Casting the Vision
On February 1, Pastor John C. Majors cast the vision for Valley View in 2023.
WATCH VISION 2023 MESSAGE
VISION 2023 it’s the time of year where we pause and cast vision for where we believe God is taking Valley View in 2023. Last year we focused on being Hungry and Dependent. It was a powerful year of seeing that theme show up in so many areas of the church. We want to build on that momentum as we see Christ open doors for reaching our community this year.
Toward this end we start by focusing on our mission: Everything we do, from stacking a chair to standing on stage, everything is about proclaiming Christ in our community. Think about what Christ has done in your life; what He rescued you from, how He radically changed your purpose, meaning, and direction. My prayer is that everyone in sight of our church experiences that too. For everyone who drives by thinking “I wonder what goes on in there,” I want their lives radically changed too. We don’t come to church just for ourselves, though we do partly come for ourselves. We come to get equipped, we come to get built up, and to be honest, some weeks we come by faith, even when we don’t feel like it. But ultimately it’s so that we can pour our lives into others and watch Christ do miraculous things.
In our pursuit of seeing Christ move, there are challenges. The enemy wants to lull us to sleep and make us believe the little things don’t matter. He does this in at least two ways.
- He does this with sin. He deceives us into believing lies like, “That little sin… it’s not that big of a deal. Will anyone even know? Will it really set you back that far?”
- He also does this with successes. “Will it really matter if you show up today? Will anyone even miss you? There are so many people there, what does it matter?”
But you don’t know how God wants to use you today! In fact, in our first session of the pastor’s class this year I heard story after story of how God used seemingly little things to guide people to Valley View:
STORIES FROM THE PASTOR’S CLASS
- Two ladies shared their story of how God led them to Valley View. Both sat shocked at how God directed them on such similar journeys. Both also shared that they barely made it to church that morning. Both probably thought, “What does it matter? Will anyone really miss me?” And yet they needed one another! Both also came to Valley View because of the great experiences they had with the sports programs.
- Another person was there because someone in line at Walmart invited them.
- Another couple came because a neighbor invited them.
- Another said, “This is such a welcoming church.”
You did that. If you’ve been to a soccer game, talking with a ‘random’ person, you were part of that. If you helped clean up the field, you were a part of reaching the single mother, struggling to get by, needing hope, and finding just a glimmer of joy with her kids. If you’ve talked with your neighbor or showed kindness in the grocery line, you are a part of reaching families.
The point is, you never know what God has planned for you. You never know how He might use the seemingly little thing to touch another life.
HOW THE ANNUAL VISION EVENT STARTED AT VALLEY VIEW
Our practice of casting a fresh vision for the church each year goes back to 1997 when former pastor Kevin Hamm hosted a Thanksgiving eve banquet. That one event created so much excitement for me, even as a recent college grad. He shared two words that night: “Unity and Humility.” Those two words gave a special focus and emphasis for that year that still resonates today. There is so much power in being unified. Like in a marriage. Working together in the same direction, rather than fighting against one another. Or like two oxen. I’m not saying either person in a marriage is livestock; point being, together two oxen pull more than the sum of what each ox can pull alone.
Or consider some of the sports teams you’ve followed. When there’s infighting, everyone loses, but when there is unity and purpose of direction, the team accomplishes more than seems possible. The same is true of a church. When we’re aligned, pointing the same direction, God seems to do amazing things with that. Conversely, there is nothing sadder than a church full of infighting.
This is one of the reasons I’m grateful for Valley View. It is a church where people are more concerned about watching God move than about bickering. When you’re focused on a purpose, when you’re aligned on the mission, there’s no time for infighting. When a general asks the troops on the frontlines what they need, it’s ammunition, it’s tech, it’s weapons. They say things like, “Give us the tools and we’ll get the job done!” Yet back far from the lines the complaints focus on creature comforts like the quality of the linens and coffee temperature and paint color. Of course, we want to do things with excellence, we want to take what we do seriously. Yet we don’t ever want to lose perspective about what is most important. When that happens, churches turn inward, and that’s an awful place to be.
So let’s dive into our words for 2023: FREE AND FEARLESS:
First know they are in this order for a reason that you’ll see as we unpack them.
This first word has come to mind more often than just about any other over the last year. Galatians 5:1 says, “For Freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
So many are weighed down and overwhelmed with life. So many are in desperate need of freedom. When it comes to freedom, I have FOUR areas in mind: Freedom from slavery, shame, unforgiveness, and pride:
- Slavery to sin. We will never be completely free from all sin, but we should no longer be slaves to sin, where sin has complete control in our lives. Instead we want to be slaves to righteousness.
- Shame: There is a healthy guilt that comes as a result of sinful choices. But shame is when the enemy turns those mistakes into a lingering sense of unworthiness. This leads to the belief that God could never accept you because of what you’ve done. That is a lie. Be free.
- Unforgiveness: Few things are as damaging in your Christian life as unforgiveness. Harboring unforgiveness will destroy your soul and keep you in a dark and bitter place. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you have to approve of them or their actions. It means you’re moving on, no longer harboring anger and bitterness toward them, no longer controlled by someone else. You are set free. A Friend of mine recently shared about the freedom of forgiveness he experienced toward an ex-spouse after the passing of one of their adult children. God worked in both of their hearts to bring healing and forgiveness which allowed them both to better love their other children.
- Pride: Some say this was the original sin, Satan thinking he was better than God. The opposite of Pride is humility and it was modeled perfectly by Jesus in Philippians 2. Pride will destroy your soul. Be free.
John 8:32 says, “If the Son has set you free, you are free indeed.” My prayer is everyone at Valley View would experience new levels of freedom in Christ in the coming year.
