Over 3,000 years ago, Solomon, one of the wisest people who ever lived, wrote many proverbs. Proverbs are wise sayings that make observations about life, God and human nature. In Proverbs 29:18 we read, “Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.” That word “revelation” means vision or prophetic insight. Vision can be described as “a picture of a preferred future that inspires passion in us.” When we have a sense of personal vision we live motivated lives. We tend to jump out of bed in the morning and we are excited about the day ahead. It could be a vision of completing a university degree, acquiring a job, winning a sports final, renovating our house, or losing weight. Without a sense of vision we tend to roll out of bed in the morning. It’s hard to get going and the day tends to drag on. Thankfully, God has great plans for our lives (see Jeremiah 29:11). We just need to take time to seek him and his will for our life.Church Vision
As a church family, we have had a sense of vision right from the beginning. Richard Holland and a few families started our church back in 1967 with a vision to know God and make him known. As the church grew, various venues and buildings were used until we eventually purchased land in the city of Knox back in 1981. Richard had a vision of a church of 1,500 people. This seemed pretty crazy at the time as our church was only about 400 people in size. Eventually, that vision was achieved and the vision has unfolded and continued to this day when we meet in 10 church services every weekend in 4 locations across our city.
Last year we shared a new vision for this season in the life of our church – a vision to see over 10,000 stories of transformation by 2016. That vision includes people coming to faith in Christ, finding a church home, being baptised in water, starting to serve with their gifts, and of people in the community being reached as well as churches being planted overseas. It’s not just about the numbers. Every number represents a name and every name represents a story of a person who matters to God. Jesus and His Church
Where did we get this idea of vision for our church? From Jesus himself. In Acts 1:1-11, we read of one of Jesus’ final conversations with his disciples. After telling them to wait for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, he emphasised the mission he wanted them to pursue. It was a vision of an ever-expanding outreach to people locally, regionally, cross-culturally and internationally.
Despite Jesus painting a picture of this vision numbers of times during his last days with them, the disciples were still interested in their own parochial vision of a political kingdom with Israel overthrowing the pagan Romans (see Acts 1:6). Jesus had to challenge them about not being distracted by these less essential matters so that they could fully focus on the primary mission he was giving them (Acts 1:7-8).
In the same way, we can be easily distracted by interests and priorities other than the vision Jesus has for his church. Some Christians get caught up in ‘end times’ hysteria, trying to identify the antichrist, focusing solely on end time prophecy, the rapture and second coming of Jesus. Others get into heretic hunting, debating over who is right and who is wrong on various theological matters, who is in and who is out. Others get caught up in politics or debates about personal holiness while others are distracted by the pursuit of a career, wealth or just having fun. Though these things may not be wrong in and of themselves, they can so easily draw our time and energy away from the primary calling of the church – to reach out to people in our world with the good news of Jesus Christ. That’s why a vision such as “10,000 stories of transformation” is so important - because it helps us focus on what is most important to Jesus for his church.The Power of a Decision
If you think about it, most Christians don't need more information. As John Maxwell says, “Most Christians are educated beyond the level of their obedience!” For example, if someone has offended us, we don't need a seminar or another sermon. We simply need to choose to forgive.
When I was going out with Nicole, I had lots of thoughts about our possible future together. I thought things like, “I could marry her” and eventually, “I should marry her”. That process was important but until I came to the decision of “I will ask her to marry me”, nothing much changed for our future together. Decisions are powerful moments that determine out destiny.Your Next Step?
As we begin this year, what is your vision for your life? What part has God called you to play in the vision he has for our church? Most importantly, what is your next step? What decision do you need to make today? Is it to surrender your life to Jesus or be baptised in water or lose weight or forgive someone? As a church, for us to see more stories of transformation, two steps we all need to take are to ENGAGE and to CONNECT. Engaging with people around us could be through praying for them, listening to their story, eating a meal with them, helping them or sharing our faith with them. The good news is that when we engage with people, we find that God is already there at work in their lives. Just ask Phillip (Acts 8:26-40), Ananias (Acts 9:10-19) or Peter (Acts 10:9-48)! We also need to connect, which means to join, to link, to associate or to unite. Like LEGO blocks, we were designed to connect – to God and each other. In a church family, connecting to a small group or a serving team provides a strong spiritual link that establishes a person in their faith and positions them for spiritual growth. The Holy Spirit
For us to achieve our vision as a church and for each of us to continue to be transformed personally, we need the person and power of the Holy Spirit. He is the source of the power, love and wisdom we need for life and ministry. This year, we want to position ourselves to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit. That’s the purpose of our Encounter Weeks.Sample Discussion Questions
1. Discuss the idea of personal vision. Describe times in your life when vision was clear and strong, as well as times when you weren’t sure about your future.
2. Share about when you became part of CityLife. What drew you to the church?
3. Discuss Jesus’ vision for his church from Acts 1:1-11.
4. Discuss the various distractions that can pull us away from the essence of what the church is called to do – reach out to the world with the good news of Jesus Christ.
5. Discuss how your group can contribute to the accomplishment of our vision to see over 10,000 stories of transformation.
6. Ask people to share the ‘next step’ they feel God calling them to make right now. It could include committing their life to Christ, being baptised in water, or beginning to serve.
7. Discuss the two leading behaviours of ENGAGE and CONNECT. What do these look like and how do they contribute to our church’s vision?
8. Finish with prayer for a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit for mission this year. Pray also for our Encounter Weeks. Encourage the whole group to come 15 minutes early for prayer.