Summary: Renewing our church’s vision for worship, prayer, service, outreach, and nurture.
I read a story recently about a little league coach who reminisced about his childhood years playing baseball in little league. He remember back how during his first year, his coach had called together the entire baseball team for a picnic, and he asked the team, "Who here wants to eventually play major league baseball." Every single hand went up, as every child there dreamed about playing in a major league stadium and hitting the game winning hit. That boy grew up to become a little league coach himself, and the week before opening day his first year of coaching he did the same thing. He had a team picnic, and he asked the team, "Who here wants to grow up and play in the major leagues?" Not one hand went up on a team of twelve kids. He said he could see in their eyes that not one kid on his team believed that he had what it took to become a major league baseball player.
What a contrast between people who have vision and people who lack vision. Vision is that elusive thing that dares to dream big dreams about the future. Vision has been called hope with a blueprint. Vision is what an inventor has when he or she thinks outside the box to create something new. Vision is what a mother has as she looks at her newborn baby and imagines all that child could grow up to become.
Vision has a way of ignoring its critics and chasing its dream regardless of how many people say it can’t be done. Consider these famous predictions that underestimated the incredible power of vision. Thomas Watson, the chairman of IBM in 1943 said, "I think there is a market for maybe five computers in the world." Ken Olson, president and founder of Digital Equipment Corporation said in 1977, "There is no reason why anyone would want a computer in their home." Consider this Western Union memo from 1876: "The Telephone is has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication." Or consider the words of Decca Recording company, when why they turned down signing the Beatles in 1962: "We don’t like their sound and guitar music is on the way out." Charles Duell, commissioner of the U.S. Office of Patents said in 1899, "Everything that can be invented has been invented."
You get the idea. Vision has a way of ignoring those who say it can’t be done and doing it anyway.
Yet we go through times when our vision fades. The flame of our vision begins to dim, it’s passion begins to ease, and it’s heat begins to cool. That’s what was happening to young Timothy, the apostle Paul’s young protégé. You see, the apostle Paul had sent Timothy to try to salvage a mess in the church in Ephesus. Yet when Timothy got there, he found himself in way over his head. The entire leadership team in the Ephesian church was older than he was, and didn’t respect his leadership. To make matters worse, Timothy was shy and timid, so he had a tendency to avoid confrontation. The stress of his ministry assignment was effecting Timothy’s health, as he found himself sick with constant stomach ailments. In the meantime, his beloved mentor the apostle Paul had been arrested by the Roman government.
Timothy’s vision had dissipated. The excitement and enthusiasm he’d once felt when he joined Paul’s ministry team some years earlier was gone. Somewhere between his bad health, his discouragement about the church in Ephesus, and his fear for Paul’s life, Timothy’s vision had slipped away. Timothy needed his vision renewed, and that’s a big reason why Paul wrote him a second letter.
We’ve been in a series through the New Testament books of 1 and 2 Timothy called Deepening Your Life With God. Last week we finished Paul’s first letter to Timothy. Today we look at his second letter to Timothy.
This second letter is the last letter we have from Paul’s pen before his execution. It’s kind of like a last will and testament as Paul reflects back on the vision that fueled his life and ministry. It also serves to renew Timothy’s vision as Paul’s student and apprentice. It also serves to renew our vision as readers who eavesdrop on Paul’s words almost 2000 years later.
As I studied the portion of 2 Timothy that we’re going to look at today, I was struck with the fact that it touches all five areas of our church vision statement. As I prayed about the message this week, God led me to not only talk about this text, but also to use this opportunity to talk about our own church vision statement. So today we’re going to see five specific areas where our vision needs to be reviewed. So turn to 2 Timothy 1:1 and take out your outline.