Summary: God’s unique vision for a church is like the sail of the ship, catching God’s wind or spirit and moving it forward. But every boat must also have a rudder helping to guide the direction of the ship. Values are passions that rudder or direct a ship
What’s your passion in life? I mean what gets you really excited? Everybody has something which drives them in their lives. It could be your kids, your work, a hobby, a cause, a mission or even a ministry. What drives us is often reflected in how we spend our time, our money and our efforts and that reflects our values. The same is true of churches. Every church is driven by something. There is a guiding force, a directing conviction or a consuming passion behind everything that happens in a church. It may be unspoken or even unknown to many people in the church. Most likely, it’s never been voted on. But it’s there, influencing every aspect of a church’s life. It’s what the church values the most.
Last week, we discussed God’s unique vision for this church. Say it with me: “Connecting diverse communities to a lifestyle devoted to Jesus.” We asked you to consider some questions. How are you connecting people to Jesus? Are you developing new relationships and leading others to Christ? Are your attitude, actions and your life like Jesus’? If not, why? Where do you need to grow? Are you devoted to Jesus above everything and everyone else? What proof is there? How well do you know Jesus’ teachings and are you living them out? Are you making, that is, teaching, mentoring and training) disciples? God’s unique vision for a church is like the sail of the ship, catching God’s wind or spirit and moving it forward. But every boat must also have a rudder helping to guide the direction of the ship. Values are passions that rudder or direct a ship. Today, we’re going to look at the five guiding values of our church.
First is living mission. Living Mission is valued by us because we exist to fulfill God’s vision and purpose for our life together. God’s unique vision for this church is at the heart of everything we say and do. That means we make every decision based on God’s vision and one question: How will this help us accomplish God’s vision? This is the reason we have changed so many things in the last 7 years, all to help us accomplish our mission. This we know: what we did yesterday will not get us to where we need to go tomorrow. For us to do accomplish God’s vision, every part of the church needs to be aligned with God’s vision: every ministry, every small group, every leader and every staff member is actively working to fulfill God’s vision. Alignment, in many respects, is like a car. For it to run at peak performance, all of the engine’s cylinders must be firing together. If one begins to misfire, it creates resistance and actually begins to diminish effectiveness. Every ministry must know how and what they are contributing to the pursuit of God’s vision for Gretna UMC. When everyone in the church is working together, we become an unstoppable force. With that in mind, we also seek to budget on purpose. Every dollar spent needs to contribute to fulfilling the mission of the church and everything we do on our calendar must be brought in line with our purpose. We also need to be intentional about investing the limited financial and people resources in God’s vision. We cannot measure forward progress and our effectiveness in accomplishing God’s unique vision for our church unless we evaluate everything based on our vision. God’s vision is the standard by which we evaluate everything we do. Living out the vision is our reason to be. It’s why we exits and the reason it’s our first value.
Our second value is Extending Love because God first extended his love to us in Jesus Christ. In John 13, Jesus gives his last instructions to the disciples. “Love one another. In the same way I loved you, love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples when they see the love you have for each other.” Jesus uses the Greek word, ’Agape’ which we translate as love and is best defined as unconditional, selfless, sacrificial love. This is the love Jesus showed on the cross by dying for our sins. It is the love which Jesus leaves as an example for us and the love God wants us to have for others. Most people love only when they are loved or when it benefits them, meets their needs or is convenient. But Jesus calls us to love unconditionally, selflessly and sacrificially, which often starts with denying ourselves. We are to do this in response to the love we have received in Jesus. We have been loved so that we can love others. “In the same way I loved you, love one another.” The original Greek says, “I have loved you in order that you might love one another.” It is a cause and effect dynamic. Because we are loved unconditionally, we can love others unconditionally. Jesus’ love for us is why we can love one another, the example of how we are to love and the source upon which we should draw to love others. How we love is our greatest witness. “This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples, when they see the love you have for each other.” When people see us loving unconditionally and sacrificially, they will say: “Wow! Look at how they love one another! I want to be loved like that. I want to be a part of something like that.” They will not only be attracted to life in Christ but also life in the body of Christ.