Focused on the Mission in 2023

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Scriptures: Various passages
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Good morning again to you. I’m glad you are all here this morning. For the next few weeks we are going to take a deeper look at where we are headed as a church and what we need to be doing as a church that seeks to be driven by the Gospel and faithful to the biblical model of a local church as we can be. Call it a State of the Church or a mission and vision recalibration if you want. After I finish that I plan to launch into a series on Nehemiah. I hope you will continue with us as we move through this exciting book.
But now we are going to look specifically at what our church is supposed to look like and be doing. We are going to take our marching orders, as we should, from various passages in the scripture. This week will be a reminder of things I’ve shared the last couple of years about the vision and mission of our church.
Let me ask you this question: How often do you think about your future? Do you ever think about the future of our church? What do you see as the future of our church? I mean, specifically. Don’t call it out, but what do you think about for the future of Hope Bible Fellowship? Many of those sitting in this room have had their lives changed by an encounter with God facilitated by the ministry of this church.
I just think sometimes we just come to church and we go about the motions of everything we need to do and we fail to think about what things could look like or dream about how the church could look.
My friend, Tom Hufty, has a sort of life statement that he tries to live his life by. Most of the people close to him could tell you what it is. It’s good and it really encompasses part of the way we need to look at what we do as a church.

Live to touch a day I will never see… - Tom Hufty

Here’s what I see in this statement for us. It’s recognizing and affirming that we are not working for our own good but working to to the glory of God so that in years that are beyond what we will experience, the glory of God and truth of the Gospel will be known here and that there will be people who have not even been born yet, serving the Lord in Dixon. We should not be trying to make something for ourselves but for those who come after, for future generations.
As we look toward where we are going, we begin to throw around words like mission statement, vision, and others. These two words, mission and vision, in particular get vastly misunderstood. We have brought so many business practices into the church in America that it’s easy to get really turned around and if we are not careful we begin focusing on everything except the main thing. I really don’t like business talk. I think in many ways it misses the point entirely. I want to get to the Word but first we need to look at what mission and vision actually are.

Mission – Stays the same through different times and places.

Think of it as the what. What are we doing? What is the mission? What is the goal? What is the endgame?

Vision - If mission is the what, then vision is the how.

Vision changes to align with particular times and places. This doesn’t necessarily stay the same. The vision is how we accomplish the mission set before us.
This raises a couple of important questions. As we answer these important questions we will be forced to answer other questions associated with them. In many cases serving the mission of the church actually will cause us to have to change our vision of the way that mission is accomplished.

I. What is our aim?

What are we aiming at? What is our end goal? Let me share a story with you. Generally I like to go for walks by myself. I used to get up and walk in the morning with Bethany. I recall one stretch of time where for 5 days in one week we woke up and I begrudgingly got out the door and onto the bike path and slowly walked two miles. Each day, I walked with her all the way to the street that marks about one mile from our house and then turned around and walked back. Now, I’ve walked and jogged by myself before. When I would set out with a goal, a target, a destination in mind, I would walk there and turn around and come back. However, if I left the house and headed out for a “walk” but had not previously determined where I was headed or how long I was going to go, I would be very likely to decide I was too tired and turn off the path early or turn around early and head back. Either I got tired or I just decided I didn’t have time to make the goal. What I’m getting at here is that we need to have something we are trying to accomplish. We need to have a target in mind or we will miss every time.
Checklist principle…
What is the mission we are setting out to accomplish?
I’m glad you asked because there is an answer to that in scripture.
Matthew 28:16–20 ESV
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
This passage is familiar to some of you and brand new to others of you. Let’s take a look at what it says on a basic level. Jesus had directed his followers to go to the mountain and they saw Him and worshipped. Some who were there doubted. This is an amazing statement in and of itself. Jesus comes near to them and gives what throughout the years and years of church history since then have come to be known as THE GREAT COMMISSION.
He tells them to GO. And as they are going they are to make disciples of all nations… that’s pretty inclusive of all ethnicities. He then tells them to baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Now, for many churches it’s like they stopped reading there. Many churches were content to get someone to walk down an aisle and into the baptismal waters. It’s part of the reason why in one major group of churches we find something like 14.8 million people considered members of local churches but on a given Sunday there are only about 5.3 million in the pews. We have misplaced about 9 million people. That’s a problem. It’s because of a lack of discipleship in churches.
If you continue reading this passage, Jesus does not stop with baptism. He goes on to command his disciples to teach these new converts to observe everything He had commanded them. He ends with assuring them of his presence in their lives. So, we must conclude that the mission of the church, the great commission is for us to MAKE DISCIPLES. And if we stop at baptism, we really are not following the mission orders that our King has given us. This begs us to ask a few other questions.
What is a disciple of Jesus? How are disciples made? How have we been doing at making disciples? How are we specifically going to make disciples here?
Let’s take a closer look at these questions.

