If you have been here over the last month you know that we are in the midst of a sermon series on the necessity of keeping our focus. We are at a time in the life of our church in which we must prayerfully discern our mission, vision, and strategy with a hope that we may most faithfully and effectively make disciples and glorify God. To recap, we discussed:
- The Needs around us and asked the question: “What’s Going On?” We learned that our community is hurting and needs Jesus.
- Our Identity and asked the question: “Who Are We?” We learned that we are Christians who have been and are being healed by Jesus.
- Our Mission and asked the question: “What Are We Supposed To Be Doing?” We learned that we were intentionally created by God to love God and enjoy Him forever.
- Our Values and asked the question: “Why Are We Doing What We Are Doing?” We learned about our shared convictions that guide our actions and reveal our strengths.
- Our Vision and asked the question: “Where Are We Going?” We learned that we want to commit our lives to see Jesus transform our lives.
Today we shall discuss our Strategy and ask the question: “How Do We Get There?” Think of it this way. If the vision is to have a satisfying lunch at Las Brisas, then the strategy is how do I get there in the best, most efficient manner possible. Our church needs to prayerfully develop a clear Strategy to carry out our Mission that fulfills our Vision that is consistent with our Identity and Values, that meets the Needs of those around us and glorifies God.
A Quick Word
We need to pause for a moment to address the elephant in the room: tradition. I’m defining tradition as the set of customs or beliefs that are passed down from generation to generation. Tradition can be good, bad, or ugly. Tradition can be good when it is biblical. For example, Baptists have a tradition of biblically based sermons, baptism by immersion, and observing the Lord’s Supper. Tradition, however, can be bad when it is not biblical but carries the weight of what is biblical. For example, you can’t take up the offering unless you have golden plates.
Tradition can be ugly when it is prioritized over what is biblical and causes a Church to neglect prayerfully examining God’s will for them and hinders them in their mission to be most effective and faithful to make disciples. Rather than setting aside time to ask Jesus to reveal to them His strategy for their church, they busy themselves by doing what they have always done. They do not prayerfully evaluate the best method for carrying out their mission. These churches know what they should be doing and the motivation for doing it, but fail to intentionally develop a plan to accomplish it; relying on God to bless their traditions. A church must not thoughtlessly adhere to traditions and also not flippantly cast aside tradition. Traditions need to be evaluated to see if they are a help or a hindrance to fulfilling God’s mission for our Church. Having said that, prioritizing tradition over mission leads to decline.
First Baptist needs to prayerfully develop a strategy to carry out our mission and fulfill our vision in keeping with our values. This means that we operate under a few important guidelines:
- We shall accomplish our mission in a simple pathway of involvement with a few strategic ministries rather than thinking that more programs means more effectiveness and that people want (or need) more choices. This entails that we say yes to those ideas/ministries which fit our Mission, Values, and Strategy best and say no to those which do not fit.
- We shall limit and steward time “at church” in order to release and equip people to “be the church”. This will help us find a balance between two extremes: 1) time at church equals spiritual maturity and 2) time at church is not important. We need to gather and deploy strategically.
- We shall present and guide people through a balanced process of discipleship rather than allow an immature knowledge-centered spirituality to dictate program offerings. We must make Christ followers rather than religious consumers. Every member must be discipled with the expectation that they will make disciples. While our strategy is primarily focused in the context of our local church, it must also influence each individual member to pursue Christlikeness in their daily lives.
God is always calling His followers to the next steps of obedience. Keep in mind that like mission and vision, strategy is a key aspect that must be understood and embraced by the Church. This is not the pastor’s strategy or the Refocus team’s strategy. It is the Church’s.
- Pray for the Refocus Team as they discern a clear and compelling strategy to present to our Church.
- Pray for them as they seek to clearly communicate this strategy to the Church and that the Church would provide helpful feedback.
- Pray for our Church to continue to seek God in prayer.
- Pray for one another as we desire to help each other grow in spiritual maturity.