Sunday, 21 July 2013

Where next? - Vision Sunday

Vision Sundays are an opportunity to look back and give thanks and look forward together.

This Sunday I preached 'Honouring the Founders and Honouring the Future'.

In this season of transition we are carrying two big questions. 'What next for Frontiers Church Exeter' and also, 'What next for Andy and Jane'. Andy and Jane will be sharing this Wednesday 24th July 7.30pm at South Street Baptist Church.

We read Acts 20v18-38 and I outlined 3 principles that I would like us to take with us into the coming season.

1) Listen to the Spirit

Paul describes himself as "Constrained by the Spirit" (v22) and reminds the leadership that, "The Holy Spirit made you overseers." (v28)

There are many good things we can do but the role of the Christian is to discern and do what God is asking of you. Here are ways we are looking to 'listen to the Spirit'

  • Prayer helped by the Spirit (Rom 8v26)
  • Reading the Bible and drawing principles (2Tim 3v16)
  • Inviting wise council (James 1v5, Proverbs 1v5) 
  • Personally receiving leading (Acts 15v28)

Here are some of the questions we are working through at the moment:

  • What is the priority of the Spirit?
  • What kind of Church does He want us to be in the future?
  • Is our expression of Church credible to those He would seek to meet?
  • How do we help all people understand the Gospel?
  • How does the Spirit want to equip us 24/7 including work and community.

This year we will be calling the Church to 40 days of Prayer and Fasting as we seek greater clarity and unity. This will likely be a period of time in January as we seek to intentionally listen to the Spirit.

2) Find Strength in God

Losing Paul (arguably the greatest leader/theologian ever) is going to leave a big gap in any leadership team. Instead of seeking to replace himself Paul writes, "I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified." v32

Whatever happens in the future we are looking as a Church to be an increasingly 'gospel centered church'. We want our Sundays to communicate the gospel clearly, our worship, our preaching, our communion, our ministries etc etc. The thing that gives us access to God, most confidence and hope for the future is the Gospel of grace. 

We believe this is of first importance and everything else will be built around this wonderful message of the grace of God.

3) 'Go to the Ship'

As Paul left Ephesus 'they accompanied him to the ship'. (v38) Andy and Jane will be sharing their plans on Wednesday and as a Church we want to be ready to respond. We want to 'go to the ship' in heart and prayers and as a priority. Will we keep you posted as to what we are organizing for them. 

We love these guys and are grateful for a decade of ministry in Exeter. We all stand on the foundation laid by Andy and Jane. I asked those this morning whether founder members or whether they have just been with us for a few weeks to 'go to the ship' together and give ourselves to making this a special time for this outstanding couple. 

Honouring the Founders and the Future

I ask you for the impossible. I have not lived my life listening to God. I have not wanted to receive help from him. Human beings give ourselves to anything but him! We jump into work, success, relationships away from God. We are like fish jumping out of the water. We flip around for a while but the future is bleak. As humans we are living in someone else's house (creation) but making up our own rules.

Jesus came and lived the life that we never lived. He listened and he drew strength from the Father and died as a substitute for us. He is ultimate founder of the faith. He made this possible. His people, "he obtained with his own blood." (v28)

He pays for us and invites us freely to be a fish back in water. He offers us a life listening to God and therefore in our natural environment. He doesn't want us to only learn house rules, He want to give us the keys of the house and asks us to help with the extension! What a privilege. What an exciting future for my local Church. Paid for by Jesus, empowered by the Spirit and on an adventure together.  

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