Our Vision here at Stroudsburg United Methodist Church

Back on January 19, 2014, I talked about vision in my sermon. I said, “We don’t dream big enough!” I think this is true, but I also think it is natural. Children have big imaginations, but as we grow up, we typically grow away from dreaming and imagining. Proverbs 29:18a states clearly, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” This is a heavy and serious warning! It is also a call back to dreaming and imagining!

In that sermon, I presented a vision for SUMC. This vision is to double each and everything we do: double the worship attendance at 8:30am and 11:00am, double the size of our Sunday School classes, double the number of people participating in Small Groups, double the size of the choir, double our involvement in Soup Kitchen, double our involvement in Family Promise, double our prayer life, double our spiritual devotion, etc.

I’ve continued to pray and think about this vision since that day. I believe strongly that God is pushing and challenging us to grow wider and deeper. Deeper is the spiritual growth we all need to cultivate and wider is the increase in numbers that God wants us to reach in our community with the love and message of Jesus. We need to look out beyond the stained glass windows in our church and develop a real heart for our community and the people who are our neighbors.

I believe this vision is from God and I am calling it “Double Vision” because we need to be much more serious about doubling up everything we do! Here are some of the things I see through this vision into our future:

  • 300 people worshipping in our sanctuary each week
  • a community church that loves our neighbors
  • more missions, including hands-on mission like adult work trips and Habitat for Humanity
  • a more welcoming and inviting church that makes a fantastic first impression
  • a movement, which is Christ-centered, vibrant, and relevant
  • committed believers who are growing wider (numerically) and deeper (spiritually)

Can you see any of this? This might all seem overwhelming at first. How exactly can we double up on everything? Well, it begins one step at a time. Can you invite one person to attend church with you? That would increase our attendance by one — and that would be one (you) plus another one, so that is a double! Can you get involved in a ministry if you are not doing any yet? What about inviting a neighbor or a friend to get involved, too?

I am pleased to see some significant results from what we started back in January. For example, if you remember, I asked for a show of hands of how many people were actually involved with Family Promise. There were some, but not nearly enough of our congregation who are involved in this vital ministry. Well, just yesterday, I was looking at the signup lists for Family Promise and there was only one blank spot left for the week! We’re making some progress, but I know we can do better with our involvement in Family Promise and in every other ministry, too!

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting tired of hitting foul balls and some singles for God. It’s time for us to hit more and more doubles!

So, from now own, SUMC has Double Vision! We are going to double up everything we do! Are you with me? Are you ready to live into God’s dream for this church? Let’s get started right now!

 

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The Importance of Vision and Language

Proverbs 29:18a (the “a” just means the first part of the verse) reads, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

The understanding or interpretation of this verse is simple: if we are not looking and planning ahead we’re gonna die! Make no bones about it, there are plenty of dying churches all around us these days. Why have so many churches become irrelevant to their communities? Why do churches refuse to look and plan ahead?

These are good questions. Sometimes, many times in fact, churches spend far too much time looking inward at themselves rather than looking outward into their communities. Churches are deemed as irrelevant because of this inward thinking. Even how we talk and sing is often foreign to a visitor’s ear. What is a bulletin, or an anthem? What is a pulpit or lectern? What is the Trinity? And how about the Holy Ghost?

If you are an active church member you might use language and terms like these without even thinking about them. But when was the last time you heard a public conversation outside of church about the Holy Ghost? You see, our language is foreign to newcomers and it’s like we are speaking a foreign language to them. Sprechen die Deutusche? Sprechen die church?

We believe God loves everybody but the way we speak does not portray this adequately or clearly. To the outsider, it sounds like we are shrouding the truth and protecting it all for ourselves!

It is imperative that our vision is not focused inwardly. God calls us to reach out to others, just as in the story of The Good Samaritan. Who is our neighbor? What is God asking us to do for our neighbor?

As we live out our vision we need to really pay attention to how we talk. We need to carefully choose the proper words we use to include those who are not churched. We have an important message to share with them… we just need to be extra careful in how we communicate this important message!