Vision, Part 8

Aubrey Malphurs defines a vision as “a clear, challenging picture of the future of the ministry as you believe it can and must be” (Aubrey Malphurs, Developing a Vision for Ministry in the 21st Century).

Over several weeks and posts I have laid out the vision that God has given me for Oak Tree Community Church. Here are the eight pieces again (linked back to their original posts if you want to refresh your memory):

  • I envision families living without debt and changing their community by giving generously through the church and saving generously for the future
  • I envision men and women becoming godly church leaders without having to be sent away to a professional institution (such as a seminary)
  • I envision older professionals mentoring younger professionals in how to live godly in the world
  • I envision children learning the fundamental truths for a strong Christian faith in a way that they can never forget in order to intentionally live them
  • I envision growing believers studying the deep things of God together and living them faithfully
  • I envision lost people regularly giving their lives to Christ
  • I envision a congregation intentionally making Christ-followers in their immediate communities and around the world
  • I envision a congregation giving its community a glimpse of heaven on earth

It is clear – it specifically addresses families and money; church leadership; church members not in leadership; children; adults; unbelievers; and our local and global community

It is challenging – there is no way that we can accomplish this on our own or in a short period of time

It affects the future – this is a forever long-term vision for our church; it is not based on me or my time at our church

It can be – because it reflects God’s heart, it is not impossible

It must be – because it reflects God’s heart, he will accomplish it here if we are willing

 

And there is the question: Are we willing – are you willing – to step up and do your part to bring heaven to earth, to lead people to God, to become everything Christ-like, for the rest of your days, until you are finally in his immediate presence one day?

This is where our church is headed. Everyone has an active role in this. There are no bench warmers, no second-string. I hope you come along – not just for a ride – but in active participation in God’s work through his Church. Don’t be left out.

Vision, Part 7

I’m laying out my vision for our church across several posts. There are eight pieces to it. The last two pieces work together:

I envision a congregation intentionally making Christ-followers in their immediate communities and around the world.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 (NET)

I envision a congregation giving its community a glimpse of heaven on earth.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its flavor, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled on by people. You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill cannot be hidden. People do not light a lamp and put it under a basket but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:13-16 (NET)

Growth does not happen by accident – not plant growth, not human body growth, and not church body growth. If the Church – God’s people – do not intentionally build bridges with people who do not yet follow Jesus Christ and help them come to him for radical life change, it will not happen.

Now, I believe that God can and does save people in his time and with his power, not ours. But you can’t get around the fact that God has chosen people to spread the good news of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and offer of salvation. And when people don’t do that people don’t receive Christ. Paul’s series of questions is very clear:

“How are they to call on one they have not believed in? And how are they to believe in one they have not heard of? And how are they to hear without someone preaching to them? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? … Consequently faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the preached word of Christ.” Romans 10:14-15, 17 (NET)

One way of preaching Christ is to open up the Bible and let the Written Word show Christ, the Living Word. We need people who are willing to preach and teach others God’s Word.

Another way of preaching Christ is to open up our lives and let the world see what the Living Word does to a life given to him. This is what Jesus meant in Matthew 5:16 above – “Let your light shine before people.” When they see it, then they will “give honor to your Father in heaven.” How is God honored most? When his people do his work and one more person comes to him in repentance and faith.

My vision is not just an auditorium full of unbelievers. I want to see an auditorium full of unbelievers being radically transformed into high-impact Christ-followers who storm the enemy’s territory in search of more people to bring to Christ.

Paul understood clearly that his mission was to preach the gospel to the heathen. The purpose for which the church exists is missions. If you take the missionary idea out of the church, you have a life without an objective, a barren tree that cumbers the ground… Everyone who accepts the invitation “come” must immediately hear the imperative command “go”. The supreme business of the church is to make Christ known to all.” (Robert P. Lightner, The Fundamentals for the Twenty-First Century, p. 337)

What is your part in that?

Continue to Part 8

Vision, Part 6

I’m laying out my vision for our church across several posts. There are eight pieces to it. This is number six:

I envision lost people regularly giving their lives to Christ.

“Every day they continued to gather together by common consent in the temple courts, breaking bread from house to house, sharing their food with glad and humble hearts, praising God and having the good will of all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number every day those who were being saved.” Acts 2:46-47 (NET)

I think sometimes how awesome that would be to have been a part of those first days in the church – regular, daily contact with each other; eating together regularly; having a great reputation in the community (“good will of all the people”).

But even more than that – lost people regularly giving their lives to Christ. I mean, think about it, how many people were being saved? Hundreds, thousands? According to Acts 2:41, following Peter’s message 3,000 people were saved and joined the new church. Talk about a revival! There are some estimates that say there were possibly 60,000 believers in Jerusalem by Acts 15, about 17 years later. That’s over 3,100 new Christ-followers per year!

Now, I understand that this was a huge movement of God to get the church started, and a person had to be pretty serious to join a group that was willing to stand against the main political and religious organizations of the day. And serious Christ-followers attract serious seekers.

But does that mean that it can’t happen today? I don’t think so. There are over 265,000 people in our county alone. And according to the most recent data, more than half of them claim no church or religious affiliation.

You can’t tell me that there are 130,000 in our county that are so turned against God that they refuse his salvation. There may be areas in the world where that is true, but St. Joseph County, Indiana?

So what’s the solution? For the Church to be the church that God intended from day one.

I read recently where someone wrote, “The problem with the traditional church is that it became too much ‘tradition’ and not enough ‘church’.” I think the same can apply to a non-traditional church as well.

When the Church is the Church – the Bride of Christ, the Body of Christ, the unstoppable servant of the Most High God – seekers will be able to stop seeking, families will be fixed, marriages will thrive, and lives all over our county, our state, our nation, and our world will be changed.

My vision is to see people coming to Christ for the very first time every single day.

What is your part in that?

Continue to Part 7