Focus for 2020
This past Vision Sunday, we reviewed how we are seeking to strengthen and grow the health of our church body in 2020 by focusing on something called the Church Life Model. This model focuses on 15 vital and Biblical functions of the Church and places them into four major quadrants along with a core of leadership and management.
These quadrants and the model we are pursuing matters, not because it's some new or fresh way that churches are doing things. This model matter because it's a simple, visual way for our staff and leadership to focus on what the Bible tells us we need to be about as the Church of Jesus.
It's so easy for churches to get distracted by the big and ambitious ideas of vision that we often forget our mandated mission. When this happens, the vision, no matter how great it is, becomes an idol onto itself and begins to feel empty.
It's like a home that looks perfectly warm and cozy with food on the table and lights on in the home, but there is not one person who lives in the house. You can have all the perfect looks of things, but it's people that make a house a home.
In the same way, we can have a strong vision, but if we are neglecting the functions that Jesus tells us to be about, we end of having the appearance of His Church but lacking the life-giving purpose of His Church. Unless the Lord Builds the House, the Bible tells us, the laborers labor in vain. And part of the way the Lord builds His house is His children following the blueprint He laid down.
God blesses obedience!
For example, we have been praying that God awakens us to His presence. Maybe even some of us have prayed, for what is known in the last few hundred years of Christianity, as Revival.
It's good to pray that God awakens us to His presence and that we carry that presence with us outside these walls, and we should expect God to answer such a prayer because it's in line with His heart.
But there is something we can also do that will guarantee a realization of His presence; obedience to His desires outlined in Scripture.
In the Old Testament, God gave very long and specific instructions to His people in Israel concerning how the first temple, a place of worship, would be built. These instructions included the kinds of fabrics to be used and what the walls should be made of and the kind of furniture that should be placed and the measurements for every aspect.
The people give till it hurt in order to have the money to acquire these items, and then they give some more in labor and working to build it – for 20 years, they worked on it.
And then, finally in 2 Chronicles 6, Solomon prays this beautiful prayer of humility and worship in which he formally dedicates the Temple to God. After this prayer, we read in 2 Chronicles 7, "As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD's house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, "For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever."
If Solomon had prayed his prayer, but no work was done on the temple, and he stood before a slab foundation, there would have been nothing for God to fill. However, God blesses the obedience of His people. He was specific with what He wanted in the building of the temple, and His people accurately followed His heart.
In the New Testament, we are told because of the person, death, and resurrection of Jesus; we ARE the temples of God, the place where His Spirit dwells. We are the dwelling of His presence because of the perfect obedience of Jesus on our behalf.
But are we aware of, and in harmony with that presence?
The scriptures would make clear; there is obedience still on our part that aligns us with presence. This obedience shows our desire to please Him, our yearning to know Him more, and our hope for His life to flow through us to a broken world.
Far more than words, it is our actions that awaken us to His presence. Jesus says in John 14:23, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him."
If you were to study the benefits of obedience in the Bible, you would find how God promises blessings, long life, influence, joy, peace, and more for those who live out His heart. There is this promise of His presence made real and known to those who aim for obedience.
You and I are not interested in joining a social club that maybe does good things for people or teaches good values. We are interested in continuing to be changed by the living God and for Him to have His way and for Him to be glorified through all we do and are.
As we seek to be about His heart in this coming year, we have His promise in Scripture that His favor comes to rest on our Church and on our lives as individuals who make up His Church. We have this promise of greater awareness of His presence with us and the empowerment of His Spirit.
Reading City Church, I can honestly say, there is no other church I would rather pastor than to be here with you all. I cannot adequately express my love and appreciation for your friendships, for your earnest hearts, your desires for God, your authenticity, your generous giving of your time and resources, and just the love you have for one another.
Together, as each of us zeroes in on doing our small part in partnering with the desires of God for Biblical Church, God will continue to be among us, empower us and cause us to reach others with the hope we are given.
-Vince Donnachie, Pastor of RCC