About 350 years ago a shipload of travelers landed on the coast of New England. The first year they established a town site. The next year they elected a town government. The third year the town government planned to build a road five miles westward into the wilderness. In the fourth year the people tried to impeach their town government because they thought it was a waste of public funds to build a road five miles westward into a wilderness. Who needed to go there anyway? What has changed? Here were people who had the vision to see three thousand miles across an ocean and overcome great hardships to get there. But in just a few years they were not able to see even five miles out of town. They had lost their pioneering vision. With a clear vision of what we can become in Christ, no ocean of difficulty is too great. Without it, we rarely move beyond our current boundaries. What a tragedy that might be?
This happened to the early pioneers, could this happen to any one of us? I believe this illustration is a reflection of the church in America in general, but could this reflect our church too? We can start with a great vision but down the road if we don’t maintain it, like the early pioneers, we too can loose our primary vision. We can forget the very reason why we exist as a church. The Bible says, in Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision (a mental sight, a dream, a revelation) the people are unrestrained (become unruly, undisciplined) In Proverbs the sense is to let something slip through the fingers by ignoring an opportunity. When there is no vision as the scripture suggests we become unruly (every one does their own thing) become undisciplined (lethargic, apathetic) as a result we let go of many opportunities we could have seized and shared the Gospel. Let’s not underestimate what God has in mind for this Church.
Therefore it is important to remember the dream or the vision we have for our Church. Let’s remind ourselves once again why we exist as a church? Where are we going from here? What does it take to get there?
I. WHY WE EXIST AS A CHURCH?
Ask yourself this question; why do you come to church each Sunday? What is the reason our church exist? We can come up with all sorts of reasons why, but I believe as the scriptures suggest the primary reason why we exist as a church is to carry out God’s mandate and to see his vision come true. What is God’s mandate and his vision? We find it in the very words of Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20, “Then Jesus came to them and said, all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” The reason why we exist is to make disciples of all nations (ethnic) groups and teaching them to obey all that Jesus commanded us to obey, so that in return they go out and do the same that is how his mandate is carried out. And the cycle goes on.
What is God’s vision? His vision is the vivid mental picture found in Rev 7:9, “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.” Just imagine what a glorious panoramic picture that would be to see people from all over the world standing before the white throne of God. That picture is still in the making and the fulfillment of it depends on you and me doing our job. Are you surprised when I say we have a job to do? Jesus completed his job. Listen to what he said just before he was crucified in John 17: 4, “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.”
In the beginning of the chapter he says, “Father the time has come.” I believe that the time has come now for us to get busy in our father’s business. Saving souls is a family business. No one is exempted. All of his children have a role to play in bringing souls into His Kingdom. I believe this will move us forward and prevent us from getting entangled with trivial matters that has no eternal significance.
II. CATCHING GOD’S VISION:
What is God’s vision for our Church? When I first became the pastor here at ECCOA in 2008 August I had a vision of seeing 200 people from diverse ethnic backgrounds worshipping the Lord in this church in the next five years. Now is that too big of a vision that God can’t fulfill? Mark Batterson the author of Wild Goose Chase, writes, “You need a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention because it will force you to get on your knees and seek God.” Michelangelo said, “The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it; but that it is too low and we reach it.” So let’s aim high and dream big. It is great to have a full church but more importantly a healthy church. More than the numbers I am concerned with the qualitative growth keeping that in mind I’ve been praying, preaching, motivating and equipping our church members. That vision for both qualitative and quantitative growth energizes me and gives me a reason to get up every day.
I want us to get excited with the possibility of future growth. I want us to picture in our minds what our church will look like with 200 people? What if all of a sudden 100 families from diverse ethnic backgrounds and languages started attending our Church, can we handle that growth? What would that do to our worship service, our children’s church? Do we then need more Sunday school workers, youth workers, musicians and ushers? How about our communion each month? How chaotic our fellowship times would be? But don’t worry all that is good.
That kind of growth can be overwhelming to some, it can definitely pose challenges and can cause some inconvenience to us, so what? It is worth dreaming, praying and working towards growth because isn’t God all about growth, increase, vitality and multiplication? When I read certain passages in the Bible I can not but think that God wants us to grow and multiply. This is what He said to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” What started as 70/75 families in Egypt became exceedingly numerous (Exodus 1:7). God told the exiles in Babylon not to decrease in number but to increase in number. (Jeremiah 29:6) These scriptures and many more tell me that God is interested in numbers, when it comes to think of it one whole book in the Bible is called “Numbers” God hasn’t changed his mind since then, he still wants all of us both individually and corporately as a church to be fruitful and increase in number and have more influence for His Glory. So let’s not sweat the small stuff, let’s make room in our hearts for others, let’s make room for people in our Church, let’s be Kingdom minded.
For those of you who may not know what our church’s vision is and for those who may have forgotten it let me refresh once again. Early on in our ministry here a group of us got together and had a dream session. Out of which a vision was born. OUR VISION is “To build a community that loves God and seeks to share the message of the gospel with all ethnic groups in Quincy and beyond.” I believe that this vision will continue to propel us forward as a church for a long time because it is the heart of God that none should perish but every one should come to repentance. What does it take to realize this God given dream? It takes more than one person to build a community isn’t it? So what resources do we have? We have people with values and a mission. Our values are our strengths and our mission is the steps we take to walk towards our goal of building a community.
Our church is currently involved in, Adult Sunday school, Children’s Church, Women’s Ministry, Men’s ministry, Youth group, Prayer ministry, Alpha course, and Nursing home visitation. In addition to all of these ministries we need to pray in more cutting edge ministries and workers to join us in order to be relevant in reaching our communities for Christ. Our vision may look impressive on the paper but none of this will be accomplished without faith, prayer, cooperation, humility and active participation of us all. Amen?!
 Lynn Anderson; Sermon Illustration