Last week at 6PM on Saturday, not long after I finished preparing for the sermon, a tweet came through from Chapel Hill in Douglasville, Georgia saying, "Our Worship Experience begins now! Join us online" (and giving regular and mobile web addresses to do so).
I was in the middle of something that would have me on the computer for a bit, so I figured, "Why not?"…clicked on the URL…adjusted windows so I could watch the service on the side…and got back to whatever had me chained to my Mac (while at the same time trying to keep an eye on a chat room filled with others who were watching the service too).
I can't remember a ton of the sermon…I was busy with something else…and the nature of the talk meant much of it was specific to the local congregation, but it was basically Pastor Dave Divine speaking of his vision for Chapel Hill—everything from a focus on people to tearing down a structure to make way for something else.
Pastor Dave Divine's Vision for his church.
And without a vision things can become pretty stagnate, can't they? When you don't have goals ahead of you you have no reason to even get out of bed…and you don't have anything to measure success…or failure…against.
Instead of swimming across a sea of potential you stay near the shore just treading water.
[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the "extras" that come out in the audio (which is available here). All quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. ]
And I fear that, as a church, that's what we may be doing right now. Don't get me wrong, I think we've moved forward in multiple respects (as a church and as a church family), but is there anyone else here that thinks we are treading water a bit?
That our God has called us to greater things?
That maybe we are the reason you are hearing this in the smaller sanctuary instead of a bountiful harvest of souls forcing us to use the larger one to your right?
That we could be helping out the community more than we are?
That, as close a church family we are, that we could…and should…be closer?
I do…and although I am not going to suggest a bunch of specific goals…
Like getting the nursery done…
Although I am not going to suggest a bunch of specific goals…yet…for our church…
I am going to suggest a VISION for the Antrim Church of Christ that I personally believe should inform those specific goals.
And I'm going to do so by leveraging a tried-and-tested gimmick…turning an important word into a memorable acronym. In this case the word (and acronym) is "vision"…V-I-S-I-O-N.
Leading off my vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is "V" for "Values"…
Where we get our values and what we value.
As for where we should get our values, let's take a look at Paul's fatherly advice to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:14-17:
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
Paul starts off the section that those verses come from with, "You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness" (1 Timothy 3:10). Paul has his values firmly established…and he is encouraging Timothy to look to the same place Paul did…
"The sacred writings"
Which "is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness."
Part one of the "V" in my VISION for the Antrim Church of Christ is that we will get our values from God…and that means that we'll derive them solely from the pages of the sacred writings He has given us to communicate them. The Bible.
The second important part of values for our church is what we value…or, I suppose, what we value most. Do we value God and the gift of salvation He has given us more than everything else the world offers?
As a person who is especially addicted to buying software, gadgets, and music I have to be especially sensitive to the question of what I value most.
How about you?
Will you give up everything for your Lord?
What are you going to start with?
My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that we will only get our values from the Bible and that we will value heavenly things more than earthly ones.
Assuming everyone was paying attention in elementary school, you know what the next letter is…and "I" is for "Integrity."
Before we discuss that more, let's look at Matthew 5:33-37:
33 "Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.' 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes' or ‘No'; anything more than this comes from evil.
Now…it would seem that integrity would be a given for a church that has the audacity of labeling itself a "Church of Christ."
But, it's not.
For instance, this week I met a lady named Gloria who worked for a company that provided artists and bands for concerts.
Guess which clients her company trusted least—for instance not accepting checks for payment and wanting money upfront?
And they had good reason…between not keeping contractual obligations because God told them to do otherwise…or canceling last minute…or bouncing checks…
Often Christian churches lack integrity.
Let it never be said that the Antrim Church of Christ lacks integrity.
Let our yes be yes and our no be no…because anything else comes from evil.
My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that we will always have integrity.
We've now reached S…and considering how I might be the greatest joker in here today…
Well, perhaps other than you Scott. 🙂
Considering how much I crack jokes…the third word in my VISION for the Antrim Church of Christ might seem odd.
"S" is for "Seriousness."
My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that we will take our calling seriously.
Like our lives depend on it.
Like our family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers' lives depend on it.
Because, in view of eternity, they do…and we will be held accountable.
So much more could be said here, but instead I want us to reflect on Ephesians 5:15-21:
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Serious words with serious advice for serious people following a serious God.
- A chosen race.
- A royal priesthood.
- A holy nation.
- A people for His own possession.
- Called to "proclaim the excellencies of him who called [us] out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9).
My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that we will take our calling seriously.
We've run into a second "I"…and I suppose I could save myself some work by just repeating the word for the first "I"…but that wouldn't be showing much integrity, would it? 🙂
Instead the second "I" in VISION is for "Intimacy."
