In this series of posts I’m going to briefly expand on our vision.
Why have a vision statement at all?
In one sense, the vision of every church should be the same. Jesus famously gave us the ‘great commission’
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
This is an authoritative command from the risen Lord Jesus. Just as he promises to be with us ‘to the very end of the age’, his command to ‘go and make disciples’ should set the agenda until then too.
But it can also be helpful to unpack such Biblical ‘vision statements’ in a way that helps us to engage freshly with them, remember them, and to stick with them. At Trinity at Four we’ve articulated our vision as:
‘To exalt Jesus, as we engage Henley with his good news, and equip disciples of every age to follow him’.
There is much more we could say about what a church should be aiming to do. However, we think this helpfully focuses us on some core essentials.
It all begins with exalting Jesus
I love the word ‘exalt’. It is so full of heart. It is not just a dry intellectual ‘acknowledge that something is important’ (like broccoli or spinach). Exalting is what you do when you are so thrilled with something you cannot help but lift it up, sing its praises and generally be over the moon with it. So the psalmist sings for joy:
I will exalt you, my God the King;
I will praise your name for ever and ever.
Exalting Jesus means lifting him high in every sense of the word. In our hearts, with our speech, in song and praise, in prayer, in our priorities and focus in life, It means being so delighted with Jesus that he becomes our life’s theme song, our church’s theme song.
And it’s quite right that he should be. Because no-one else has done what he has done:
Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
The Father has exalted Jesus, and the Spirit now works in the world to bring Jesus glory (John 16:14). Jesus is the climax of all God’s promises, the focus of all God’s glory, the head of all God’s creation, the goal of all God’s history. So above all, we are called to exalt Jesus.
As Paul says
“He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.”
We must hold ourselves to exalting Jesus, because it is easy to exalt other things in church life
I love the simplicity of the advice that the apostle Paul gives to Timothy, leading the church in Ephesus: ‘Remember Jesus’ (2 Timothy 2:8). You would have thought that this professional Christian leader might have got that one sussed… but apparently not. In fact, it is amazingly easy to make all kinds of things the focus of church life other that Jesus:
Community. This is vital for a healthy church. But it’s only Jesus who brings about true church community (1 Cor 12:27).
Experience. Christians should enjoy a deep experience of God’s love. But it’s only possible as the Holy Spirit keeps reminding us of Jesus (Rom 5:5-8).
Children. It’s vital to reach the next generation, and make church appealing and accessible for them. But our priority must be to introduce them to Jesus, and so to keep Him, rather than them centre stage.
Church services. We can get so wedded to a particular way of doing things, that the format becomes more important to us than the saviour we’re seeking to exalt.
Bible teaching. Because the only way to know the real Jesus is through the Bible, Bible teaching is vital. But we must remember that the goal of Bible teaching is to exalt Jesus in our lives, not the Bible teaching as a thing in itself!
As we keep resolving to exalt Jesus we’ll find that everything else in church life takes its right place.
So, whatever else Trinity at Four is about, it’s about exalting Jesus. Because we think he’s amazing. And we think you would find him amazing too if you took the time to get to know him.