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2018 Vision
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2018 Vision

A Vision for God's ministry and Mission at TUC in 2018

Phil Swain

Vision Sunday is a day where we focus on the vision for our church and the direction we are heading this year.  As our kids talk showed us … there a common vision or direction is a powerful thing.

There has been consistent evidence from a variety of different researchers that say when church have a clear picture of vision of what where God is leading their church in ministry and mission – and are able to communicate that clearly - then those connected to the church are much more likely to be involved and much more likely to resource the vision with their money, their energy and time. 

Which is why we are having Vision Sunday.  But let’s be clear – this is not something new.  Turramurra Uniting Church has done this before … and even the journey of this Vision Sunday is one that started way before my time here.  You may remember that in the middle of last year you had a number of conversations and meetings about the church.  You had an “Appreciative Inquiry Planning Process” and “Mission Planning Groups” that looked at questions such as your hopes for TUC, the big questions in the community and how we connect the Good News of Jesus with people.

Do you remember that?  Well the Church Council (and in particular a small subgroup of awesome people) took all that information as well as other things such as the NCLS data and produced a Mission Framework – a direction where they believe God was leading this church – a scaffold in which we can enhance or build our mission and ministry around.

This Mission Framework was endorsed by the Church Council late last year and at my first Council meeting in December we thought that Vision Sunday would be the perfect day to share this Mission Framework.  Council also asked if I could provide some leadership on how we might bring this mission framework to life.

So today on Vision Sunday we are going to:

  • Briefly look at the congregational values and biblical principles that underpin the Vision
  • Cast this Vision or Mission Framework
  • Outline a timeline or plan on how to enact the Vision

Are you ready for this?  excited?

I think that first we need to lay the foundation or look at the Biblical principles that underpin this Vision – and this is where you pull out our pretty Vision 2018 document so you can follow along.  As a congregation, TUC has held four long-standing missional principles which assist us in shaping our life and witness.  These have been part of your church life for decades.  As a way of reminding ourselves of these – lets read these four principles out together – aloud.  They are:

  1. Knowing God
  2. Making Christ Known
  3. Growing Together
  4. Serving Others

These four Mission Principles continue to influence our Vision.  But Framing these principles are the commandments and commission of Christ that we heard in our bible reading for today — to love God and love our neighbours as ourselves and to be disciples as well as disciple other.  These Mission Principles create the mission space for all our activity and endeavour as a church and it is upon this foundation that the Mission Framework was build.

In Ephesians 4:1, Paul encourages to live a life worthy of calling we have received from God.  When producing a mission framework for our church it was less about what we wanted the church to do for us but rather it was about discerning where is God was leading TUC in this era of ministry and mission? What is God calling us to prioritise in 2018?

In very simple terms … and you can see it in the booklet…

For the next era of ministry and mission at TUC, we discern that God is leading us to centre all that we do around the core of Faith and Discipleship  - deepening our own faith and discipleship and growing faith and discipleship in others.

Around this core will be three foci which we will prioritise:

Children, Youth and Families – building faith and discipleship in children, youth and family

Generations – pastorally and spiritually supporting those who are moving through key transitional points in life, especially our seniors

Community Engagement – building a sense of community and connection within both our church family and local community

Let me just expand on these four points briefly.

 

FAITH AND DISCIPLESHIP

In their prayerful discernment, Church Council kept coming back to one answer – over and over again.  FAITH AND DISCIPLESHIP.  How do we deepen our own faith and discipleship and growing faith and discipleship in others?

This was such as dominating discernment that Church Council felt that this needed to be at the core of the Mission Framework.

In the next era of TUC’s missional life we will:

  • Help all people connected to our church to centre themselves in God/Jesus.
  • Make our priority to help people come to faith in Jesus and be nurtured in faith. 
  • Prioritise Discipleship - In all that we do we want people to be spiritually growing.  We will seek to grow discipleship through education, Pastoral Care, Identifying and empowering gifts, worship gathering, mentoring – whatever it takes.

As it says in the red writing at the bottom of the page…

We will evaluate all our current church practices, programs and events as well as any new ideas or initiatives by using the question “How does this help people discover God’s love or come to faith in Jesus or be nurtured in that faith or help people in their discipleship?”

 

How is this resonating with you?  Do you agree with is being the core of our Mission Framework moving forward?

