Everyone experiencing the love of Jesus Christ together:
Everyone a Caregiver (John 13:34),
Everyone a Disciple Maker (Matthew 28:19),
Everyone a Missionary (Acts 1:8)
We, the congregation of Dundee Presbyterian Church, as disciples of Jesus Christ, envision a future in which we continually grow in intimacy with Jesus and in faithfulness to his teachings. We believe this growth to be the appropriate response to the love God has for us and the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Furthermore, we understand faithfulness to include three core instructions that Jesus gives to every one of his followers: love one another (John 13:34), make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20), and be my witnesses (Acts 1:8). Therefore, the future we humbly and boldly pursue is one in which our entire church family—from the youngest to the oldest—is experiencing the love of Jesus Christ together and every one of us is a caregiver, every one of us is a disciple maker, and every one of us is a missionary.
A vision statement provides a picture of the desired future. It describes what we hope to become as we pursue our mission. For DPC, we have identified our mission in at least two complementary forms. At one time we lifted up the words, "Loving God, Sharing Jesus Christ." Later we affirmed a mission statement that included the line “Bearing witness to Jesus Christ in all aspects of our daily lives." Both of these mission statements describe our purpose, or what we do. Our vision statement paints a picture of what we'll be like one day as we faithfully live out our mission.
We have a capacity—some might even say a tendency—to pick and choose which of Christ's commands we want to follow. Jesus targeted some of his teachings, however, at all of his followers. It's true that each of us has different strengths and spiritual gifts, but each and every one of us is called to love one another, make disciples, and be witnesses (or missionaries). The Bible teaches that some Christians have a special ability to teach, while others have received spiritual gifts that enable them to encourage or counsel or administrate. Having these gifts doesn't exempt us from Jesus' core commands. On the contrary, they empower us to fulfill those commands with flavor and nuance.
No doubt some will be offended by DPC's vision statement. It presents a way of life that is very different than the way many, if not all, of us are currently living. Outsiders might look at the statement and either be horribly confused by its meaning or look for an easier path. Lessening the force of the statement, however, would require deselecting one of Jesus' core instructions that he gives to his followers—and therefore to us. Christ's own marketing approach wasn't what one would call a “soft sell." Statements like, “If you want to be the greatest in the kingdom of God, be the slave of all," or “Take up your cross and follow me," put Jesus in direct conflict with the tendencies and typical preferences of his listeners. Yet his love, discipleship, and witness gave them more than sufficient reasons to surrender their personal agendas for the one he offered them. We trust and pray that through the work of the Spirit and the testimony of our love, disciple making, and witness that many more will choose to receive the love of Christ and take up his call for their lives. Additionally, since the vision is a picture we don't want to describe it as a process. Whenever a vision statement is conveyed with participles (words ending in –ing), people can continuously claim victory whether or not they are actually making any real progress: “I'm caring," “I'm discipling," "I'm witnessing." We'll be better served by a vision that describes a future reality, one that will stretch us and cause us to engage in activities and processes that propel us toward Christ's desired future for us: everyone a caregiver, everyone a disciple maker, everyone a missionary.
Beginning with the three verses that contain Jesus' central instructions, we looked for words that encapsulated the core ideas. John 13:34 instructs us to love one another in the way that Jesus loves us. We thought about using “Everyone a Lover," but the word “lover" communicates a different, although quite exciting, vision within our culture than the vision inherent to loving as Jesus loved. Giving care seems to be a way of talking about the action oriented understanding of love presented in Scripture. "Disciple maker" is taken directly from Jesus' command, "As you go, make disciples of all people …" As followers of Christ we have been charged with helping others in their following of Christ. This call sends us to people inside and outside the faith and instructs us to help them grow in things like talking with God, understanding the Bible, stewardship of resources, and witnessing to the world. One disciple helping another person grow as a disciple so that the second disciple can help a third person grow as a disciple—until all are followers of Christ and all followers of Christ are intentionally and actively helping others follow Christ. “Missionary" is an attempt to show the full dimension of the word “witness." Both words convey the Biblical understanding that any follower of Christ is a person sent into the world to point others to Christ through their words and actions. Missionaries go into the world, build relationships, demonstrate the love and compassion of Christ, stand against injustices, and give witness to the love God offers exclusively through Christ.
Hundreds if not thousands of people throughout our community—from those who live next door to us to those who live across numerous socioeconomic and cultural boundaries—will have stories to share how individuals and families associated with DPC demonstrated authentic care and discipleship with them. We'll have more ministry happening off our campus and in coffee shops, homes, and places of employment. A growing line of people will mention your name as someone who helped them to take a step or two closer to Jesus and then to disciple others in the ways of Christ. You will have numerous stories in any given month of how you saw the Holy Spirit work through you to make a difference in the lives of friends, strangers, family members, and colleagues. People throughout our community—whether they agree with us or not—will declare that we're a congregation who lives what Jesus taught.
If it isn't, then Jesus set us up for failure. He's the one who issued the three core instructions in the first place. There are many stories throughout the history of God's people when, in faithfulness, they lived out these teachings of Christ. If we combine our willingness with the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit, the vision is not only achievable, but guaranteed!
By describing what we hope to look like one day, we can begin to align our priorities, ministries, teachings, relationships, and activities so that they actually move us toward our desired picture. Whether it's the session evaluating an annual budget or a ministry team designing an upcoming event, the vision statement provides a target of sorts to guide the choices we make. Every ministry team will be asked at least annually to assess its past progress, future goals, and action plans in light of the vision statement. Properly employed, the vision statement will help to coordinate our broad and diverse ministries so that our combined efforts accomplish Christ's desires for our congregation.
We will teach and train each other how to love well, make disciples, and represent Jesus in the midst of things like poverty, injustice, and marginalization. One ministry team will share its successes and failures with another. One family will encourage a couple of other families, who will offer their encouragement in return. One student will disciple another student. We'll read books, pray for guidance, take risks, regroup after disappointments, and learn from our mistakes. Slowly, but steadfastly, we'll discover together what it looks like to grow to new levels of biblically based faithfulness.