Summary: Our vision reaches Up in Worship; Down in Discipleship; In with Fellowship; Out through Outreach
Spiritual Vision for our Church
About 350 years ago a shipload of travelers landed on the northeast coast of the newly discovered American continent.
• The 1st year they established a town site
• The next year they elected a town government
• The 3rd year the town government planned to build a road 5 miles westward into the wilderness.
• In the 4th year the people tried to impeach their town government because they thought it was a waste of public funds to build a road 5 miles westward into a wilderness. Who needed to go there anyway?
Here were people who had the VISION to cross 3,000 miles of ocean and settle on the shores of a newly discovered continent. But only 5 years later, they didn’t have the VISION to see 5 miles outside of town.
Every church faces this danger … especially after accomplishing a goal. Until recently, the building we are sitting in was no more than a Vision. The idea of using the other Sanctuary for our Spanish-speaking service was no more than a hope. We worked and gave and planned and prayed. And now that Vision has been fulfilled.
So, who can blame us if we want to sit back on these padded chairs and relax? Why should we look the next 5 miles down the road? We’ve arrived… haven’t we?
Today we’re going to look at a letter that was written to a young man who needed a fresh vision. Apostle Paul wrote the letter of II Timothy to his young protégé, Timothy. Timothy had been sent to work with a messed-up congregation in Ephesus. He was young. He was timid. He was tired. Timothy’s enthusiasm was gone. His confidence was down. His blood pressure was probably up. In fact, the stress he was under literally upset his stomach. Timothy needed a big dose of vision renewal. And that is exactly what Paul gave him. His advice to Timothy fits the vision plan that we are presenting today. First Paul talked about REACHING UP in WORSHIP:
1. Reach Up – WORSHIP
I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. II Timothy 1:3
When Paul said I thank God, whom I serve, he was actually saying, I thank God, whom I WORSHIP. The Greek word translated “serve” is the word “latreuo.” This word is used 20 other times in the New Testament. It always refers to service offered to God as worship. In fact, latreuo is where we get our English word, liturgy. We call it a worship SERVICE because of that word.
Paul immediately adds, I constantly remember you in my prayers. My spiritual vision for our church is that we will grow stronger in REACHING UP to God through worship and prayer. Worship and Prayer cannot be separated. I believe this is the life of a church. I am delighted that so many of you are involved in prayer ministry through prayer chains, prayer meetings, and prayer partner ministries. I remember the positive changes that took place recently when people covenanted to pray for the church and its leaders. I was amazed to see how God honored those prayers with improvement in morale, unity, attendance, finances, and effective ministries. I believe lives are changed when a church worships and prays.
When I think about REACHING UP, I can’t help but see prayer and worship as twin focuses. It is through our prayer and worship that we draw near to God. And while we are REACHING UP, we also need to REACH DOWN through DISCIPLESHIP. This is how we help others grow up in Christ.
2. Reach Down - DISCIPLESHIP
In his letter to Timothy, Paul wrote these heart-felt words: Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. II Timothy 1:4-5
Discipleship comes through a close and intense relationships. That’s the kind of relationship Paul and Timothy shared. They were as close as a loving father and son. They could cry together and they could laugh together. Just seeing each other filled them with joy.
We also see Discipleship in the way faith was passed from grandmother to mother to son. Perhaps you have heard it said that the church is only one generation away from extinction. All it takes is for one generation to fail to pass the faith on to the next … and the church will be history.
My spiritual vision for our church is that we will pass the faith along. We want to help moms, dads, and grandparents pass the faith along to their children. And we want to go far beyond that to bring others into our church family. This takes time and effort for all of us. Learners must be taught. Babies must be fed. This is one of the reasons we have Bible classes and Pueblo groups. Small groups help us develop close relationships … where we can disciple each other and grow to maturity as Christians.