My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that we will have greater intimacy with each other.
Not in the "Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain" (Genesis 4:1) kind :-)…but the type that the Mac's built-in thesaurus says is the same as "closeness, togetherness, affinity, rapport, attachment, familiarity, friendliness, friendship, amity, affection, warmth, confidence; informal chumminess."
Let's not just be acquaintances that randomly cross paths on Sundays (and perhaps Wednesdays), but instead let's be like the church described in Acts 2:44-47 and Acts 4:32-35:
And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.
No…I'm not saying you should sell all your possessions and bring the money here next week…although we could definitely discuss that a bit more by returning to the letter "V" in VISION…
Or that we should try to return to the hippy-60's commune approach…
What I am saying is that we should be closer to each other than anyone else…including our families if they haven't yet accepted the same calling.
Hard words? Then spend a little time reflecting on Jesus' declaration that "whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me" (Matthew 10:37).
And I am saying we are not close enough.
My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that we will have greater intimacy.
Now "O" was a bit harder to work into this talk…mainly because I was being thick didn't think of an obvious choice.
I even had to go as far as glancing through entries in a dictionary to find a word that would be appropriate. Initially, I only had luck finding words for things I don't want the Antrim Church of Christ to be.
For instance, I don't want us to be "odiferous" (or "odoriferous")…which, per the Mac dictionary…is "having or giving off a smell, esp. an unpleasant or distinctive."
I also don't want us to be "obfuscatory," making things "obscure, unclear, or unintelligible"…
Although some of you have implicitly said I've done that with some of the words I use up here. 🙂
I also don't think any of us want our church members being remembered as "oily" 🙂
Although I supposed "omnivorous" is okay…other than not being much of a "vision" outside of potlucks. 🙂
Instead I initially settled on two words…"ombrotrophic" and an "omnium-gatherum."
Per my Mac's dictionary…
Ombrotrophic is "(of a bog or its vegetation) dependent on atmospheric moisture for its nutrients."
Now, I know that seems a bit weird…but think about it. The atmosphere here is supplied by the Holy Spirit. By God.
Where should we get all our nutrients?
As for "omnium-gatherum" my Mac says it is "a collection of miscellaneous people or things." You probably could have figured that out yourself if you had dropped the two um's in that compound word, eh? 🙂
Now, we already are quite a motley crew, aren't we? But we are not complete…there are a lot of miscellaneous people…and types of people…who are missing from inside these walls.
My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that we will be ombrotrophic and an omnium-gatherum.
Now, if that is too odd to remember…how about this instead:
My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that we will be one.
However, as we go forward with this part of my vision, let it be "one" that is both ombrotrophic and an omnium-gatherum…that gets its nutrition from the Holy Spirit and that is composed of any and every type of person out there.
We've reached our last letter…the letter "N." Before I say what it is, two quick scriptures:
According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:10-11).
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22).
Although I could spend a little time discussing how the second reference buttresses my "O" of "one" that is "ombrotrophic" and an "omnium-gatherum"…please just think about it a little…
Instead of spending time doing that…
Back in Jesus' time they had not yet split the atom…a genie in some ways we might wish we could put back in the lantern…so it made sense that, when speaking of Jesus' centrality, they would refer to Him as a foundation or cornerstone instead.
However, knowing nuclear theory like we do, "N" in VISION stands for "nucleus"…as in…
My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that Jesus will be our one and only nucleus.
- Without a nucleus, and atom is nothing.
- Without a nucleus, an atom has no weight.
- Without a nucleus, an atom will break up.
- An atom can only have one nucleus.
- Without Jesus, we are nothing.
- Without Jesus, we have no weight.
- Without Jesus, we will break up.
- We can only have one nucleus.
My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that Jesus will be our nucleus.
It is amazing how long quickly discussing 6 letters takes…and they really need a lot more time. So, once a month through the end of the year I will preach about each letter, in order…starting with "V" for "Values" next week.
Winslow…hopefully that will fit into your desire for more sermons about our church family and fellowship.
For now, let's wrap up by quickly reviewing my VISION:
- V — Values — My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that we will only get our values from the Bible and that we will value heavenly things more than earthly ones.
- I — Integrity — My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that we will always have integrity.
- S — Seriousness — My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that we will take our calling seriously.
- I — Intimacy — My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that we will have greater intimacy.
- O — One — My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that we will be one.
- N — Nucleus — My vision for the Antrim Church of Christ is that Jesus will be our nucleus.
Well, there you have it. You have seen my vision.
Is it your vision?
Will you join me in seeing this vision come true?