A few weeks ago, shortly after arriving at the church as pastor, I shared my vision for the church at the service officially welcoming us to Bethany. Since then, some have mentioned that brief statement and asked if it could be provided again. And others who missed it then may find it helpful now. So, here again is my vision for the church. I based my comments on the following Scripture:
2 Corinthians 3: 2-4 “You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.”
“As a pastor, those words are meaningful to me — the church is in a sense the means by which the message of Christ is communicated to the world, the “letter” which those who minister have some part in writing by teaching and shaping the body of Christ. Here then is my vision for the kind of church we should be, a church made up of:
* That means, in the big picture, people committed to godly living individually. My vision for you is that you would be Christians whose faith would shape every decision, whose greatest desire is to glorify Jesus Christ, and whose lives can honestly be said to be testimonies of godliness.
* My hope for you is that you would be holy in all your conduct, that you would fight to be holy, to refuse worldly and ungodly entertainment that deadens your soul, that you would think with a godly mind about what you allow on your TV, your radio, your computer, your bookshelf, and in your mind; and that you would be not just barely Christian, but passionate followers of Jesus.
* That means, essentially, people committed to growing in Christ. My vision for you is that you would want to learn more about God, learn more about living as a Christian, and desire to learn how to apply the truth of God to your everyday life. My hope for you is that you would engage your mind to be always growing.
* To be growing and learning means choosing what you fill your mind with and how you use your time. Read your Bible for yourself, regularly. Listen to good Christian music – so much is available to us today. Do not seek simply to be entertained, but to seek out and listen to that which is meaningful, theologically rich, and beautiful. Read good Christian books – some we have on the bookshelves in the library here, and I would love to recommend more. Using discernment, take advantage of the many resources available in print and online media to help you grow. My hope is that there would be an appetite to read, to listen, and to learn and stretch your mind in the pursuit of God.
* I have been in ministry for more than 20 years now. My greatest disappointment has been seeing families devastated because they would not build their marriages and their home God’s way. My heart has been heavy when parents did not respond to instruction, but became offended when instruction and correction was given about the home. My vision for you, parents, is that you would not be satisfied with “good” kids, but strive to raise godly kids. My hope for you is that you would not give up because it is too demanding, that you would not be too permissive, or too harsh, and so drive your children away from Jesus Christ. We cannot guarantee the next generation’s commitment to Jesus, but we can do all in our power to be obedient to what God’s word says about the home, to build godly marriages and provide examples to our children and young people of genuine Christian living.
* My vision is that each of our homes would be places where Christ is honoured in both words and actions, where family devotions are a regular part of life in the home, where the Bible is taught and practiced by Mom and Dad and important to our children, where Christian music, Christian books, and Christian media shape the hearts and minds of our children, where obedience is expected and disobedience is corrected immediately, and where parents let their children know that church is important to the whole family.
* My vision for all – for those who are unmarried, those from broken homes, those who are widowed, those with unsaved families, those whose children are grown – is that in all our relationships we would learn to practice kindness, forgiveness, mercy, and grace, letting no bitterness take root in our hearts, and seeking in our homes to create an atmosphere of godliness and peace.
People Committed to the Great Commission
* I want to pastor a church that is not merely a preaching station, but a place of service; a church that looks to the future, a church that looks outward, seeing the needs of the world, and does something about it. I want my church to be a church that prays for missionaries, and goes to serve alongside them. I want to pastor a church where people actively worship together, minister to one another, practice hospitality by inviting people into their homes because they love fellowship with other believers, and think often about how to reach lost people God brings into their lives.
My hope, and my prayer, is that that would be this church.”