Vision Sunday 2016

Vision Sunday 2016 - Picture of Milton Keynes from the air


Author: Gareth Russell Date: Sunday, January 31, 2016 Campus:

Vision Sunday 2016
Sunday 31st January 2016
Grand Union Vineyard Church

In Lewis Carrol’s book, “Alice in Wonderland”, Alice meets a Cheshire cat and the conversation follows:

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"

"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.

"I don't much care where—" said Alice.

"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.

"—so long as I get SOMEWHERE," Alice added as an explanation.

"Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough.”

So to paraphrase this conversation the point is, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.”

This morning we are talking about vision. We are talking about direction. We are talking about the next. Where are we heading as a church? Where is God directing us?

This is the kind of stuff that Andi and I get really excited about. We love living in the next. We love waiting on God to reveal to us the next stage of this adventure called church and where it might take us.

But, if I am being really honest with you, we also feel the pressure of it.

We have an annual Vision Sunday, setting out the vision for the year and every time there is a voice in the dark recesses of my mind that says, “what if you don’t hear anything.” What then? Will you just show a video or ask everyone to sit in silence for 40 minutes?

Even if you do hear, how do you know it’s right? How do you know it’s really from God?

This week a few of our leaders within the church have spent some time in Nottingham with us at the Vineyard National Leaders Conference. It has been an inspiring few days.

But at one stage, I was sat with my hands open completely silent but saying to God, “God there are so many options, so many directions, I don’t want to get this wrong.”

Immediately, I felt God respond.

 

“I will write the story, all you have to do is listen.” We exist to write the story of hope that God has for Milton Keynes.

God is the author and perfecter of our faith, not us. God is sovereign over every plan and every strategy. God has a plan and a purpose for us, a future that aims to prosper us and not to harm us. God knows where He wants to take this thing we call church, all we have to do is listen.

And this morning, I am sharing what we feel God is doing and I have to say I am excited. We have never been so motivated, never been so eager, never been so ready to see what God will do with this family we call the Grand Union Vineyard Church.

In Proverbs 29:18 in the King James Version, it says “Where there is no vision, the people perish” in other versions it says where there is no revelation or where people don’t hear from God, they cast off restraint.

So the inverse of that must be that where there is vision, where the people do have revelation and where people do hear from God, there is life.

 

Vision is our lifeblood. It is our energy, our focus, our motivation to step up and step into the spiritual battle to win souls for Christ.

The vision of this church is for our city to know the transforming love and power of God through his people in every sphere of society.

You may be here this morning, and no matter how long you have been coming to church, you might be thinking that church is becoming irrelevant. It has had it’s day. That the battle has been lost and we are just a relic or dying institution waiting to collapse in on itself.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Bill Hybels, who I have quoted before but for those of you who don’t know he is a church leader of a church of 20,000 people in Chicago, plus author and teacher….once said this:

“The Local Church is indeed the hope of the world. There is nothing like the local church when it’s working right. Its beauty is indescribable. Its power is breathtaking. Its potential is unlimited. It comforts the grieving and heals the broken in the context of community. It builds bridges to seekers and opens its arms to the forgotten, the downtrodden, and the disillusioned. It breaks the chains of addictions, frees the oppressed, and offers belonging to the marginalised of this world. The potential of the local church is almost more than I can grasp.”

We are the local church and we are the hope of the world. We are the hope of our nation. And we are the hope of Milton Keynes.

In Isaiah 61 it says: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Milton Keynes – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,

the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.”

We are the church and we are the hope of our city.

 

God is sending us to bind up the broken-hearted, to bring freedom to those who are trapped in addiction, slavery and loneliness, to bring comfort to those who are depressed or grieving, to feed the hungry, to clothe those who have little, to visit those who are in prison and to love those who do not yet know the love of Christ.

In Jeremiah 29: 5-7, God says “‘Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

We are to seek the prosperity of Milton Keynes. We are to seek the peace of Milton Keynes. We are to pray for Milton Keynes.

We are each individually and together the hope of our city, because we carry with us the hope of the world. This is not for our glory or fame, this is to the glory of Jesus who God sent not to condemn the world but to save the world.

Jesus was given all authority and in turn he has given us that same authority to go out into our city and communities and extend the Kingdom of God and love of Jesus.

In Matthew 16: 17-19, Jesus says “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus says “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

In Luke 9:1-2 we read, “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal those who were ill.”

We have not only been saved, we have not only been forgiven, we have not only been given eternal life, we have also been given the authority of Jesus Christ to drive out demons, cure disease, heal the sick, love our neighbour as ourselves and proclaim the kingdom of God. We should be modelling this with each other in the church but then going out into our city and seeing lives transformed by God’s saving grace.

If you have that power within you, if you have the authority of Jesus Christ, then why would we not want to use it? Is your apprehension or your reluctance to look foolish more important than someone else’s physical healing or even eternal salvation?

