Summary: Jesus has called his followers to participate in the harvest of souls in our community.

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January 8, 2006

Introduction: Today is a message of vision. What is your vision for Countryside in 2006? What is it that God has called us to do and how are we going to move forward to accomplish that task?

Our mission is set. We are a church that does not have many different visions and missions. We do not use slogans and catch phrases for the year. Instead, we focus on the overall vision and how we can play a part in Gods story.

The mission of Countryside:

“To passionately pursue God and express his love to others.”

That is what we are about. Today, we are going to focus on the second part of the phrase, because it is in that realm that we as a church are gong to be focusing much of our ministry in 2006.

How do we express God’s love to others? How are you, as part of Countryside moving forward in the plan to touch lives with the message of Jesus? We want to look today at a scripture that gives us some principles from the life of Jesus to use as a model for our relationship with our community.

“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field."

Matthew 9:35-38 (NIV)

This passage fits within the framework of what Jesus has been doing and what he is preparing to do. He ha been traveling the area of Galilee teaching and preaching in the synagogues and healing people. Immediately after this passage he sets apart the twelve apostles to do the work of the ministry that he equips them to do. When Jesus passed on ministry to his disciples, it passed on as part of the revolution of Christ to us.

Let’s breakdown three key principles that we can learn and apply from this passage.

I. Jesus met the needs of people.

“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.” Matthew 9:35 (NIV)

Jesus met people at the point of their need.

Jesus put who he was and what he was about into practical use in the life of people. In the story that Matthew paints in chapter 9, we see Jesus heal six different people of various issues. He heals a man who could not walk, a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years, a girl who had died, two blind men and a man who was demon possessed. Jesus touched these people in very real and practical ways.

Our society had very real needs. Not to skip the point, but today I am not talking about the physical needs of people. We as a body of Christ just deal with issues of hunger, illness and tragedy. There is no question of that and this body has demonstrated a great willingness to help. Today, I want to talk about the spiritual and emotional needs of our community.

There are three areas of need that I believe the church is uniquely equipped to deal with in the lives of people. They are issues that we as a body must address in people’s lives in order to make an eternal and lasting difference.

A) People need connection.

Our society has lost the connectedness that once was the fabric of who we were. We have lost the sense of neighborhood and community that twenty-five years ago gave us an identity. Now, our neighborhood is defined more by homeowners associations than by shared connectedness.

We as the body of Christ need to provide a place for people to connect. We must be a safe harbor for people who are beat up by life. Today I want to challenge you to make a connection into the life of others.

The best place for connection is in small groups.

We cannot connect on a large scale. That is not connection but gathering. Small groups allow us to get past the superficial and into the heart with one another. If you are not in a small group at Countryside, you need to be.

B) People need truth.

We live in a society today that has for the most part has denied the existence of absolute truth. We live in a relative society. Our culture is shaped by people who claim a search for truth while often denying the existence of truth. The role of the church is to speak truth into the life of the culture.

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