2012 - A Radical Experiment
Over the autumn months our pastors have begun to prepare Vineyard North for a 12-month radical experiment: 12 months of focusing on what it means to live as one of Jesus’ followers—a disciple. 12 months of stepping into the kinds of personal disciplines that make up an authentic discipleship journey. And 12 months of initiating discipling relationships with other church members and even with men and women who are still on the outside. 2012 will soon be here and, we’ll be launching into a Radical Experiment. Here’s our radical church-wide agenda for 2012.
First, We’re inviting everyone to begin thinking like a missionary in West Michigan. Jesus’ disciples have always been outward focused, as Jesus was (or is!). Our mission isn’t to grow old with our children and our friends but to make disciples of men and women still on the outside. If you need some coaching, you’re not alone. That’s why we’re hosting the Speaking of Jesus conference this month. If you’re not planning to come to the conference, what’s your plan for learning to speak about Jesus to men and women at work, to your neighbors, or your not-yet-Christian family members?
This December we’re in the middle of a Sunday series with an outreach focus—”Family Issues”. This is a fun series that combines family sit com video clips with Bible teaching and very practical applications to family life.
Second, we’re inviting everyone to read through the Bible in 2012. We’ll not the whole Bible actually, but a new edition of the Bible that arranges key sections of Scripture chronologically so that it’s more readable and understandable - like the story truly is.
In Acts 2 we read that Jesus’ earliest disciples actually devoted themselves to the Apostle’s teaching, which we have in our Bibles. We’ve already purchased a copy of The Story for you and will be passing them out next month.
Third, we’re inviting everyone to pray daily all through 2012 for God’s kingdom’s advance around the world. You can do this in a personal quiet time in the morning or at family devotions after an evening meal — whatever works for you. Devotion to prayer is another practice Jesus’ earliest disciples modeled. Check it out in Acts 2:42. We’ll be making international prayer guides available to everyone next January.
Fourth, we’re asking everyone to join a winter home group that is hosting a study that has the potential to strengthen an area of your personal life that, right now, may be soft. It may be your marriage or your knowledge of Jesus’ life, words, and works. It may be your ability to talk about Jesus to people who are not yet Christians, or your ability to pray for the sick (as Jesus did everywhere he went). So, maybe you’ll have to leave old friends behind to do this, or choose a less convenient evening, or drive a little further this winter than you are used to. We’re asking you to step up anyway and make personal growth your priority in choosing a winter home group.
Fifth, we’re asking everyone to pray about making one international missions trip in 2012— or at least to support a family member in doing so. Lord willing, we’ll be sending multiple teams to sub-Sahara Africa next year as well as Costa Rica and Asia. After the holidays, Martin and Margaret Emmerson—our resident Africans— will be offering a course to help everyone taking an international missions trip in 2012 to begin preparing with wisdom. Yes, you’ll have to raise your own support, but there’s still time to add “money for missions” to your Christmas list.
. . . we’re hoping to turn all our conversations and ministries toward discipleship in 2012. It’s radical, alright— as radical as Jesus!
Sixth, we’re inviting everyone to make one financial sacrifice in 2012. A real sacrifice. Skip a family vacation; buy a less expensive car; sell some toys; postpone a major purchase; cash in a retirement account; whatever. A real financial sacrifice to support a cause—any cause—that supports the advance of Jesus’ mission any place in the world. If you read A Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns during 2012, you’ll gladly make a sacrifice to help end extreme poverty in our world in our lifetime.
There’s more, actually, like the Radical discipleship conversation guides our pastors will continue to distribute each month. And, the Radical bookmarks that invite meaningful, if uncomfortable, discipleship conversations. Truth is, we’re hoping to turn all our conversations and ministries toward discipleship in 2012. It’s radical alright—as radical as Jesus!