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A Vision to Die For

Right at the beginning of this entry I need to make a confession.

I stole the title from someone else!

I am in the midst of a trip to the Atlantic region which has meant that I have spent a lot of time in my car over the past week. Whenever I am in my car for long periods of time, I usually listen to sermons or seminar talks.

One of the messages that I have listened to this time was given by Bill Hybels at one of the Leadership Summits that the Willowcreek Association sponsors. The message was entitled A Vision To Die For.

Actually I didn’t listen to it once. I listened to it three times. In addition to listening to it so often, I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind.

What is interesting is that much of the message wasn’t new. I didn’t really learn anything that I didn’t already know. It was a good message but not spectacularly good.

It was the question that he asks that has grabbed hold of my mind and won’t let go.


The Question

Do I have a vision that I feel so passionately about that I would be willing to make any sacrifice to see it become reality even if that meant that I had to die for it?

I married my high school sweetheart at a very young age. She was nineteen and I was twenty. Two months after we were married, we left for an eight-month training course in Chicago and then two years in Colombia.

While I was at the training center, I read a book entitled Hammered as Gold. Contained in that book was the story of Ernie Fowler, a missionary in Colombia who was murdered while working with native people in the mountains. A group of people dressed as policemen shot and killed Ernie because they objected to his helping the people in that area.

I was able to make a trip into those mountains and to visit the spot on which Ernie had died. I remember standing there in silence realizing that right there on that very spot a man had died because of his faith in Jesus Christ and his commitment to sharing the gospel with people who had never heard it.

A few years ago I visited a small town in Austria. After supper I went for a walk with some Austrian Christians through the central square in the middle of the town. They told me that in that square right on the spot where we were standing back in the reformation period in the sixteenth century, Christians had been burned at the stake.

I had the same feeling that I had had in the mountains of Colombia. I was standing on a piece of property on which people had given their lives for the sake of the gospel.


What price am I willing to pay?

I’m not writing this blog entry because I want to challenge those who read it to a deeper commitment although if that is a result I will be excited that God has used it.

I’m not writing it to promote the importance of vision in ministry although I believe that vision is essential to ministry impact.

I’m not writing it to be critical of anyone or their ministry.

I am writing it because God has challenged me in regard to my own level of commitment

How much am I willing to sacrifice?

Do I have a vision for which I would be willing to die?


Small churches in Canada

I believe strongly in the value of small churches in Canada.

I believe that small churches have made and will continue to make a far greater impact than most leaders credit them with making.

I believe that small churches are important to God because they are part of his worldwide church through which he is extending his Kingdom in this world.

I believe that God has an important place for small churches and an important work for them to do.

I believe that there are healthy churches and there are unhealthy churches and that applies to small churches just as much as it does to larger ones.

I would love to remove the phrase “We are just a small church” from the English language because there is no such thing as “just” any size of church. Every church is a vital part of God’s Kingdom.

I want to encourage, mentor and resource small churches whenever and wherever I can.

I want to promote the value of the small church to anyone who will listen to me.

The question that I have asked myself all week as I listened to Hybels’ message is “how committed am I to serving small churches?”.

Would I die to further the cause of the small church in Canada?

I don’t know the answer to that question I don’t think that anyone would know until he/she was faced with a situation in which such a sacrifice was called for.

I do know this though. God has been opening doors for small church ministry and I need to walk through as many of them as I can.


My commitment

The small church is an important part of God’s plan.

God has called me to serve those churches.

Whatever sacrifice that involves, I want to be willing to pay that cost because healthy small churches across Canada that are effectively serving their members and their communities is a vision to die for.

I praise God that he has given me the privilege to be part of that vision.

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