Summary: Now that we know what the vision is, the question becomes how are we going to fulfill the vision and that’s our focus for today’s message. I’ll call these the essential building blocks for implementing God’s vision and building a great church based on God
Implementing the Vision
These past few weeks, we’ve been talking about the vision God has for Gretna United Methodist Church: “Connecting diverse communities to a lifestyle devoted to Jesus.” Now that we know what the vision is, the question becomes how are we going to fulfill the vision and that’s our focus for today’s message. I’ll call these the essential building blocks for implementing God’s vision and building a great church based on God’s vision.
Building Block #1: Sacrifice and risk. Sacrifice and risk are always involved in following the vision that God gives to his servants. Noah had to give up his day job to build an ark. Abraham had to start a family in his 90’s. Moses had to go back to Egypt where he was a wanted man. David had to face a giant. Esther had to risk her life to speak out for the Jews. Mary had to deal with getting pregnant out of wedlock. To follow God takes sacrifice and risk. It may mean giving up something you love so that you can be free to pursue God’s vision. It’s not that what you have to give up is bad, it’s just that you may have to give up something good for the potential best. And that may be the most difficult thing of all. That means you may have to leave the comfortable and familiar to embrace the uncomfortable and unfamiliar.
Stepping out in faith is in many ways like parachuting. You don’t “sort of” parachute. Even from the very first time, you realize that you either do it or you don’t. Visions never become reality until someone is ready to make the jump and that means a leap of faith. You’re either in the plane, or in the air free-falling to the ground. Goliath never would have been defeated had David not stepped out from the ranks of the Israelites to challenge him. Peter would have never known the thrill of walking on water had he not swung both legs over the side of the boat and stepped out into deep water. And we will never experience the fulfillment of accomplishing the vision God has given to us, if we are not willing to take the risk and make the sacrifice that is required. God envisions Gretna UMC as a different kind of church. A church where the leaders and members do whatever it takes to reach the diverse communities of the WestBank for Christ. Where we follow God even when it doesn’t seem to make sense. Where we sacrifice our preferences for the sake of our mission even though it’s not comfortable or convenient.
Building Block #2 – Vision takes teamwork. Vision is never accomplished single handedly. Nehemiah could not rebuild the wall by himself. And Jesus could not accomplish his mission without the disciples. In the same way, I can’t accomplish the vision that God has given for Gretna UMC Church on my own nor can the Vision Team or even the leadership of this church. It is going to take all of us working together.
In what the news called "The Miracle at Quecreek, nine miners trapped for 3 days 240 feet underground in a water-filled mine shaft. They decided early on they were either going to live or die as a group. The 55 degree (Fahrenheit) water threatened to kill them slowly by hypothermia, so they decided when one would get cold, the other eight would huddle around the person and warm them, and when another person got cold, the favor was returned. "Everybody had strong moments," miner Harry B. Mayhugh told reporters after being released from the hospital. "But any certain time maybe one guy got down, and then the rest pulled together. And then that guy would get back up, and maybe someone else would feel a little weaker, but it was a team effort. That’s the only way it could have been.” The result was they all came out alive together. What a picture of the body of Christ. Visions thrive in an environment of teamwork and unity; they die in an environment of division.
Building Block #3 – Trust God and work tirelessly to fulfill the vision. When God speaks to us we always ask how, but how is never a problem for God. God makes sure that it comes to pass. But we have to do our part and that starts trusting God and work tirelessly to fulfill the vision. We have to learn to stand on what God has promised will come to pass. Remember the story of Mary in Luke chapter 1? An angel appears to Mary and tells her the vision that God has for her life…to give birth to the Savior of the world. How does Mary respond? She asks “how can this be, since I am a virgin?” To which the angel replies, “nothing is impossible with God.”