

The passage goes on to say faith is “the conviction of things not yet seen.” Conviction is a certainty, or firmly held belief, and in this case, of something that has not yet come into being. Putting it all together, we could say that faith is an attitude of hope that is convinced that something good is going to happen that is not yet present or visible.

Now there is something very important that this verse does not directly address – that’s the object of this special kind of faith.

In other words, who are we to hope in; assured that this thing will happen or become visible because of _______? In Hebrews 11:3, it says, “by the word of God,“; our hope and confidence are to be in what God says, even when, at the moment, it’s not yet present or visible.

The object of our faith is very important. Later in Hebrews 11:6, we are told that: “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.” The key component of any Leap of Faith is to pursue God through faith, trusting that His promises will become present or visible even though they are not yet that way.

OK, How Do We Do This Thing?

Here are some of the concrete steps that we hope will help you exercise this kind of faith.

STEP 1: PURSUE GOD FOR YOUR BHAG – Go hard after what you’re hoping God  will do for you

A lot of what we’re hoping will happen can’t happen unless God gives it to you. It’s important to learn to look to God for the things you really need in life. If you don’t directly and consciously pursue Him and do that in a way that you will know when He does provide it to you, you might be tempted to think that other sources are responsible for you getting those things. We want to pursue God in such a way that you will know when God blesses you. When you learn how to take God up on His promises, it seems that He doesn’t only give you gifts, He also fills those gifts themselves with a sort of abundant-life—that those things work out great; that they bring joy and encouragement with them; which results in you being willing to practice more faith.

So, Here’s the Challenge; the risk you’re being asking to take during the six-week season of Lent, to dare to ask and expect God to do something for you. For six weeks, choose to trust and see if what I described above could be your experience; apply your faith in such a way that you see some key things happen in your life? This will take effort on your part – primarily choosing to PURSUE God daily.

Let me suggest Three Ways of Getting at This:

1) Write Down Your B.H.A.G. – A “B.H.A.G.” is a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal – a term coined by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in their book, “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies.” Clearly this is not a dictionary definition; it’s more of an emotionally motivated goal; it’s certainly not very theological. You can’t find B.H.A.G. in the Bible. Yet, I think it communicates the feeling behind what we are asking God to do.

Whatever you decide to pursue God for over the six weeks, it needs to be:

Big enough that you can’t make it happen on your own;

Hairy enough to scare you a little;

Audacious enough to feel risky;

Goal specific enough that you will know when it happens.

The reason to take this step is to put yourself in a position to see that God is alive; He actually listens to your prayers; and that He cares about you.

One Thing Seems True – God likes it when you pursue Him and ask Him for things (see Matthew 7:7-11); it reinforces your relationship with Him. So, we need to figure out how to ask, in faith, and—as Matthew 7:7 says — and keep on asking. Remember, this is a faith experiment, so let’s agree up front that these six weeks will be a place to start!

OK, before you go on, please stop and do it! What good gift do you think Jesus would like to give you before these six weeks are over? (If you’ve been asking Him and don’t have a clear sense, you may have to punt to the option below and write down what, all things being equal, you’d like Him to do for you.)

Write that here: ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

There is Another way to go about this: Ask Jesus how He’d like to make your life feel better during these six weeks. The surprising truth is that what makes or breaks our lives is not so much focused on what happens to us as to how our life feels. Isn’t that a stunner?

You might think, “I’m lonely and miserable because I’m ‘X’ age, and I’m still unmarried!” But a moment’s observation will tell you that there are people who are older than you, who’ve never been married, and who are not lonely or miserable. There are also married people, who you might even know, who are lonely and miserable! The point is that it’s about how your life feels to you. You might want to ask Jesus how He could make your life feel better during these six weeks; then, just listen and write down the list that comes to you.

So… Let’s Do It!  How do you think Jesus would like to make your life feel better over the course of this Leap of Faith? This is your BHAG.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Here are some suggested goals you might want to consider:

  • I want to experience at least one concrete gift from God.
  • I want to experience an ever-deeper joy of finding my purpose in God’s work on earth.
  • I want to grow spiritually more than I have in any other six weeks of my life.
  • I’d like to have a breakthrough in some habit, hurt, or hang-up that needs to change in my life.

Did You Do It? – Yes!

Then, congratulations! You’ve done a key thing—you’ve crystallized in your heart and on paper (you did write something done, right?) what you want to pursue God for – a very important thing. Having done that, can I encourage you to do three other things that might help you take advantage of this year’s Leap of Faith?

1) Ask God for your B.H.A.G. Every Day During Leap of Faith

As you ask, be open to God speaking to you about what you’re asking for; pay attention to that! In the Spirit of Matthew 7, God gives good gifts to people who “keep on asking” Him!  So, ask every day.

2) Tell Someone Else What You Wrote Down

Ask them to pray for your B.H.A.G. Best case scenario: your spouse; or a faithful friend in our church family. We suggest you partner with someone in this year’s LOF. It would be neighborly of you if you prayed about their B.H.A.G. too!

The crazy part is that Jesus says He’s uniquely present, and at work, it seems in a greater way when two or more people ban together to pursue God (Matthew 18:20). Your chances of seeing something happen go way up when someone else is praying with you — hey, they might even have more faith than you do so that you can leech off them!

