Acts 2:46-47(NKJV) 46So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added £to the church daily those who were being saved.
We have been sharing with you the vision God gave me for Living Word Christian Center when we started our church in 1987. The written vision for a church is the blueprint used to build what God desires. If you are reading this and you are not part of our church, I hope that this will help you understand the concept of a local vision. If your church does not have a written statement such as this, go to your leaders and ask them what they see as the vision for the church. Then get behind it and run with it.
The last area of our vision is something that became very important to me early in my ministry life. I saw that people in larger churches often went unknown by the leadership. Their needs would go unmet and they would often simply disappear. I believe God wants each person in a local church to be known and loved. The church is a family. I know all my children and they know me. I believe a church without this element is a “gathering of people” and nothing more. I did not want our church to be that way.
On the other hand, a church is called to touch the area where it is located. It is difficult to do that if there are only a few people. The church needs to have enough resources and people to impact the community. How can a church accomplish that and remain a family? I found the answer in today’s scripture. They met from house to house and in the temple.
I looked back to the small youth group where everything I am doing today began. The intimacy of that group is part of what led me to receive Jesus in the first place. However, a church that only meets in a home is simply not large enough to have much effect on the community. The answer was to do what they did in Acts. Have small groups that meet in homes and then bring them all together into a church. This enables us to reach a larger area and grow while maintaining the family feel and relationships. This concept became an important part of the vision for our local church.
REGIONAL CHURCH LOCAL MINISTRY
The final area I would like to address is the fact that God has always shown me “church” in a regional instead of community setting. I am not a proponent of the “mega-church” model for local church. Some believe that is the best way to build a powerful church and that is fine, but I do not believe a church in the thousands is the best way to fulfill the great commission.
With that said, we must realize that it takes a certain number of people working together to have a major impact on a local area. The larger the population base we have to draw from, the easier it is to gather that number of people together in one “team”. I am convinced that there is a way to accomplish this, remaining a true local church where the individual is not “lost in the shuffle.
We must understand that it is not just large numbers we desire, but it is impact that we need in these last days. The community hardly notices a church that grows to one or two hundred people, but just imagines one of a five hundred or more. A church of that size changes the spiritual atmosphere of an area.
There is an obvious second benefit to a large church, and that is the resources available for preaching the Gospel. On the surface, the most obvious things would be finances and people. Certainly, this is a factor. The larger the group of people, the more financial resources are available to accomplish what God calls us to do. The less obvious and more important factor is the amount of spiritual resources made available. That many people in agreement through prayer and faith about anything will see their goals accomplished!
Of course, the major problem with such a work is the tendency to lose the sense of family by causing the individual to become “just a number”. I want to assure you that if I had to choose between a large church and a place where the individual is known, loved and important I will choose the latter. I do not believe that such a choice is necessary. The answer to this question is to have church within the church.
LWCC has established home cell groups, called New Life Groups, in every area from which people come. These groups are responsible for praying for their area as well as providing personal care to the members of the church from their community. They are also a prime place for evangelism as people may be much more likely to come to a home for some fellowship than to come to a church. There is someone responsible and in touch with leadership for every 15 to 20 people.
An important focus of the New Life Groups is what we call “net fishing teams.” Through the leading of the Spirit of God, they target unsaved and un-churched people with prayer, fasting and relationship evangelism loving them into the body of Christ. Once people are born again, the process of “discovery” and “preparation” will begin right in the local cell. In this way, we will not only see the harvest come in but we will not lose it as so many have been in the past.
We also anticipate local activities and meetings as the spirit leads. I can see LWCC sponsoring outreach meetings in each city and town. Since they will have the support of the whole church, we will not have the pressure of having to obtain enough money to pay for these meetings. We will be able to preach the Gospel in every area for which we must give account
This approach provides each of us with the ability to participate in something that is larger than our small group without losing the joy of being part of a church family or giving up on ministry to the community in which we live. I believe that as we follow the Lord closely, we will have the best of both worlds.
The last phase of developing a regional church will be the planting of “daughter churches” in some of the areas that are farther from the main campus. These daughter churches will be a part of the Living Word family. We will continue to work together in relationship to accomplish the elements of the local vision set forth here. We will maintain an accountability structure for the pastors and leaders of these churches. We will gather them together for conferences and continual training. We will periodically gather the members of all the churches we plant in one place so we may encourage one another in the plan God has called us to carry out together.
Life Long Vision
This is a great vision and it will take much prayer and dedication to accomplish, but I believe that it is all attainable if we will be faithful in small things. It must be the Lord who builds the house and, as we have already stated, He is in no hurry. We will use this vision statement to help keep us on track and flowing towards the goal. We must not allow anything to put pressure on us to try to make the vision happen. God will do it one day and one person at a time. When Jesus comes it is not important that he find us having completed this course, but that we be where we should be at the time He comes. As long as we are following His lead and allowing growth to come naturally, we will do just that!
That applies to each one of your and each of your churches as well. Working together you can take your city for the Lord. May God’s blessing be upon you.