WHERE THERE IS NO VISION, THE PEOPLE PERISH…” Proverbs 29:18
Vision is so important in the life of a church. People get involved in church life because the vision captures their hearts and imagination. They give to vision. They sacrifice their time because of vision. People will push through discouragement, spiritual attacks and all sorts of challenges, where there is a clear purpose that we are working towards together. Here’s a few thoughts about vision.
1) Vision comes from God
Habbakuk 2:1 “I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me, and what I will answer when I am corrected”
The church belongs to Jesus. He has a clear picture of what He wants it to be. It’s up to us to get into His presence and let Him speak to us.
Seasons of seeking God for fresh vision are vital. Getting outside of our normal day to day environment is so important so we can tap into God’s plans and thoughts for our church. I find that at least 3 or 4 times a year I need to get into an atmosphere charged with faith and the presence of God, hanging around big people to allow God to show me things that I would not be open to when in my normal routine.
When I know a vision comes from God, I can present it with a passion and energy that comes from the Holy Spirit. That anointing captivates people.
2) Vision is fleshed out with team
While we might hear from God during a mountaintop experience, we need to work with a team of highly invested leaders to get that vision into clear language that resonates with people. It may sound exciting and clear to you, but if your team looks perplexed when you explain vision to them (whether it be for an event or a new way of doing things), take the time to discuss, distill & find phrases that really capture what it is you see together. Then, work with the team on strategies for communicating and implementing the vision.
3) Communicate vision with passion, pictures & stories
Vision comes from deep within us. It’s not the latest trend or passing fad. It’s the true north that we are sailing towards. Authenticity allows us to communicate with passion. Passion isn’t necessarily loud – it’s not hype. It’s that we are living for something worth dying for.
Great visionary communicators paint a clear picture of the future. This picture is vivid so that people can see it and imagine themselves in it.
Communicating vision should be both on a macro and micro level. The big picture is the macro. The micro is telling stories from the past that illuminate why we do what we do. These stories help people see the vision in action. Describing in detail an auditorium filled with people worshiping Jesus is macro. Micro is telling the story of how Harry almost took his life but met Geoff from our church and has gone on a journey of transformation that began with inviting Jesus into his life. Both are vital in helping people capture the vision.
4) Vision leaks
Just because we’ve had Vision Sunday, doesn’t mean everyone is still pumped about the vision 4 weeks later. Vision leaks. While we might live our lives as pastors continually thinking about the House of God and taking ground, our average member doesn’t live in that space. For me, every Sunday is Vision Sunday. We need to find moments in all of our services (and beyond) that reinforce why we do what we do and where we are going together as a church. Whether it’s through testimonies, multi-media, social media or preaching – continue to elevate the vision and promote people who are aligned and living examples of the vision in action.
Written by John Pearce
Our July devotionals are coming to us from Phil & Denise Beuchler, senior pastors of C3 Long Island! Check in every Monday for a new devotional, and read their devotional below!
John 6:67-68 “You do not want to leave, do you?” Jesus asked The Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life”
When you know who you know and you have a revelation of where you’re going, you won’t turn back. Some of the disciples had their ears tickled by the nice words and the miracles of Jesus, but when it got tough and down to the nitty gritty, they got going (in the other direction!). They didn’t know the man, they only knew the ministry. The twelve apostles had an intimate relationship with Jesus, he shared private moments with them, they ate together, he revealed himself to them. They knew who he was and they knew there was no place else for them to go, he held the key to eternal life.
To stand firm in what God has called you to do, you need to know the God who has called you. Make sure you’re spending time with him, letting him reveal himself to you, talking with him and really knowing him. Only a relationship with him will keep you standing with him. When things get rough and the others turn away, you’ll stand strong because you know who he is and what he’s done for you.
Check in every Monday for a new devotional from one of our pastors from around the globe. This week we have an incredible word on #power from Ps Sam Picken from C3 Toronto
2 Corinthians 12:9 My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
As a young leader I constantly feel inadequate. It’s too easy to notice how so many others are better suited for the job God has asked me to do. There are more talented, better spoken, better resourced, wiser, smarter and more educated people than me. The verse above has helped me over and over again. I learn that perfection is not a requirement for God to use me, actually it can be more of a hindrance than an asset in terms of the kingdom. The better I think I am, the less I magnify God. Our goal is not the absence of weakness, but magnification of God’s strength
You can register for Presence Conference 2017 at presenceconference.com, see you in Sydney!
