Two Steps Forward
Steve Jobs was just 21 when he and Steve Wozniak invented the Apple Computer. Until then computers were a monstrous mass of vacuum tubes which took up entire rooms. Then the two Steves managed to take that mass of tubes and incorporate them inside a box small enough to sit on a desk.
Jobs and Wozniak offered their invention to Atari and Atari rejected them. They offered it to Hewlett-Packard, but Hewlett-Packard knocked them back. It seemed like no one could see the potential. So Jobs sold his Volkswagon and Wozniak sold his calculator, and with the $1300 that gave them they formed Apple Computers. The company was named “Apple” because Jobs enjoyed working in an apple orchard one summer.
The rest is history. By all accounts Steve Jobs is a visionary, and spurred on by that vision he built a successful computer company. But Jobs soon discovered that if his vision was to reach fruition they needed greater management expertise. So Jobs approached John Sculley, then President of PepsiCo. There was absolutely no reason why Sculley should leave a highly paid position in a world-leading company to go work with a bunch of computer nerds in a fledgling industry. Not surprisingly, he turned Jobs down. But Jobs wouldn’t take no for an answer. He approached Sculley again. Again Sculley turned him down. In a last ditch effort, Jobs passionately presented his visionary ideas to Sculley asking a question that forced him to accept. The question was this: “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?” Sculley took the offer and they did change the world.
Jesus comes to us with the same question: “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?” Do you want to spend the rest of your life making a living or do you want to change the world? Jesus invites believers to change the world by making His priorities our priorities.
(Source: information on Jobs and Sculley from “silicon_valley_story” and “ideafinder” websites. (https://storiesforpreaching.com/category/sermonillustrations/vision/, accessed 3/29/17)
This year Freshwater has a bold new vision to raise the spiritual climate of our community. It’s not going to be easy, but it is worth investing your time, talents, and finances to help achieve it. This is what raising the spiritual climate looks like:
1. Lower the divorce rate by 5% in five years.
2. Lower personal debt by 50% in five years.
3. Positively impact and assist over 300 people struggling with substance abuse and mental health challenges.
4. See 1,000 people make the decision to follow Christ in the next five years.
5. See 80% of Freshwater people connected with others in a group.
6. Plant five new churches in five years.
7. Celebrate with over 2,000 people at all of our worship services in five years.
8. Build and move into a new facility within five years that meets our needs and leverages our existing facilities.
Nearly six months after launching our new vision, I can say that we are seeing the effects of our efforts to turn up the heat.
We have a two-fold strategic approach that is helping us achieve our goals. The first approach is organic. By being transparent from the pulpit, in printed materials, and on social media in matters relating to the goals we are communicating, it tells our community that it’s OK to talk about these matters and ultimately work on them. The more we talk about them, the safer people feel about addressing them. The second approach is through organizational efforts. This involves creating systems, structures, and process that move us closer to achieving the goals. It also involves resourcing ministry programs that are part of the vision.
This is what has been done so far:
1. Because we want to lower the divorce rate by 5% in five years, we have created a marriage mentoring ministry. We have currently trained seven couples to mentor struggling couples and it’s working. Our mentor couples have already starting working with about 15 couples to encourage, listen, and provide guidance. We are making a difference in marriages.
2. Because we want to lower personal debt by 50% in five years we have encouraged several groups to focus on doing a financial group study. We are also helping people through our Love in Action ministry. This ministry provides financial support, small interest-free loans, and financial counseling.
3. Because we want to impact over 300 people struggling with mental health issues and substance abuse, we have started a Celebrate Recovery group on Thursday nights at 7pm at the St. Boni campus. This group helps people overcome hurts, bad habits, and hang-ups. If you or someone you know needs this group, you are invited to come. We are also scheduling several learning talks with professional counselors to help our staff and key volunteer staff assist people struggling with mental illness.
4. Because we want to see 1,000 people make first time decisions to follow Christ we have been more intentional about presenting the Gospel. Since January, we know of 14 people that have given their lives to Christ through the ministry of Freshwater. We are praying that 50 more people come to faith in Christ this Easter.
5. Because we want to see 80% of Freshwater people connected with others in a group, we are constantly equipping more group leaders. We currently have 36 groups where people meet for accountability and spiritual growth. Relationships are being developed and strengthened.
6. Because we want to plant five new churches in five years, we are actively recruiting church planters. We have identified a location for a new church in Minneapolis, and are praying for the right person to step up and launch it.
Part of this goal involves equipping more church leaders. Our next Pastoral Leadership Institute cohort starts on the 24th of this month. We have people from our church and around the state coming to get equipped to be better leaders in their churches and future churches.
7. Because we want to celebrate with over 2,000 people at all of our worship services in five years, we are focused on reaching people for Christ and making disciples. Since January we have seen 108 new guests attend services.
8. Because our church is growing, we have formed a task force that is actively looking for land to build a new facility. We anticipate launching a capitol campaign this fall to lower our current debt and raise funds for the new facility.
Recently I came across this quote: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” At Freshwater, we know where we are going, we have a roadmap, and are well on our way to getting there. As a co-laborer in Christ, I am asking you to help raise the spiritual climate of the community thus helping to change the world.
Do you want to spend the rest of your life “selling sugar water or do you want to change the world?” Let’s change the world starting with our community.
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