On January 1st I began to see posts on social media about how this New Year was a perfect time for encouraging people and organizations to clarify their vision. Get it? Perfect vision – 20/20. At first I found that a little cheesy, but it did get me reflecting on where we’ve been as a church and where we’re headed as we enter this new season at Forest Brook.
I always find vision a bit hard to talk about with people. Most people think of it in terms of a destination – “where are we going?” They think of vision with a kind of GPS model, where you input the place you want to end up and then follow the route (or steps) mapped out to get you there. Sometimes it works out that way, but not always. When I think about the direction we are headed in as a church I can’t predict a final destination. I don’t know what that will look like or even when we’ll get there. It’s a direction more than a destination in my mind.
Several years ago God led us to understand more about discipleship, and that we as followers of Jesus were made for more. He showed us that we were not merely human, but rather Spirit-born (and hopefully, Spirit-led) sons and daughters of God. We began to pray that God would teach us what it meant to be a church that is Spirit-filled, and Spirit-led. And as I look back over the past few years I believe I see the evidence that God has been faithfully answering those prayers.
In the Bible, we learn that there are three main ways that God communicates with His people. Through prophets, through instruction from the Scriptures, and through the counsel of leaders (see Ezekiel 7:26, for example). As I think about Forest Brook I am encouraged by this, because I see us growing in each of these areas!
People are discovering their “prophetic” ear – the ability to hear God speaking to them through impressions, dreams and words of knowledge. I’m excited that Deb Holbrook and Elizabeth Pierce will be holding a three-part Master Class on how to hear the voice of God later this month. I pray along with Moses that all of God’s people would become prophets and be filled with His Spirit (Numbers 11:29)!
Instruction from the Scriptures has always been a strength of our church, like many other Bible-believing churches. I am grateful for the Spirit-filled teachers and preachers in this congregation who help people hear what God is saying through the Scriptures. We will never give up on that!
I am excited by how our group of elders are growing in the Spirit as well. Our elders are moving past exercising their collective wisdom (which, in my estimation, is considerable), to learning how to listen and discern the will of God together – choosing to seek and use His wisdom instead of their own.
So these things bode well for our future. We may not be able to predict a final destination for our church but we can certainly be confident in our direction. We are seeking to be a church that is filled with, and led by, the Holy Spirit! What will it look like once we’ve figured that out? I can only say that we will see more and more empowerment of our service and outreach. We will see greater fruit for our efforts on behalf of the Kingdom. We will see greater faith, hope and love in our church and in one another. We will become more aware of, and dependent upon, the Presence of God in our midst. And we will become bolder in our faith and our witness to the world.
These are the things I “see” as I look into our future at Forest Brook. But these are not my vision – they are His. May His will be done!