Here is an article written to prepare and encourage our church family regarding the “Hands In” series which challenged them to consider what it means for us to be a team putting their “Hand In” together…
It always amazes me, yet, I realize that I should never be amazed by God’s hand at work, for it is clear that He has purposefully worked in and through us to establish and direct His will among us. Now, I realize that you have heard this story a number of times, but it is worth repeating to give context to what God has in store for us this summer.
Let me take you back to March of 2006. Don Ott (right), my associate and I, were on a return journey from Napa. I shared the burden and concern that God had put on my heart that we needed to glean a more complete understanding of where we were as a church. That conversation developed into 8 months of dialogue with Deacons, staff, groups in our church and individual interviews which we labeled as “Rediscovering CVFirst.” It was during this time that we determined the health, nature and mission of our church.
The fruit of those intense months produced an 18 week “Rediscovering CVFirst” series where we unfolded our new Mission/Vision: “We exist to know God, love God and live according to His will so that we can present everyone complete in Christ.” And during this series we drilled into our heads and hearts three words that described that mission: Learning, Loving and Living. This was an important and foundational step because we needed to know who we were, why we existed and what God was calling us to do.
Next, we spent 8 weeks in a church wide emphasis on evangelism and sought to develop our focus and abilities to become Contagious Christians. For many it was an opportunity to find common ground in the Gospel and a common language to express the often difficult ministry of sharing the Gospel. We developed testimonies, practiced sharing our faith and encouraged one another along the way.
Now, maybe you are getting the picture that we were not following an orchestrated plan out of some book, but were, at ever step, praying about our needs as a church and seeking to determine where God would have us go next. It became very clear that He wanted us to park for a few months (18 weeks) in Hebrews 10:19-12:17 and take notice that as a people of faith we needed to Keep our Eyes Fixed on Jesus Christ. Each character in the hall of faith was another example shouting at us that we could be a people of faith and that in every situation we could keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. That took us through 2007.
As we approached 2008, once again, through prayer, waiting on God and careful assessment of the needs of our church we embarked on a journey to emphasize our need as a church to be a team – to have our Hands In together for His glory. And, as we unfolded what this series would look like to our staff we began to talk about our burden for reaching Castro Valley.
Now, looking back, 20/20 visions kicks in and God’s purposes working in and through us begin to take focus. We can see that He is now asking us to…
1) Mobilize on our mission with a vision.
2) That the mobilization would be evangelistic in nature.
3) That the evangelistic mobilization would require a grounded faith in God, His purposes and plans, and a determination to keep our eyes fixed on Him.
4) That this mobilization would be a team effort. Not just something that the staff is doing, but a ministry that our whole church is embracing, praying over, preparing for and partnering in.
We are calling this evangelistic team mobilization “Mission CV”. If you are a part of our church then you are a part of the team. You have a place and a role to play. This is not a time to sit back and watch the others “do” ministry. It is an opportunity to learn, love and live for the glory of God. And for us to be effective as a team we have to agree on some basic things…
Team players need to embrace the right playbook.
The Bible – it is our standard, our guide and God’s revealed will for us every time and all the time.
Team players need to affirm the right purpose.
Based on the Bible we see our need to know Him, love Him and live according to His will so that we can present everyone complete in Christ.
Team players need to acknowledge the right positions.
For a team to be effective each player must understand the different roles necessary to play the game. God’s Word is clear as to the different positions, or gifts, in the church and to the effective utilization of every member of the Body to do the will of God.
Team players need to exercise the right practice.
Flabby team players are not usually effective, but those who apply themselves to the needed discipline of training can be ready and will be much more effective when it is time to play. Similarly, we are to be exercising ourselves toward godliness or pursuing growth toward Christ-likeness. It requires some hard work, but the payoff is great.
Team players need to rest on the right power.
Our source of strength needed in order to play the game is found in our obedience, prayer and the ministry of the Holy Spirit freely at work in and through our lives.
Team players need to nurture the right partnerships.
We can’t evangelize the whole world, but we can join together with others who are impacting various places around the world. In our case that means Russia, Africa, Indonesia, India, New Zealand, China, and Korea to name a few. It also means college campuses, city missions, local outreaches.
Team players need to pursue the right prize.
There is usually some kind of trophy, prize or bragging rights for a successful team. We, however, do not boast in ourselves and only rejoice that we have been faithful to please the Father by our faithfulness to His revealed will.
Now all of these things are important, but they assume something…that there will be a game to play in. Listen, a team doesn’t do all these things to not play in the game. Playing the game “is” the reason to meet, learn, and practice. It does us no good if our uniforms are nice, we know and understand our positions or that we have mastered the skills of kicking or hitting a ball with strength if we don’t have a game to play in.
The good news is that we do have a game, and although that game should take place everyday in our homes and neighborhoods, cubicles and lunchrooms, campuses and coffeehouses, we as a CVFirst team want to focus our efforts together this summer over the two months of July and August in an effort to reach out to Castro Valley.
This cannot be done by sitting in the stands or retreating to the comforts of your home. It can be done if we are truly burdened for our community, praying for God’s will to be accomplished and are willing to be used in any way He sees fit.
God is on the move and you are part of the team.
Will you be at practice? Will you follow the playbook? Will you be ready to play in the game? No signups are required! No cuts are allowed!
Let’s play…and for His Glory!