See that picture at the top of the page? That’s Whitby Abbey in England, a flourishing center of worship for 900 years. Those ruins are how many, if not most, people in the world today see the church. They imagine a building. Not a useful building — an empty, lifeless shell of a building. But that’s not the church; the church is the body of Christ which consists of people He has chosen and called out of the general population to be His own people. When Jesus called people to be His own, He didn’t take them straight to heaven. He gave to those He called the most important job in the world. As Jesus departed, He left us with a Great Commission. He said:
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)
Several years ago, this mandate compelled us to reexamine our vision at Candlewood. Revisiting that vision drove us out of our rented facility, into the homes of our members, and closer to people who think of the church as a collapsed building … if they think of it at all. In the summer of 2020, began meeting in homes for small gatherings and every other Sunday we meet in a larger home for the whole congregation. We now gather right in the middle of the people God is calling us to reach with the Gospel. Here’s what brought us to this sweeping change in how we “do” church.
It began with an effort to know who we were as a congregation and what was our purpose. The ultimate goal of the vision frame was to discover our “vision proper.” The top part of the frame is our mandate.
After a time of prayer and discussion the team settled on the mandate as:
“Encouraging people in our community to pursue Christ with their whole being.” We saw that as what Christ has called us to do as part of His church universal.
The left side of our frame lists our values and expresses what is deeply important to us and that should be observable in all our activities. These values are:
Service, focusing on needs in the community through personal and corporate activities.
Emphasizing relationships, providing opportunities for relationship building in all our activities.
Genuine, open, and accepting, sharing real life struggles in the light of God’s amazing grace.
Biblical truth, pursuing both knowledge of and devotion to God’s revelation in the Bible as necessary and sufficient for living a life pleasing to God.
Our measures are the means by which we determine that we are making progress on our vision. If we see people doing these things, we know we are impacting this world for God in line with our vision.
Gather together regularly for worship and spiritual encouragement.
Serve others in church, community, and the world.
Connect with others locally and internationally to share about a relationship with Christ.
Grow through personal and corporate practice of Christian spiritual disciplines.
Our strategy is our method of pursuing our vision.
Gathering, Serving, Connecting, and Growing
Our vision proper is a clear and challenging picture of the future we seek to create with God’s revealing guidance. Our vision is: