One of the most difficult things about putting together a VISION for the church is simplifying it. The reason this is hard is because the church is not a simple thing. You can’t just decide that we are going to focus on and ignore everything else. As the church, we are called to:
Gather together regularly to be fed by the Word and to respond with singing, giving, communion…this what we do Sunday mornings.
Church is called the ‘pillar and buttress of the church.’ We are to uphold what is true and reject what is wrong. We do that in Bible studies, through preaching, and through conversation.
To help sanctify one another in the faith. To get together and help work through what being a Christian means to the single/married, in your job, as a stay at home parent, being a parent…the church exists to help you think through this. Again, we do this in studies, sermons, and conversations.
We are not just functioning as a sanctification factory, we should also be developing a deep love for one another. We should be living as an example of healthy community, a city on a hill. As a church we do this through various events, meals together, and hoping that you are developing these relationships outside of what we schedule.
This means living out service to each other as well as to those outside of our community. We do work with groups like Family Promise, and Pregnancy Choices, as well as giving places to serve one another within community.
To proclaim the gospel, as well as to evangelize our children into the faith. While CC doesn’t have a robust street preaching ministry, we are sending all of you, every week, into your neighborhoods, jobs, and families to give a reason for the hope that is within you.
Make new Christians and send people out to start new churches. Our vision is to continue to grow, because God’s Word will not return void.
I go through all of this because I want you to know that this is our vision plan every year. Go, bring people into the church, to baptize them, teach ALL that Jesus commanded, and to remind each other that God is with us…that is the Great Commission. Never do we move on from this, and never do we stop doing part of it in order to specialize or simplify who we are as the church.
When the elders cast vision, we start from this point. As we met last month to discuss what 2018 looks like, one of the first things we did was talk about 2028. We talked about our desire to see this church doing what it is doing today; and our hope to be here leading it.
I just want to make this clear here and now, our vision for 10 years down the road is to be the same church we are today, sanctified a bit, having raised kids in the gospel, having multiplied and brought people in, having developed leaders and sent out church plants. To build a legacy here in Mount Vernon, we need to keep being faithful, year after year, letting God use this church for His glory.
Our vision is not and never will be drastic changes to keep up with the trends, but instead will be using each year to be refined in what it means to be the church. It will be looking over 7 aspects mentioned and asking: where do we need to be strengthened this year?
I want to go through 3 things that are going to be the focus for 2018:
The reason for this is both because of where our church is and where society is. As a church, we have a number of people in the kid-raising years. Time full of good things, but not always overflowing with joy. It is hard, at times, to see the forest from the trees.
We also exist in a culture that has been taught to criticize, analyze, resist, and break down, but has not necessarily been given a lot to hope for or JOY to pursue. We will spend the first part of the year going through Philippians and learning to refocus on Christ, on joy, both because we need it to survive, but also because we live in a world that desperately needs the joy we have been given.
As a church we are growing. This is exciting, but it also means we need to grow in our organization. While the true work of the gospel is organic, it is only kept healthy within a structure. So in order for the Vine to grow, we must build the proper trellis to carry it. This is a year for us to focus on that trellis. A few things that means:
We will have some intentional leadership development, so that we can have more people carrying the leadership weight of the church.
We are looking to adopt a historic confession, or belief statement for our church. Our EQUIP class this Spring will be focused on laying out the details of that, some of the difficult parts of dealing with a document that is 400 years old, and explaining why we believe this is important.
We are 6 years into this things, and we want to be in it for life, so we need to get better at how we rest. Andrew is going to get into some specifics on this, but simply, doing mission is going to make you tired, but we need to be wise so that is doesn’t break people. We are going to work to find a balance in this.