This articles courtesy www.servantevangelism.com
|The First Decade|
By Steve Sjogren
We recently celebrated our tenth year together as a church at Vineyard Community Church in Cincinnati. As part of our celebration, it seemed only appropriate to assemble some of the greatest lessons I've learned as the founding pastor of this fellowship. I summarized my top learnings in this decade in what I call, "Ten Convictions in Ten Years." As I see it, a conviction is a truth that is held onto that guides us through life in spite of rigors we encounter.
Conviction #1. Small things are the main things
Soon after I began planting this church on the north side of Cincinnati, the Lord spoke to me about serving in practical ways—what's come to be known as Servant Evangelism. In the early days, I went on Saturday mornings to serve the community. Often it was difficult to get anyone to come along with me. But I stuck it out, and eventually many began to do small things.
Conviction #2. It really is better to give than receive
Conviction #3. Our backyard is the entire Cincinnati area
In the past church leaders have typically had such small goals that after a short time of ministry they felt they had done their fair share in reaching out. The first step in reaching out is to see the largeness of our aim. I believe it is helpful if we look at our cities and feel at least a bit overwhelmed. If more leaders were overwhelmed, we would be praying along the lines, "God unless you empower us, we are destined to be ineffective. Fall upon us with your power that our lives will make a difference!"
Conviction #4. Kindness wins battles that strength cannot
A letter I received recently from a grateful lady who had her parking meter filled wrote —
Though that woman wasn't fully converted by our act of kindness, she seems to be on her way.
Conviction #5. God's love is better caught than taught
Conviction #6. People need each other
Conviction #7. Worship changes people like nothing else
Beyond God's presence, our goal is for people to enjoy themselves. My motto is "Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is fun!" It seems to be a universal truth that as we enjoy God, He is liberated to do His work among us.
Conviction #8. Christians live out the Bible
William Hart in his book The 100, sets out to list in order the most influential people in all of human history—a difficult if not slightly arrogant task. I found it interesting that Hart places Jesus not at number one, or even two, but lists Christ as the third most influential person in history. Jesus, according to Hart, follows Mohammed at one and Sir Isaac Newton at two. Hart apologizes with this explanation; "On His own merits Jesus would definitely be the most influential person ever. The problem is his followers. They have done a relatively very poor job of carrying out His message. The sentiment of 'love your neighbor as yourself' is a great idea. To date in the Christian world, that's not yet been tried."
Conviction #9. Appearances don't always reveal that my friends need God
In my early years as a believer, I had a strong awareness of the lost condition of those around me. At times this discernment became a bit overwhelming, so one day I asked the Lord to free me from that. And He did for a number of years. The past couple of years, the gift of seeing the lostness of people has returned.
Conviction #10. The best is yet to come
Life is tough. There are many easier ways to live than to be in Christian leadership; but in the end we will look back at the investment of our lives and realize, "My life counted for something."