Over a few blogs I am going to flesh out the vision for Ascent. I want to get as specific as possible so that you can have a right view of the church you are a part of or are considering being a part of. My prayer is that you would gain clarity. If you have any questions, please reach out to me and I will do my best to give an answer that helps.
The goal of this series is not to stifle your ideas, but rather to give you the proper boundaries for those ideas. Think of this as the direction of Ascent church, not a totally comprehensive plan. For us to be successful we have to be moving in unison in the same direction or we will go nowhere. If you are moving east and I’m going west it will not end well for us.
To begin this series I want to begin with a general overview by looking at our vision frame. The vision frame idea comes from Will Mancini. The overall goal of the vision frame is to give all involved clarity on our direction. The vision frame, and this series consequently, seeks to answer these questions:
This will all begin to make more sense as we journey together through this series. For this post, I want to introduce you to the vision frame and provide a brief description for each element. In the future we will look at each element in more specific detail.
Ascent Church Vision Frame
For a larger image of the vision frame, click here.
Our Why (Measures)
We’ll start here because our “why” is the catalyst for the rest of the vision frame. It’s important to note that the vision frame works together to form one vision. All of the parts are equally important.
Our why stems from the four things we believe God wants for every person.
1. Know God - We believe that God desires everyone to know him in a personal way. According to Barna research, 70% of Americans claim to be Christ followers, but only 7% say they have a weekly conversation with God. Of those who regularly attend church a mere 13% of the 1,000 surveyed claimed to have a conversation with God in the previous week. God doesn’t just want us to know things about Him, He desire that we know Him as the living person He is.
2. Make a Difference - God has called all of those who are His to be difference makers. Not in the way the world defines it, but in the way He does. We are to be disciples who are making disciple makers. This is often seen as a job just for pastors and missionaries, but we are all called to be eternal difference makers.
3. Discover Purpose - So many people are wandering around this life looking for purpose. They spend countless dollars during mid life crisis. They travel the world and change jobs yearly in the pursuit of passion. Tragically, some leave their families or take their own lives due to the emptiness they experience in this pursuit. Jesus paves the way to true purpose. He shows us that purpose is not found in what we can gain, but rather in what we can give.
4. Find Freedom - The good news found in Jesus is amazing. Through faith and by grace we can experience freedom from the penalty of our past sins and in the age to come we will experience freedom from the very presence of sin and suffering. This is amazing news! However, we often forget this: the gospel is not only powerful in the past and future, it is alive and active in the present. We believe God wants you to find freedom from addiction, sin, pain, and strongholds now.
These are the four things we believe God wants for everyone and it the reason why we are planting Ascent. If you want to know whether or not Ascent is successful, ask if we are seeing God help people experience these four things.
Our How (Strategy)
As I said above, the vision frame works together to accomplish one vision. Our strategy directly correlates with our measures. Instead of trying to do everything with our ministries, each will have one primary focus that exist to lead people through each of our four measures.
Our strategy can be summed up as the 4 G’s. To facilitate our mission we gather, go, give, and grow. There is so much to be said about our strategy, but for the sake of brevity I will save it for a future post.
Our What (Mission)
After looking at our why and how as outlined above, it is then important to zoom out and consider what we are doing. What is the mission of Ascent?
We are everyday people re/presenting Jesus in our everyday life.
I want to briefly look at our mission in three parts:
1. We are everyday people - It is important to realize that for this vision to work, we all must look at ourselves as vital to the mission. This is not a vision that the pastor or “super Christians” can complete while the rest of us simply watch. No, we are all called to be difference makers. Regardless of your skill set, knowledge, or spiritual maturity you have been equipped and called to live out this vision.
2. Re/presenting Jesus - The slash is to distinguish two words with the same spelling. Both words define our mission as a community. First, we exist to REpresent Jesus. This doesn't mean we are making a new Jesus, rather we are attempting to show those around us who the real Jesus is. We do this not by telling them alone, but also by REPresenting the love of Jesus to them by the way we love them. We proclaim and demonstrate the gospel.
3. In our everyday life. - As you will notice, we are really simple in our strategy. We do this on purpose. We could provide you with 100 programs and you would spend a lot of time with other Christ followers. Our vision is that instead of adding new things to your schedule, you would begin to see those things you are already doing as mission opportunities.
Our Who (Values)
Who are the people that will fit in our community and what are the values we will strive to live out? Only three. If we are to accomplish this vision it will be essential that we not only exhibit these values as a corporate body, but also as individuals.
There will be future post about each of these values, so I will leave it here. But, they are pretty self explanatory. As you begin to understand the rest of the vision frame I pray that you see how these values are critically connected to the vision of Ascent.
Our Where (Vision Proper)
We cannot see the future, but we can predict parts of the future with a high degree of certainty. For instance, if you head towards California there is very high possibility that you will not end up in New York. This is called the principle of path and it plays out in our personal lives as well. You have probably seen this in your own life or in the lives others. You know that if you save now, you’ll probably have more money later. If you eat unhealthy now, you will probably be unhealthy later. Hopefully you get the point. When it comes to Ascent we can also predict our future with a certain degree of certainty if we begin to live out our vision.
Our future hopes and vision can be summed up by our 5 legacy lanes. Again, I will outline these more clearly in future post.
There you have it. A brief explanation over the vision of Ascent. Please let me know your thoughts and what excites you most about this vision! I look forward to exploring each of these elements in greater detail throughout this series!