Recently there have been discussions about “vision.” It’s an exciting and important topic with abundant literature and resources. Rick Warren described vision as ‘your faith dream for the church.” I like that. The Bible has much to say about vision and the church. The early church found in Acts 2:42-47 has always been a model for me for establishing a theology of church -the nature and role of the church.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. 44 All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”
Essentially there were five ministries of the early church. Tim Keller noted that these five ministries are “vital signs” of a Spirit-filled community. These five points enable the church to maintain a balanced focus and make adjustments accordingly. I mentioned these points on Pentecost Sunday, they are:
- Ministry of learning in the truth - are we growing in our understanding of God and His word?
- Ministry of loving in the fellowship - do we care for one another? - do we rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn? - are we committed to the ‘one-anothering’ -do we have intimate relationships within our community?
- Ministry of worship in the Spirit - is there joyous worship? Is there praise and celebration?
- Ministry of witness though words - is our church alive in evangelism?
- Ministry of service through deeds - are we engaged in sacrificial service?
Simply put, my faith dream for the church is that we focus on these five ministries. That we reach outward and inward to build a community of faith - people who use their gifts (spiritual gifts, talents and passion) to glorify God and build up His kingdom. May we remain sensitive to God’s word and His Spirit as we establish our purpose and meaning as a faith community.
How we arrive at an overall vision for the church is an interesting conversation. I believe it requires listening - listening to ourselves, listening to God and His word and listening to one another. Henri Nouwen stated: “The question is not simply, "Where does God lead me as an individual person who tries to do his will?" More basic and more significant is the question, "Where does God lead us as a people?" This question requires that we pay careful attention to God's guidance in our life together and that together we search for a creative response.” (Making All Things New)
Blessings as we listen together,