I have heard from many people over the past 3-4 month since my last post. Many who share a similar vision and express similar conviction/calling to what has been mapped out on this blog.
So, we've got vision....
but have we got feet?
Are you/we ready to do something? Praise God, many already are doing. There are people in the heart of urban areas doing for the Lord. There are people at churches doing for the Lord. There are people in their workplaces doing. How universal is our God that there's no one place to minister or one people to minister to?
My heart longs to take this conversation to another level. There are needs in our communities that must be highlighted. There are programs in our areas that deserve to have their story told. There are people in pews that have to respond to Christ's call. There is a Gospel that is so rich and so deep, that we have no choice but to stand up and walk.
I'm not here to say who, what or where, I'm just saying now.
I would love to meet some time in February to discuss the logistics of this vision for the valley. If you're interested leave me a message by clicking on the number just above this post.
I believe that God has four sections of the valley's population close to His heart:
The Fatherless, The Widow, The Poor, and The Alien
I believe this because many of the major and minor prophets speak about how poorly the people of Old Testament Israel were doing at protecting these groups from oppression and subsequently, how the Lord desires us to defend them:
Psalm 146:9 - The LORD watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
Isaiah 1:17 - learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.
Jeremiah 5:28 - and have grown fat and sleek. Their evil deeds have no limit; they do not plead the case of the fatherless to win it, they do not defend the rights of the poor.
Zechariah 7:10 - Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.'
Malachi 3:5 - "So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me," says the LORD Almighty.
Part of the Vision of the Valley includes focusing on these groups.
Please share your thoughts on how these groups effect your heart or ministries/organizations that you know provide support/care to these groups.
Vision Casting Saturday, September 29, 2007 |
20-20 Valley Vision: Twenty-somethings having long-term effects (twenty years) on the Lehigh Valley.
Let me take a moment to cast a vision for the Lehigh Valley...
I see a night, every three months (quarterly), where twenty-somethings around the Valley gather to worship God, declare Him Sovereign over the Valley, and fellowship together to break down cultural and denominational boundaries. We will seek to learn about the needs of the Valley, hear about the ministries of churches and organizations around our communities, and listen to personal testimonies of those who have been touched by God's actions in the Valley. Most of all, we will promote action in and around the Valley and support and encouragement for anyone that desires to further the Kingdom in practical ways.
For the sake of the discussion, I'm going to spend a few moments defining what we mean in our vision statement. There's a lot to dissect, so it's only appropriate that we take some time to hash out our thoughts. I'll try to stick to a single format of "concept - clarification statement".
I hope you find it edifying.
- One Night - Let's face it: 7pm is just WAY better than 7am. The morning is a great time to spend alone reflecting, and night time is a great time to spend together with friends. Of course, this isn't universal, I'm just making the obvious argument for why a group like this is not meeting at 4am.
- Every Three Months - The focus of this group is not to replace any other group that exists in the Valley. While worship and fellowship will occur, this night is not meant to replace worship and fellowship with those in your community. This group's genesis is sparked by the void of Vision casting, Action-oriented connections in our area. To meet anymore might water down the purpose; to meet any less might cause us to forget what our purpose is from meeting to meeting.
- Twenty-Somethings - Quite honestly, there is no other demographic with as much time, ability, resources and motivation than this group. Change can occur through our actions.
- The Lehigh Valley - The Lehigh Valley is strategically placed between NYC and Philadelphia. It is one of the fastest growing areas in Pennsylvania and a cultural melting pot of old and new immigrants and has been for a hundred years or so.
- Worship Together - "There is no greater thing we could ask for than your presence, Lord" - Billy and Cindy Foote. Enough Said. Style, personal preference, doctrine cannot get in the way of Shouting God's name.
- Declaring God Sovereign - To not spend time acknowledging God's Sovereignty, His awesomeness, and His Love would remove the real purpose and motivation of why we're meeting in the first place. This can be done in a variety of ways, music is the most obvious one. Creativity will be key to make this aspect of the night engaging and inspiring.
- Fellowship together - The point of the evening is to engage fellow Christians that do not normally run in our circles. When we step out of our comfort zones and talk to a stranger, we begin to see more clearly and our perspective grows bigger.
- Cultural and Denominational Boundaries - "We should be the first ones to extend a hand across racial barriers" - Billy Hybels. This sentiment should not stop at racial barriers, but extend past social ones, religious ones, even denominational ones. As far as I know, sin, has no socio-economic barriers. AIDS has no socio-economic barrier. Hunger has no barriers. Poverty has no barriers. Why do we then create our own barriers of protection? In the end it really only creates breaks in the lines of defense against such things. This group will focus on eliminating these boundaries.
- The needs of the Valley - It is important that we are specific with the problems facing our communities and neighborhoods. If we leave our focus up to conjecture, there's no telling if we are effective at all or have completely missed the mark.
- Ministries of Valley Churches and Organizations - What better way to publicize existing groups and organizations that are already doing good works, than present them to the group and provide practical solutions to getting involved with those works. The purpose is to identify problems, present a working solution, and encourage action.
- Personal Testimonies - The effect of personal testimony from one person to another is like looking into the sky and seeing Heaven open up. The heart and soul are inspired by well thought out and personalized testimony. The group, as appropriate, will have a time for pre-arranged and organized testimony time.
- Promoting Action - We are wasting our time, energy and breath if we do not challenge action. Guilt should never be our motivation, but are we not guilty of inaction for too long? "Shame on me, Shame on me, I have done so little with all that I've been given" - Ross King
- Support and Encouragement - We are a community of Christians in the Lehigh Valley. We have a common bond, in a common community and a not so common Holy Spirit working in us. Part of the motivation to organize a group like this is to encourage by providing excellent worship, being torn by the needs around us, hearing the praise of those touched by God, and sending forth people who are called by God to do His good work. We believe this is a huge reason to start something like this.
- Furthering the Kingdom - This is Jesus' "great commandment".
Ok, thanks for getting through all of that. I expect questions and encourage them. I am by no means a theologian, so any difficult stuff I'll have to ask my friend the weak christian.
Please leave your thoughts. We are very interested to see what kind of response we might get from this vision.