Today, we will continue our blog series over the vision of Ascent church. Specifically, we are going to look at the second of our three values; along with the values implications in regards to the rest of the vision. If you haven’t already be sure to read the previous post in this series before moving forward.
You can view other post in this series by clicking here.
The above picture is our "vision frame" for more on this check out the first post in this series. If you'd like to view a larger picture of the frame you can do so by clicking here.
Last week, we looked at our first value. As the vision frame above shows our values are who we are. It is the very character of the community. If we want to see the rest of our vision frame become a reality it is vital that we be the type of people who can accomplish the vision. We must embrace these values not just as a community, but also as individuals. As a way of reminder here are the three values of Ascent:
We keep it simple.
In most organizations, and in churches especially, there is an accidental drift away from the mission over time. In the beginning you have to be focused on the mission or you won’t survive. As church that means we will have to be people living on mission striving to reach the unreachable, because if we don’t we will not survive. This is a fun and exciting challenge. We all know that we must use our limited resources and time for the mission set before us. We don’t have margin for anything, but the vision. We are saying no to almost everything so that we can say yes to the things that really matter.
Every church started this way, but over time it is easy to grow comfortable. Soon, we won’t be worried about survival and without the urgency we can easily become inwardly focused. We begin to think less about reaching new people and begin focusing more on what we need.
None of these are inherently bad things, but they aren’t our things. By that I mean we have been called to a specific mission and these things are not going to move us closer to seeing our vision accomplished. These are just some examples of many good things that aren’t our thing.
We are an equipping center
Bottom line, the church doesn’t exist to be country club with all the programs you want to serve your family. We are a family of servant missionaries leveraging our lives for the gospel. The job of the organized church (staff, pastors, deacons, facility, budget, etc) is to equip you for the mission not do the mission for you.
Consider the Apostle Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:
"11 And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 equipping the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness." -Ephesians 4:11-13 (CSB)
I believe the leadership of a local church does a terrible disservice to the body when they allow them to think of the church as an organization designed to serve them and do the mission for them. The idea that believers are supposed to just give money and show up to gatherings is tragic. Quite frankly, it is why Christianity is so boring to many people. You were called to be a difference maker! My job as the pastor of Ascent is to help you see that the church isn’t an organization, it is a people.
You have been given gifts, resources, passions, among other things that are to be used to make disciples in your own life. Please don’t submit to the idea that all you are good for is giving money and greeting people at the door, while people on the stage do the real work. You should give and greet people at our gatherings if you have the gift of hospitality. But, God wants to do a lot more than that in and through you.
The weekly gatherings and leadership of Ascent will exist to equip you for the mission God has called you to. This is going to be so exciting for you when you begin to live in this reality. However, it will probably be frustrating often because we have been so thoroughly trained that it is the “church's” job to make our passions become a reality. Here is how I imagine some our conversations will go as we become established with more resources.
You: “Pastor, could we host a women’s event at our church?”
Me: “How about instead you come up with a plan to host this at your home and we will help fund the project. That way you can invite your non-christian friends into an environment that doesn’t scare them.”
You: “Pastor, could we start a midweek bible study for believers to go deeper in the word?”
Me: “How about you contact the local coffee shop and plan a theology night. You could come up with topics you are interested in and then start an open conversations. We will be able to buy free coffee for our non believing friends and grow deeper in our knowledge of the word at the same time.”
I hope you are beginning to get the point. By keeping the “church” side of Ascent simple, we will be able to free our people - the actual church - to live on mission. If the Holy Spirit is laying something on your heart it is probably because He wants you to take leadership.
The Simplicity of Ascent
Our mission is simple we want to help people know God, make a difference, discover purpose, and find freedom. We will focus our resources, leadership, time and effort on just one program for each of these goals.
Know God: We will have excellent weekend services designed to lead people into a relationship with God through Jesus.
Make a Difference: We will put people in missional communities so that they can live out their God given dreams with support and equipping from the church.
Discover Purpose: We will help people discover and grow in their gifts while giving them opportunities to serve in the weekly gathering.
Find Freedom: We will foster authentic, honest, Christ centered relationships by equipping our DNA groups.
Okay but what about kids? I’m glad you asked. Our goal for kids is the same as it is for adults.
Know God: We will provide excellent children’s ministry during our weekly gatherings designed to lead them to knowledge of God and send home resources for parents to disciple their kids throughout the week.
Make a Difference: Our kids will be a part of their parent’s missional community. They will serve alongside mom and dad. They will learn the value of mission by watching and participating alongside their parents.
Discover Purpose: We will help kids discover and grow in their God given gifts as we see them.
Find Freedom: Because they will be apart of their parents MC, they will get to know the other adults in the group. They will over time come to trust these adults and be able to seek honest help and relationship with other Christ centered adults. Mom and Dad will also be equipped to answer the hard questions kids ask.
Our strategy is simple. Why? Because we can’t do everything, but we can do our thing. By keeping our whole body simple we will be able to free our missional communities up to do more things better than any program of a church could ever accomplish.
The best part is you will actually be making a difference without relying on anyone except the Holy Spirit and each other.
It's better to do a few things well rather than 50 things below average. That is true for us as a community and as individuals. We would be smart to say no more often so that we can say yes to those things that really matter.
Thank you for taking time to read this and the rest of our vision series. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below or by emailing me at email@example.com!