Now, there’s a reason why I’ve presented the word “Free” before the word “Fearless.” They are in that order for a very specific reason. It’s because when you are first free from sin, you are then free to give, free to invest in others. And that’s a big part of what we mean by Fearless this year.
Philippians 1:14 is our theme verse for this word. It says, “having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, [they] are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”
When you are free (free from slavery to sin, from shame, from unforgiveness, from pride) then you can boldly proclaim the Word of truth without fear. If I am proclaiming the truth of the Gospel without fear, then the following will be true:
- I no longer have to fear what others might think of me.
- I need not fear dishonoring Christ.
- I won’t be afraid of being seen as a hypocrite.
- I won’t worry about what might happen to me physically, or with the loss of a job, because of taking a stand for the Gospel.
These are amazing truths for those walking in the freedom of Christ.
However it’s also helpful to reflect on what fearless is NOT:
- Fearless doesn’t mean foolish. We’re not reckless. We take risks, but they are risks for the sake of theGospel, not risk for risk’s sake.
- Fearless doesn’t mean we ignore fearing the right things. There is a healthy fear that should define our lives: the fear of the Lord. Proverbs 9:10 says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
Being fearless means we are driven by love, not fear. I John 4:18 says Perfect love casts out all fear.
How do we become free and fearless?
FIRST: Come to Him and find rest. In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus says to come to him and he will give you rest for your souls. Don’t try to figure it all out yourself. Come to Him.
SECOND: Galatians 5:1, our theme verse for the word “Free,” says to stand firm. Stand firm in the truth. Satan is the father of lies. He wants you to be crippled by lies, to believe lies, to live by lies.
But being Fearless comes from the truth. In fact, confession of sin is a form of truth telling (see I JOHN 1:9). Confessing is saying the truth to God about your sin.
We live in a world full of lies, but we must never accept those lies. We must fight for truth. Not just truth in our culture, but the truth of our own spiritual condition. John 8:32 says, knowing the truth is what will set you free.
FOUR ACTIONS THIS YEAR
All of this leads to four actions for us to pursue as a church this year. Four simple actions that will move us toward being Free and Fearless in 2023.
FIRST: Life Groups: The best predictor of spiritual growth and overall engagement in a church, over the long haul, is active involvement in a small group. Those in small groups are more likely to be reading the Bible on their own, giving regularly, serving, and telling others about their faith.
I believe Life Groups will grow this year. That’s why renovating the Fellowship Hall is so important and strategic. For Valley View to grow in breadth and depth, we need more Life Groups. That’s why we’re investing in the space where groups gather and also investing in leaders with quarterly trainings.
Right now only about half of the Sunday morning crowd attends Life Groups. So many are missing out on what God can do in their lives. So our action is to simply invite someone. If every Life Group attender personally saw one person join a Group this year… that would double those groups! Which would be a really good problem. You don’t have to go far to find someone to invite. Start by asking those that attend Sunday morning but have not yet tried out a group.
SECOND: “In-Reach.” I’ve had so many conversations with people lately, multiple times a week, who say, “I haven’t been in church the last two years and I know it’s time to get back.” Let’s help them reconnect by proactively reaching out to those who have been in Valley View before Covid (thus “In-Reach”). Call someone and check in on them. You don’t have to start with a hard sell for church, just say, “I haven’t seen you in a while and wondering how you’re doing.” Pray specifically for God to put someone on your mind this month that you can take the initiative to invite back to church.
THIRD: Prayer: Most every major move of the Spirit has been marked by a commitment to prayer. We are hungry to see God move in powerful ways at Valley View, and we’re seeking to continue to grow in our commitment to prayer. Here are some of our current prayer efforts:
- For this year, we’ve added a prayer time at the beginning of the Sunday morning service.
- We also have a group who meet to pray in the conference room in 15-minute blocks during the service (See Pam Majors to sign up).
- There is a monthly Saturday morning Women’s prayer meeting.
- The Elders meet to pray before each service.
- I have a group of dedicated prayer warriors that help me cover the needs of the church in prayer, called “The Pastor’s Prayer Partners.”
- I know other prayer groups meet on their own.
Pray that God would direct you to join in one prayer effort this year.
FOURTH: Read the book Living Fearless. This book is all about how to follow Christ with a clear sense of your Identity in Him. It was written by a former police officer who started to incorporate prayer into his police work. God began to work in his community in powerful ways. Now he travels all over the world teaching others about the power of having a clear Identity in Christ. Take time to read through this book at some point over this coming year to help us grow as a church in our understanding of who we are in Christ.
Free and Fearless in 2023
If you’re reading this, you are likely the core of this church. You help make up the essence of Valley View. Everything rises and falls on our core members. Your role here desperately matters. What you do matters. Even the seemingly little things. If you are faithful, free, and fearless, God will use you to change lives in 2023!`
Where do you want to experience freedom in your life in 2023?
What way do you hope to see God move in miraculous ways in our community in 2023?
MARCH MEMORY VERSE
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:18-19
Jamie Winship spent nearly 30 years living and working in conflict zones, and during that time he has learned an important truth: all human conflict originates from fear, and fear originates from a false view of God, ourselves, and others. Until we exchange what’s false for what’s real, we will never experience being fully alive, fully human, and fully free.
Purchase the book at christianbook.com or wherever Christian books are sold.
Monthly Verse Memorization
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
JANUARY Galatians 5:1
FEBRUARY Philippians 1:14
MARCH 1 John 4:18-19
Read Through The Bible with Us
Join us as we read through the Bible together in 2023! This year we will be reading through the New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs. Print out a copy of the reading schedule or sign up for the digital YouVersion plan.