The church I’m serving recently had our first “Vision Renewal Gathering.” This is a practice we hope to continue on an annual basis in order to see and celebrate what God has done in our midst, discern how the Holy Spirit is currently working, and hear about and pray for how we think God is calling our church to move forward in the coming year. Below is an introduction I wrote to our little sprouting church along with a link at the bottom to our actual Strategic Plan. May this be an encouragement to all of my fellow church planters, and to any others who are inspired to mission for Christ through this glimpse into one of Jesus’ churches.
I wanted to write a response to our Vision Renewal Gathering from last month. As I described that Sunday night, our theme for the vision for 2015 is “Nurtured for Growth.”
Growth cannot be our primary focus because without being deeply rooted in the real substance of the gospel, our attempts at growth will be coming out of our own strength and not the Lord’s. We’ll wither. So, serving Christ’s mission requires us to seek Nurture in Christ’s grace.
Nurture alone cannot be our primary focus because we must understand that God grows his church in maturity and in numbers in order to be a blessing to the world. We bear fruit, not for ourselves, but for others. We’re Nurtured by God’s grace for our own maturity, for the sake of others growing to or in Christ, all for God’s glory.
This is the point of Psalm 1— the one who delights in the Law of the Lord…
“He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.”
The tree does not bear fruit for itself. It does not produce shade for itself. The tree’s goal is not to be a consumer, but through its nurture from the stream of God’s grace in the gospel, it becomes a fruit bearer for all that come into proximity with it. This is the church. This is the goal of OUR church.
And, our challenge in all of this is to:
Consume from the right source: the grace of God through the gospel of Jesus Christ applied through the Holy Spirit.
Bear fruit in season for the right goal: bringing the blessing of grace and the renewal of Christ into the lives of others in God’s timing and his ways.
“Nurtured for Growth.”
Also, it was wonderful to see so many of you there. Looking for ways to help, interested to hear the path ahead, so quick to celebrate the legacy that the Lord is creating in our midst.
Beth’s own story and the story of her family’s service in church planting for the past 200 years in this area, was so beautiful to hear, and inspiring to think what God does through the lives of humble, non-spectacular, ordinary people who entrust themselves to Jesus and his mission.
Wouldn’t it be amazing to see our children and grandchildren (physical and spiritual) sharing similar stories when they’re adults?
Further, the message from Scott Dean and his points on “Risk or Rust” and “Nurture or Wither” were also timely and will hopefully be used by the Lord to continue to galvanize our community in relationship, worship, and mission.
Also, one of my goals from the evening was for you all to see the areas of ministry of Hope, things that have already been built, and areas where we would like to see development. The intention is for all of this to guide your prayers, your understanding of our church plan, and to provide access points for you to consider in your own desires to serve and grow, for the sake of the gospel of grace growing in and through our congregation.
We have 6 major areas of ministry in our model as a church (see membership packet for more description of each of these): Cultivation, Community, Renewal, Nurture, Service, and Partnerships. And, the plan I passed out last month shows what our plans are in each of these areas for the next 1-2 years.
There are going to be some things in this plan that we never get around to trying, some things that we begin to emphasize more than others in response to needs, God’s leading, and provision of financial/leadership/and serving resources, and some things that we adapt according to changing conditions.
In all of these plans, our desire is to remain rooted in our Identity and Purpose as a church, and see our primary values guide all that we plan. If you’re unfamiliar with all of this please review the “Identity” page of our website.
My next leadership step is to take the big overview I presented, pull out the primary areas as more specific emphases for the coming year, without letting go of the areas we’ve already built, and, provide you all with specific access points to contribute your gifts. This will be an ongoing process as we move to initiate and continue our ministry.
In general these emphases will be our growth in:
- Nurture: developing and shepherding leaders, praying together
- Community: starting and strengthening Local Communities
- Nurture: discipleship of men, women, marriages, & strengthening of HopeKids
- Cultivation: training & encouragement in relational evangelism and encouraging us to initiate friendships, host unbelieving or spiritually curious friends for small dinners with friends from Hope, invite friends to Hope events and Sunday worship
- Service: Working to see Safe Families for Children established for our community, and developing periodic opportunities to serve our community in mercy
In order to be the church we’re called to be, and see God accomplish our 2015 vision of “Nurtured for Growth,” this handful of primary emphases is what I’d like you all to focus your prayer and consideration on.
Please also review our Strategic Plan document (accessible through our website) in order to see the specific things that have been built in the past 2 years, the areas we would like to initiate, and specific places where you could engage with your gifts and talents.
And, please review our giving needs for the coming year. We are praying that the Lord will provide $55,000 through congregational giving in order to meet all non-personnel giving goals for the 2015 budget. If this budget is something you’d like to review line-by-line, please let me know and I’ll provide you a copy and set aside some time to discuss it with you.
Grace and Peace to you all through our Lord Jesus Christ—