Monday, June 13, 2016

Hub City Vision Talk 2016

This Past Sunday, June 12, was a big Sunday for Hub City Church. We talked about where we've been, where we are, and where we're going as a church. It was exciting to look beyond-the-horizon at where God is leading us. Some of our regulars missed hearing, but I don't want them to miss out, so here is my manuscript. Let me know your thoughts and/or questions. 

Vision Talk 2016

This morning, I hope to paint a picture of what I’m calling the beyond-the-horizon vision. I want us to take a look to the horizon at what God has for Hub City and imagine and dream about how to get there.

As most of you know, Hub City is a little over 7½ years old as a church. Our mission has always been to make disciples who make disciples. We got that from Jesus’ command in Matthew 28:19-20

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing 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.

We want you to grow as a disciple who in turn makes disciples. And remember, we define a disciple as someone who hears from God and does what he says. A disciple is someone who is following Jesus, being changed by Jesus and committed to the mission of Jesus, which is making disciples.

But mission is different from vision. Mission is focused on what we’re to do. Vision is a picture of a preferred future. Mission never changes. Vision is fluid because the horizon keeps evolving. Vision is like one of those old Polaroid pictures that becomes more focused over time.

When we started Hub City, the simple vision was to start a church. And that is what we’ve done. So, what's next?

About a year ago I started asking God what he might have next for us at Hub City. For a long time I didn’t hear anything. And then about six months ago some things started to take shape. This phrase came coming to mind: Be the Church.

Our first vision was to plant a church. We did that. Now it’s time for us to be the church. But what does that look like?

I want to show you a map. This is a map of Spartanburg from 1887. This map shows how Spartanburg became the Hub City back in the late 1800s. There were seven train lines that fanned out from the city like spokes on a wheel making Spartanburg a major transportation hub with passengers, goods, textiles, peaches and other produce passing through Hub City to nearly every corner of the country.

This history not only has a direct link to our name but more importantly to the be the church vision that God has for us.

I believe God is calling Hub City Church to be a training, equipping and sending hub, so that we can be the church in our neighborhoods, workplaces, and around the world as salt, light and ambassadors for Jesus.

See, we are at a crossroads in the life and history of Hub City Church. We have a choice to make. Are we going to just do church, or are we going to be the church?

See, over time churches, really all organizations but specifically churches, overtime, turn inward. We become all about us. And instead of being the church we’ll just be all about doing church. As time goes on we just keep trying to do church better, hopefully better than the other church down the street. But that’s a problem because we aren’t called to do church, we are called to be the church. The truth is that it would be so easy for us to fall into this pit. It’s easier to do church that to be the church. It’s easier to do church where it's all about its Sunday services. It’s easier to do church in a way that’s directed and defined by our preferences and desires as insiders.

Of all the organizations in the world, the last that should be inward is the church. The church as an organization, and it’s not even an organization, it really is a living organism, the body of Christ, but the church, as the body of Christ, at its core, exists for those who aren’t yet a part.

That’s why we don’t exist to do church. We exist to be the church.

But what does that look like? What will it look like for us to be the church? As I’ve asked this question and prayed over this question God keeps bringing me back to Jesus’ final words before his ascension into heaven. This was Jesus’ be the church vision for the future.

Acts 1:8 – But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Notice there are two parts to this verse: You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and then you will be my witnesses.

The first part is about having the Holy Spirit infill us and transform us from the inside out. This is about having a healthy and growing relationship with God.

We can’t force the Holy Spirit to come, but we can do our part to position ourselves and create a heart and an environment for the Holy Spirit to move. We do that through prayer, confession, meditation on God’s word, letting him transform us, and obeying him.

This is about our relationship with him. That’s why the first step in being the church is to have a growing and healthy relationship with God where he is speaking to us through his word and through his Spirit. It begins on the inside of us.

But there's a second part to being the church. It says: Then we will be witnesses of Jesus. When you see that word “witnesses” I want you to think of being salt, light and ambassadors of Jesus.

Jesus tells us to begin in Jerusalem. Let’s talk about Jerusalem. Jerusalem is your world, where you work, where you live, where you play. I want you to think about your world in terms of the domain in society where God has you. Each of you lives, works and plays in one of societies’ domains. This is your Jerusalem.

I want to show you a graphic. It shows the domains that make up our society. Now looking at that graphic, what is your domain? Write it down.

What Jesus is telling us is that we are to be salt, light and ambassadors of Jesus in our domains.

Imagine what it would look like for the church to weave itself as a disciple-making force in each domain. Where we are a subversive presence of salt and light, where we are outposts of ambassadors, where we are making disciples in whatever domain we find ourselves in. And as a result of our presence, over time, each domain will be transformed from the inside out. That’s what it looks like for us to be the church.

See, our mission hasn’t and will not change. It can’t change. Jesus told us to make disciples. It’s what he did. It’s what we are to do. But I want us to be a disciple-making force, transforming this county. And as we’ve said before, you are where you are on purpose for a purpose. That purpose is to be salt, to be light, to be an ambassador for Jesus, making disciples in your respective domain.

And then he says “in all of Judea and Samaria.” Judea and Samaria represent places that are near us but people who aren’t like us, or places that are far away from us and people who are like us. We are to be witnesses in all of those places.

Let’s be honest, we can’t do that, but what we can do is partner with and plant churches so that that happens. We don’t know exactly what this will look like. What we do know is that we can’t transform this community and our state and our country on our own. We need more disciple-making churches to grow out of us to connect with people we can’t connect with and further extend what we are doing beyond what we can do. We can be the church by planting more churches to be the church. And we want to send some of you out to do that. This also means partnering. Partnering and planting is how to reach all Judaea and Samaria.

And then we will be witnesses of Jesus to the ends of the earth. The ends of the earth for us is a village in Haiti that nobody wants to help. It’s a village that’s an hour and a half hike up into the mountains. It’s the village of Viello.

Over the next 5 to 10 years God is going to use us being the church to transform that village. It’s going to begin with sponsoring and educating the kids in the village. We’re going to talk more about this next week when our team that’s in Haiti today gets some more information to share with us.

All of this comes back to what I said earlier about being the church: I believe God is calling Hub City Church to be a training, equipping and sending hub, so that we can be the church in our neighborhoods, workplaces, and around the world as salt, light and ambassadors for Jesus.

My Be the Church Dream:

-       I have a dream that people will want us as neighbors.
-       I have a dream that we’ll be neighbors people want to spend time with.
-       I have a dream that people will see us live such different and Christ-like lives that they will ask us about the hope that we have.
-       I have a dream that our workplaces, neighborhoods, schools, clubs and places we visit are different and transformed because of our influence.
-       I have a dream that many new churches will be planted out of Hub City, so that there will be more training posts hubs both here in Spartanburg and around our nation and world.
-       I have a dream that we transform a village in Haiti through education, and making disciples.

This is what it looks like for us to be the church.

All of this is going to require a step of faith, or should I say, a leap of faith for each of us. Because if you’ll notice, this vision isn’t dependent at all on us meeting in the theater. It’s not dependent on me as the pastor. It’s dependent on each us being the church.

Which means my job is to equip you to be the church. My job is to do what I can to help you grow as a disciple and in a relationship with God so that you can impact your domain as salt and light and as an ambassador of Jesus. My job is to stretch you and maybe push you out of the nest.

God is calling Hub City Church to be a training, equipping and sending hub, so that we can be the church in our neighborhoods, workplaces, and around the world as salt, light and ambassadors for Jesus.