many of you are aware, my favorite sport has become rodeo. Bull
riding in particular. When I decided to learn more about it I
went to a training school, and I remember the first thing we
were taught; a bucking bull is always moving forward. Even when
he is in a spin he is still moving forward. God made him to
never back up and never stand still.
Lord designed the church the same way. If the church is standing
still, and certainly if it’s backing up, the only possible
explanation is that something is terribly wrong. The church
should always be moving forward.
commissioned His church to go “and make disciples of all the
nations” (Matthew 28:19). That is an amazing challenge. Had it
been presented by anyone else it would have been impossible. But
with God’s blessings, God’s people had indeed taken the
challenge to heart and made great strides. No doubt by
recognizing that little word, “go”. Jesus expected them to
move forward. But there have been times when the church elected
to stand still and as a result backed up. Church growth studies
suggest it is happening now.
move forward requires forward thinking. We might call it vision.
Consider some key characteristics of churches with vision.
Church With Vision Has A Biblical Base. This
is foremost. Paul said that Christians stand by the gospel (1
Corinthians 15:1-3). Anything
is not based on the gospel cannot be called the church.
Church With Vision Is Change Oriented. The
word “change” can trouble us because it might suggest moving
away from our biblical base. But the simple fact is that while
no matter of doctrine can be changed, the approach Christians
employ must change frequently. Paul said, “I have become all
things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1
Corinthians 9:22). He was changing regularly! But notice too
that the apostle was doing so to win more people to the gospel.
The biblical base remained unchanged.
Church With Vision Is People Oriented. It
should go without saying. But when you really pay attention to a
church that lacks vision you’ll notice that people become
incidental. The programs and facilities tend to matter more. The
same things are done the same ways because that’s how
they’ve always been done. Nothing is ever altered to meet the
needs of people. Rather people are expected to change to meet
the needs of the program.
Church With Vision Is Christ Centered. A
church growth researcher, Dr. Paul Chappell, suggests,
“Biblical vision is all about lifting up Christ and bringing
glory to His name. It is not about elevating personal influence
or competing for the attention of others.”
Chappell further states “the greatest enemies of biblical
vision are self-focus and apathy. After all, if we are not
willing to develop and take steps toward a Christ-honoring
vision, we are too in love with the comfort of the status
asks us to share His vision; to “lift up your eyes and look at
the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” (John
4:35). May His vision be our vision!