II. What is a disciple of Jesus?

Bobby Jamieson writes:
To be a disciple is to be a student, someone who learns from and imitates his teacher. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are all called to continually learn from him and follow him in every area of life. Practically speaking, this means that we need to realize that discipleship is a lifelong process. In this life, none of us is a finished product. We all need to continually progress as disciples.
None of us in this room are perfect. I’ll do you one better. No one in the world is perfect. There was one perfect man and they hung him on a cross 2000 years ago. All of us who are followers of Christ need to continually grow as followers of Christ. As a Christian there would have been a certain point in your life where you first believed the Gospel and first submitted your life to Christ. Listen closely to this because everything else hinges on it: IF you simply made a “decision” at some point and your life has not changed at all in any way, you’re probably, most likely even, not a follower of Christ. All of us from the newest of Christians to the oldest of Christians must be growing throughout our whole lives as we follow Christ. It is a lifelong process.
Philippians 3:8–11 ESV
8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

III. How are disciples made?

What is discipling? Discipling is simply put, helping other people to grow closer to Jesus. It means growing as a follower of Jesus yourself and helping other people to do the same.
It is intentional.
Matthew 16:24–25 ESV
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
John 12:25–26 ESV
25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

Why make disciples - a godly motivation

- because of who God is (holy, sovereign, creator, savior, and judge)

- because of what God has done for us in Christ Jesus

(gospel here)

- because of who He has made us in Christ (righteous kids of God)

Colossians 3:1–13 ESV
1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. 12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
We are called to this as those who have been bought out of slavery to sin. And what should be our motivations toward this life?
Bobby Jameison points out these detailed motivations from this passage:
• Our death to sin and new life in Christ (vv. 1–3).
• Our certain hope of glory with Christ (v. 4).
• The fact that God hates sin and will punish sin (v. 6).
• Our new nature in Christ (vv. 9–10).
• God’s electing love for us (v. 12).
• God’s forgiveness of our sins (v. 13).

Mission: The mission of Hope Bible Fellowship is to make disciples of Jesus Christ by gathering together, growing deep, and going wide with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Everything I’ve talked about up to this point deals with our mission. We must have clarity of our mission to make disciples. And if we are truly teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded, that would include the great commission that we are given, therefore, it isn’t enough to make disciples. We must make disciples who are in turn, making disciples… generation after generation of disciples. But how are we going to do this here? Well, I’m glad you asked.

IV. How are we specifically going to make disciples here?

A. A SIMPLE process - Gather together, Grow deep, Go wide

This is not simply a vision of what we are going to do but the process by which we will do it and how we will measure where people are at in the process. It’s how we will move people along in the process of discipleship and evaluate where people are as we seek to transition them into leadership roles. These will be three areas where we will hope for and expect all of our members to eventually be engaged in.
Each of these three big elements of our vision and discipleship process was expounded upon in separate sermons in another year. Here is a brief overview:

1. Gather together - worship -

Corporate on Sunday and personal during the week. This is upward focused.

2. Grow deeper - Being part of a small group for the purpose of Bible Study and fellowship for growth.

This is d-groups or life groups. Discipling by following Godly examples. 1 on 1. Life on life discipleship.

3. Go wide - To be serving the community of Dixon as a gospel light.

Being involved in community events as well as organized outreaches of the church. Personal evangelism will play a large part here as well as simply having a ministry of presence in the community of Dixon.

8 Values that Move Us

We keep the gospel central.
We will persevere in prayer
Discipling is everyone’s responsibility.
We hope for the best in one another.
We exhibit selfless obedience.
We will stay focused on the mission.
We say no so that we can say yes.
We give generously to support the mission.
Practical Application
Let me see if I can give you some practical application items to get you thinking about this as well as challenge you to do something about this.

1. Study

Study the marks of healthy churches in scripture. A couple of years ago I took our men through a study of this and it was really helpful.
Study your heart and your commitment to the local church here at Hope. Where are you at?

2. BUY IN.

- The job of the pastor is to equip the saints for ministry. It was never the intention that the pastor was the one who visited everyone, shared with everyone, counseled with everyone, and discipled everyone in a local church. IF you are a follower of Christ you are a minister. Not a pastor/elder but a minister meaning you have the call to make disciples. You have a personal ministry. Some of you may be hearing this for the first time but you are called to do ministry. No, that doesn’t mean be on staff at a church, though for some of you it might mean that someday. We have to ask ourselves if we are going to take the commands of God seriously, not just in word but in deed… in our daily, exhausting, nose to the grindstone lives… are we going to trust God’s rule and reign and command and throw ourselves into the work or will we let ourselves just fade into the background.
Other practical ways to “buy-in”
a. Life Groups
b. Serving in a ministry - welcome, coffee nook, worship team, children’s ministry, administrative help, maintenance, security/greeter during worship, outreach, prayer, one on one discipleship,
c. Invite others to come to church. Statistically people are the most likely to attend our church if they are invited by a friend to come with them.
d. Spend time with one another outside of the Sunday morning gathering. Get involved in one another’s lives.
e. Download the app and use it. Use the communication tools. Be active in each other’s lives. Pay attention to what is going on with the church and pray deeply for it.
f. Give generously as obedient to the Lord. I know that no one really likes talking about it but God uses the generosity of His people to provide for the ministries of His church. That’s how this thing is designed to work. We can go along with it or we can run from it.
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