The following video was captured at the vision meeting on May 5th, 2019. The goal of this meeting was to inform the church body of the current needs, goals, and vision of the church, as well as to introduce and explain Risen Hope’s purpose and pillars to those who have joined us over the past few months. Access the video by clicking the play button, with notes on the meeting found below:
For folks who are new to Risen Hope, we’d like to spend some time explaining what we’re about. Risen Hope exists to know and show God. This is our purpose. It’s a broad purpose by design to avoid diminishing vital aspects of what it means to be a Christian. When we say ‘to know God,’ we’re saying that we are seeking, loving, trusting, and enjoying God as the most important reality in our lives. And when we say ‘to show God,’ we’re emphasizing that if he is all of the above, then we must show him to everyone in word (what we say) and deed (how we live). [John 17:1-4; 1 Peter 2:9-12]
Four pillars articulate what we emphasize as a local church in our effort to accomplish the above purpose. These four pillars are the foundation of what we believe and everything we do is explicitly or implicitly saturated with their meaning:
– Centrality of Christ: Jesus is absolutely everything to us. [Philippians 3:8]
– Sufficiency of Scripture: God’s word is sufficient to edify, transform, and save. [2 Timothy 3:16-17]
– Family of Faith: United by faith in Christ, we belong to the family of God forever. [Romans 8:15-17]
– Love Where You Live: God’s sovereignly placed our lives to love those nearest us. [Galatians 5:14]
WORK OF MINISTRY
Before we engage the logistical aspects of our vision, we thought it was important to discuss what Scripture tells us we are as a church. Ephesians 4:1-16 provides us with one of the most comprehensive pictures of who we are as a church and how that relates to our ministries as individual believers. We’re going to read through three sections and unpack them quickly as we go, and then we’ll dive into the vision itself:
Ephesians 4:1-6 // Unity is not a given, even in the church. Paul envisions us fighting for unity—the unity of the Spirit. And the language he uses here is that of selflessness and sacrifice. Humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another in love. We’re called to make sacrifices to serve and care for the body. And Paul makes it clear that he doesn’t see this as a nice-to-have or even something to strive for; unity is a necessity for the church (hence his exposition in v4-6): There is one body and one Spirit, therefore unity must happen if that’s true and yet it’s not a passive thing. We must strive for it.
Ephesians 4:7-12 // Christ has graciously given all of us individually gifts that are to be used for the benefit of the body. We see this expressed further in v16, but it’s also engaged across Scripture (1 Corinthians 12:12-27; 1 Peter 4:10-11). This means everyone has a part to play—church isn’t a spectator’s sport: there’s no sideline, there’s only the front line. If we miss this, we miss what church really is and we make it into a passive Sunday event that has ultimately little meaning. The real church is active, vibrant, and constanting seeking how we can serve one another.
Ephesians 4:12-16 // Paul’s main point in this passage is that the use of gifting in every saint is designed to enable and execute the work of ministry. So, what is the work of ministry? It’s the building up of the body of Christ, it’s a pursuit of spiritual maturity that both anchors us together in the truth and enables us together to love. Paul says that teaching happens in v11 to equip, but in v16 every member must be “working properly” in order for the body to “grow so that it builds itself up in love.” This isn’t numeric growth primarily, it’s spiritual growth that enables and frees us to go on mission. There is no way to love those outside the church if we’re unable to love those inside the church.
The two main points of this passage are that (1) we all have gifts that must be employed for the building up of the body of Christ, and (2) those gifts should enable us as a church to love everyone around us, inside and outside the church. Without our gifts being utilized properly, the church suffers and mission is impossible. And 1st Peter 4 would tell us that we do this ultimately for the glory of God in Christ Jesus—this is not a trivial matter, it is a matter of glory. And it is glory that God deserves and that we cannot enjoy properly apart from this work of ministry.
So… how does this speak into our vision for the rest of 2019 and beyond? Well, in four major ways—family, leadership, and mission—and I’ll break each of these down:
Our most immediate need in the church is serving. This broadly includes every ministry of our church (greeting, worship, set-up/break-down, etc.), but the most significant area we need people to serve in is actually Risen Hope Kids. Our kids ministry has been growing exponentially and this means there’s a really good possibility we’ll have to expand to another room. No matter how we proceed, however, it’s clear that we need more volunteers for this ministry. There are two ways Ephesians 4 speaks into this:
(1) Our current volunteers are faithful and amazing people, but they’re having to serve with increasing regularity, especially as summer encroaches and vacations complicate scheduling. If there were more people available to serve, more opportunties would be provided for everyone to be involved in the adult worship service. This is exactly the kind of selfless humility which leads to profound and rich unity, as Paul described in Ephesians 4.
(2) The kids in this ministry are not second-class citizens at Risen Hope but are an equal part of the body. Our work with them is critical, and not only as a future thing. Many people at Risen Hope have some kind of gifting from God that can and should be employed to engage, teach, mentor, and care for some of these kids, so that they would grow in precisely the way Paul depicts in Ephesians 4. This is the work of ministry. Without this, the church suffers.
