It’s not uncommon in any church to hear new folks declare their lack of success in getting connected – it’s no different at Vista. What may surprise you is to discover that an inability to get connected at Vista is nearly by design. What? A church that makes it difficult to connect…on purpose!? Yep, sorta. Let me ‘splain…
It is our contention that the Church too often fails at its primary objective…Matthew 28: “go and make disciples.” Because that mandate is difficult, requiring sacrifice and determination, Christian purpose too often deteriorates into “go to church.”
At Vista it is our intention (and we recognize we’re not there yet) for church to be an equipping place and a launching pad. That is, to help, train and support Christians to “go” and reach their unchurched and unbelieving friends, neighbors, family and associates for Christ. We want to do everything we can to eliminate distractions from and/or convenient substitutes for “go and make disciples.”
Too often we settle for involvement in the church instead of investment in the lost. We prefer to find significance in the connections we can make in programs and with people in church rather than finding significance in the missional purpose of God for our life.
So, if you perceive that you’re not getting connected at Vista, it may simply be that you’re trying to connect a round peg with a square hole. Modern Church too often and unfortunately wrongly defines what it means to be a Christian, and so we look for our churches to meet that skewed expectation.
Only somewhat oversimplified, being connected at Vista is three-fold: Worshipful, Relational, Missional.
1) Worship God and create a space where others can too. For us (and although worship is far more broad than just this) worship happens Sunday morning. We pitch in together to create a space for ordinary folk and families to congregate and encounter God. So, be connected by attending and serving Sunday morning.
2) Relate to others. Join a small group where real life can be processed and lived and endured and enjoyed together. Where the sermons can be driven into our hearts and into life. Contrary to the social media race for more “friends” and the “famous Christian” myth that unless we are broadly networked, famously successful and an evangelistic giant, we don’t need to generate hundreds of Christian friends. Your grandfather probably said to you at some time, “You’re a lucky man if at the end of your life you have a handful of true and trusted friends.” So, be connected by connecting with a small group of Christian friends.
3) Be Missional. That is, take advantage of all the wonderful spheres of influence God has provided you. For example, between sports, arts and other school-related activities, Tammy and I spend several hours a week with other parents. Talk about a missions space! A reasonable goal for helping people find Jesus is similar to the expectation for friends: a handful is a wonderful life’s work. There are some Billy Grahams and Francis Chans, and Louie Giglios in the world, but most of us are powerfully ordinary. But if every ordinary Christian led three others to Christ, the world would be reached in 20 years! So, be connected by consistently investing in a few folks that need Jesus.
So let me clarify our expectations for connection: Serve Sunday mornings to provide a “God space”; Join a group to grow in Christ; and invest in unchurched people. To do these with fervor and consistency is hard work that only God can sustain and make fruitful, but it will bring you (maybe for the first time ever) a fulfilling and joyful Christian life. Alternatives leave you lacking and eventually in search of a new church offering a new program to energize you again for a time.
Having trouble getting connected at Vista? Maybe we’ve not clearly communicated what it means to be connected. We’re betting the farm that your/our most meaningful connection is to God, His Word, a few Christian friends and the mission of Jesus: the hurting and the hopeless.
Get missionally–rather than programmatically–connected. Dare ya!