When Pastor Danny Bennett prompted a bigger discussion about how our new baby churches could make it our goal to plant other baby churches, it reminded me of a picture I described to Faith Community Church – the church where I serve – years ago. About 4 years into the adventure of church planting, I tried to describe (for myself more than anyone) what the vision of our mission was, the picture of what it would look like if we participated with God in nothing less than the transformation of our city and county. Here’s a part of what I wrote – Can you see it? Can you see God using His church as a catalyst to transform our entire community? Look into tomorrow and see followers of Jesus, of every ethnicity, age, and stage of life knowing God’s word, knowing their spiritual gift, surrendered to His will, and making new disciples. Look and see every believer living their faith boldly without arrogance, partnered with the Holy Spirit in renewing our community. See old religious compounds transformed into hubs of renewal that harness, focus, and unleash kingdom resources for the healing of our city. See formidable congregational and denominational walls replaced by bridges of unity that increase the collective church’s capacity to reach more people for Jesus and address the biggest challenges of the postmodern era. See new churches, a new seminary, and new technologies for the equipping and sending of God’s people throughout the world. See a city where longstanding strongholds are torn down in Jesus’ name. Can you see a city where more people love Jesus than do not?
This vision seemed ludicrous then, and probably a bit ludicrous now. In fact, I remember the first time I shared this with our faith community, one of our members said to me, “It sounds like you’re describing heaven and it really doesn’t seem at all possible in the real world.” The truth is I completely agreed with her. It did in fact seem as if I was describing some kind of “pie in the sky” ideal that just couldn’t ever happen in the real world. But recently God reminded me that now, with this group of pastor/friends, I was actually seeing the first-fruits of the vision – the new and different future for the churches in Santa Cruz. It makes me think that if God can do this, what else is He capable of doing? It makes me think that Jesus wasn’t kidding when He told His disciples to pray “may your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” It is not a “pie in the sky” prayer. I believe it is a prayer which believes God really can make His kingdom come in very tangible ways in the middle of a very broken world.