Vicar Report - Annual Meeting 21st April 2013 - Dave Walker

To hear a recording of Dave's report click here

The book Dave mentions is "The Dangerous Duty of Delight" by John Piper. We still have a few copies in church, and it is also available at Cornerstone. 

 

So it’s the vicar’s report, which is a chance for me to talk about big things like our vision and our direction. Well let’s begin with a reminder. What are we here to do? Anyone remember this?

To know and show Jesus. That’s our purpose statement. And we do that in these three areas:

Knowing his truth, showing his love, sharing his good news.

Right, well do you also remember this?

Jesus is everything that God has promised.

That is perhaps the big line to learn from our Bible overview (sermon 8 in the overview series). Well from that comes this conviction:

Jesus is everything we need.

If Jesus is everything that God has promised then he is also everything that we need, because God doesn’t sell us short. He’s given us everything we need in Jesus. In a nutshell, the Christian life is a journey of discovery where the thing we discover is this: Jesus is everything we need. And from that comes this conviction:

Jesus is everything we do.

That’s a bit more grammatically awkward, but you get the idea. If God’s plans are all about Jesus and he is everything we need then everything we do is all about him. Jesus is the one at the centre of God’s plans, he’s the one who does the work that God wants to do in the world. That was true when he was here on earth, that’s true now by his Holy Spirit. Jesus does it. So we make sure that everything we do is about him, and done in his way. We use the tools he’s given us and we rest on his power. It’s word and spirit – we proclaim Jesus, and we pray that God would work through that by his Spirit. Simples, as they say.

We know and show Jesus. That’s what we’re here for. But because Jesus is the one doing the work, there’s a direction to this. We know Jesus so we show Jesus. Knowing Jesus leads to showing Jesus. If we don’t know him we don’t show him. Or to put it another way: We know his truth so we show his love and share his good news. Knowing Jesus, knowing his truth as his Spirit applies it to our hearts – that’s the fuel for the other two things.

So now, as we look ahead, we need to make sure that he’s our focus and that we are depending utterly on him. So when I talk about vision and when we talk about vision, it’s not ‘if we do this we’ll grow’. A “to do” list. It’s ‘Jesus is building his church. We need to know him and show him.’ Everything we do needs to work towards knowing and showing Jesus.

The stuff we’ve had so far – building report, finances, different ministry areas – none of those things are ends in themselves are they? They are part of the picture of where we are at the moment. They’re things to give thanks for, and to pray about. Praise God – he’s blessed us, hasn’t he? But they’re not the biggest part of the picture. The main thing is people knowing and showing Jesus more.

Where are we?

Real encouragements. Lots happening, people growing. I’ve tried to talk a bit about that in the vicar’s report in the handout. We’ve heard other things already. By God’s grace in the last year we’ve had people come to faith in Jesus, we’ve seen people growing in their faith, we’ve seen people enduring through tough times, we’ve been getting to know each other as a congregation and we’ve shown Christ like love to each other and to people outside the congregation in concrete tangible ways. We’ve been able to share the good news of Jesus with many people. All that is thanks to God, working by his Spirit with Jesus at the centre of all he does. So we say “thank you” don’t we? Thank you Lord.

Archdeacon’s report: Active church. More people to engage in service, clear purpose which people get, connect with the community outside.

Looking ahead:

What is the next step for us / for you?

Discipleship is a path. It’s about following Jesus. So what is the next step on that path for us, and therefore for you?

Knowing his truth

Remember, this is about knowing God better through his word in the power of his Spirit. It’s about

  • Read the book (Violet testimony)
  • Join a small group (speak the truth in love)
  • Establish housegroups more
  • Establish pathfinders

Showing his love

Real encouragements here – friendliness of church, easier to join, lunches

Need to establish the lunches.

Commit to the congregation. To Jesus and to his people.

Service – just read the reports! There are opportunities everywhere and it’s easy to join up.

People still get lost and don’t get picked up. I try with this but…

Sharing his good news

  • Good opportunities around us – need to take them.
  • Passion for life & training
  • Be confident in God in this! God gives us opportunities. Remember this is his work that we’re joining in with, not our work that we have to battle away at alone. As we pray for opportunities and God goes about his work, doors open for us. We need to ask God for courage to walk through those doors.
  • Nothing builds faith & fellowship like reaching out together.

Why the building needs doing

  • It’s a next step – not on its own, but part of the process.
  • Doing it creates and opportunity for growth. Giving & serving. Obvious action on the building as a talking point.
  • The completed work creates an opportunity for growth. It opens up the possibility of spending on other things. Staffing?

Not easy ahead. It’s not. It’s tiring and expensive. Giving time and energy to serve is hard. You get tired. There are times when you get discouraged. Giving money to accomplish something big is hard – there’s always something else you’d rather spend it on. That’s why I like this image that we’ve been using for the meeting today. It’s the way of the cross, isn’t it? “If anyone would come after me he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” That’s what Jesus tells us knowing and showing him will be like in this world. Cross shaped. The way before us as Christians is cross shaped. It’s going to be hard.

These challenges I’ve put before us, if we actually take them to heart and do them, they will be uncomfortable. It’s not the line of least resistance. It’s not the easy way out. It will mean each of us reshaping our priorities, and sticking our neck out. That’s at very least what it means to follow the way of the cross.

And we can’t guarantee results, can we? It’s not like a CEO saying “we have grown 3% this year so we can predict growth at 4% over the next year blah blah blah.” We can’t predict anything. God knows the future. I don’t and neither do you. But God does. And he’s told us what to do, hasn’t he? He’s told us to hear his word and believe. He’s told us to love one another and take his message out into the world. He’s told us that there will be suffering, but that there will also be glory coming later. He’s told us to know and show Jesus.

And as we do that our every drop of confidence is in God. We do what he tells us to, praying that he will make it happen. The power rests on him. That’s the massively exciting thing about it, really. Stepping out in faith in God is the way to see God at work. And that’s also why prayer is at the heart of it. If we think we can do it, we won’t pray. That’s what we’re like, we’re self-centred, self-reliant by nature. We’ll think that prayer is a waste of time and we’ll just get on with it.  We’ll only pray if we’re convinced that only God can do it. If we know that we can’t do it alone. If we know that actually it’s his work. Then we’ll pray.

So please, as a crucial first step, pray. Take the report and read the different bits and pray. You’ll find it really helpful, and more importantly we’ll engage with God’s power as we face the future together.