Watch the highlights from the South Asia Cross Culture Conference!
Our August devotionals are coming to us from Wayne & Mary Simpson, senior pastors of C3 Hong Kong! Check in every Monday for a new devotional, and read Their second devotional below!
Luke 10:41-42 And Jesus answered, “Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken from her”.
Jesus observes two sisters. One hurries around attending to the everyday necessities of life. The other draws back from this world of activity and quietly positions herself before Jesus, listening.
Jesus says to Martha there are many activities to life, but one thing is needed, one thing is paramount, one thing is a priority – and your sister Mary has chosen that one thing. Jesus and His Kingdom, is the “One thing” (Mtt 6:33)
These two sisters are an interesting metaphor on life. The truth is, “both” are required – but one needs to be prioritised before the other.
– We need “Martha” – You need to attend to the everyday matters of life… – But you need to prioritise “Mary” – To withdraw, meditate and pray…
Both are necessary, but it’s important to understand their order in life.
Once you say something it is hard to retract, though not impossible. Once you write something retraction is virtually impossible. Once you tweet something it is all over red rover. There is no coming back. Lazarus himself would have been tweeted (hounded) back into the tomb, being told he can’t possibly be raised from the dead. It’s unacceptable, discriminatory, and raises false hopes.
You will be held to account for every last letter, and if you said something ill advised, spur of the moment stuff, even playfully, you will be tried, judged, and executed by the new guillotine – social media. (In fact it is hardly social at all).
Human nature guarantees that social media – touted as being such a boon to the world, life changing – will inevitably descend into the abyss of less than humane human responses: jealousy, hatred, and all sorts of despicable me.
We are attaching actual value to how many followers we have, how often we are retweeted, liked, clicked and ticked.
We are told we don’t exist unless we are online. Last time I checked (not Facebook) I am still self-aware and exist aside from any online profile – happily so. Would to God more people realized, ‘what is a man profited if he has the most followers, and, in so doing, loses his soul?’ In fact I would suggest the more followers you clamor to have the more vacuous you are likely to be.
Not that is it is all doom and gloom. Social Media can be informative, fun, connective, and interesting, as in human nature can surprise, delight and thrill us.
How do we effectively use this medium? Are there rules of engagement that ensure we make the most of a mass means of communication that can have positive value?
We should be using all and every means to promote whatever is honorable, just, pure, commendable, excellent, or worthy of praise.
Make the most of the capacity to communicate truth, love, and life. And sprinkle it with fun.
Social media is a great means of encouraging others, instead of the all to common trend of assassinating them.
Encouragement gives courage. Champion each other with a barrage of likes and retweets.
It is great for pithy sayings, although not a lot of people are capable of them.
Beauty should be celebrated, as should virtue – the latter is harder, granted, in 140 letters or a photo.
Promote good things, and not the angst of others.
Engage others rather than merely pontificating.
There is much that can be done to add to our experience, and not detract from it, to lift our spirit and inspire us.
WHAT ABOUT INSTAGRAM?
what’s not to love?
It is a great way to connect with people in a manner that 1000 words may not, unless you are a literary writer. I love to see my family, their smiles, their little joys, their daily lives. It is personal. It works.
It is an excellent medium (although I have never actually met one) to capture a moment, something beautiful – as attested by any number of sunrise and sunsets – or a scene worth sharing, an event from a personal perspective.
A holiday, a wedding, a meeting, a meal. Friends together.
It can be a lot of fun – silly captions and word plays.
All good harmless fun, promoting connectivity otherwise not easily available, and a chance to be a little creative.
what’s not to hate?
Selfies – an ugly obsession, even if you are beautiful.
The perception that everything you do is amazing, every place you go is exotic. Heaven help your friends if they can’t match your fabulous life – which I happen to know you don’t lead.
Photos of the food you are about to consume – when else would you invite the world to your table, and how big can a steak be?
Sayings as banal as they are short. Solomon would blanch.
Likes. How many did I get? They always get more! How can I boost my likes?
It has been 10 minutes since I last looked. See you later.
word of caution…
Social Media is a place to express anything you like, so it would seem, but seeing as we march to a different beat we may need to consider some strictures on our expression for the sake of the following.
