September 9 marks the second anniversary of our new vision, Journey Vision. How has the second 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 answer, 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 did we launch 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 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 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 two? We cannot answer that question without factoring in COVID-19 … which hit Clinton right at the mid-point of year two. The coronavirus has had a dramatic impact on life globally, and on life and ministry at Journey Church. So, I will reflect on both the goals we had for year two and the way the virus altered our approach to “doing church.”
- Worship Journey: We ended 2019 by forming a volunteer team to lead the worship ministry as our Director of Worship left Journey on December 31 to take his new ministry assignment. That team has done an outstanding job! THANK YOU, TEAM!! As this new approach beginning to gel, COVID-19 hit. Abruptly, we could not longer meet onsite. This limitation propelled us into the new world of providing worship opportunities via the internet. Our staff stepped up to the challenge in amazing ways! THANK YOU, STAFF! We now straddle to the two worlds of onsite worship and online worship, by providing both avenues. Moving forward we hope to be able to strengthen our online option.
- Outreach Journey: We ended 2019 with our outreach at the Lyons Christmas walk. What a great success that was! We used a paint-board to tell the gospel to passersby, and we gave out hot chocolate, candy canes, and gospel literature. There were a lot of very good conversations with community folk.
We began 2020 with the goal that each of us would invite an unchurched person to our Good Friday Passion Experience. This included intentional prayer, active inviting, and attending the Passion Experience with that friend. Unfortunately, the coronavirus scuttled that plan. However, an effective community outreach strategy was launched several months later by our Director of Children’s Ministry and her team: “Popsicles in the Park!” We took Vacation Bible School into the community, holding these special meetings in a downtown city park. God did wonderful things!
- Caring Journey: As we resumed our Life Groups for the 2019-2020 season, a number of home groups joined the onsite options we were already offering. It was great to see this expansion of this core ministry of Journey Church! COVID-19 threw a monkey wrench into the works. As we adjusted to the restricts of meeting in person, some of our groups began meeting online through Zoom and other such digital venues. Although certainly not as good as meeting in person, these “meetings” allowed us to remain connected.
With the onset of the coronavirus, our care teams (visitation team, deaconesses, pastors) resorted to phoning people. This provided encouragement and prayer ministry to folks one-on-one.
- Equipping Journey: A primary equipping goal for 2019-2020 was “Gear Up!”, a ministry to men which equipped them to lead where God has placed them. “Gear Up!” started out very strong and gained momentum … until COVID-19 hit! It brought the 2019-2020 season of “Gear Up!” to an end and its future is yet to be determined. However, as we stepped into the “new normal” of the coronavirus, our pastors launched 3 online equipping initiatives: daily livestreamed devotions in the Psalms with Pastor John, daily Favorite Verses with Pastor Tom, and weekly Q&A videos with Pastor Tom—opportunities for Journey folk to ask questions about life with the coronavirus and questions about our “Strengthening Your Core” sermon series about Journey Church doctrine. And, although not so much an equipping ministry, we also had Zoom prayer meetings twice each week.
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. The verse in the Old Testament God showed me over a year ago is just as relevant to us now: “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chronicles 20:12). With the many uncertainties surrounding the evolving COVID-19 situation, we trust in the Lord with all our hearts as we seek to remain faithful to Him and to the ministry of the Gospel. We cannot control the future nor can we predict the future; however, we look in faith to the Sovereign King of the universe, our Heavenly Father, and ask Him to work His will in us and through us, and take steps as He leads.
We are excited about Journey Vision—how God led us into this vision, what He has done in the past two years, 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!