Pastoral Articles

Implementing a New Vision

Implementing a New Vision

Pastor Jeff VanGoethem

 

When a church establishes a fresh vision, it is probably best for it to begin to imagine itself as a new church plant. Focusing on many years and decades of history, “remembering” in this sense has its place. It is wonderful to “remember” because it reminds us of God’s faithfulness. However we should also be encouraged to envision an even more glorious future, because we have learned the kind of God we serve! So let’s take a moment and imagine we are just now starting all over again, like Scofield Church is a new church plant. What would be on our minds? What would we be concerned about? What would burden us? Can you put yourself into a mind-set of Scofield Church just beginning here in the city of Dallas, now, at the end of 2011? How would we think, what would we do? (The following points are adapted from an article by Brandon Levering, a pastor in Massachusetts).

  • We would clearly define our mission and keep it before us in everything we do.
  • We would feel an acute sense of urgency to engage in outreach and evangelism.
  • We would seek to understand our surrounding neighborhoods, city and culture to better engage them with the gospel.
  • We would employ every person in the congregation in serving in the mission, “all hands on deck.”
  • We would think strategically about the future and not be content with where we have been or where we are now.

 

Are you thinking like a Christian involved in a church plant? Seeking the mission, urgently concerned for evangelism, understanding the surrounding culture, involved and active in the mission, pondering and praying about the future? Or are you living without vision for what God wants to yet do through us? We cannot afford to live that way brothers and sisters. It is not biblical and it is not what the hour requires?

As we outline Scofield’s current vision document in this edition of the Scocaster, use it to imagine how you can have a place in fulfilling it. As the old hymn says, “Ponder anew what the Almighty can do.” Focus on the future and your part in it.

 

What is Vision in the Life of the Church? 

A vision applies the mission of the church to the contemporary context and challenges of a given ministry to determine strategy, a plan and workable goals. It asks the question, “what does God want from us right now, right here? Or what must we do right now in order to best achieve and fulfill our God-given mission?”

 

Pertinent Points:

We must ALL embrace the challenge of reversing the recent trend of decline.

Will you ask God what YOU can do?

There are both cosmetic and substantive changes in our ministry that can contribute to the solution.

Our real goal is to get back on the New Testament mission! Back to basics!

We need to act and participate immediately. No time should be wasted.

We need to please God, not ourselves.

Personal preferences must become secondary to the church’s mission.

 

What Goes into a Successful Church Vision?

A participatory process - the process is as important as the product, everyone engaged.

Producing clear goals

Evaluating the success of goals - are we succeeding?

Careful, thorough follow through with strong participation

Looking at both broad objectives and specific action steps

Maintaining unity around the vision

Courage to overcome our fears and reluctance

 

How Can We Become More Devoted to Our New Testament Mission?

Becoming more culturally sensitive toward others

Become more counter-cultural in mindset/living

Be willing to take risks in gospel enterprise

Emphasize God's compassionate grace

Develop a pilgrim mindset toward this world

Seek the welfare of others

View worship as a call to mission

 

Nine Marks of a Healthy Church

Adapted from Mark Dever, 9 Marks of a Healthy Church, Crossway Books, 2004

  1. Preaching-Our preaching and teaching opens God's Word and proclaims the main points found in it, applying it to life today
  2. Biblical Theology-Our doctrine is sound and protects and guards the church.
  3. The Gospel-Our church proclaims and lives out the message of the gospel.
  4. Conversion-We believe in biblical conversion: God must act, and people must act. God must give life to the dead. People must repent of sin and trust in Christ.
  5. Evangelism-We practice Biblical evangelism means: sharing the message about Jesus' death and resurrection with non-Christians and calling them to repent and believe
  6. Membership-We have biblical church membership-not just names on a roll, but worshipping, serving loving, and submitting to a congregation main points found in it, applying it to life today
  7. Discipline-We are willing to lovingly discipline erring believers in order to preserve the purity of the church
  8. Discipleship-Church members are serious about following Christ.
  9. Leadership-We practice biblical leadership with a plurality of unified, godly, qualified shepherds.

 

 

Will You Commit to Praying for Our Vision Process?

 

No Christian is Greater than His Prayer Life

By Leonard Ravenhill, Why Revival Tarries

The church has many organizers, but few agonizers; many who pay, but few who pray; many resters, but few wrestlers; many who are enterprising, but few who are interceding. People who are not praying are playing. Two prerequisites of dynamic Christian living are vision and passion, and both of these are generated in the prayer closet. The ministry of preaching is open to a few. The ministry of praying is open to every child of God. Don't mistake action for unction, commotion for creation, and rattles for revivals. The secret of praying is praying in secret. A worldly Christian will stop praying and a praying Christian will stop worldliness. When we pray, God listens to our heartbeat. Hannah's "lips moved but her voice was not heard (1 Samuel 1:13)." When we praying in the Spirit, there are groanings which cannot be uttered (Romans 8:26). Tithes may build a church but tears will give it life. That is the difference between the modern church and the early church. Our emphasis is on paying, theirs was on praying. When we have paid the place is taken. When they had prayed the place was shaken (Acts 4:31). In the matter of effective praying,  never have so many left so much to so few. Brethren, let us pray.

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