So we’re humbly asking that everyone in the church seek God about what role they might play to this end. Before discounting yourself because of ability or desire, ask God if there’s a way he can be honored by you stepping into a role within Risen Hope Kids, even if it is something that can only be done once every 4-6 weeks. The path to the unity and effective ministry we find in Ephesians 4 is through this kind of serving. Please pray about this opportunity.
For the last two years, the way we’ve facilitated leadership at Risen Hope is through individuals stepping up and leading specific ministries in the same way Ephesians 4 describes. We have a small group of people who meet regularly to discuss finances and logistics, and a second meeting with people who lead specific ministries, with Jeremy bearing the responsibility of elder (pastor).
In Scripture, there are two leadership roles in the local church: deacon and elder/overseer. The qualifications and expectations for each of these roles are found throughout the New Testament (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9; Acts 20:28-31, etc.), but here’s a summary of how we believe these roles should function at Risen Hope:
– Deacons are men or women who serve in specific areas of gifting by leading those areas.
– Elders are men with the responsibility of teaching and caring for everyone in the church.
This is God’s design for how churches should function healthy and there isn’t any other blueprint in the Bible but this one. In many ways, this is what we already have. Our discussion here is to communicate this broadly so everyone is on the same page and to engage the process of formalizing it, so there’s an understanding what these roles are and how they actually serve the church body. This is the process we’ll be working through over the next few months. Keep in mind we’re not talking about flashy titles, we’re talking about responsbilities in that help our church family function.
Back in December, we invited all of the men who had been participating in our church for some time to talk about these two roles and what they meant. And now we’re extending this conversation to everyone at our church, and really emphasizing the in this season invitation for deacons to lead specific ministries. Some of the ministries in our church already have very capable leaders, but others don’t right now, and it’d be an incredible blessing for people to step up and lead. Some examples of our current needs include a role for coordinating special events on Sundays throughout the year, a role helping out with logistical and administrative needs, and a role for providing communication to the church body.
Please pray about how you might fit into a ministry at Risen Hope and we’ll be discussing more about leadership in the coming months, including the biblical process of installation. We desire to have the biblical relationship of family and governance in the church, and these are all steps in that direction.
The final aspect of our vision is mission. And the reason this is last is because this is not presently the most critical need we have as a church right now. In order for us to effectively love the people around us as a church, we need the most immediate season to be the work of ministry that builds up the body of Christ so that mission can happen. And so we’re talking about these things with hopeful expectancy that in the coming months we’ll be ready to engage them and we’d love to invite you to prayerfully consider how you might be involved.
– First, our foreign mission trip is presently delayed. Initially, we had plans to send a team to Mongolia through IMB, but those plans have changed. We ultimately felt that it wasn’t the right time or a good use of resources at this point, and so while we’re very eager for foreign missions, that’s not on the front burner for our corporate body. That doesn’t mean we won’t give to international organizations like Rescue:Freedom or pray for other countries: that should and will continue no matter what.
– One area of local missions for the future is something we’re calling Kingsgate Mission. This is essentially our way of serving and caring for the people of Kingsgate with the love of Jesus. We’d like to have a team of people who are committed to developing and leading opportunities to engage this community with the gospel and serving them. The idea is that we’d potentially work with other churches and organizations in this area to meet the needs of the people in this area. This is a passion that we as a church body because of our location: the need isn’t far from our church’s meeting space and we are called to love where we live.
– The other pursuit is Kingsgate Youth. Most churches have some kind of youth ministry for their kids at about the middle-school age and we’re going to have a lot of these in our own church in the next few years. When we thought about what kind of youth ministry we’d like to have, it made sense for it to be missional, rather than insular. This would be our church driving and supporting the effort to love the kids in Kingsgate through regular get-togethers and events, where there’s fun, fellowship, and ultimately the gospel. To begin here, we’d like to see a similar group being formed within Risen Hope to lead, engage, and support this ministry. Lots of questions about how we might execute this and who we might be able to partner with, but the primary goal would be to see the lives of kids changed through God’s work in this ministry.
Caveat: Both of the above are related to Kingsgate, yet many in our body do not live in the Kingsgate area. One of the reasons ‘Love Where You Live’ is our pillar and not ‘Love Kingsgate’ is because we earnestly believe God has called all of us to the places he’s planted us. Geography and proximity are not accidents, they’re by design. There’s a reason you live, work, and play near the people God has around you. So while we invite everyone to serve in the immediate vicinity of the church, we’d see the priority for all people are those God’s graciously placed us near.
Later this year, we’d like to introduce a series of classes on various topics to edify and strengthen the church in new ways. This would also allow those with gifting in communication, training, and education to put those gifts into use in helpful ways. The process here will be directed by leadership, prayerfully considering what’s needed for the body at a given time, but there are already several very interesting topics, including assistance with engaging kids with the gospel.
What we’re humbly asking for in this meeting is simply just sincere, earnest prayer about how you fit in to Risen Hope given the needs we’ve outlined and what Paul’s called us to in being members of the church, the body of Christ. So we’re asking everyone to please take some time over the coming weeks to pray and seek God regarding this, especially with the kids ministry in mind. If you have any questions and concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!