Good because this starts next Sunday … but more of that later…

Back to our Mission framework … like a fidget spinner … everything revolves around the core of faith and discipleship – and just like a fidget spinner, we have three other priorities stemming from this.  [Note … these three priorities do not exclude other things that we are currently doing, but rather they will be getting extra attention, resources, focus]

These three foci are Children, Youth & Families, Generations and Community Engagement.  You can read all about it in the pretty flyer but in brief…

 

With a Children, Youth & Families focus, we will

  • Grow strong and vital groups for children, youth and families
  • Encourage a good flow/continuum of young people through children’s ministry to young adult ministry
  • Involve and form young people in leadership, ministry and mission

 

With a Generations focus, we will

  • Recognise and build stronger links within our church - intergenerational, within services & groups
  • Foster an even stronger culture of love, care and nurturing relationships across the TUC community
  • Help people in key transitional points in life – especially our seniors

 

Community Engagement

  • Intentionally engage a diversity of new people within the life of our TUC community – welcoming, accepting, connecting, integrating, identifying gifts and opportunities to use those gifts
  • Become involved in the wider community – creatively meeting needs, engaging in mission and service, advocating for justice, sharing God’s love and exploring faith in all places.
  • Develop our church complex into a community hub.

 

I personally am loving this mission framework!  I think it is clear, it has great focus and I think it is where God is leading us.  I am pumped.  But what do we do with this Mission Framework – because at the moment is it just some fantastic words inside of an awesome brochure.  At the moment is just words.  There is no life in this.  So … where to now? 

Ephesians 4:15-16 reminds us that this vision is not just for a few of us but for all of us.  Together we are the body which Christ is the head.  So Christ as our key leader is setting a direction and leading us forward…  I guess the question we need to ask is … are we willing to own this vision, to embrace this vision, to be willing to help bring this vision to life.  Are we willing to be led by Jesus, to support the vision and each other as we make this Vision a reality?  Are we?

Because if we are … I have four words that might help us get moving on this vision … four words that might shape the next few months of animating this Vision.  These four words are:

Preparation – if our core focus is going to be faith and discipleship and if we are going to continue to be open to the leading of Jesus … then we need to make sure that our faith is growing and we are focused on Jesus.  So I have suggested we as a church use Lent to intentionally focus on Jesus through a church-wide Lenten sermon & study series.  This starts NEXT SUNDAY.  We will be having a number of learning opportunities – by ourselves, in groups, online, in worship, over breakfast, in our Facebook group … six weeks in the lead up to Easter to get us focused on Jesus and in doing so begin to bring life to this Vision.  Read all about it in the newsletter.

 

Conversation - how do we have intentional conversations with each of the key groups/leaders in the life of the church to share how they might see their group or leadership aligning with the Mission Framework.  Over the next month we are going to do this … myself and other members of Church Council would love to chat … to listen, to share and to begin to see how our churches life and witness might begin to shape itself around this vision.

Empowerment – I CAN’T BRING THIS VISION TO LIFE ON MY OWN.  This is going to take all of us working together … we I was wondering whether we can we do some training or leadership development to maximise the impact of the Mission Framework.  So over the next month I am looking to do some short 60 or 90 minute empowerment session in key areas of youth leadership, worship, pastoral care and more.  Details soon

Lastly…

Enacting - After Easter we will do some dreaming as we clarify how this Mission Framework will be brought to life in the practices and life of the church.  While the framework is awesome and the intentional conversation and empowerment will be so helpful … the goal is to bring this Vision to life.  So we will need to work out some more detail of how the vision will play out in the daily life and witness of our church.

 

So after Easter we will go through a church wide process to refine this in a clear way.  Through some mission planning we hope to have some achievable goals that we can use to keep us accountable.  Details of this will come soon – but keep the 6th April free as something significant will happen on that day.

It is my prayer and hope that six months from now – Sunday 5th August … I can stand up here and we can be celebrating some of the fruit that God will be bringing through this vision.  Sound like a plan?

But once again, I come back to the question I asked before…

How are you going to respond to this vision?  This is not my vision … we believe this has come from God through the discernment of you.  So how do you respond?  Are we willing to own this vision, to embrace this vision, to be willing to help bring this vision to life?   Are we willing to be led by Jesus, to support the vision and each other as we make this Vision a reality?

I am going to lead us in a prayer of commitment and then we will show our commitment through communion.

God of our past,  We give for those who first had a vision of a church in this place, For the faithfulness of those who served in the different congregations that came together to form TUC. To those who gave of their labour, their treasure, their time to establish this complex we offer our thanks.

God of growth,  we remember too those who help this church to grow in wisdom and in faith.   And so we think of preachers, teachers, clergy, study group leaders, youth group leaders, Sunday School teachers, and many others who provided leadership.  We remember Elders, Church councillors, and committee members, men and women who stepped forward to provide governance and leadership.

we remember events that brought us together;  Worship, bible studies, flea markets, lunches, BBQs, fundraisers, groups and other activities.  For the gifts of teaching, leadership, friendship and fellowship we say thanks.

God of our present and our future, today on this Vision Sunday we look forward with hope. We thank you for your vision for what we could be.  Stir us now to embrace this vision boldly, Push back the horizons of our dreams; And empower us to work together to bring this vision to Life.  As we embrace this path, fill us with strength, courage, hope, and love.

In Jesus name.   Amen.

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