Monday, August 01, 2005

A Greater Vision

Yesterday my "co-evangelist," Mike, and I delivered a joint sermon titled "A Call to a Greater Vision." I think we really challenged the church to be more Christ-like. So, here are the main points from that vision. Are these all NT principles, or did I pull this out of my head?

We want to be a church that:

• Promotes unity by focusing on Christ.
Jesus is the core of the gospel message. The whole human drama pivots on the life, and the death, and the resurrection of Jesus. He is the target around which everything else revolves. We need to be known as a church committed to holding up Christ, and preaching Christ, as we say with Paul, “for I resolved to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

• A diverse church, reflecting the racial and social demographics of our neighborhood.
I’m not talking about the kind of enforced diversity and inclusion that our culture champions. I’m talking about us living the truth of the gospel, because if we are clothed with Christ, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

• A church committed to biblical authority, resisting the pressure to conform to cultural relativism or blind traditionalism.
We have always said that we take our stand on the Bible, but it is an ideal that has not always been lived up to – in our desire to be faithful to scripture there are two extremes we want to avoid: We do not force scripture to conform to our modern culture, and at the same time we need to avoid the opposite extreme – forcing scripture to say things in order to hold up long-held traditions, some of which need to be left in the past.

• A church whose worship pleases God, edifies visitors, and equips Christians to lead holy lives and be evangelistic.
Worship begins and ends with God. He is the center of our worship because He is present when we worship. Worship is not so much about checking off a list of activities as it is about God taking my life and shaking it up until my priorities are the same as His. Worship must bring to an end the idea that I am at the center of my own life. Worship has got to lead to changes in my life and behavior.

• A church that promotes spiritual growth among believers.
I’ve heard it said that the modern church is a mile wide but only an inch deep. We want to be known as a church where converts are taught and nurtured and where, together, we never stop growing, and we never stop becoming more and more like Christ.

• A church that meets physical and spiritual needs.
If we are going to be like Christ, then we have got to stop, like he did, and meet people’s needs with whatever means we have.

• A church that provides ministry opportunities for all members.
We want to be the kind of church where there are no pew-warmers, where everyone has something to do, where people feel like they are a part of something special and meaningful because we are not a club, we are the body of Christ on earth, and every one of us has a part to play in God’s redemption of the world.

• A church that promotes healthy families.
By God’s design the family is the building block of our society, and we want this community to know that this church welcomes all sorts of families, and that this is a place where fathers and respected, and mothers are honored and children are loved and nurtured.

• A church committed to more intimate fellowship with each other, and more effective witness to the world.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Whenever God calls someone into a relationship with Him, He always puts that person into a group of like-minded others. This is why the NT speaks of the “family of God.” We are bound together by faith and blood. We have been commanded to love each other, to live in harmony together, to forgive, and encourage, to serve, and lay down our lives for each other, to share our possessions. In a world that is characterized by loneliness, isolation, and self-centeredness, we are supposed to provide a striking contrast.

We followed by calling the church to engage in 40 days of prayer so that God will bless our vision and evangelistic effort.


Ray said...

Very good! Maybe I will 'steal' some of this... :-)

Charles North said...

Go ahead - I stole some of it myself. Like Picasso said, "Good artists create, great artists steal."