Summary: Sermon #4 on creating a shared vision.
“Putting Faith Into Action”
By: Rev. Ken Sauer, Grace United Methodist Church, Soddy Daisy, TN www.graceumcsd.org
In February 2007, Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz sent a memo to his CEO, Jim Donald, that somehow found its way onto the internet and then onto the computer screens of Starbucks fans everywhere.
In the memo, Schultz expresses concern that his company has veered off course.
He cites a series of internal decisions that eventually led to a dilution of what customers had come to expect from a visit to Starbucks.
Decision makers in the company had allowed America’s Premier coffee-drinking environment to drift from its vision.
In the memo, Schultz urges his CEO to create a course that will lead Starbucks back to its original vision.
This underscores the point that vision doesn’t stick without constant care and attention!
When it comes to making our Vision for Grace United Methodist Church stick, here is one of the most important things to remember—YOU are responsible.
YOU are responsible for keeping the vision for Grace Church at the forefront.
It’s up to each one of US to make sure there is alignment between what we do and the Vision for this Church!!!
Jesus had a vision for the Church at Laodicea, but they were not living into that vision.
Therefore, Jesus states: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.
I wish you were either one or the other!
So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am going to spit you out of my mouth.”
Those are some pretty heavy words.
When I was an Associate Pastor in Macon, Georgia…
…the Senior Pastor preached a sermon on this passage of Scripture.
He titled it: “The Church that Made Jesus Sick.”
We don’t want to be that Church!!!
Soup and Coffee are supposed to be hot.
Many, if they took a sip of one or the other and it were lukewarm—would spit it back out…
The same goes with Jesus and the Church.
We are called to live into God’s Vision for us!!!
We are called to put our faith into action!!!
In verse 15, Jesus says: “I know your deeds…”
The “deeds” at the Church in Laodicea were…well…not much to write home about…
They weren’t doing much.
They weren’t putting their faith into action.
And faith that leads to action is the only faith that counts.
In James Chapter 1, James the brother of Jesus declares: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.
Do what it says.
Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a [person] who looks at [his or her] face in the mirror and, after looking at [themselves], goes away and immediately forgets what he [or she] looks like.”
We must be intentional in making sure that the Vision for Grace United Methodist Church—sticks!!!
We must take it seriously.
This is not to be an effort in futility.
We are going to have to be intentional in putting this Vision into action, if it is going to mean anything at all!!!
When it comes to making a vision stick, there are at least 2 things we can do to significantly increase the adhesiveness.
First of all, we should state the vision simply!
If our vision is going to stick in people’s minds, it must be memorable.
People don’t embrace paragraphs.
They remember and embrace sentences.
We must clarify and simplify!!!
And as we evaluate our vision statement, remember this: It is better to have a vision statement that is incomplete and memorable than to have one that is complete and forgettable…
…just as the Christian faith is a journey—not a destination…
…the vision of this Church should be a journey as well…
…it should be alive and flexible!!!
That way, our Vision will be open to the Holy Spirit’s direction, correction, and call to address unforeseeable issues and circumstances!
One example of a memorable Vision Statement is this one from Internet Giant eBay: “to provide a global trading platform where practically anyone can trade practically anything.”
Notice that the eBay Vision Statement doesn’t even mention the Internet.
And there’s nothing in there about bidding on things.
I don’t know anyone who has ever traded on eBay.
They usually buy things.
This Vision doesn’t give you the whole scope of what eBay is about, but it’s intriguing and memorable…
…and it’s unfinished…
So, keep the vision clear.
If a vision is too complicated for people to embrace, nothing changes!!!
It needs to be easy to communicate.
The second imperative to making vision stick is to cast it convincingly.
We must communicate it in a way that moves people to action!!!
James writes: “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.
If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?