September 2018 is a momentous month in the life of our church! We now begin the new vision God has given us, Journey Vision. September 9 is our Journey Launch date!
But wait, how do we know Journey Vision is from God? There have been a number of indications over the past several years, but I will highlight the one area of Elder Board support. As a reminder, the elders are men God has raised up to provide spiritual leadership for our church, men whom the membership has affirmed through formal voting at business meetings. As different men come on to the Elder Board and others rotate off, the Board changes composition, often from year to year. Despite such changes over these past several years, the Elder Board has consistently demonstrated complete unanimous support for Journey Vision. That, I believe, is clear indication of God’s hand upon Journey Vision.
And why even have a new vision? What’s the point? The purpose of Journey Vision is to help us do better at what God has called us to do. Through His Son, the Lord Jesus, God has called us to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). This has been our mission, is our mission, and will continue to be our mission. We put it into these words: Forming followers of Jesus who impact their world.
Journey Vision will reenergize us in this mission, helping us refocus and refreshing our dedication to Christ’s marching orders for us.
And why do we call it “Journey”? That word reflects well what we read in Mark 1:17, “And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’” Jesus invites us on a journey with Him, to follow Him, and to bring others along … to be “fishers of men.” We are on a journey with Jesus and we want to invite others to join the journey!
Interestingly, there is very good support in the Bible for our use of the word “journey” as the name of our vision, and as the name of our church. In the New Testament book of Acts, believers in Jesus were referred to as people of “the Way.” The first time you find “the Way” is in Acts 9:2, which says, “[Paul] asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.” Notice the phrase, “belonging to the Way.” (You can read more about “the Way” in Acts 19:9, 23; 24:14, 22.)
The Greek word translated “Way” is hodos. When you look up hodos in a Greek lexicon (a comprehensive dictionary), you find that it can be translated “journey”! Like our brothers and sisters in Christ during the first century, we belong to “the Way,” we are on the same Journey they were!
Starting September 9, we will begin using our new name, Journey Church. God willing, on that date our two outside signs, the electronic one and the one on the stone wall, will say “Journey Church.” As passersby see our name change, and as word spreads, you may have people asking you about our new name. I would expect they will ask you, “Why did you change your name?” That will be a great open door, a ripe opportunity to speak to others about Jesus!
Here’s what you might say in response: “Why? Because we are on a journey with Jesus and we would love for you to join the journey! Our new name reminds us what we are all about.” And what if they answer, “On a journey with Jesus … what does that mean?”? Well, now the door of opportunity is open even wider!! You could answer, “The Bible tells us that real life, life as the Creator intended for us, can only be experienced in relationship with the Lord Jesus, walking with Him 24/7/365. And that’s the journey we are on!”
Depending on the circumstances, that may be all you can really say in the moment; or, your friend may want to know more. If so, you can explain how our sin separates us from God, how Jesus died for our sins and came back to life so we could be forgiven, and how God gives this real life, eternal life, as a free gift to anyone who trusts in Jesus.
We never know what God might do with the simple answer, “We are on a journey with Jesus and would love for you to come along!” But, we will need to be ready with an answer. The question, “Why ‘Journey Church’?” may come when we least expect it. Let’s be ready to give a clear answer and then also be ready to go on from there to tell others about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and why we have hope through Him.
Journey? You bet!!