Summary: Setting a vision, setting goals, dreaming dreams can be difficult for a church. This sermon was preached for a congregation planning how to develop their vision.
OK. WE’VE STARTED OUR TRIP.
NOW, WHERE IN THE WORLD ARE WE GOING?
(The discovery of our Church’s Vision)
Hope Christian Church
January , 2004
Dr. David L. Haun
It has been almost ten months since we started our worship services here at Hope Christian. It has been a good ten months and a wonderful start of our trip. Attendance has grown, excitement is at a high level, new people are beginning to attend, and each week, God is being honored in our worship. The time has now come to begin to discover where it is God wants us to go from here. The Scripture makes it clear, "Where there is no vision, the people perish." (Proverbs 29:18 KJV) In January, we’re going to look at the map and determine where we as a church are going. It will be exciting to help develop Hope’s vision and goals. And it is a trip we all need to take.
In the New Testament, Jesus tells an interesting story: Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ’This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. Luke 14:28-33 (NIV)
I. CHURCHES THAT GROW ... KNOW ... WHAT THEY BLIEVE ... WHAT THEY DO ... WHAT THEY EXPECT.
1. Calvary Chapel, Fort Lauderdale
This congregation has 20 doctrinal statements that they follow as a church. (1 ) As I look them over, they aren’t much different than we here at Hope would believe. But those beliefs are known and stressed. So people can know what it is the church believes and decide if they choose to follow this vision.
2. Coral Ridge Presbyterian of Ft. Lauderdale -Their vision is clear: Every member able to share the Gospel in a simple, challenging way. (2)
3. First Baptist of Ft. Lauderdale - Reach out to Community - City Thanksgiving Dinner, City Christmas Pageant.
4, Smaller congregations also can "know". Ft. Lauderdale First Christian in the 1950’s. Their goal: Reach the youth of our community and inspire and lead their commitment to Christ. In some 15 years, this church had 14 young men and women commit to enter the Christian ministry.
You see, when we "know" our vision, can understand our direction, can verbalize our purpose, then we can and I believe, will grow.
The fear we sometimes feel: If we seriously say "this is what we believe and what we do," people will reject us. That’s true, some will. The fear is real. Some will say, Oh, I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to make that kind of commitment."
There will be individual congregations that even being strong in their faith won’t appeal to others. However, as we look at church history, church growth occurs when the church family know what they believe, are clear in the way they share, and strive to fulfill their vision. And people who do join these churches clear who they are, tend to be strong in their faithfulness.
II. IF WE FAIL TO TAKE THE STEPS NECESSARY TO UNDERSTAND GOD’S "MAP," WE MAY MISS GOD’S INTENTION.
A. We could be looking at the wrong things and miss God’s obvious leading and desire for Hope
A story is told of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock and Dr. Watson have gone camping, pitched their tent under the stars and gone to sleep. Sometime in the middle of the night, Holmes awakens Watson. "Watson, look up at the stars and tell me what you deduce." Watson says, "I see millions of stars, and if even a few of those have planets, it’s quite likely there are some planets like Earth, and if there are a few planets like Earth out there, there might also be life." Holmes replies, "Watson, don’t be blind. What you deduce is that somebody stole our tent!" (3 )
You’ve heard the statement "you can’t see the forest for the trees." That can happen in the church. We can become so wrapped up in the "important" tasks of the church that we don’t recognize God’s "essential" tasks. It’s vital for us to come to understand God’s intended direction for Hope.
B. We’ll begin to evaluate our successes in ways God may not see as major importance.