Why is it that the majority of adult attendees at most churches aren’t involved in any kind of ministry or service to their fellow believers? Why don’t most church members tithe? It’s not a time deficit (too busy). It’s not a financial deficit (the recession). Ultimately the problem is a vision deficit. Vision is what keeps us going when circumstances, other people, and our own flesh cry out for us to give up and quit.
In the Old Testament, Abraham had to take a lot of faith steps and to make a lot of sacrifices. Yet he clung on to be incredibly blessed and to be the father of many nations.
Read Genesis 15:1-5 & Hebrews 11:8-10
The thing that kept Abraham going was the vision he received from God. Living in tents through desert sandstorms, the heat of the day, and freezing nights, he saw a city whose builder and maker was God.
In the New Testament, the apostle Paul endured stonings, beatings, arrest and shipwrecks. But look at what he achieved! He founded Christianity in Europe and wrote half the New Testament.
Read Acts 26:19-23
As with Abraham, the vision was the key to Paul’s perseverance. He had received a heavenly vision and remained obedient to it.
Think also about the early Christians. They suffered cruel persecution, often to the point of giving their lives for the Gospel. Yet, in the space of just three centuries, they grew from a huddled handful in an Upper Room to become the dominant faith of the Roman Empire.
Read Revelation 1:1-3
God gave them the Book of Revelation to sustain them. No matter how much the forces of evil seemed to be winning, the Church knew that a day was coming when the kingdoms of the world would become the Kingdom of their God and of His Christ.
So, appreciating the power of vision, I’ve been looking afresh at the way we in the Solid Rock state our vision. Our overarching vision statement is, I believe, great good and godly:
“To Be a Living, Visible Demonstration of the Kingdom of God”
But, if I’m brutally honest, sometimes the way we’ve communicated that vision has been less than great or good. How can we help people understand what it means to be a living, visible demonstration of the Kingdom?
To help us understand this, it might be useful to think of our Solid Rock DNA. What is it that makes us unique as a Church? If Gil Grissom and the guys in the CSI lab could examine our DNA, what would mark us out as being different from most other churches?
In fact, as I’ve prayed about this, I feel the Holy Spirit is directing us to break every rule of vision-casting in ‘The Church Growth Handbook.’ Church Visions, apparently, should use alliteration (every word starting with the same letter) or should form punchy acronyms (like I-M-P-A-C-T). But why? Why do we have to treat people as if they’re stupid? So we’re going to do the opposite. We’re going to share a Church Vision based around four words in a language most of us don’t even speak! Let’s learn some Greek.
Metanoia is normally translated as ‘repentance’ – but a better translation would be ‘life change’. It means someone was once going in one direction but now they’ve experienced a 180 degree turnaround.
The Solid Rock should never be a Church where people can just stay the same. It should be a Church where we are constantly being stretched. Church isn’t supposed to be comfortable! Our Metanoia means we need to be constantly stretched spiritually, relationally, and intellectually.
Dunamis is the word translated as ‘power’ in Acts 1:8. It’s also where we get our English word ‘dynamite’. Without the power of the Holy Spirit our Church will amount to nothing more than a social club.
The Holy Spirit will make us to be positive people who become more encouraging and less critical. He will make His presence felt in the Church through praise and worship, and through prayer. He also releases gifts in the lives and ministries of the people of God.
Prayer is a cornerstone of what we are building in the Solid Rock. God is leading us to be a 24/7 Prayer Centre. We’re not there yet – but we are committed to steady and incremental increases in the level of prayer, and Dunamis, in the Church until we do get there.
Koinonia means ‘fellowship’ or ‘community’. Relationships are the glue that holds a Church together. Our vision is for a Church that multiplies small groups and personal interaction. Apart from Sunday mornings, we need to avoid crowd-building and promote smallness and Koinonia!
We need to learn to serve one another in the Church – and to forgive and demonstrate grace to each other. Being a multicultural Church will help us in this process – because there are more opportunities for misunderstanding and offence due to our differences!
This servanthood mentality needs to be displayed by leaders as well. The pastors of this Church are not princes. Nor are we managers. We are there to equip the members to minister to one another. Of course this might be disconcerting for those who have unrealistic and unscriptural expectations of their pastors. I’m sorry if anyone out there expects me to be the super-anointed man of God in a white suit who always has all the answers. I can’t be that guy! But I can practice Koinonia.
Our fourth Greek word, Kerygma, means a proclamation – or demonstration – of the Gospel. This starts with each individual member. We need to be personal witnesses to our friends and family. Don’t expect the Church to employ evangelists to win your loved ones to Christ! We will do everything we can to train and help you, and to provide a great environment in which they can get saved, but the rest is up to you.
Our Kerygma overflows into Church Planting initiatives and World Missions outreaches. We are called to be a demonstration of the Kingdom not just locally, but nationally and internationally.
Finally, this Kerygma must involve actions as well as words. This means that we are called to confront inequality and injustice, particularly where it condemns people to oppression and poverty. This emphasis on Social Justice is not a substitute for preaching the Gospel – it is an integral part of truly preaching the Gospel!
So here we have our four Greek words: Metanoia, Dunamis, Koinonia and Keryma – Life Change, Power, Community and Demonstration. This is our DNA, and if we live up to it – if we remain true to our vision – then our town, nation, and world will have seen the Kingdom of God in action.