PASSING ON THE VISION 1-17-2000
"Churches are short on Christian love, forgiveness, and vision for the future." Do you believe this statement is true? Jesus said: “But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance." Matt 9:13 (NKJV)
David prayed: “Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight-- That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge.” Psalms 51:1-4 (NKJV)
God responds to Jacob's prayer. Notice what Jacob did in Genesis 30:37-43. "Then he set up these peeled branches by the watering trough so Laban's flocks would see them...all of their offspring were streaked, speckled and spotted."
A visionary church stays on course, clearly knowing and communicating the vision God has for the whole Body for the long term. The vision goes beyond the present leaders to a visionary people!
Petersen expands Eph. 4:11-16. “He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christians in skilled servant work, working within Christ's body, the church, until we're all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God's Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ. No prolonged infancies among us, please. We'll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for impostors. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.” Eph 4:11-17 (MSG)
Involve others in this work.
"It is better to get ten men to work - than to try to do the work of ten men." Have the vision, but it will take others to fulfill this vision. A vision shared stirs others and gives them something to believe God for. Leaders equip others to operate within the vision. But, not all the vision comes from the leaders. People are drawn to the local church by the Holy Spirit - either to be saved (obey the gospel) or to help fulfill the vision of the local church. We want to see others saved and made followers of Jesus Christ [Matt. 28:18-20].
Peterson expands this: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age." Matt 28:18-20 (MSG)
When members share about a visionary church to others, they are sharing about a movement that will outlast a man or a woman. Note 2 Timothy 1:5; 2:1-2; 3:14-15. “I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also. Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Tim 1:3-7 (NKJV)
1) A visionary church moves ahead. People are not attracted to sterile and lifeless forms, but to that which is life-giving and relational. Where there is relationship and spiritual life, there will be a natural numerical growth. The old proverb: "You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar" is still true. The honey is the Doing & Dying & Rising Again of Jesus Christ.
“The voice out of Heaven spoke to me again: "Go, take the book held open in the hand of the Angel astride sea and earth." I went up to the Angel and said, "Give me the little book." He said, "Take it, then eat it. It will taste sweet like honey, but turn sour in your stomach." I took the little book from the Angel's hand and it was sweet honey in my mouth, but when I swallowed, my stomach curdled. Then I was told, "You must go back and prophesy again over many peoples and nations and languages and kings." Rev 10:8-11 (MSG)
2) A visionary church grows leaders. Nehemiah went for a ride one evening to inspect the walls of
2:12]. The following day he recruited
priests, goldsmiths, rulers, merchants, families and farmers. It wasn't about numbers or a perfect
wall. It was about instilling vision and
working together in relationship for a common goal. Jerusalem
3) A visionary church is kingdom-minded. We believe the kingdom did come on Pentecost (Acts 2) and spread to cover the world (note PDaniel 2:44). A visionary church is concerned beyond the local community to a vision of the World conquered for Jesus! People are not a means to an end - but they are God's greatest love! "God so loved the world..."
4) A visionary church is authentic. "New cars smell new for only a short time, and then the newness wears off." Promotion attracts the latest church-hoppers, but prayer breeds close-knit relationships that experience spiritual vitality and a church of substance. People are attracted to God's love manifested through relationships with people. God's love is authentic! Note Romans 5:5; 1 John 2:7-8.
Older is not always better. “And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, 'The old is better.' " Luke 5:39 (NKJV) The "new wine" of the Gospel must always be our first priority. If the "old wine" of the past is not working for you, perhaps you need to "reload" the original program of the Book of Acts and drink deeply from the springs of living water. The reality of the Holy Spirit in people's lives was evident. Acts 2:42-47 describe the process of relationship in a church with vision. "Praising God and enjoying the good will of all the people." You must decide where you fit according to your own spiritual values and build accordingly.