Summary: Sermon 1 in series through the book of Acts
Power For The Mission
This morning we begin a brand new expositional sermon series in the Book of Acts I've entitled "The Church on Mission." But in addition to that, this is also the vision message for 2015 for our church. If you've been here any period of time at all you know that for the last seven Januarys I've preached a vision message at the beginning of the year to communicate to you where I believed, and where our elders believed God would have us go and move as a congregation.
Now these emphases are not just for the 12 month calendar year that we happen to be in, but during that 12 month time we have increased awareness and focus on each particular theme and Lord-willing we envelop and create that as an ongoing part of the life and ministry of our church. Here's how this has played out in the past:
One year was the year of community. We sought to build closer community in our congregation. Christian community is most clearly seen at the communion table. So one of the things we did was increase the frequency of when we take communion. We used to celebrate communion quarterly, now we do it monthly. We continue to do that.
Another year was the year of prayer. Just one of the things we did was we began to have a directed prayer time in our services - that was five years ago - and we continue to do that today.
2013 was the year of discipleship. We focused on fostering an environment where we are intentionally making disciples in D-groups of 3-5 people that will then replicate and start new groups. When I cast that vision we had 1 D-group; now we have around 15 or so adult d-groups meeting and we expect that number to multiply over time as those who are discipled then go and find others to disciple who will then go and disciple others. So this is an ongoing aspect of the life and ministry of our church.
Last year was the year of meaningful membership. We recognized that for many people their membership in the church is meaningless to them. We focused on the biblical mandate of church membership, entering into a meaningful covenant community. That is going to continue to be an ongoing process as we continue to pursue those who are listed as members of our church but are disconnected. We are seeking to bring them back through what we're calling "project reclamation." We introduced a membership class that will be required for any new member to take in order to become a member here.
My point is that with each of the church year themes that we've presented at the beginning of the year, we have had an intentional focus on that theme throughout the year, but then there are, Lord willing, lasting effects that become an ongoing part of the culture and life of this church moving forward.
This year we pray will be no different. This is the year of missions. At the end of this message I'll be presenting 8 different actions steps that - Lord willing - we will implement in order to create a missional culture in this church. My desire and the desire of our elders is that we will be a missionary sending church; that the heartbeat of our church will be one of missions - taking the gospel across the street and around the world.
You know everything we seek to do here at LVBC we seek to do based on the authority of the Bible. We hold the Bible up as God's revealed truth. It is our instruction manual for life and ministry. And so this morning I want to direct your attention to Acts chapter 1 as we will read a text that I believe perfectly lays out the missions mandate for us from Jesus himself. So look with me at verse 1 of Acts 1 this morning:
1In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach,
Now let me stop right there for a moment and explain what this introductory line is referencing. The author of the book of Acts is Luke. Luke was not an apostle, but he was a close associate of the apostles and was with them probably from around 30AD until his death. He wrote a detailed record of Jesus' life and ministry which he presented to the sponsor of his work, Theophilus (lover of God.) Luke gives a more detailed purpose for his writing his two-volume work in the introduction of the gospel that bears his name: 3It seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. Luke 1:3-4