One, least considered, is that we all represent each other. We need to consider, does what we write, comment on, text, tweet, re-tweet, or like, represent C3 and its generally accepted non- partisan approach, especially in regards politics? Does it represent faith, hope, and love? Does it represent the mindset and attitude of the leader of C3 –Phil Pringle?
Secondly, in the early days of C3 we made a decision to include in our Policy that our pulpits were to be for the preaching of the Gospel, not for personal gain, and that we would do all we could to avoid contentious and/or political statements or political parties, named Christian or not.
Our experience was that when we start to make political statements, particularly as they favor one party over another, we are likely to divide the people we are reaching – in that there is no position in politics that is unequivocally Christian. And there never has been as His kingdom is not of this world. Jesus spoke these words to the representative of the most powerful nation in the world, to a man who teased him with his power to release him from death. Jesus wouldn’t have a bar of his offer, nor his claim to any real power.
I stand by this Policy in our church, in a nation deeply divided between Conservative and Democratic Socialist Governments. We have something to say that transcends and dwarfs the powers of this age.
Being partisan in the pulpit robs the pulpit of its power.
We play into the hands of weakness when we propagate a specific party or philosophy.
Thirdly it is very difficult, as in impossible, to follow the injunction of the Apostle Paul to pray for all in authority when we are hammering them on social media – like it or not, our pulpit as well. It is to be remembered the very person he asked the believers to pray for was most likely the one under whose reign Paul was martyred – Nero.
His prayer had little to do with agreeing or not about the polices and practices of the Roman world. He prayed for them so that we might live quiet and peaceable lives, so that the gospel would have free reign, and God His way.
Church history is replete with wonderful examples of how believers interacted with those in authority. Eusebius, the early church historian remarks as to the gracious demeanor of Polycarp shown the arresting officers who were to take him to his death. He made a meal for them and treated them civilly, even lovingly. Even more interesting, and profoundly instructive, is how he addressed the man that was sentencing him to a gruesome death. The Proconsul virtually begged him to foreswear his Christ. Polycarp answered with determined grace but never once personally attacked the man who set him alight.
In short, you can’t pray effectively for people you are condemning. We aren’t being asked to agree with policy, but we are being asked to pray for those whom God has set over us – if we are to believe Paul.
Written by Simon Mcintyre
How to be so Engaging, it’s Exhausting!
Recently, I ran a preaching masterclass with one budding preacher who really has a gift of leading and communication. His future is big. We listened to his message on ‘The Power of the Tongue’. It was good, strong, and had a great vibe to it. My role, however, was to show him how he could make it a great message, and to do that he had to look at it through the lens of ‘relevance’. We looked at the places where the message lost traction through the loss of relevance to where people were actually at. Here’s what we came up with –
1. Everyone Wants Vision.
Vision is the ability to see a better future. His overuse of Proverbs 18:21 (that life and death lie in the power of words) at the beginning of the message swerved it from being inspirational to being instructional. Instead of emphasising the vision ‘your words can change your future’, it was emphasising the commitment of good words over bad. In doing so, it lost some relevance early on. Yet it wasn’t hard to fix.
2. Everyone Loves A Story.
If you come out of the gates powerfully casting vision and don’t change gear in order to connect people to vision, your message will become almost totally ‘proclamational’. You can only preach effectively like this for short periods of time. And that’s what the message lacked – a gear change from potentially ‘changing your words can change your future’ to ‘let me show you the journey of change’. Without that, the message over-projected to create some kind of super-Christian who only used positive words. And no-one really likes an annoying super-Christian anyway!
3. Everyone Loves Authenticity.
His last point out of three was all about talking to yourself. Instead of speaking badly about yourself to yourself, it was about speaking well of yourself to yourself. I told him that I never did this and asked him if he did. His sheepish look gave the game away. He was repeating what he’d heard another motivational speaker say. And that didn’t make it true or effective. In fact, the remedy for ‘I’m such a loser’ isn’t saying ‘I’m such a winner’ – it’s hearing and meditating, and recalling God saying ‘you’re going to win’. To use yourself as the role model as to how someone actually hears from God, worships God and moves in the Spirit adds a ton of authenticity and easily grants to you that coveted ‘Access All Areas’ card.
