Summary: God’s people have a mission and a purpose.

On April 13, 1970 words were spoken that have become synonymous with a troubling situation when the astronauts aboard Apollo 13 said, “Houston, we’ve got a problem.” (Apollo 13 patch goes up on overhead one) A short circuit in one of the Command Module’s oxygen tanks, the primary spacecraft, created a tremendous explosion that caused the mission to be aborted and a lot of hard work and prayer to bring the three astronauts home.

The situation required the asking of many questions and I think that one of them was probably our sermon title, “Where do we go from here?” “What do we have to do to get them safely home?”

One particularly life-threatening situation had to do with the amount of Carbon Monoxide that was building up inside the spacecraft. The filters used in both the Odyssey the command module, and “Aquarius”, the Lunar Module that was supposed to take 2 of the 3 crew to the moon’s surface, were failing to keep the CO levels in the safe range. Some fast thinking created some jerry-rigged filters that filtered the CO to acceptable levels and the crew got safely home.

When the emergency call from Apollo 13 went out, it caused those here on earth to re-purpose and re-envision what they were going to do. Instead of thinking lunar landing, the engineers and mission personnel began thinking safe return home.

It’s hard to believe that over 30 years have passed since those moments of suspense took place far out in space. Many of us here can look back and think, 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, things were sure different than they are now. And they were and they are different. Much has changed since the spring of 1970. But, God has not changed.

The mission and the purpose of the church has not changed either. However, as we all know this church, or any church for that matter, is not the same as it was 10, 20, 30 or even 40 years ago. And we have mixed feelings about that.

But, our basic purpose and basic mission, given to us by God has not changed one bit. It is still the same. A question I believe that we need to ask is, “Are we still following that basic purpose and basic mission that God has for us?”

For the next several weeks I am going to share with you a vision for our church that I believe is God’s vision and has been for quite sometime. It has been His vision since Carter Cummings and others started this church in 1946. It was still His vision in the early 1960’s when Dan Frost led the congregation in the building of this sanctuary. It continued to be His vision during the ministry of Bob and Dale Neace and it will still be His vision when others come, God willing, after we are no longer here and our children, and their children, and others whose names we do not yet know, will remain to serve God.

God’s vision for us involves two things – who we are, that is our character, and what we do, that is our ministry programs and tasks. Both are necessary but the first part is the base upon which the second part is built, not the other way around.

In other words, God is more interested in people than in programs. The programs have a purpose – to help people come to Jesus and follow Him – but it is people first and programs second. God’s mission and purpose is the transformation of the human heart and soul.

Our main text for this morning, Jeremiah 29:1 – 8, is one that perhaps does not come to mind when we think about God’s purposes for the church. Perhaps Acts 2: 42 – 47 is a more suitable passage. We will be addressing that passage in the coming weeks. Or maybe Jesus’ words as recorded by Matthew at the end of his gospel account in chapter 28 and verses 18 – 20, is a better passage as well. We will examine that passage in the near future too.

Vision is a big picture thing. It requires us to draw back and look larger and see things from a greater perspective. It is the foundation upon which our goals and strategies take shape. Without a vision, goals are unfocused and strategies are not well chosen.

This is illustrated in an item that I call the “Leadership Arrow” that I share with our leaders. (Leadership arrow goes up on overhead 2.) It is important that we notice the following things about this arrow:

1. The point of the arrow is toward the future and the base of it “rests” if you will on the present and the past. But not just any present or past, God’s work in the present and past.

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