How does a straw work? The mouth creates a vacuum on one end which pulls liquid out of the cup into and up the straw. Without the vacuum there is no movement.
All living things move: if your body stops moving completely you're probably dead. Many churches have already died and are in the long slow process of decay because they have ceased to move. They have ceased to flow and have become stagnant, being centered on themselves without any outward movement.
I believe life has left them because they are no longer driven by God's vision. God's vision is to "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them... and teaching them to obey (Matt 28:19)." It is this vision that, like in the straw analogy, creates a vacuum, drawing God's people into further spiritual maturity and energizing them to bring new people into God's family. When we embrace God's vision for his people we flow and truly live.
Our congregation, Light of Christ Church, has embraced God's vision in slightly different wording. Our vision is, "Central Texas the world filled with the family of Christ." This vision can remain simply words or it can truly become our vision... But, if it does become our vision, it will cause us to sacrifice.
Stop. Close your eyes and envision this for a moment. Imagine Central Texas filled with the family of Christ. Imagine Light of Christ growing in number and health in Georgetown, people coming to faith and the faithful growing in maturity. Imagine another part of the family meeting in Round Rock, in San Marcos, in Leander, maybe even further? Imagine us supporting a church starting in another country in another part of the world!
This won't happen without financial sacrifice. This won't happen without us also being willing to give up some of our best and brightest leaders to step out in faith to start churches. Won't this hurt us? Won't this set us back? Initially yes. But this sacrifice will create a vacuum and that vacuum will cause movement. Believers will grow in maturity filling the spaces of the leaders who were sent out. Those new leaders will be used by God to bring new people into God's kingdom. We will be moving. We will be truly alive.
Now all this isn't going to happen tomorrow. We are still a baby church. Just like it's not healthy or advisable for a young teenager to have a child, we are in no place to be birthing another church right now; we have a lot of growing and maturing to do. But we can start the process of learning how to be a mother. We can come along side other mothers, learn how to hold and burp babies, change diapers, and give baths, so that when the time is right, we are prepared.
So even now it is important for us to be involved in the growing of Christ's family throughout the world. It is important for us to embrace God's vision. It is important for us now as a church to learn how to sacrifice, to create vacuum and movement toward God's vision. We can do this by assisting other church plants in the 35for35 network. And we can begin even now to save money for the day when we will be mature enough to plant a church and begin to see Central Texas and the world filled with the family of Christ.
Father Kurt Hein