4. Everyone Loves Humility.
The ‘tongue’ message that we listened to together would become a better message using my first 3 points, but it would never become a great message. Great messages are born out of a crisis and a crucible. They don’t come off the shelf. A word formed in a crisis is the same ‘chemical composition’ as a word found off the shelf yet it’s different – it’s punctured with holes of humility. Each hole saying it’s true for me it can be true for you. Humility always creates relevance because everyone is averse to any kind of pushiness from a preacher and, secondly, everyone knows how messy their lives actually are!
To become a national treasure (especially in the United Kingdom where I live) you have to have both proven success and carry some kind of fragility or brokenness. If someone is too perfect, they are liked but never treasured. For preachers to access all areas of people’s hearts, and not just some, they have to show a certain brilliance yet lace it with the humility of still being ‘under construction’. The more relevant we become, the more effective we’ll be.
– Dave Gilpin
No-one need tell us marriage is taking a significant hit, and that divorce rates continue to rise. And that what is true of the community is becoming all too familiar in God’s church. Divorce has become the preferred option to working through difficulty. It is simply easier. Or rather, it is sold to us that it is. The results militate against the advertising. Children suffer – no matter how much the parents insist they have an amicable relationship with their ‘former.’ Women are primarily the losers, poverty increases, crime rises and jail looms.
One-way through is to re-engineer marriage so that it becomes a smorgasbord rather than a set meal. Options are being added daily that are neither sustainable nor natural – in the sense that it takes a man and woman to initiate, birth and properly sustain a family. Anything else is literally unproductive, therefore unnatural, without any appeal to moral codes.
I suspect, or at least hope, this will go the same way as restaurants that have salad and food bars. They have been found to contain a lot of ‘less than desirable’ little extras.
A casual approach to Holy Matrimony, an increasingly popular trend, is part cause and part reflection of marriage breakdown.
Whilst we uphold marriage as honorable and holy – the Roman Catholic Church believes it to be a sacrament – we undo our intentions by agreeing with the world around us that is personalizing and making marriage ceremonies more and more blasé. We meet under trees, on the beach, in the clouds (Skydiving vows), in queues (see A Reflection), anywhere. We dress as though we were at a party. The minister wears casual clothes, the wedding guests even more so, the parents privately disappointed that the wedding day looks less sartorially attended to than a day at the races.
Wherever something becomes casual, outdoors-ee, it loses something, and it is this constant leeching of the holy, the serious, from the wedding ceremony that ultimately works towards undermining the institution of marriage. As it begins, so it goes.
This isn’t the rant of someone older, as though that in itself invalidates what is said. It is the rant of someone who sees the church treading the same cultural patterns of the world it is called to be light and salt to. (Worryingly we don’t recognize this – worldliness is thinking that what the world does is normal, therefore acceptable.)
Marriage is sacred and serious and requires an environment that fosters its sacredness, and not one that engenders a lessening of its sacred purpose. Solemn and joyful.
And this starts at the start – the wedding ceremony. When we dumb down this day we are dumbing down a future. We are falling into the trap of cheapening the act, therefore cheapening its purpose and what it speaks to and about.
The grand pronouncement of Moses, underpinning human history, upheld by Jesus, and believed by the church, is becoming a quaint little ceremony. We aren’t helping ourselves. We are secularizing the sacred by the art of being casual.
A couple waiting in line at the first US screening got hitched with a Star Wars (look alike) cast. The Celebrant was Obi-wan-Kenobi, and the Father Darth Vader. Not sure who Chewy was?
The crowd cheered and yelled, and my heart sank.
Marriage has been so trivialized that we think this constitutes a marriage celebration. What happens if the husband turns on the Franchise, or outs Darth Vader as a plastic version of himself.
And what tie binds, except the ever-fickle definition of love – something I am in until am not anymore.
Of course you could always look at this as, just fun – which I am sure it was to them. And life should have fun, for goodness sakes. Fun, however, does have context, and I’m not so sure a marriage ceremony should be merely fun, or hinged around fun, much less Star Wars – a fun movie itself.
Marriage is the springboard of social health and wellbeing. Linking it to Star Wars is like giving a light sabre to a child – damage is inevitable. I will go to see Star Wars. Can’t wait! But I’m unlikely to renew my vows before, during, or after the screening.
Written by Simon Mcintyre