What follows is primarily for my church, but I would like to share it with you as well. This is the Vision that I presented to my church Sunday. I believe that this is a good description of where God is taking us over the next couple of years and would appreciate your prayers. I also invite your feedback. I would love to read your observations and consider your thoughts as I continue to work through and evaluate this plan.
Having a Vision means that we have the ability to look ahead into the future and see a clear picture of what we can become. Once we have that picture then we can evaluate where we are now and plot a course to making the Vision become a reality. Failing to commit the time, effort, and prayer to that process will lead to our eventual decline and death as a church. So, we must have a Vision and we must pursue it.
The journey will not be easy, but then nothing worthwhile is. Seeing souls rescued and transformed for eternity and pleasing the God in whose image we were made is worth any effort or sacrifice required to accomplish the goal laid out before us. So like Paul we must, “forget what is behind and strain toward what lies ahead of us, pressing on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus (Phil 3:13-14 paraphrased).” Nothing else will do.
Why are we here?
In order to have a valid and compelling Vision for where we are going we must understand why we exist. Where we are going is directly tied to where we are and who we are so we have to start there. In years past we have spent several weeks on this, but this time we are just going to do a quick review.
So, here we go. We derive our purpose from the one who made us and called us to complete His will. Jesus gave us our marching orders in several places, but for simplicity let’s look at just a couple of them. These passages have come to be known as the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.
Matthew 22:36-39 (NIV)
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
As he answers the Pharisee’s question Jesus reaches back to what would have been a well known Old Testament passage to teach us what God wants us to be about. The most important things that we can do are to love God and to love others. Everything that we do should stem from these two great laws. Without love we are nothing and we cannot hope to please God or accomplish His will for us. Everything that we do must be guided by love.
The Great Commission
Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
From the Great Commandment and the Great Commission we derive 5 major activities that we should be involved in as a church: Worship, Discipleship, Outreach, Service, and Fellowship.
Some time ago someone took those passages and put them together to develop what has become our mission statement.
“Create an environment where people can embrace God, be united with others for encouragement and love, be equipped for service and ministry, and use their gifts and talents to embrace the world.”
I love this statement because it encompasses everything that we should be doing, but it is just too long to be easily remembered by everyone which means that it’s not effective for using in this way. So it is going to become our strategy, or the way we accomplish our mission.
Our new mission statement will be:
“Declare Jesus as Lord and develop Christ-followers who love God and People.”
I need for all of us, especially our leaders, to learn this. It is what is going to guide us as we move forward. You see we have to be focused in order to accomplish our mission. Not every opportunity or ministry is going to be right for us. It may be good, but not the right time, or right opportunity. So when an opportunity doesn’t line up with our mission and purpose we have to say no. It is ok, no it is necessary, to say no to good things so that we can do the best things.
This is our guide from now on. Does it declare Jesus, does it develop Christ-followers, does it teach people to love God and love others? If not we cannot spend time, energy, or resources on it because it conflicts with our mission. We are on mission so we must stay focused.
His Witnesses to the World – verse Acts 1:8
Shortly before His ascension into heaven Jesus pulled the apostles together and gave them another statement about our mission.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
I believe that those words are also our marching orders. Not just for the 21st century church as a whole, but also for us here at First Baptist. I believe that God still wants us to give everything that we can to reach the world with the good news that there is hope, life, and restoration found in Jesus Christ.
When Jesus delivered these words He was specifically telling the apostles what ministry would look like once the Holy Spirit came upon them. His desire was that they take what God gave them and through the power that comes with the Holy Spirit be witnesses beginning where they were and moving out to every corner of the earth. That is our mission too. Here is what I think it will look like in the years to come as we work on being the most effective witnesses we can right here where we are, and them moving out to every corner of the world.
Results of 2014: Approx 15 professions of faith. 6 baptisms.
Sunday School – Shared Space. Flexibility.
Small Groups – College and Career.
Multiple Services – New time & different style.
Facilities upgrades – Clean & paint. De-clutter. Build.
Community Outreach – Community Service. Counseling. Meeting needs. Evangelism Training.
Greater emphasis on prayer – Prayer meetings. Prayer partners.
Results from 2014: Mission trips: Alaska, Zambia, Haiti. Sent Pastor to Alaska. Online upgrades.
Mission Trips – Regular. Intentional. Rotating. Coordinated.
Church planting/ Revitalization – Plans to reproduce every 5 years.
Online Campus – expand our online reach as well as resources that we can offer.
What’s the Cost? – verse Romans 12:1
Don’t worry about the cost. It will only cost us everything!