Summary: This is the second in a series of 4 messages designed to help create a new focus on Purpose/Vision/Mission. Thanks to the writings of Dr. Gene Mimms, Dr. Rick Warren, & Dr. Thom Rainer for the 'extra' readings to complete this series.
Purpose living for a New Year - #2 of 4
• Shortly after I became your pastor I took a trip to Saddleback for 2 conferences in one week. One conference was “Preaching for Life-Change” and the other was “The Purpose-Driven Church.” Shortly before I left someone said to me that Rick Warren was a “New-Ager.” I then discovered a recent book called “Deceived On Purpose” had given Dr. Warren that title. So, on the plane to California I read the book. That caused me to enter the conferences with the ‘red-flag’ of “New Age” philosophy waving high. I made two observations: 1) the writer of the book seemed to have a larger issue with Rick using multiple translations & paraphrases as opposed to the KJV than with PD, and 2) Rick Warren & Saddleback love God, His word, and preach the gospel of sin, repentance, rebirth, Jesus’ death, burial & resurrection for salvation. I also heard, first hand, that Rick & Saddleback didn’t invent ‘living on purpose’, they just lifted the concepts from God’s word.
• We are talking about Purpose/vision/mission. Sometimes purposes are confusing & different.
• Story of Yogi Berra & Hank Aaron - Yogi was also a talker behind the plate. He used to talk to the opposing batters in order to distract them. Hank Aaron tells the story about the 1958 World Series, with Yogi behind the plate. Yogi kept telling Aaron to 'hit with the label up on the bat'. Finally Aaron turned and said "Yogi, I came up here to hit, not to read."
• Then there is the story of Rich Man who bought mom a $50,000 bird with a 40,000 word vocabulary. It cost a lot of money. He had it delivered & the next day he called & ask “How’d you like the bird?” She responded, “I just loved it, it tasted GREAT!”
• There should be no confusion over purpose/vision/mission (PVM) of God’s People & Bride of Christ. Jesus clearly says, “I will build my church.” In the Greek you will discover this statement in present perfect tense – which indicates an ongoing action. Guess what, He invites us to be a part of this.
• Let’s not forget that His Church is owned by Him, obeys Him, & opens the door for other TO meet Him. HBC’s calling from God is to be on mission, function with a purpose, & operate with vision.
• What “IF”, ‘what if, everything we did, planned, and promoted had a single focus – His PVM?
• It is here, we can see the confusion. Many ‘say’ we want to be a growing Church – reaching, teaching, & baptizing – while others might counter, “I like the church just like it is.” Candidly, to try to maintain a church body at a certain number is problematic – because a non-growing church will soon become a declining church if for no other reason, funerals. Our Lord called us to be a part of “Kingdom Building” which, by extension, is being a part of building His church.
• Something dawned on me, “Some might have a well-developed misunderstanding of purpose which has given birth to fear.” The south is known for “FABLES & MYTHS.” In my home town, it was a well-talked about “FACT” – by the kids in the neighborhood that that “Barn at the end of our street was haunted.” A story is told of the young wife who was cooking with her new husband. They were cooking a roast when she grabbed a big knife and cut off end of roast. Her husband asked ‘why’ & she said, “Mom, did it.” He grabbed the phone & called her mom who said, “My mom always did.” So he called the nursing home where granny lived & asked her why she cut off the end of the roast. (3 generations!!) She responded, “My pot was too small!”
• Today let us name 10 or 11 myths which cause us to follow “Self” and not “Savior”
1. Church is a place you go - This myth is so ingrained that it is almost impossible to correct our thinking. But consider that in Acts 2, they gathered daily “as” the church. They didn’t have a building so they gathered wherever they could. People joined them because their lives spoke of the faith they had in a person & not a place. Jesus died “at” a place not “for” a place. The church is people. We are either the “Church Gathered” or the “Church Scattered.” This building is where this church meets. When we leave this property, we actually enter the mission field.
• Please remember that the first Church put in a building was put there by a pagan ruler (Constantine) around the 4th century. A personal observation is that the church has not been the same since them. The Church is to be the living, powerful, active, involved, caring, and the loving bride of Christ. Could the revelation that ‘we are the only church society sees’ bring us to a “critical mass?” Then to think, in large measure they don’t want to be a part God’s church?