September 9 marks the first anniversary of our new vision, Journey Vision. How has the first year gone? What have we seen God do? And, as we look forward from here, what do we hope God will do in the future?
Before probing those questions, I want to mention a couple of things. First, we will celebrate year one of Journey on Sunday, September 8. There will be delicious homemade cupcakes available in the lobby before Life Groups and children’s Sunday School begin at 9:00. Come to the lobby, get a cupcake and a cup of coffee, and then go celebrate with members of your Life Group! Also on September 8 I will preach a message related to our Journey Vision.
Second, what is “Journey Vision” and why have we embarked upon it? There is benefit in remembering the “what” and the “why.” We’ll start with the “why.”
Why have we launched forward into the Journey Vision? I can answer that in one way by saying, “Because God led us to do so.” Sometimes that can be a trite way of sidestepping the why question, a way of “sanctifying” a decision. In this instance, however, it is absolutely true. Through various means, most especially the 100% endorsement of elders past and present, the Lord gave clear indication that Journey Vision was His desire for us.
I can also answer “why Journey Vision?” in another way: the purpose of Journey Vision is to more effectively and more intentionally do what God has called us to do. We want to do what we do better—we want to fulfill our God-given mission really well. Our mission is what Jesus told us to do: make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). We capture that mission in this phrase: “forming followers of Jesus who impact their world.” Journey Vision helps us do that better.
What, then, is Journey Vision? It is the way we are working to form followers of Jesus through worship, outreach, caring, and equipping. Each one of these four avenues is a journey. Worship Journey is an intentional journey through the gospel each Sunday as we gather to worship. Outreach Journey is our journey into the community with the saving news of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Caring Journey is the way we care for one another in the Body of Christ as we journey together with Jesus. And Equipping Journey is how we help one another to take the next step in the journey with Christ. Journey Vision is journeying with Jesus and inviting others to join the journey through worship, outreach, caring, and equipping.
How has it gone in year one? What have we seen God do?
- Worship Journey: We began our new gospel-centered worship liturgy on September 9, 2018. The church family has embraced our new approach well and we have grown as those who worship God in spirit and in truth (see John 4:23-24). A wonderful discovery this past year is that we now spend an increased amount of time during our worship services in the Scriptures and in prayer.
- Outreach Journey: Individually, a number of our folks have had opportunity to talk about Jesus to others in our community. The change of our name from Evangelical Free Church to Journey Church has opened the door for many of those conversations. Corporately, we have spread the gospel through initiatives out in our community as well as through outreach ministries on our campus. And we have seen people put their faith in Christ!
- Caring Journey: One of the key means for caring in Journey Church is our Life Groups. I hope that everyone who considers Journey Church their church will be in a Life Group. That is our goal. In this first year our groups have been strengthened in the caring aspect of Life Groups by the leading of our Life Group directors. The Dueys and the Traverses have worked intentionally with our Life Group leaders to help us serve our groups better in general and to be stronger in the area of care more specifically. In addition to Life Groups, care has been extended this past year through our deaconesses, our visitation team, our Love In Action ministry, and through individuals responding to needs they see.
- Equipping Journey: We have had a number of equipping opportunities over the past year, including the ongoing ministry of Bible Exposition Training, training for special events (e.g. Mega Sports Camp, the Hightower Outreach, etc.), and equipping in personal evangelism.
We can look back with gratitude to God and with praise to Him for what He has done!
And what about looking forward? What does the future hold for Journey Church and our Journey Vision? Well, in truth, only God knows that. In fact, God has shown me a verse in the Old Testament which has been helpful and encouraging. It is part of a prayer by King Jehoshaphat when he was facing a very challenging situation: “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chronicles 20:12). Latching on to this verse does not mean we sit idle, twiddling our thumbs and saying, “Well, God. What are you going to do?” Rather, it means that we trust in the Lord with all our hearts as we take steps forward. It means we cannot control the future nor can we predict the future; however, we look in prayer to the Sovereign King of the universe, our Heavenly Father, and ask Him to work His will in us and through us. He may choose to work powerfully through things we initiate; He may choose to do something completely unforeseen on our part. We don’t know but we want to fix our eyes of faith upon the Lord while we faithfully serve Him.
If God wills, here are some things we hope He will bring about as we take steps forward in the Journey Vision. In Worship Journey we are working to have more individuals lead during worship services and to incorporate more creativity in the eight steps of our journey of worship. In Outreach Journey, we are planning another evangelistic event at Hightower Place. Also, the Outreach Team continues to brainstorm and plan other initiatives. In Caring Journey, we are excited about the expansion of our Life Group ministry to now include home groups. In the Equipping Journey we are working toward the completion of our first cycle of Bible Exposition Training and we are planning a new leadership equipping initiative for all the men of the church, high school age and up, called “Gear Up!”
We are excited about Journey Vision—how God led us into this vision, what He has done in year one, and what, by His grace, He will yet do. Pray for God to work and jump into the journey wholeheartedly! To God be all the glory!