Vision 2017, Part II
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How Do We Get There?
In Part I: Where Are We Going? we shared 4 pillars of our vision for advancing the Gospel in our city. This isn’t something a few leaders can do for you; this is something we must all do together. In fact, the success of this vision lies with ordinary people doing extraordinary things, in faith, day after day after day. No strategy can change the heart of a city; only God can do that – and God works through people!
#1: Worship Christ with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
All authentic Christian mission is simply the overflow of a worshipful heart. As pastor-author John Piper says, “Worship is the fuel and goal of missions” (Let The Nations Be Glad). The more you depend on Jesus and find him all-satisfying, the more your life will spontaneously overflow with his praise.
We’re not asking you to go out and tell people about Jesus so you can check a box and feel better about yourself. We’re asking you to fall more deeply in love with the One who gave everything for you. And then simply invite others to receive the free grace you already enjoy.
#2: Relentlessly pray for, serve, and invite your relational community.
If anything happened 95% of the time, it would be considered a statistical anomaly. For example, if someone discovered a drug that cured cancer 95% of the time, you can bet everyone would be talking about it – and nearly all research and development money would be spent on that one treatment alone.
Well, do you know why about 95% of people come to faith in Christ? Is it because of a street preacher? A random mailer? A song they overheard at Hobby Lobby or Chick-fil-A? A bumper sticker or bus stop ad they saw while stopped in traffic? A church outreach they visited on a total whim, knowing no one?
No, about 95% of people come to faith because someone in their immediate sphere of influence – a relative, a friend, a coworker, or a neighbor – told them about Jesus over and over again. They prayed – and kept praying. They loved – and kept loving. They served – and kept serving. They invited – and kept inviting. They planted the seed of the Gospel in word and deed, and they kept watering it until it finally bore the fruits of repentance and faith.
See, you are the worldchangers. You are the means through which God wants to work to bring people out of darkness into his marvelous light. Jesus is the Savior, the Healer, the Bondage-Breaker, the Debt-Canceller, the Champion over sin and death and hell, but you are the instrument through which people hear and experience his Good News! And here’s the amazing thing: you already have many of the relationships where God wants to work!
This is where the rubber meets the road. This is where real Gospel mission happens. The church is not a building, a meeting, or a set of programs. The church is people. The church is you. And the church brings people to Christ when you bring people to Christ!
#3: Go where Millennials live, work, and play, and begin building redemptive relationships.
The first word of The Great Commission is “go” (Matthew 28:18-20). What’s Jesus saying? Don’t sit back and wait for people to come to church. Don’t wait for them to find us. Don’t expect them to come running to Jesus when many of them have never even heard of the real Jesus. You go to them. You initiate. You make the first move. You invite them into relationship. You start serving them with no ulterior motive and no strings attached.
As you move toward younger generations, repent. Repent of the scorn you’ve felt in your heart toward them. Repent of the ways you’ve stereotyped them and written them off. Repent of your pride and your lack of love. Believe that God wants to use you in their lives – and they in yours!
Build friendships with the people you meet by going. Respect them. Honor them as God’s image bearers. They are people, not your “project.” Invite them to connect and serve. Give them opportunities for personal development and purposeful leadership. Don’t just talk; listen … and show an eagerness to learn from them.
#4: Be willing to try things.
It’s said Thomas Edison invented over 1,000 light bulbs that didn’t work before he finally landed on a design that did. So don’t worry about failure. A lot of ideas don’t work, but we’ll partner together and find some things that do.
Don’t be a spectator, a backseat driver, an armchair quarterback, or a critic. Get in the game! Be a team player. Humbly encourage and affirm one another. Share your ideas. And seriously, have fun!
This vision will require a lot of sacrifice, risk, and determination. We will need just what Christ has promised: the continual presence and power of his Spirit. This is not something we can accomplish in a month or just on Sundays. Living on mission is a calling, a heartbeat, a lifestyle. It’s 24-7. There will be ups and downs, joys and heartaches. But lives will be transformed and Jesus will be glorified! And it’s going to be an awesome journey!