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Summary: Sermon #1 on creating a shared vision.

Nehemiah 2:11-20

Sermon Series: Creating a Shared Vision

“It’s in the Way that You Use It”

by: Rev. Ken Sauer, Pastor, Grace United Methodist Church, Soddy Daisy, TN www.graceumcsd.org

Around 444 BC, a Jewish man named Nehemiah was given a vision by God.

He was to rebuild the wall around the city of Jerusalem after it had lain in ruins for over a hundred years.

The Jews living in Jerusalem at the time were content to live with the broken-down wall.

But Nehemiah’s compelling vision for their future changed their attitude.

In Nehemiah’s short but highly effective speech to Jews still living in Jerusalem we are shown a brilliant model for casting a compelling vision!

First of all, Nehemiah defined the problem that his vision addressed.

Second, Nehemiah offered a solution.

And thirdly, Nehemiah followed with the reason why something had to be done and why it had to be done immediately.

I am going to focus mainly on Nehemiah Chapter 2:17-18.

Let’s hear it or look at it again.

“Then I said to them, ‘You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire.

Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.’

I also told them about the gracious hand of my God upon me and what the king had said to me.

They replied, ‘Let us start rebuilding.’

So they began this good work.”

This morning, you and I are beginning the good work of creating a shared vision for Grace United Methodist Church.

During this month of February, I will preach a sermon series about creating a shared vision.

On the first Sunday in March we will begin the task of working on this vision together.

We will have a celebration!

Chris Lanier will unveil an original song he has written for Grace Church.

There will be cake, balloons, and prizes for those of you who completely fill-out all four sets of note-sheets in your bulletins!!!

A community of believers called Grace United Methodist Church has been meeting on this site for nearly twenty years, but there are only a handful of folks who were here in the beginning.

This is basically a brand new congregation.

And we have been planted in an area that “lies in ruins.”

There are many, many folks who have no church home.

In the homes behind us in Rolling Hills and across the street in Hunter Trace human beings are living dysfunctional lives.

The population is medicating itself with pills, illegal drugs and alcohol more than ever before.

A sadness hangs over our community like a dark cloud.

Lives are broken.

Homes lie in ruins.

Marriages are on the rocks.

A few miles up the road lies extreme poverty.

These are the folks who are being hit the hardest by the current economic crisis.

Many of them have literally nothing at all to live on.

Yes, we are surrounded by ruins.

As Christ’s Church which meets at 9833 Hixson Pike in Soddy Daisy, TN in the year of 2009…

…Who are we?

…Why are we here?

…And what are we going to do about it?

What is our vision for this church?

The first step is to define the problem.

To cast a convincing vision, we have to define the problem that our vision addresses.

For Nehemiah, the problem was obvious.

Jerusalem was in ruins!!!

That was a problem for the Jewish people, and thus, it was a problem in the sight of God.

But it wasn’t until Nehemiah drew the people’s attention to the problem and put forth a plan of action that they finally felt compelled to do something about it!!!

Every Vision is a solution to a problem.

If our vision isn’t getting traction, something that needs to happen won’t happen!

A problem will continue to go unaddressed!!!

To make our vision stick, our community needs to understand what’s at stake!!!

It’s the ‘what’s at stake’ issue that grabs people’s hearts.

What’s at stake if this community does not understand that Grace United Methodist Church does not meet here for ourselves but for our community?

What’s at stake if this community does not know that we are an inclusive loving community…

…a community that we want all people to be a part of?

…That we are a people who find hope, strength, love, courage, and healing through being a part of a community which puts it’s faith in Jesus the Christ as Lord and Savior?

What’s at stake?

What’s at stake for those who think the church neither wants them nor needs them?

What’s at stake for those who have only experienced the church as an exclusive institution rather than an inclusive movement based on unconditional love?

Some of us may be thinking, “but we are only a small church with an even smaller budget.”

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