Family Matters Part 1: Vision 


On Sunday 5th February at our morning service,we started our series 'Family Matters' with the topic 'Vision'. In this blog you will find a summary of the talk and then some questions and reflections for you to think through on your own or to discuss in your small group.

To listen to the talk on-line, please click here.
To download the talk to listen to off line, please click here.

Talk Summary
In this new series we’re looking at EBC’s vision. mission and values, and exploring the ways in these are manifested in what we do here. We’ll also be exploring the fact that family matters and in particular why our church family matters and why what we do matters. Throughout the series we’ll be touching on what we call our five C values, which are: Care, Commitment, Community, Celebration and Communication.

If, like me, you have an imperfect memory, you may find this little mnemonic I came up with helpful in recalling these five values –
“We are a caring, committed, community; celebrating and communicating effectively the love of God in Jesus Christ.”

To start things off let’s just clarify what the differences are between vision, mission and values. Sometimes it can get confusing when people and organisations talk about vision, and mission and values… and that may be true for EBC. We hear about Vision Statements and Mission Statements and Values… but what does it all mean and how does it hang together? Hopefully we can clarify that a bit.

Simply put, a Mission is the thing we’re setting out to do, whereas a Vision is what things will look like if we complete the mission successfully. And our values are the things we hold true to along the way.
•    Mission  - what we’re trying to do
•    Vision – what “Mission accomplished” looks like
•    Values – what we abide by along the way

That’s the easy way to explain it, but actually that puts it a little bit the wrong way round – because it’s the Vision - of what we want the future to look like - that determines and drives the mission. So really it should look like this –

•    Vision – what we want things to look like
•    Mission – what we have to do to get there
•    Values – what we abide by along the way

 In Matthew’s account of Jesus’s life, we find Jesus telling His disciples about His vision for the church. You can read this by clicking here.

Jesus told Simon Peter and the other disciples that He would build His church and all the forces of hell wouldn’t be able to stand against it. That is His vision!

Then, after His death and resurrection, He gave them their mission when he said: ‘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.’ (Matthew 28: 18-20)

Let’s be clear about who Jesus is and what He said about His church and what His followers are to do. His vision – that He would build His church and hell couldn’t stop it - is being realised by and through those following His explicit instructions to “go and make disciples of all nations...”

We don’t begin making disciples with programmes and environments, the desire for excellence. Excellence inspires others and honours God but it’s not the beginning, not the starting point. We don’t begin with great services or social events or social action. We don’t even begin with values! So where do we begin? I accidentally included it in my mnemonic -
 “We are a caring, committed, community; celebrating and communicating effectively the love of God in Jesus Christ.”

In Jesus Christ. To be honest I originally popped that in because it sounded good at the time and made the sentence flow nicely. However look what Jesus to His disciples said in John’s account of His life in his close friend John’s account, where Jesus explains that he is like a vine, and His disciples like the brances of a vine – they can only be fruitful whilst remaining in (not cut off from) the vine. You can read this in here. (John 15: 1 – 8, NIV)

If we remain in Jesus, and He in us, guess what? We’ll become more caring, more committed, more of a true community. We’ll want to celebrate and run to church! And we’ll communicate more effectively and not just through what we say but by how we live. And we’ll do more. We’ll want to give more, we’ll want to serve more and we’ll do it joyfully. We’ll be united – we’ll want to go and make disciples and thus EBC will grow numerically and spiritually, just as Jesus intended and envisaged when he said “I will grow my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

So how do we remain in Jesus?
Pray, fast, read, listen, spend quiet time with God. Let these private disciplines be the very first priority and the rest – being church for unchurched people, giving, serving, being united – will surely follow because we’re in the vine and it’s the vine that grows the branches. Without the vine, there is no wine.

Here at EBC we have a mission statement that says we exist to love God, love people and grow together to become more like Jesus.

That mission statement begins with loving God and it’s born out of Jesus’s teaching that loving God with all your heart soul and mind is the first and greatest commandment and second is love your neighbour as yourself. If we do those things as individuals we’ll be growing more like Jesus, and if we do them together we’ll be growing more like the church Jesus envisaged!

Jesus’s vision was a growing church overcoming evil. Our mission, to make that vision a reality, is to go and make disciples – starting with ourselves! If we’re not truly disciples ourselves, we’re hardly going to make disciples of others, after all. And that’s the mission. If we’re to love people, we have to disciple them, because yes of course we want people to be fed and watered with a decent place to live and decent stuff in it… but that’s for this life and we want a Heaven of a lot more for them than that don’t we? Why? Because eternity is a very long time indeed.

I hope that helps you see clearly what we should be about. Our mission is to make disciples. That’s Jesus’s instruction as to how to get to His vision of a church built by Jesus, against which all the forces of hell cannot stand.



Questions and Reflections (for you to think about on your own or to discuss in your Life Group)

1.    What are the indicators of someone being connected with Jesus?

2.    What can you do to remain in Jesus as a branch of the vine?

3.    What do you think you do well, or less well, when it comes to being a disciple and being fruitful?

4.    Is there some small next step you can commit to in becoming a more faithful disciple yourself?

5.    How have you, or how can you, demonstrate love towards God today? What about your love towards people?

6.    Do you pray and fast and reflect with God on a regular basis? Can you set aside a time and place to do so?

7.    Do you accept that the mission of Jesus’s followers is to “Go and make disciples…” and if so, would you agree that we must first be true disciples ourselves?

Simon Lace, 08/02/2017