This is part one of our two-part vision series. Enjoy
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Our marching orders haven’t changed in last 2,000 years…we are still called to make disciples, but how are we uniquely equipped to do that?
Over the past 18 months, a group of elders, staff and lay leaders have been involved in the process of discovering Central’s singular DNA and how God has uniquely equipped us as a church to make disciples. We spent time looking at the demographics of the particular community that God has placed in, our own history as a church, and the gifts and passions of the leaders that God has brought to Central. And after much prayer and discussion, we came up with Central’s own mission statement…Transforming families to live and love like Jesus.
Each word is deliberate. Transforming…discipleship is an intentional process. It’s not about making a few changes here and there, a few tweaks if you will, becoming nicer people. It’s nothing less than moving from death to life, from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of the beloved Son…Paul says we are a new creation. It’s a total change in perspective…developing a biblical worldview, becoming like the Master.
Transforming families…Why families? Genesis 2, God creates Adam and puts him in a garden…everything is perfect, it’s good…except for one thing. God says, “It’s not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helpmate suitable for him.” And He fashions a woman from the man’s rib. The first family. Abraham is promised, “through you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” Israel was arranged in tribes, clans and families. The Great Shema in Deuteronomy 6 “4 “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” Joshua’s memorable statement, “…as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” The Hebrew nation was known as the children of Israel. The family was the basic building block of ancient Hebrew society.
In the New Testament, Jesus is the Son of God, right? And throughout the Gospels, Jesus refers to God as His Father. Same is true throughout the New Testament. In the book of Acts, we see a number of times that whole households come to faith (10, 11, 16, 18). Believers are a part of the household of faith or household of God. Family is built-in to the DNA of the early church. Paul’s instructions to Timothy in relating to folks in the church…older men as fathers, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters. These are just a few of the many examples throughout the Bible. In fact, household or its equivalent is used 302x.
While family is the basic building block of society and even of the early church, family has rarely, if ever, looked like Leave It to Beaver. Adam and Eve’s older son kills his younger brother. Abraham…blended family with multiple wives and half-siblings competing for the promise. Jacob…even worse. David…same story different day. Family was messy in biblical times…that’s why in both the Old Testament and New Testament the people of God were charged with caring for the widow and the orphan and the stranger…James 1.27. They were to be brought into the family.
Today, family is just as messy. There has been a dangerous undermining of families in society … abortion, same-sex marriage, pornography, divorce, absentee parents. These things tear at the very fabric of what God intended the family to be. We want to be a part of God’s counter-revolution of transforming families…not just the traditional ones, but every family in all the wonderful and sometimes heartbreaking implications of that word. When we have healthy families, we have a healthy church. When we have a healthy church, we have a healthy community…the ripple effects can have a huge kingdom impact.
Transforming families to live and love like Jesus. It’s Central’s lifelong, intentional process, it’s our DNA, it’s…believing what Jesus believed, living like Jesus lived, loving like Jesus loved.
Our mission statement, Transforming families to live and love like Jesus, answers the question, “What are we doing?” Our marching orders haven’t changed in 2,000 years. We are still called to be disciples who make disciples. But how will we go about doing that? What’s our strategy for accomplishing the mission?
It’s pretty straightforward. I have 3 words for you…Gather. Grow. Impact.
Gather. We believe that everyone who calls Central home should participate in our weekend “Family Gatherings” aka our weekend services as we worship the God who has rescued us through singing, praise, Biblical teaching, communion, baptism, giving and prayer. Notice I said “participate” and not simply “attend”. Discipleship is intentional, and being a part of the family means that each family member has a part to play. We want you to move beyond thinking of Christianity as an event and church as a location to seeing it as a relationship of daily worship. Church isn’t a place where we come to be entertained, it’s a place where we come to engage, to worship and learn about Jesus; where we encourage one another to fight the good fight. Where we pray over and for one another; where we may be blessed by others kind words and caring hearts, where we can laugh at jokes, and even share joy through tears. Its a place where we see life transformation happen, and we want you to be all in.
Grow. Not only do we feel like Gathering is important, but we also believe that, as a disciple, Growing is imperative. And for us that looks like regular participation in a Community Group or various other groups that meet for ongoing discipleship…studying the Bible, prayer and accountability.
Impact. Gather and Grow are the “making disciples” of the Great Commission. Impact is “go”…it’s outward. It’s about influencing our world for Jesus by leveraging our spiritual gifts for kingdom work in the lives of those folks God has placed around us. Impact is intentional. We’ve been talking about our 8-15 for over a year now, but now we want to expand that concept. So we’re changing it to our Impact list. The Impact List is a way for us to identify folks in our lives whom we can intentionally love, disciple, pray for, reach out to and connect with. Who can you help bring one step closer to Jesus? Whether they are believers or unbelievers. The key is intentionally bringing them one step closer to Jesus. If you are a parent, your kids should be on your list. If you are married, your spouse should be on your list. If you are a teacher, your students should be on your list. If a student, your friends, teachers and coaches should be on your list. In other words, every relationship is an opportunity for impact…an opportunity to bring someone one step closer to Jesus.
God is at work. I want to invite you to join us on this journey of Transforming families to live and love like Jesus as we seek to revolutionize this valley for the kingdom in significant ways. As part of the family, we all have a part to play in the life of our church. The Holy Spirit is ready and willing to empower us to accomplish the mission. How about you? Are you in?
Until next time…stay salty.
This post is based on our Vision series entitled Transforming Families. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on twitter: @ccclancaster