Thursday, September 04, 2008

Hand to the Plow

This week at West Houston we are unveiling a five-year strategic vision called Faith Challenge 2013 that will call us to new levels of commitment, service, and faith imagination. Our elders are united in their strong conviction that WHCC is ready for a fresh call to God’s kingdom work, for new challenges and a renewed focus. We are a fine church and we are making a reasonable impact in our area. But we serve a great God, follow a mighty Lord, and walk in the conviction of a Holy Spirit who “by the power at work within us is able to do abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). “Fine” and “reasonable” are not satisfactory.

Why a “strategic” vision? Because this is a strategy for living out our identity as the Body of Christ at West Houston, striving to join God in his kingdom work in a powerful way by “preaching good news to the poor, proclaiming freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, releasing the oppressed, and proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).

Why a “vision”? Because we do not have every detail mapped out. This is a vision, not a plan. We are going to consecrate ourselves for the next thirty days in prayer, fasting and spiritual reflection to seek God’s leading in how to develop specific plans to fulfill this vision.

Why five years? Because the vision is too large and bold to view it in a one or two-year time frame. At the same time, it is too URGENT to cast it beyond five years. This is not a “someday, Lord willing” vision. This is about what we can do, become and experience in the next five years as we step out in faith to attempt great things with and for God. The clock starts ticking this week.

Over the course of five years, God will certainly lead us to refine some points of the vision, redirect others, perhaps even jettison one (or perhaps not!), and possibly adopt additional plans or initiatives. The strategic vision is not in charge, God is. We serve a living Lord, not a vision. But as we have labored, prayed, reflected, discussed, and dreamed to develop this vision, the elders, vision task force and I are completely confident that the Holy Spirit has led us to this point. This strategic vision is very different (but much better) than what I had in mind when we began! I am filled with a sense of wonder at what it means to submit to God’s leading in partnership with a group of dedicated servants who all want the best for the church. It has been a wonderful experience to be a part of formulating this strategic vision, but I am confident that it pales in comparison to what the experience will be like to live it out with the Christ-followers at West Houston!

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let’s be done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals. Are you ready to put your hand to the plow and not look back (Luke 9:62)? The fields are ripe for the harvest and the Lord calls his people into the fields with plows in hand. There is a place for everyone in our field, working side by side, sweating together and singing together and helping God bring in his harvest.


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