Summary: Defining the Vision that God has given you both Personally and Corporately as His Church.
Jimmy Johnson what he told his players before leading the Dallas Cowboys onto the field for the 1993 Super Bowl.
"I told them that if I laid a two-by-four across the floor, everybody there would walk across it and not fall, because our focus would be on walking the length of that board. But if I put that same board 10 stories high between two buildings, only a few would make it, because the focus would be on falling."
Johnson told his players not to focus on the crowd, the media, or the possibility of falling, but to focus on each play of the game as if it were a good practice session. The Cowboys won the game 52-7.
As we stated last week, there is a four-month gap between Ch.1 and Ch. 2 (Kislev and Nisan). In chapter 1, Nehemiah is burdened about Jerusalem but he has no specific plan. In chapter 2, he has a plan firmly in place. What happened?
As I said last week, we must discover God’s specific vision for not only our own lives but also His vision for His church.
I see three critical steps to defining God’s vision.
1. Discover Your Purpose (1-5)
In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before; so the king asked me, "Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart." I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, "May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?" The king said to me, "What is it you want?" Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, "If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it."
Have you ever been in a business that is struggling to make ends meet. You wonder why they keep their doors open. Tell story of Rawhide’s and the tennis balls.
Many churches today are having a similar struggle. They have yet to discover why they are doing what they do.
Look at Jesus’ vision for His church:
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. (Matt 16:18)
This definition is more than survival. It sounds like a church that is driven by purpose.
Purpose is the first and biggest issue of vision. The major question that must be answered here is: What does God want us to do?
Take a minute and answer this question: What is the purpose here at Lake Dreamland?
My guess that your answers will likely include preaching the gospel, evangelizing the lost, discipling the Christian, providing for widows and orphans, etc.
There are over 485,000 identifiable churches in the United States. I believe that God has a purpose for each and every one of them.
How many of you like working jigsaw puzzles? Where do you start working a jigsaw puzzle? Most people start with the border. Most people will tell you that they do this because it will serve as a frame for the rest of the puzzle but I am here to tell you that it is also the easiest part of the puzzle to complete because of the straight edges.
Vision is a lot like a jigsaw puzzle. You work it one piece at a time—and sometimes it takes a while to get all the pieces in place. Discovering your purpose is the border of the puzzle. It will serve as a frame of reference for the rest of the vision. The purpose needs to be easy to find, easy to see, and easy to put together.
Some churches try to determine their target or their strategy before they discover their purpose. They try to determine programs and ministries before they determine what it is that God want to do with them as a church.
Many churches have gone the corporate route and have come up with Purpose Statements. The problem is, most of these statements are to long. If we cannot state the purpose of this church in a single sentence, we have not yet discovered our purpose.
Characteristics of a Good Purpose Statement:
Biblical (fit within the parameters of the Great Commission)
Practical (written in simple, easy to understand language)
Transferable (passed from one person to the next)