The second half of our new vision statement at Central is about Christian ministry. This is what God is doing through us. As we become like Christ, as we are shaped more into his image, the natural outcome will be ministry. This is God’s great purpose and will for his people: to call and save and change people so they can sacrifice and serve the world. As we act more like Jesus, as we increasingly think and behave like our Lord, we’ll sacrifice and serve like him. We’ll notice that God is working in us and through us for the benefit of others. Just like Jesus.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” ~Philippians 2:3-4

Paul is saying we know how Jesus lived. We know what Jesus was all about. In his own words, Jesus said he did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life. And Scripture says if you’re going to claim to follow him, you’ve got to live like him.

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant.” ~Philippians 2:5-7

Admittedly, this is a hard truth to hear. So we all have to work on it together. But, as God’s children and devout followers of his Son, it’s not about us. It’s always ultimately about God using us, transforming us and using us to benefit others.

So… the blank. Yeah, we’ve got probably the first ever fill-in-the-blank vision statement in the history of vision statements. But we left it open-ended like that for several reasons.

Ownership – We want each member at Central to see herself or himself in this statement, to own it, to consider how¬†they and God together are going to complete the sentence. What goes in the blank? This statement is both what God is doing in you and what God is doing through you. But we’re not going to fill in the blank for you. That’s for you to discern. You take it and wrestle with it. This is about your ministry. We want everybody in the church to have that kind of focus: What is God doing through me? Who is God impacting through me? And you fill in the blank. Everybody’s blank will be different; and they ought to be. You fill it in yourself. We don’t want to place any limits on our God on box in your imagination about God’s possibilities to do incredible things through you, things that are beyond anything you could ever ask or imagine.

Opportunity – I think this blank is intriguing to outsiders, maybe even provocative. I think the blank might lead to questions and conversations with others. People at work, people at school, maybe your mailman comes up to you: “Hey, you go to Central. What’s up with that blank?” And, you’re ready. Because you own this thing. And you launch! “Here’s how Jesus is changing me. Here’s how God is growing my faith. And here’s what he’s doing through me.” Bang! All of a sudden, you’re sharing the Gospel. You never would have approached this person to have that kind of conversation, but they approached you. And you started sharing the good news: Here’s what God is doing in me and here’s what God is doing through me. Because you own it.

Flexibility – The blank can change depending on the way life happens for each of us, depending on the different circumstances God puts in front of us and the life stages that bring their own set of transitions.

Fit – It just makes sense. It works really well with our increased focus on the narrative nature of Scripture and finding our own places and roles in the ongoing story of God.

And, finally, this last caution: This is not your blank, it’s God’s blank. You don’t just fill this in for yourself based on what you want to do. It’s not “Becoming like Christ for the sake of making my sales numbers” or “for the sake of losing 30 pounds” or “for the sake of not killing the kids this week.” The idea is to discern with God and our community of faith at Central your purpose in God’s plans. The whole statement should be engaged as “God’s Spirit is changing me for his purposes; now what is that purpose and how do I enter into it with everything I’ve got?”

Discipleship and Mission go together. Transformation and Ministry go hand-in-hand. Following Jesus and serving others are inseparable realities. The life of our Lord and the witness of Scripture are clear: you don’t really have one without the other.

This is who we are at Central. This is our identity and our vision. The statement is not a strategy — the formation zones are not a program or a plan. It’s a commitment to fostering an environment that places transformation and ministry above all else.

Peace,

Allan