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Leaders

A FOURFOLD CHURCH VISION     

 

The last few generations of Church leaders have found themselves called to address such issues like vision, purpose and mission statements as perhaps no other generation before them. Committees have laboured long and hard over words and phrases that have slowly been shaped and massaged into a vision statement for their particular Church.  

 

While there are probably as many vision statements as there are Churches, I believe that there are at least 4 foundational truths or pillars that must undergird any vision statement worthy of that title. I offer the following four key words as a framework for the Church to fulfil both the Great Commandment (Mark 12/30) and the Great Commission. (Matthew 28/18-20).  

 

WORSHIP         WHOLENESS       WITNESS       WARFARE    

 

WORSHIP,  OUR VISION UPWARD  

Celebrating God's Person  

Worship is the total response of our whole being to God's self-revelation.   Worship is not something that we can initiate. True worship is always the response we make to God's initiative in revealing Himself to us, especially in the person of His Son. If we try to initiate worship, we shall do nothing more or less than create an aberration of what could or should be.   According to the definition above, worship is the total response of our whole being. In other words, it cannot be confined to a special hour in a particular building on a specific day.  It is my conviction that every other dimension of the Christian life flows out of the priority of worship.  Even before the obvious evangelistic task of the Church, we are first called upon to be worshippers and lovers of the One True God.  

 

This highest of all callings involves us 24/7! It leaves no part of our lives untouched by worship. As we find God revealing Himself to us in our personal life, our family relationships, our Church life and our work life, how we respond to Him is our worship. In worship we find ourselves centred upon the beauty and glory of God and, as that happens, we are delivered from that deadly pre-occupation with ourselves which so often sabotages true worship.  

 

Jesus said,"You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only" (Luke 4/8). This was Jesus' response to Satan when this arch-enemy was prepared to give everything to Jesus if only the Son of God would worship him. That's how much Satan values worship. If he has our worship, he has us!  In that concise statement of Jesus we can recognise the two key dimensions of our relationship with God and their sequence; worship first and then service. Service that is not born in worship will become sterile. Worship that does not issue in service will become selfish. 

 

Until we have been captured by the glory and greatness of God and have responded in worship, we have nothing to offer a broken, dying world. On the other hand, to encounter God in worship is to be empowered and motivated to share with our world the gospel of the Kingdom.    

 

WHOLENESS,   OUR VISION INWARD  

Experiencing God's Power.  

Jesus came into our world to establish the Kingdom Rule of God and to make people whole. Because every part of our being has been impacted and effected by sin, I believe that the wholeness that Jesus brings must necessarily effect every part of our nature i.e. spiritual, emotional, relational and physical.  We need to understand "salvation" in those all-embracing terms.  When I speak of the "healing ministry of the Church",  I am referring to all those dimensions. Because of the narrow connotations associated with the word "healing" (primarily the physical aspect), I prefer the word "wholeness".  

 

This wholeness involves a process - a process that will be incomplete until the Return of Christ. Although the Kingdom Rule of God has come in Christ, its full manifestation awaits the Second Coming of Jesus. Therefore, our experience of "full salvation" is still future. In other words, we have been saved, we are being saved and we shall be saved! Salvation is an on-going dynamic reality, not a static event relegated to sometime in the past.   I believe that our progressive experience of this salvation is meant to be real NOW. We should seek to both experience and minister wholeness or healing in the following ways:  

[A] SPIRITUALLY. This means to bring men and women to a place of repentance towards God, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. i.e. the healing of our relationship with God. 

[B] EMOTIONALLY. This is to minister wholeness to those who are inwardly fragmented by fear, guilt, anxiety, depression and inferiority thus breaking the power of the past and releasing people into the freedom of Christ's love and forgiveness.  

[C] RELATIONALLY.  This means to minister the wholeness of reconciliation where alienation has impacted relationships whether that be among nations, races, communities and families.  

[D] PHYSICALLY.  While we acknowledge our mortality and the fact that our bodies are not yet redeemed, we pray for those who are sick in body so that they may experience whatever measure of healing or wholeness God wants to impart  

 

WITNESS,   OUR VISION OUTWARD  

Communicating God's Purpose  

The Church that does not have and manifest the mission heart of God is not a Church. For a Church to become a fortress or a ghetto is for that group of people to deny the Kingdom and betray the King. We are called to witness to the reality of Jesus Christ with the aim of bringing men and women to repentance, faith and surrender to the Lordship of Christ and to mature discipleship.  

 

Witness = to penetrate the community and culture with the gospel of the kingdom rule of God.  

 

My conviction is that our mission agenda is the same as that of Jesus and which He continues to do today through His Body, the Church, just what He did 2,000 years ago. Luke 4/18,19 sets out that agenda and we need to seek ways in which we, in Christ's authority and with the anointing of the same Spirit, can continue to preach good news to the poor, proclaim freedom for prisoners, proclaim the recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed and to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour.  

 

So far as mission methods are concerned, I believe that Jesus is our model and example. I recognise in Scripture that Jesus established the Kingdom of God in what he said and in what He did i.e. in the declaration of the words of the Kingdom and the demonstration of the works of the Kingdom. My conviction, then, is that we, too, are to minister in both words and action. The words give meaning to the works and the works give credibility to the words.  

 

Paul emphasised that his gospel was not just with words but with the demonstrationof the Spirit's power (1 Cor. 2/4,5   1Thess. 1/5). We should desire to know from the Lord how all this translates into action in our particular situation and location.   The WORDS of the Kingdom embrace the great truths of the love and grace of God, the death and resurrection of Christ, the offer of pardon, the need for repentance and faith and the new life in Christ. I whole-heartedly identify with the centrality of these life-changing truths.   The WORKS of the Kingdom relate particularly to the wholeness that God brings into this world's brokenness. We are called upon to preach the gospel of the Kingdom, heal the sick, feed the poor, liberate those oppressed by society's sickness and deliver those who are demonised.    

 

WARFARE,  OUR VISION FORWARD  

Liberating God's People  

We are to advance the Kingdom rule of God in our world by declaring and demonstrating the reality and power of the King in our lives and relationships and by exposing and standing against every stronghold that opposes the authority of God. We are to be committed to pursue righteousness and justice.   It is not possible to think in terms of "kingdom" without thinking in terms of spiritual warfare and spiritual conflict.  

 

The Bible speaks of the Kingdom of God three times more often than it speaks of the Church. The ministry of Jesus began, continued and ended with a constant emphasis upon the Kingdom of God (Compare Mark 1/15 and Acts 1/3).   The story of salvation is the story of Kingdoms in conflict. Satan infiltrated God's world as recorded in Genesis 3 and set up his own kingdom of darkness and death. The coming of Jesus 2,000 years ago established a "beachhead" and saw the coming of a new Kingdom.  

 

Jesus taught us to pray for and seek first the Kingdom of God (Matt 6/10,33). Witnessing is an act of aggression (warfare) because it is an incursion into enemy territory to liberate people from the dark kingdom and to see them released into the Kingdom of God's Son (Col.1/13).   Wherever and whenever the Will of God is being done, there is the evidence of His Kingdom authority being exercised.

 

We are repeatedly reminded in Scripture that, as believers in Jesus Christ, we are involved in a spiritual conflict which requires us to be clothed with the whole armour of God (Eph.6/10-20) and to stay alert for enemy activity (1 Peter 5/8)    

 

I submit these four truths as a means of monitoring our priorities and ensuring that we maintain the balance that is so necessary as we seek to be God's people in our world.        

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