“When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.”
Even though we can’t be together physically this morning, we can come together as a church around a common vision for these days. In this message, I lay out three anchors for us as a community of faith during these days.
Pray that God would give parents an incredible sense of patience as they balance work, homeschooling, closed daycares, and all of the other responsibilities of life. (Colossians 1:9-12)
Pray for the most vulnerable in our communities, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions. Ask the Lord to protect them and empower them to make wise choices during this pandemic. (Psalm 91:1-6)
As Christians, we believe that Jesus has authority over the natural world. Luke 8:22-25 is only one example. Therefore, we should pray boldly, asking Him to slow the spread of this virus.
How have you seen God at work in your life over this past week?
What have you learned about the kind of rhythms you’re going need to stay healthy (physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually) during this time? What worked well for you last week? What didn’t
How worried are you about your job and financial well-being during this time?
Where do you see God opening doors for you to engage with others in sharing the gospel? What do you think your next steps could be?
“Show me your calendar and your checkbook and I’ll show you your priorities.”
I honestly can’t remember the first time I heard some version of that statement. It’s been attributed to so many people that I have no idea who said it first. But I know it’s true. It’s true for my life. It’s true for yours. And it’s true for our church.
It’s something I think about a lot for us at Restoration City. It’s easy to talk about our values, come up with a nice website and sprinkle some vision into a sermon every now and again. But it’s how we spend our resources – both time and money – that shows us our priorities.
That’s why I love knowing that last year we gave slightly over $58,000 as a church to partners outside of our own walls. For the record, that doesn’t include money raised or given through short term mission teams. We gave to church plants, to local partners and to international partners. We’re participating in God’s work in DC, Brooklyn, Kenya, Tanzania, Nicaragua and many other places.
That’s why I love knowing that ServeDC starts tonight and runs through this weekend. We’ll be serving with nine different partners all over our city. We’ll have Restoration City people cleaning up parks, working on Gunston Middle School, distributing meals and participating in many other tangible expressions of love for our city.
Could we do more? Absolutely! Am I satisfied with where we are? No! But I love what God is building through this church. I love measuring our success by how much we give away – in time and money. By God’s grace, we’ll continue to give away more of both. I want our calendar and checkbook as a church to be pleasing to God and to reflect His priority, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.“(Lk.19:10)
It can be so easy in leadership to mistake a reaction for a vision. I know I’ve made that mistake a number of times in my life and it’s led to bad decisions, misspent energy and reduced effectiveness. It’s a trap I’m asking God for the grace to avoid going forward in my leadership life but doing that requires a solid understanding of the difference between the two.
I’ve never come across a better definition of vision than the one Bill Hybels, Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, has made famous, “Vision is a picture of the future that produces passion.” Definitions of reaction are harder to come by so I’m going with the ever reliable dictionary, “an action performed or a feeling experienced in response to a situation or event.” Understanding the difference between the two is essential.
Let me give you a very practical example. Let’s say you attend a church where the pastor preaches largely topical messages organized into short sermon series that are well packaged for a non-Christian audience. Let’s take it one step further and say you aren’t getting as much out of those messages as you think you should; maybe you’ve even called them “shallow.” Just for fun, let’s say you’re on staff at that church. One day you’re driving home after church with your spouse and you let loose with, “I’m so tired of this watered down nonsense week after week, if I was the pastor of this church, we would actually teach the Bible. People who don’t do verse by verse expositional teaching are just wasting the congregation’s time and dishonoring God.” Boom. Tweet that and call it vision. Except for the fact that it isn’t…it’s a reaction. Reactions do very well on social media but they’re horrible at building a healthy organization.
Vision for preaching would sound a lot more like, “Nothing has ever changed my life the way God’s Word has. I love it. I can’t get enough of it. It’s fresh every time I come to it and I want to devote my life to helping people see that. When I preach, I want people to know they are hearing from God through His Word and that His Word changes lives. So, I don’t want anything in my message to distract from God. Can you imagine a church where people come expecting to hear the voice of God speaking into their lives?” Totally different – I’d get fired up about building that church!
So, how do you spot a reaction? Here’s a few thoughts:
It’s a statement of what you aren’t as opposed to what you are
It’s motivated by a desire to prove someone else wrong
It’s disconnected from the personal life of the leader
It’s a means to an end, not an end in and of itself (you’re only doing x as a means to get to y)
It’s quickly formed
Success is virtually impossible to define or illustrate
Close friends are more cautious than supportive
Think about how different that is from vision:
It’s all about the organization you want to see come into existence
It’s motived by love for what could be
It flows out of and is consistent with the personal life of the leader
You know what success would look like and feel like
You believe the picture you are trying to paint is inherently valuable
It percolates over time, is confirmed in prayer and sharpened by God’s Word
Close friends are leaning in and telling you to go for it.
The bottom line in all of this – beware of the danger of mistaking a reaction for a vision. Sure, reactions might help sharpen our vision but they aren’t the same thing at all. Lead from vision and leave the small bands of angry reactionaries to other people!
We’re starting a three week series this Sunday at Restoration City Church called, “Our House.” I’m praying God will use these messages to unite all of us around who we are as a church, what we’re trying to build and the mission we’re pursuing.
From the beginning, I’ve felt like the mission of our church could best be condensed into three statements:
Live Through Jesus
Live In Community
Live For Restoration
Over the next three weeks, we’re going to take those statements one at a time, put a biblical foundation under each one and talk about how it shapes who we are becoming as a church. If you call Restoration City home, you need to hear these messages. If you’re considering getting involved with us, these next three weeks will give you a really good picture of what we’re about as a community. Either way, you need to make a point of joining us for the next three weeks!
Interested in learning more about our upcoming plant in DC? Join us this Sunday, November 10th at 1PM to learn more about the vision and how you can be involved. We’re meeting at Summit’s Chapel Hill Campus (East Chapel Hill High School, 500 Weaver Dairy Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27514). Lunch will be provided.