Visioning for the Future
Matthew 28:18-20; Proverbs 29:18
Proverbs 29:18 (KJV)
Where there is no vision, the people perish: But happy is he who keeps the law.
Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT)
18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Do you know what your purpose statement is? In other words do you know why you exist? What makes you get out of bed in the morning? And don’t tell me that you get out of bed because you have to go to work. Because I will ask then why do you go to work? Because you have to; I know, but is there any purpose for going to work other than getting a pay check? I believe that everyone ought to have a purpose for being. Therefore what is your purpose for being? I am certain with some fancy thinking you can come up with a clever purpose.
Here is my purpose statement – To Be Dedicated to Sharing Christ Love, to Cultivate and Nurture Spiritual Growth in Myself and Others, and to Worship God.
I often come in to the sanctuary and just sit where you sit or sit on the front steps of the chancel area and visualize / daydream what God is wanting for Faith UMC – what is God have in store for me. I have to admit I like to dream – when I was a kid they would say quit daydreaming now there are books and books that have been written about what I was doing but they call it visioning. I have been asked a number of times what do you do? I normally try to be a little humorous like – I work for an hour on Sundays – what do you think I do? But if you want me to be really honest; I am a visionary – that is a fancy word for God’s daydreamers. This morning I would like to share with you 3 biblical visions that God has placed on my heart.
Let me define the word vision before we look at the 3 focuses:
- Synonyms for the word vision: dream, mental picture, revelation, idea, image, visualization.
- “Vision is faith bringing the future and the present together.” (Dale Galloway)
- Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
- In this passage faith becomes a visionary word.
- In fact the all the heroes mentioned in Hebrews 11 were men of vision.
- They dreamed God’s dream.
- A vision is a mental picture of a preferred future.
- Vision is seeing a worthy possibility before it actually takes place.
- President Kennedy made this quote famous – “Some men look at things as they are and ask ‘why?’ I look at things as they can become and ask, ‘why not?’”
- Vision is a picture of what God wants to do. Vision is a picture of what God will do if we get out of His road and become instruments in His hands.
- We to need to look at things as they can be and ask “what is it that I need to do to make it happen for God?”
- The truth is that if we have no vision for the present and the future we will stall out – we will perish as a church” (KJV).
Focus 1: The first God given focus directed to me is that I am responsible for your spiritual maturity. I am required by God to nurture and encourage you to reach your God given potential and to mature in your faith that you might know Christ better tomorrow than you did today. In other words I am called to equip and train you in the Lord’s service.
Ephesians 4:11-13 (The Message)
He (Christ) handed out gifts of apostle, the prophet, the 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.
- My primary responsibility is to equip / train you to do His work. We are to be His skilled laborers who work and build up the church. The goal is for you as well as me to reach spiritual maturity. God’s Vision – His directive to me is:
- To equip each of you to be in ministry. Paul says that I am to be preparing you, God's people for works of service. As your pastor-teacher I am to train you to be Christ’s servant
- The ultimate goal is that you will be mature and fully grown in the Lord. My responsibility will never have an ending as long as we are alive.
- The Strategy – How do we develop our church into being an equipping church – a church learning to be in ministry?
- The first strategy has to do with your willingness to learn what it means to be a disciple. To that end I will be offering Bible Studies on basic discipleship:
- This winter I will be doing an email Bible Study on How to live your Christian life in an anti-Christian world. We live in a world where integrity in frowned on.
- Becoming a Contagious Christian – teachings on sharing your faith will be offered in the district at Summersville Memorial Church Jan. 20-21
- We have learning opportunities that you can plug into now – why wait.
- Sunday School Class
- Youth Fellowship
- Young Life - Campaigners
- I would like to begin a Men’s Prayer Breakfast on one Saturday a month
- Sunday morning is not enough – you may think that you are getting enough nourishment and training on Sunday morning. I don’t care who you are listening to even the greatest preacher you can imagine is not going to provide enough nourishment for you to be mature in your faith.
- If you only worked out once a week or trained for a race once a week – you aren’t going to develop fully into an athlete. That is true for us spiritually to.
