Summary: This sermon discuss how to implement God's unique vision for the church
Proverbs 14:15, 16:3, 9
Stanley Tippet tells of visiting with two young men from Nagaland, a northeastern region of India. God had moved in a mighty way in the region sending revival to the area. Almost the entire population of the region had come to faith in Christ and as a result, the churches were filled with praise and adoration to God and fervent prayer. He asked two young Christian leaders what they thought the difference was between the churches in Nagaland and the churches in the West. They replied: "The churches in the West have an agenda and they ask God to bless it. In Nagaland, we ask God to establish the agenda" and then they allow God to develop the strategy to fulfill it. That is what we have done. Gretna UMC sought God’s unique vision for this church and committed to it. But a vision is just a picture of what could be unless there is a way to accomplish it. Our Scripture today tells us that we are to be intentional about our plans for God’s work and that we are to let God set his plans or strategy for us. This is what we’ve done and so today we’re going make to talk about God’s strategy for our church to fulfill His vision for us of “Connecting diverse communities to a lifestyle devoted to Jesus.”
The first step in our strategy is celebrate which is worship. There are two reasons for this. First, we’re created and wired for worship. It’s what you and I were made to do. If a person chooses not to give God the worship of their life, they’ll still end up worshiping someone or something else. It could be power, authority, money, position or material belongings. But God said, “You shall have no other gods before me…” Exodus 20 The second reason worship is our first step in our strategy is that for many people, worship is their very first encounter with our church. This is why worship is so important because we want to give God our very best (he deserves it doesn’t he?) and we want to make the very best impression and impact with out worship in proclaiming the Gospel. And it’s why we invest so much time and effort in creating a worship experience that connects people to God, proclaims the Gospel, and invites people to give themselves to God.
We need to be very clear: worship is not about us. It’s not about our needs or our desires or even our preferences. Worship is a time we focus on God, give ourselves to Him and be reminded who God is and that He alone is worthy of our worship. And that’s why worship is such an important part of our strategy because each of us needs to be regularly reminded who God is because if we don’t, we begin to think that life is about us. And just as important, worship is our opportunity to introduce God to non-believers, to seekers and to the unchurched with the goal of ultimately leading them. True worship ultimately leads to giving of our entire being and life to God. This is why Paul says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers (and sisters), in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship.” Rom. 12:1 True worship will always result in a response, not just in the worship experience but also when we leave the service and go to serve into the world.
The second step in our strategy is Discover. At the heart of Christianity is the invitation to discover something new. God wants each of us not only to know him but to discover life in Him and the body of Christ at its fullest. Many believers today are fuzzy about what it means to be a follower of Jesus or to be a member of a church. They have limited it to attending worship, being a good person and making an offering of what they think they can afford. In addition, most have never been a part of a multiethnic congregation and its unique challenges. We can’t just open our doors and expect that people of different backgrounds, cultures and life experiences will know how to be a follower of Jesus in such a unique community of faith. That’s why the second step of our strategy is “Discover” and is our Membership Class so that new people joining us can know and understand God’s unique vision for our church, our values, our strategy, the expectations and commitments of being a member and our beliefs and practices of the faith, all within a multi-ethnic congregation.
The third step in our strategy is to Grow. No matter where you are on the spiritual journey: a child in the faith, a teenager or an adult, God calls us to spiritual growth and maturity. Your spiritual growth is critical to accomplishing our vision. If you grow spiritually, the church will grow too. But if you don’t, then neither will the church. Put another way, the growth of this church is dependent on your spiritual growth. Every Christ follower must be intentional about growing in relationship to others and God. We as the church want to offer spiritual experiences to enhance your spiritual growth but also to equip you for individual, personal spiritual growth.