Growing up I had extra good eyesight. Not only did I not need glasses, but I prided myself on being the first one in the car to be able to read an approaching sign, or the only one to read the tiny print on a label. When I was 40 I stopped in at the office of an optometrist friend for a lunch meeting. Before I knew what had happened, he had taken me through a lightning speed eye exam after which he handed me a pair of glasses and told me to go outside and take a look. Oh … My … Goodness. I think I heard angels singing. To my shock and surprise, license plates and signs were suddenly crisply in focus. Over time, without realizing it, I was no longer able to see clearly and now a good pair of glasses brought things into sharper focus.
Looking back over 2016, we have so much to be grateful for, so many manifestations of Christ’s character and the Spirit’s gifts. I’ve written about those [here]. Looking ahead to 2017, my hope and prayer is for us as a congregation to experience something like I did when I walked outside of the optometrist’s office and saw my world differently and more clearly. What is it that I’m hoping our special glasses will bring into clear focus for us as a church? The priority of mission – in particular, our mission to our city. What do I mean by this?
Over the years our church has typically added new members who are either already Christians or have grown up in our church, but we’ve not seen many adults come to saving faith in Christ. This is not uncommon as churches typically excel in either leading people to Christ or helping saints grow, but rarely both. Yet when I gaze upon our great God, the original missionary who sent His Son into the world to save, God who is also the Good Shepherd for His church, I wonder, why settle for either being an edifying church or an evangelistic church? Why not be both? So, I propose we sharpen our focus in 2017 by bringing into view this simple question: How can we bring our message of good news into our city?
Imagine if each of us were a missionary, sent into our city. How would a missionary think if he walked into your neighborhood, or she visited your office, or they took a class with you at school? What would their special missionary glasses show them about how to be a blessing to our city, about where the opportunities are to show mercy, or bring the good news of Jesus? What if each of us asked God to help us think like missionaries in 2017? The Elders of our church believe this is a time to sharpen our focus so that everything we do together from Sunday meetings to classes, Men’s and Women’s Ministry gatherings to Bible studies and Care Groups, contributes to the top priority of bringing this message of hope into our world.
What might happen if we all put on missionary glasses in 2017? I suspect three things would occur. First, I think our unity would grow as we each grab a piece of this missional rope and pull together. Second, I think it would breathe new life into the valuable ministries we are already involved in, because we’re focused not only on building up one another, but also on giving away what we have. Third, I believe this focus would bring greater joy as we see people come to saving faith in Christ.
In 2017, the Elders be letting you know more about how each one of us can sharpen our mission focus. Our world is a messy, broken place. If we believers don’t wade in with good news, who will? Let’s start by asking God what obstacles we need to overcome so that we can put on missionary glasses and go into our world with joy, faith, and commitment. I’m in. Will you join me?