- If you fed a child ½ of their meals a week – they wouldn’t become full developed.
- If our training is only on Sundays we are going to be rather spiritually anemic in our faith.
- The second part of this strategy is one of acceptance – we are all called to be in ministry. When Jesus calls us to be His brother or sister – He also calls us into a life of service. I am called to enlist and then train you ministry. It makes my responsibility difficult to train you if you are reluctant to be trained.
- I have been trained to train you. You have to be willing to be trained.
- So the question is: “Are you willing to be trained for ministry?”
Focus 2: We need to reach Richwood and the surrounding area with the gospel message. Christ commanded us to go and make disciples. The vision that the Lord has laid on my heart is that we will each share our faith with one person in the next year.
(That doesn’t necessarily mean that they will accept Christ into their lives but we have planted the seed of grace in a person life. You may be saying to yourself):
- “That sounds good – I am glad he is not talking to me.”
- “I don’t know how do we do that? I don’t know what to say.”
- “You got to be kidding – I am scared to death.”
- “By the way isn’t that what we pay the pastor to do? Isn’t that his job?”
- Go back to focus 1 - my vocation / my call to serve God is to teach you how to share your faith without being obnoxious.
- To that end I will be offering special training in this area through out the year – as well as sharing some basic styles of evangelism - that I have found in useful in sharing my faith on Sunday mornings.
- I will be doing a sermon series beginning after the district class program on Becoming a Contagious Christian. The series will be called, “How to Share Your Faith without Embarrassing God or Yourself.”
- One of the ways to reach the un-churched / pre-Christian is to ask them to come. We need to ask friends, relatives, neighbors, kids we hang out with to come with us to Church. I believe that we have something exciting going on. So let us invite others.
Strategic Focus 3: We all need to be servants. We need to give a greater percentage of our lives, our knowledge, our resources to those in our area. It is called serving.
- Often I hear people say I don’t know what I can do to help. Maybe you ought to find someone else to do something.
- I would like to start a club called the Barnabas (son of Encouragement) Club - there are only two membership rules:
Rule 1: The only words coming from our mouths are words of Encouragement – our purpose is to build one another up.
Rule 2: No complaining, griping, or bad mouthing another person. It is not about saying nothing it is about encouraging one another. See Rule 1.
- The church by definition is the greatest gathering of potential servants in the world, but she is also the most notorious vehicle for disappointing, discouraging and destroying would be servants and ministers. So look back at the Barnabas Club
- What is it that we have to offer? Small things done with great love will change the world around us. We are in the transformer business – we are to be catalyst in assisting others have life changing transformation.
- To be that catalyst we need to demonstrate that we care in the name and power of Jesus Christ. Let me give you a couple simple examples:
- Free Bike Fixing Clinic in the spring for the neighborhood children. Define what repairs you will be able to do.
- We are already doing a wonderful ministry with Christ’s Kitchen.
- Instead of selling water at the Cherry River Festival how about giving free bottle of water with the message from the living Water of Christ.
- People come into our area to serve – how about if we develop a team that can do small jobs around the community.
We need to dream God’s dreams and God’s dreams are always worthwhile. Maybe you have heard the story of the man who went out fishing all day in his boat and never caught a fish. Meanwhile in a nearby boat there was a husband and wife team fishing who kept catching these big fish and kept throwing them back. It was driving this other guy nuts. Why were they throwing the big one back? Finally he couldn’t take it any longer, he yelled over, “how come you are throwing the big ones back? The wife reached under her seat and pulled out a small fry pan. Then answered, “Cause they won’t fit in our fry pan!” (Dale Galloway)
All of us have fry pans. We have thrown out a dream or a vision because we thought it was too big. It just wouldn’t fit in our fry pan. Instead of throwing out God’s dream let us just enlarge the fry pan.
Let us never limit God’s dreams for His church.
We just need to get a bigger fry pan. That is what we are looking at here at Westmont UMC. We need to enlarge our fry pan, believe in God’s purposes for His Westmont UMC. So let us get going - we got some outreaching to do.
Please click here for slides to accompany the sermon.