What's Your Vision for the Church?
I was recently asked about my vision for our church. It was a very good question, and one I have been thinking more about. The conclusion I have come to so far is that my vision for the church should be God’s vision for the church. Of course each church will be unique in some ways, but really my job as a pastor is to show our church from God’s Word what His vision is for the church.
As I study the Bible, I think there is one over-arching purpose for the church and that is: to glorify God through making disciples of all nations. Of course, churches do many other things, but Jesus’ vision for the church can’t be summarised any better than His final words in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go ye therefore, and teach (make disciples of) all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…”
Right now I am preaching through the book of Acts, and it has really revealed this truth to me as well. The first 12 chapters focus mostly on the church at Jerusalem, which was a great church. It was large. It saw incredible conversions. Many powerful things happened in and through that church. But for some reason, less than halfway through Acts (God’s book of early church history), the focus almost completely shifts from that great church to another obscure, predominately Gentile church, far to the north in Syria. Why?
Well, this “obscure” church in Antioch got it! They understood that the good teaching, the fellowship, the spiritual growth, and the wonderful worship they enjoyed was not the end but a means to an end. Church was not a place to come and experience; it was a place to train to go out. They realised that they existed as a training ground to carry the gospel to the nations.
And that I believe is God’s vision for the church, and I trust will be our vision for our church. I preached a message last Sunday evening on “Becoming a Missionary Church.” I hope that you might consider the following points from that message.
How to Become a Missionary Church? (Lessons from the church at Antioch)
1. We must genuinely understand and believe the gospel (11:19-23). 2. We must grow in our knowledge of and commitment to Jesus (11:23-26). 3. We must develop a generous, outward focus (11:27-30). 4. We must embrace and love people from all cultures and walks of life (13:1). 5. We must train lots of preachers and teachers (13:1). (Matthew 9:36-38, 2 Timothy 2:2) 6. We must faithfully serve the Lord and earnestly seek his will (13:2). 7. We must pray for labourers and be committed to sending them out (13:3). (Acts 14:26-27, 1 Corinthians 15:34).
Let me know your thoughts on this. How can we better focus our churches on God’s vision? How can we help churches to better train up and sent out people to carry the gospel message around the world?