VISION - Part One
“Where do we go from here?”
I closed last week’s message with the principle that the faith that pleases God is a faith that is active not stagnant. A faith that pleases God is a faith that accomplishes; it does what God has asked us to do.
Now that we have taken the time to gain a better understanding of what faith is, it is our responsibility to do something with that knowledge.
In other words how are we going to respond to the knowledge that we have, how are we going to obey God’s will as it has been reveled in God’s Word? What kind of a church are we going to be? Where should we be headed as a church?
It is so easy to lose sight of the forest for all the trees that surround you! In other words it’s hard to keep the big picture in mind when you are putting out a seemingly endless list of fires and dealing with one problem after another.
If we are not careful, the life of the church can resemble the lives that so many people live. Lots of people live their lives without any sense of direction, without any sense of purpose. They just kind of drift through life like they are riding an intertube down a lazy river.
There are a couple of dangers to that. First of all a lazy river approach to life usually amounts to a wasted life. You waste time which you can’t ever recover. Once time is spent it is gone forever. You waste time and you can waste a lot of resources. The second danger is while you are drifting you may be lulled into a false sense of security when in reality you are in serious danger.
I recently saw on one of the news magazines, I believe it was Dateline the story of a man and a woman who I believe were out on a date. They were out on a river on his boat. The outboard motor quit on them but they didn’t really think much about it, because they were just kinda drifting along. But then they noticed that they began to pick up speed and they realized the current was taking them to a dam and the flood gates were open. Unbelievably, and this was captured in on film, that boat was sucked right into the flood gate and was literally crushed and flattened. By God’s grace both the man and the woman survived. But their story illustrates a truth that happens to untold multitudes of people all the time. They believe that they are just harmlessly floating along when in reality they are in danger of being sucked under the flood gates and crushed.
The same can happen to a church if we are not careful. We can be lulled into a false sense of security, when in reality we are drifting dangerously close to the open flood gates and if we don’t wake up we too will get sucked over the spillway of the dam.
So where do we start? How do we go about determining the kind of church we are going to be?
As a church we have at least two options. The first option is you can turn to the volume after volume of material that has been written in the past few years about marketing the church, growing the church and on and on it goes. Honestly, there is so much out there, books and conferences all claiming to have the right way, or the only way or just a way. I do believe that we can learn some things from some of that material. But in reality much of what is happening in the church growth movement is not biblical, and the methods they use are not scripturally sound. Now that the church growth movement is coming of age so to speak, the chickens are coming home to roost. (don’t you like all the metaphors this morning?) More than one astute observer of the landscape of Christianity is beginning to question the supposed converts that are filling many of our churches. Study after study continually reveals that the lives of so many church members are not any different from those who never darken the doors of the church. Many are predicting that the church growth movement is beginning to collapse because of what the methods that seemed to make them so successful have in actuality produced.
The second option is to go back to the Scriptures and see what the Scriptures have to say about the church and then we develop a vision for the church based upon God’s vision for the church.