3) When You See Answers, Tell Everyone (and Me)

One of the best things you can do when God blesses you is to tell everyone you can about it. You can do that by either emailing me (david.devel@northpc.org) or by writing it out on the back of your Connection Card, so I share it with our church family.

This is a super-powerful and often-overlooked spiritual principle: when God answers our prayers, the proper response is to tell as many people as you can—most particularly your church family. Let me run just a few Psalms by you that make this point:

  • Psalm 107:2: “Has the Lord redeemed (done something good for) you? Then speak out! Tell others he has saved you from your enemies.
  • Psalm 108:3 (and Psalm 57:9): “I will thank you, Lord, in front of all the people.
  • Psalm 71:15-16: “All day long I will proclaim Your saving power, for I am overwhelmed by how much you have done for me. I will praise your mighty deeds, O Sovereign Lord. I will tell everyone that you alone are just and good.
  • Psalm 73:28: “I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.
  • Psalm 40:10: “I have not kept this good news hidden in my heart; I have talked about your faithfulness and your saving power. I have told everyone in the great assembly of your unfailing love and faithfulness.

The Psalms teach us that if we don’t do this, if we don’t speak out about the actual things God does for us, then those things will fade in our memory, and we’ll ultimately forget them! It seems that one of God’s central purposes is that His “Name” be known throughout the earth. His “Name” is essentially this, “the God who does great things for those who pursue Him” (Habakkuk 2:14).

When you tell others about whatever great things God has done for you, you’re participating in His ultimate mission on earth! Whenever God does something wonderful for you, tell your friends, and always tell your church family. OK! Let’s go on.

STEP 2: LOVE PEOPLE – Go Hard After What You’re Hoping God Will Do for Others

In Mark 4:1-20, we find the first parable Jesus taught. He’s talking about the effect that genuine faith has on responsive people (being responsive is a good thing and to being nonresponsive is to be dead!). Responsive people are referred to as “good soil.”  In this parable, you’ll notice that good soil that is truly responsive people can expect to “produce a huge harvest” —30, 60, or even 100 times! Please think of this in terms of plants: healthy plants are usually seed-producing and produce a lot more healthy plants.

For people, this seems to mean that healthy, truly faithfully responsive followers of Jesus can expect to produce a lot more healthy, faithfully responsive followers of Jesus.

This observation—not a new one for most veteran followers of Jesus—and it can freak us out a bit. It seems intimidating! Interestingly, most veteran followers who are intimidated by this say something else at the same time. They say that their deepest dream has something to do with this being true in their lives. We all want lives that matter. I suggest that, if there is only one thing God is focused on doing on the earth, it would be that He’s determined that everyone on earth would know that He does awesome things for people who trust Him—and presumably, that the “everyone” here consists largely of people who don’t currently KNOW that.

So, participating in this is at the heart of what will satisfy you in life; it’s actually at the heart of what we all want – to see the Kingdom of God break into our world through our lives. Let me suggest some things you can do to partner with God’s work in your world.

1) Praying For Your O.N.E.

If you don’t have a O.N.E., then pursue God to give you a O.N.E. Maybe, God would be gracious enough to give you 4 O.N.E.s. Ones are people that you know; people who live right here in the Coon Rapids/North Metro area; people that you’d really love to see experience Jesus’s goodness and power in their lives; people who, as far as you can tell, really don’t have that happening right now. How amazing would it be that God would use your life to help a O.N.E. experience God’s love and blessing?

In these six weeks, we’d love to up the ante a bit in the whole Spirit of taking a season of risk together. I have two suggestions you might want to try during this year’s Leap of Faith.

1) Pray Daily for Your O.N.E.(s)

Ask Jesus to reveal Himself to these great folks every day. Ask Him to concretely bless them in such a way that His name would be made great in their lives.

2) Trust that God will bless Your O.N.E.(s) and allow you to Connect, Serve, Share, Grow, and Pray with them. (we’ll unpack these through this year’s LOF)

During our time, we’ll be teaching on the importance of the five steps to your Life’s Mission.

What can be super helpful as you are praying for your O.N.E.(s) is to ask God to show you ways He can use you to bless them. In that spirit, here are six ideas that you might want to try:

  1. Initiate a social time with your O.N.E.
  2. Ask your O.N.E. for prayer requests and then pray for them.
  3. Invite your O.N.E. to our Sunday service, especially Easter Weekend.
  4. Tell a story to your O.N.E. about how Jesus has blessed you.
  5. Pray for O.N.E. in person.
  6. Invite your O.N.E. to get together and talk about Jesus (or faith).

I’m sure you get the sense that the folks you’re praying for are not just abstractions whom you’re hoping Jesus will bless. Certainly, it would be great if you could be part of the process; if you could be in on loving them in Jesus’s name.

STEP 3: IMPACT OUR WORLD – Go Hard After What You’re Hoping God Will Do Through North Point and Our World

During LOF, we are asking you to consider giving to a special offering we’re calling The Meru Child Sponsorship. Your gifts will be used to help children from Meru, Kenya attend school. Meru, Kenya is the hometown of John and Anna Kirgria, who are part of our church family. Meru is a city in eastern Kenya. It is the sixth largest urban center in the country. Meru has a population of 240,900.

Our goal is $1,000

How exciting would it be that we here in Coon Rapids, can have a lifechanging impact on children in Kenya Africa? You can make checks out to North Point Church and please designate your donation to the “Meru Fund”.

So, Three Cheers for Leap of Faith!  You Have a Mission!