Sunday, March 16, 2008

Vision Report

It's been a while since I posted here about how the vision is progressing. There's so much that has been going on that I've wanted to share with you--State of the Church, Annual Meeting & Celebration, Pictoral Directory, Purpose-Driven Workshop, etc.--that it's made it hard to keep you updated with everything that's going on with the vision. So I'd like to take some time this week to bring you up to speed.

So far, in 2008, I've met with 8 different Jackson-area church pastors to talk with them about the idea of partnering together to plant churches in Jackson County. I've had positive responses from 6 of them, indicating that they'd be interested in pursuing the possibility further. They will be attending a luncheon meeting at 11:30 on April 15 at a restaurant in downtown Jackson. If everyone I've gotten a commitment from shows up so far, we'll have at least 4 different denominations represented (U.B., Wesleyan, Missionary, Nazarene) and 1 non-denominational church.

I currently have voice mail messages in with 2 other pastors, trying to establish contact with them, and email messages in with 4 others. I'm hoping to get follow-up calls in this week or next if I don't hear back from them. In addition, I have leads on 8 other churches that would potentially be interested in this project. I'm working hard to get as many pastors contacted as possible before the April 15 meeting.

April 15 isn't a do-or-die date. Churches can still jump in and be a part of the LEAD Team after April 15, but I do want to have as many churches as possible at that meeting for several reasons:

  • I want them as many people as possible to be in on this from the ground-up. There's an added sense of excitement, investment, and ownership when you're involved right from the start. I want to extend that opportunity to as many people as possible.
  • I believe that the greater the number at the April 15 meeting, the greater the sense will be that this is a doable project. If we can look around and see lots of people who are at least interested in pursuing this thing further, each one representing a potential partner church, then we can nurture an attitude of "Why not?"
  • The more people who are involved early on, the greater the opportunities to extend invitations to other churches before it is too late. I don't have any illusions about being the only one capable or willing of bringing other churches to the table. I expect that some of these other churches will bring sister churches along with them, and the wider our circle is from the beginning, the wider it can be when we actually make the commitment to constitute a LEAD Team.
  • I don't want to miss anyone that God may want to be a part of this enterprise. I want to be faithful in doing my part so that God can direct, lead, and provide as he sees fit.
It's amazing--I make my family a priority, pastor our church, work at Olive Garden 4 days a week, and still have time to put together this coalition of churches. I'm not bragging because I know it's not me that can accomplish all this--God graciously gives me the grace and strength I need. I see him constantly multiplying my time and efforts.

I recently heard a church leader say that the most dangerous prayer you can pray is, "God, use me." Because if you are serious about it, he'll do exactly that. I guess I should let you know that I've been praying that prayer for years. That's the desire of my life--that God would use me, that I would open up my whole self to let God do whatever he wants through me.

I'm certainly not here to say that there aren't ways that I've screwed up and messed around with stupid things--because I definitely have. There's time that I've wasted and things I wish I could undo. But I keep coming back to that prayer, and every time I fall down, I know that God will raise me back up again, and I strive anew to be usable and blessable, to be obedient to his call on my life.

What's the prayer of your life? What's the beat of your heart? What do you want more than anything else? You haven't yet found the meaning of life if your #1 desire is something other than bringing glory to God through yours. If you want safety, love, acceptance, respect, money, status, or power, you won't have a life that God uses spectacularly--that only comes from laying down everything else for him.

If you want to pray for God to use you this week, try praying and then inviting someone to the Easter Breakfast this Sunday (8:30-10:45) before the worship service. It's a great time to introduce your friends, neighbors, coworkers, or family members to other people in the church. The more people in a church someone knows, the more likely they are to stay. The longer they stay, the more likely they are to be transformed by a life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ. Think about it--something as simple as an enjoyable meal could be the catalyst to a new life in Christ. We miss so many opportunities; resolve not to miss this one.

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