Tuesday, July 25, 2017

“Church Vision”, A Closer Look by Rick Sons

Jambo (Hello!)

Nina maono (I have a vision.)

Kanisa letu lina maono (Our church has a vision.)

Maonoi yako ni nini (What is your vision?)

No organization will survive without vision. Apart from vision, individuals will wander forever without direction. Without vision our children, communities, churches and societies will be lost. Without vision, lost souls will suffer eternal death. Without vision, the sick and the elderly would lose hope and die. Without vision, the incarcerated would see no avenue for freedom. Without vision, we as a people will surely perish.

Let’s take a look at our world today. Our world has gone wild; it is a reflection of a people who are without vision. Someone has said that vision is foresight with insight based on hindsight.

A man named George Barna, the Executive Director of the American Culture & Faith Institute said, “vision for ministry is a reflection of what God wants to accomplish through you to build His Kingdom” (not your kingdom).

John Maxwell defines vision as: the ability to see, (awareness). The ability to believe, (attitude).   The ability to do, (action).  A true vision from God is not self-seeking, but praises God and brings glory to Jesus Christ.

Vision is essential to a church. Unlike the values, mission, and purpose, the vision is more subject to change. It is in constant motion and never stands still. Over time, the vision must be renewed, adapted, and adjusted to the culture of the congregation. The core of the church vision, the Great Commission, does not change. The details of the vision and the words used to convey them will change. The vision provides us with a picture of what the mission will look like as it is realized in the church.

The idea of a vision for the church is not new to the Scriptures. You will find visions sprinkled throughout the Old and New Testaments. For example, God caught Abraham’s attention with his vision for him in Genesis 12:1–3 (the covenant He made with Abraham). God used Moses to communicate His vision for His people, Israel, in Exodus 3:7–8 and Deuteronomy 8:7–10. It is possible that the “joy” that Jesus looked forward to while enduring the cross was the vision of His return to the presence of His Father in heaven (Heb. 12:2).

Let’s look at the meaning of vision. Webster says: 
1. The act or power of seeing the special sense by which the qualities of an object are perceived.
2. Something seen in a dream, trance, or ecstasy, a supernatural appearance that conveys a revelation 
3. The act or power of imagination or insight.

Nothing starts happening until somebody starts dreaming. Every accomplishment begins as an idea in somebody’s mind. It starts as a dream. It starts as a vision or a goal. If you don’t have a goal for your church, your default goal is to remain the same. If you aim at nothing, you’re definitely going to hit nothing.

Not to step on the toes of the pastor or the deacons but a church without a vision is never going to grow and a church’s vision will never be larger than the vision of its pastor or its leaders. So we as leaders and as pastors must have God’s vision for our church.

The vision of Fairfax Baptist Church is to be A large church in a small town.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:13-16

In this passage, Jesus issues two examples to motivate us to fulfill this calling. First, Jesus says that disciples play a valuable role in their culture. He begins by declaring, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” To discover the meaning of the salt metaphor, we need to understand the function of salt as it would be understood by Jesus and his audience. Salt had so many uses that it was highly valued. It was used as a seasoning, as a preservative, and as an antiseptic. In fact, salt was so valuable that the Romans sometimes paid their soldiers with it. If a soldier did not carry out his duties others would say, “He is not worth his salt.” That’s where we get the expression, “worth his salt.” The question is, are we here at Fairfax Baptist Church worth our salt? As disciples we are called to season the earth. This requires us to recognize our value and fulfill our calling.

Second, Jesus declares that his followers are called to shine the light of Christ. He begins by stating: “You are the light of the world.” People often get very disturbed because the world is dark. This is because the world and its sin has no light. What else can a sinful place be but dark? The world is lost and without any direction because the world is not light. As I stated in the beginning, we are a world without vision.

But Jesus is the Light and we are to reflect Him. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, it is not enough to have private personal holiness; we must also have public exposure. Which brings us to, “A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” In Jesus’ day, cities were set on a hill for a number of reasons. It was cooler on a hill. In that arid, middle–eastern land, the only air conditioning they had was a breeze. Cities were also situated on hilltops for protection against attack. A city set on a hill was easier to defend. Jesus concludes this passage with a powerful statement, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” This verse is a command, not a suggestion. Jesus is saying, “Since you are light, SHINE!” We are not here to get used to the dark but to shine as lights. The light of Christ is to shine in and through us “before men.” In other words, this is a public exhibition of light.

The following are things we need to know to help get our vision out to the world:

  1. Understand the vision. If you don’t understand our vision ask the pastor to explain it to you and keep asking until you understand.
  2. Who we are. What’s our church about? Every church should fulfill the five biblical purposes of worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism. But how we fulfill the purposes depends upon the nature of our church. What makes our church unique?
  3. Where we are going. Besides communicating our identity, we need to communicate the church’s direction and goals. Leadership is influence and the quickest way to tell if you are a leader is to look over your shoulder. If somebody’s following you, you’re a leader. If nobody’s following you, you’re not the leader. It’s that simple.
  4. Why we are going there. Once we’ve communicated where we’re going, we’ve got to tell our congregations why we’re going there.
  5. What it feels like to be going there. People want to be in on the fun  and they want to be fulfilled. No one wants to be left out of the excitement. To get people behind our vision, we need to communicate to people how fulfilling it will be to join God in what he’s doing through our church.
  6. What people can do in the vision? As a part of vision, we need to help individuals in our church see what they can do. Everybody will need to play his or her part in realizing the vision of the church.
  7. How we are going to do it.  We need to share with our congregation how we are going to move forward. As soon as we share our vision for our church, people will want to know how we are going to do it. Let them in on the strategy. (I think we do this very well.)
  8. What the rewards will be. As leaders we need to tell our church what the benefits will be for fulfilling the vision that God has for us. What are the spiritual and emotional benefits? What will it be like when Jesus tells you, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:23)

So what do we need to do at Fairfax Baptist Church? As Maxwell stated, we have the ability to see, the ability to believe, and the ability to do. Visions have taken men to the stars and to the bottom of the seas. It has led men to be the father of nations and led nations out of bondage. Vision led Jesus to pay a price for us all. Where will our vision take us?

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