For the last couple years the vision statement of New Hope has been that we are a ‘People Pursuing a Relentless, Unrestricted Relationship with Jesus Christ.’ The words have been on our wall in the gallery, but I have had a few people ask me exactly how we were planning to execute this vision. What they were really wanting to know is, “What’s the strategy?” Or, “How are we planning to get there?”
This past week I began a new teaching series called We Church, Not Me Church. This series will seek to answer those two questions. I outlined how Jesus began His church, why it exists, and what it is supposed to be in the future. From the very beginning of His ministry Jesus was all about reaching people and bringing them to Him. He repeatedly said to his disciples, “Follow me.” He told Peter that he would be “the rock upon which He would build his church, and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it.” After His resurrection He asked Peter if he loved him, and when Peter replied “yes” Jesus said (three times), “Feed my sheep.” As a result, I believe the main mission of any church should be about connecting people to a lasting relationship with Jesus Christ. So if you’d like to know why New Hope exists, that’s it!
We exist to REACH people for Jesus.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “A church is only the Church when it exists for others…not dominating but helping and serving. It must tell men and women of every calling what it means to live for Christ.”
William Tyndale added, “The Church is the one institution created to exist for those outside of it.”
Have you ever had someone bring a dish of food over to your house and when you tasted it you thought, “This is absolutely amazing. I have to have this recipe!” You go to the person and ask for the ingredients to the dish they brought over. You want to be able to prepare it on your own because you enjoyed the food so much. They happily share the recipe with you so that you can now enjoy it whenever you’d like. But what if the person refuses to give you the recipe? What if they said to you, “I’m sorry, that’s a family recipe and I don’t give it out to people. This recipe is for my enjoyment only.”
If we’re not careful we can treat the Church like a closely guarded family recipe. Jesus gave us the ingredients to a blessed life that enables us to passionately pursue Him. Reaching out to people who don’t know Him and handing over the “recipe” should be our number one priority.
That’s why New Hope will set out to be a church where people who don’t normally go to church want to go to church. And the people who already have a growing, maturing relationship with Jesus will be the ones holding open the door. Why? Because we love. Why? Because He first loved us.
The first step toward Pursuing a Relentless, Unrestricted Relationship with Jesus Christ is to follow the example of Christ and REACH out to the people He loves.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”