2015: A Year of Devotion

Normandeers!

With each passing week God seems to be adding clarity to our vision. Today I want to add more color to the vision we feel that God gave us as elders and as a staff.

We sense that 2015 will be a year of devotion. Out of devotion to the Lord, we believe that 2015 will also be a year of fruitfulness and a year of offense.

Year of Devotion

As we met and prayed at our vision retreat in November, it seemed as though God was calling us to remember our first love and the passionate love we had for Him when we first started following Him.

Devotion is love, loyalty or enthusiasm for a person or a cause.

As much as I wish I could simply will every member of our church to a love and loyalty to Christ, I cannot do it! No matter how well I pastor, or lead or communicate vision, this is something that God must do in our midst.

The good news for me is... this is God’s initiative and it has always been His prerogative to see His children walk more closely with Him.

Galatians 4:6 says:

And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!”

I personally believe God the Father is initiating with us as a church. I believe He is inviting us into an experiential relationship with Him. The question for us is, “Will we respond to His invitation to a deeper, more devoted relationship with Him in 2015?”

With that said, God promises  to provide for us as we remain devoted to Him,  as we heed the call to abide in Him. If we will take care of the depth of intimacy with Christ, He will take care of the breadth of our lives. If it is concerning finances or work, marriage or singleness, sin or  brokenness, the call  is to come to Him and trust the promise that He will move on our behalf.

A Year of Fruitfulness

Fruitfulness points us to words and phrases like:  good results, beneficial, profitable, abounding in fruit, and abundant growth.

A natural flow out of devotion to Christ is fruitfulness in Christ.  God created us to bear fruit, and in fact, a part of our purpose on earth is to see His family grow. In John 15, we see that an effect of remaining and abiding in Him is that we’ll see fruit - fruit that remains, at that!

John 15:5-8:

[5] I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. [6] If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. [7] If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. [8] By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

As a church planter and as a leader at Normandy, this passage is very encouraging to me! You see, 2014 was a very difficult year. God actually gave us three prophetic words from people in our congregation that God was going to prune us so that we could grow deeper as a congregation. I did not like that thought! But  God did prune our church, as we saw our size diminish throughout the year. Much of it felt very hard.

But at our elder retreat, we were reminded that God prunes us with a purpose:

John 15:1-2:

[15:1] “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. [2] Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 

So, what might fruit look like for us? The fruit we are looking for comes out of our overarching vision for our church.

Our vision is to become an ever-expanding family of disciple-makers that plants churches and transforms communities in our city and in the world.

What we hope for is that our people will become disciple-makers, ever-expanding God’s family and His kingdom through spiritual sons and daughters, orphans being placed in families, and unreached people groups knowing Jesus.

A Year of Offense 

I have to be honest; this might be my favorite part of our 2015 Vision: Offense. During our elder retreat, Joshua Sorrows got a picture of us coming to the Father, and we were wearing armor.  As we came to the Father, He was helping us take off our armor, dressing our wounds and saying, “You did good! You are still standing!”

Last year felt like we were simply trying to stand our ground - that it was a year of defense. But sometimes the greatest act of spiritual warfare is to simply not  quit, and in the picture that God gave to Joshua, this year was going to be one of offense!

Offense can be: the action of attacking; a team or players who are attempting to score or advance the ball; or the condition of possessing the ball or being on the team attempting to score.

When Joshua preached, he added some clarity to what "kingdom offense" looks like :

The people of God advancing the mission of God.

We are not just businessmen and businesswomen we are not just teachers and parents; we are not just designers, artists and architects. We have been ransomed from the pit of hell for a purpose greater than our vocation. We are the family of God advancing the mission of God.
If our church and our community groups lose sight of this mission, we will be in trouble! If we have relationships with each other but are lacking  mission, we are in danger of becoming a country club, and Christ did not call His people to be socialites!. Rather, He called us to take part in the greatest mission ever given!

Mark 16:15: 

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

Moving Forward

So, if we are expecting to see abundant fruit in 2015, we need to plan for it! As we hope to live out our overall vision (“Make Disciples & Take the Land”), we are going to build some needed structure into our community groups in an effort to make the discipleship process more easily reproducible.

But first things first… and before we get carried away,  God has invited us into  a relational experience with Him. As we experience Him, I fully expect to see more men and women fully devoted to Christ, more fruit and more awareness for places we are called to be on offense.

Grace and Peace,

John