We live in the tension of the now and the not yet. We are not yet fully restored. Jesus has not yet come back. But we do see glimpses of the kingdom. We do see the supernatural in the day-to-day, we have seen demons cast out, we have seen miraculous healing take place, we have sung in heavenly language, we have seen visions and dreams.

But there is also pain and suffering and hurt and brokenness. There are unanswered dreams, there are unhealed diseases. There are broken relationships.

That is the tension of the Kingdom. That is the tension of the now and the not yet.

But while we are here we are carriers of truth, we are carriers of hope, we are carriers of the Spirit of the Living God and we are called to be proactive with that.

In 2 Timothy 2:1-2, Paul writes “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

God wants ALL people to be saved. He wants ALL people to have a knowledge of the truth.

In John 8:12, Jesus says “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

But in Matthew 5:14-16, he says “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Did Jesus get it wrong? Did he make a mistake? Is He the light of the world or are we the light of the world?

Both!

Jesus is the light of the world but the authority of Jesus now lives in us, His people and we are the light of the world, we are the hope of the world, we are the answer to the brokenness in society because we carry with us the Spirit of God - not for our glory but for His glory.

We as God’s church, as those who have given our lives to follow Jesus Christ, are the answer to the economic brokenness in our society, where there is an unacceptable disparity between rich and poor.

We as God’s church are the answer to the environmental brokenness in our society, where there is a lack of stewardship and care for God’s creation.

We as God’s church are the answer to physical brokenness in individuals where there is disease, pain, disjointed bones, and sickness.

We as God’s church are the answer to the social brokenness where communities and families are divided but with the power of God can see restoration.

We as God’s church are the answer to the political brokenness where governments, leaders and legislation have drifted from the will of God and pursue a worldly agenda.

This year God is beginning to change the shape of the GUV.

He is beginning to give us a new story.

He is beginning to reveal a plan that will not just affect individuals, it will transform a city.

No longer are we satisfied with a weekly event, these are simply refuelling points for the bigger picture. We want to see a city transformed and restored in unity with God.

We have had many prophecies and pictures given to us as a church and we believe that we are starting to see some of those become a reality.

In the past, God has given us pictures of lights all across the city. He has given us pictures of Hubs of compassion in different locations where we can show the love of God practically and spiritually.

We have had words recently that God is going to release finance and buildings for us.

Where God has given us a passion is to be hands on, sleeves rolled up, and being right in the middle of the communities in which we live.

We are not interested in creating a irrelevant Christian sub culture where we try and force people from the city to come to us and then assimilate them by fitting into religious rituals, learning our language and dressing the same. That is a cult!

Instead we want to be a valuable member of our community. We want to understand the real needs of our city and to serve by looking to meet those needs.

That is where the vision for the MK Storehouse was birthed, and in one year we have served 226 guests.

But that is just the beginning.

William Booth who founded the Salvation Army used to quote the “3 S’s” as the movement’s vision - first soup, then soap, then salvation.

There is no point in us sharing the message of salvation if the person we are talking to is hungry and hasn’t eaten for days.

In Matthew 25: 35-40, Jesus says “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was ill and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

‘Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison and go to visit you?”

‘The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

We have to meet the practical needs of our city, but in the same breath we cannot ignore the message of salvation.

We have to share with people the good news that God does love them, that all the things they have done wrong are forgiven, and that this free gift entitles them to eternal life in the presence of God.  In all we do we must keep the message of the gospel, of Jesus, His death and resurrection and his forgiveness for anyone no matter who they are or where they’ve been at the centre, because true freedom, true breakthough, true peace can only come by knowing Jesus and having a personal relationship with Him.

We cannot be simply people of good works, we must also be gospel people.

Simon Ponsonby, who is a vicar in Oxford is quoted as saying, “The Vineyard is a gospel movement or it is irrelevant.”

We are the light of the world. We are ambassadors of the king. But in order to be true ambassadors, we must first be true subjects to the King.

In order to see a city transformed we must first be transformed ourselves. Transformation not an event, it is a process and none of us are fully transformed, fully restored - we are all on a journey, but we cannot see a city changed until we ourselves recognise Jesus as Lord of our lives and submit our dreams, our possession, our time and our relationships to Him.

We exist to know Jesus and to make Jesus known.

As a church throughout 2016 and beyond may our commitment to one another and to God be to:

  1. Build deeper foundations: studying the word of God, praying more intentionally, exploring the gifts of the Spirit given to us;
  2. Foster stronger connections: meeting regularly in Union Groups, committing to relationships in our communities; and
  3. Giving total obedience: surrendering our lives to the Lord of All, letting go and in some cases burying dreams that are our own and letting God lead us into the fullness of life that only He can bring.

Opportunity for ministry

Opportunity to give

Opportunity to serve

Opportunity to join a group

Comments

I spend my Sunday with my cat and I try to make sure she feel safe with me. Although the http://upcatfeeders.com/ share a lot of tips with me.