As we wrap up our vision series, it is important for us to remember the mission of the Church. Now, notice when I write “Church,” it is a capital “C.” I do this because our mission as The River is the same mission as all of us who are called followers of Christ to have, which is: to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
1. Can you list any passages of Scripture where we are called to this mission?
When we began this series, we talked about reach. This is truly the starting point of our faith. It is the acknowledgment and conviction of sin, the understanding that we cannot save ourselves, the confession of Christ as our Savior, and the belief in our hearts that He truly is who He says and who Scripture says He is. Paul writes in Romans 10:9, “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”Reach is the concept that at one point in each of our lives, someone reached us with the Gospel of Christ.
2. Can you remember that person who reached into your life and shared with you the Gospel of Christ?
After reach, we took the next step to gather. This is where we come together on a weekly basis to worship our Heavenly Father as a body of believers. We do this through worship, prayer, tithing, hearing from God’s Word, and simply spending time with one another. I love how the writer in Hebrews speaks of gathering. In Hebrews 10:23-25, it reads, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”Here, we are reminded of not only why we gather, but of the importance of us making it a priority in our lives.
3. What do you look forward to in gatherings?
4. Is gathering a priority or an inconvenience for you?
Last week, we covered grow. Now, if you are reading this study guide, then I would assume it is out of the desire to fulfill this third part of our vision. Grow is simply our daily time with God. For some, this takes the form of a cup of coffee and God’s Word every morning. For others, it is an app on your phone with a daily notification and supplemental reading. Or, if you are like me, it is reading your Bible at the gym while you are getting your morning dose of cardio! Regardless of where you are getting your quiet time with the Lord, I truly hope it is a priority for you. Jesus called us in Matthew 28:19-20 saying, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”As followers of Christ, the only way that we will be able to teach others what Christ has commanded us (make disciples) is if we are truly taking time to read, understand, and truly grow in His Word.
5. What have you been reading in your personal time with Christ?
6. Do you find it difficult to daily spend time in God’s Word?
Now, naturally, upon seeing the cover for this book and seeing our vision say “Reach, Gather, Grow,” it would be understandable if one thought they were done and the cycle was completed. However, this could not be further from the truth. As this is a cycle, our next step is to go back to the beginning. Going back to reach can be a very intimidating and uncomfortable step. Yet, it is truly the culmination of all that we have studied and prepared for up to this point.
I am not sure if you are like me, but I have always hated tests. I truly believe that life would be better in a world without tests! The anxiety, pressure, hours of study, on top of the inevitable brain-fart, have always made tests one of my greatest enemies.
7. Do you love tests?
8. Do you have fun stories of an epic failure or surprise comeback, when it comes to taking a test?
In Acts, Luke writes what I feel is the second part and follow-up to his first book, Luke. Jesus had victoriously risen from the grave, and He had begun to reveal Himself to His disciples and His followers. Then, after forty days, He left one last challenge to His followers. Luke records what happened next, Acts 1:6-8 reads, “So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’” Jesus bestows to His disciples and truly to us as His followers an incredible designation, “you will be my witnesses.”
9. What does it mean to be a witness?
10. Has there been a time in your life where you wished that you had not been a witness to someone or something?
When Jesus calls us to be a witness, He is not simply calling us to do this when it is convenient. He is calling us to do this on a daily basis. So, naturally, the next question we may ask is how. How can we practically be a witness to Jesus on a weekly and daily basis? The book of James truly helps paint a picture of just how we can accomplish this.
Now, I have always had a love-hate relationship with the book of James. The reason being, it is just jam-packed with some seriously slap-you-in-the-face truth! James writes in James 2:14-17, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” Now, know my heart and understand what James is saying in this passage. There is no debate on the fact that if we confess and believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and have truly asked Him to be Lord of our lives, then we are saved. However, if we go around with a bullhorn and try smacking people upside the head with our Bibles, we are turning so many people away from the truth of Christ and ultimately lose an opportunity to show His love. What James is referring to in this passage is the importance of putting our money where our mouth is.
11. What are some practical ways, in which we can share the love of Christ with our actions?
12. When was the last time you did this?
I truly feel that this concept of going back to reach can be wrapped up with this final passage from James. He writes in James 1:22, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” Church, we are called to be a witness of our loving Savior, every single day of our lives. Every morning we wake up, we have a new chance to share His love. As we end, I want to challenge you with this question.
Are you truly being a witness of Jesus Christ in your words and your actions, or are you simply being a follower who acts only out of convenience and comfort?