Summary: Examine three qualities that should be a part of every churches dream strategy.
One of America’s great leaders, Martin Luther King, once stood before an audience and made a pronouncement. He said "I have a dream." That statement reflected a dream and sparked a revolution for African American people. Dreams are powerful forces. They can shape the future.
Even so, there are certain qualities that should be included and reflected in the dreams of God’s people. These things can spark a revolution. They can change a church. Paul discusses such qualities in the book of Ephesians. I want to pronounce these as a part of my dream for our church.
1. I dream of a people. Paul spoke of this people in Ephesians 2: 19. "So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family." (NLT)
The church should be a spiritual family. There is a danger we must avoid. The church must be a family without being a family church. The first of these traits is inclusive. The latter is often exclusive and the people act more like a clique.
A family offers a safe place.
Illustration: When a young person breaks up with their boyfriend/girfriend they need a safe place in which to talk about their hurt.
Illustration: Not long ago a lady stood up and testified of her struggle with depression. She was not criticized or condemned for her depression. She was supported.
A family offers a supportive place.
Illustration: When I was ordained to the ministry my grandfather was asked to pray. As he began his prayer he began to cry. I knew those tears were tears of joy. He supported me.
A family offers a place to belong.
Illustration: Several years ago my grandfather (on my mothers side of the family) died. His wife (my grandmother) had died three years prior. One of my uncles made the statement to me "I have no home to go to anymore." We can all relate to his pain and loneliness. The church should be a place that offers a place to go when we feel lonely and alone.
2. I dream of a process. Paul referred to a developmental process that every church should follow.
First, leaders are equippers (4:11-12).
Second, all believers are to be growing to maturity. (4:15)
Finally, the entire church is to be actively serving. (4:16)
Many disciplines of life follow a process. Consider the construction of a home. The construction follows a process. It goes something like this: dirt work, foundation, plumbing, concrete, framing, roofers, etc., etc. As the process is followed the house goes up.
University of Alabam coach Nick Saban has been widely quoted for his use of the term "process." He has a certain method of developing players. He has a certain way of practicing. He has certain team rules. All of that and more goes into his "process." That process has helped him develop a successful football coaching career.
Jesus shared a discipleship development process for His disciples. This is found in Mt. 4:19. He outlined a three step process.
(1.) Follow me…………This represents a personal experience. Experiential knowledge is always the best kind.
(2.) I will make…………This represents a progressive development. He led them to develop their prayer life, their witnessing skills, and character development.
(3.) Fishers of men…..He wanted them to be productive as a discipleship.
Our discipleship development process follows three key words.
The Process-------------------The Product
A. Love to faith…………………...Knowing Christ
B. Lead to maturity…………………Growing in Christ
C. Launch into service…………Going for Christ
A church is to do more than win disciples. We are called to make disciples. That involves a process.
3. I dream of a purpose. The purpose of the church is stated in Eph. 3:21, "to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations."
A. Purpose is bigger than people. We see an example of this in II Tim. 4:16-17. Paul was forsaken by all believers. He was alone. However, he still had a purpose.
B. Purpose is bigger than a place. We see an example of this in Jer. 29:10-11. The Israelite people were in captivity in Babylon. They were in a seemingly hopeless situation. Nevertheless, they still had a purpose. God promised to restore them as a nation.
C. Purpose is bigger than difficulties. The greatest example of this is found in Jesus’ life. As Jesus hung on the cross he cried "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me." Jesus went through the difficulty of the cross but never lost His purpose.
D. Purpose is not measured by size. Sometimes we are tempted to think that we are not successful unless we do things as well or as big as someone else. When God called Saul he confessed that he was from the smallest tribe of Israel and the smallest group within that tribe. He thought that disqualified him to be king. God was not concerned with size.