Harold Bullock: We’re going to take a look at our strategy and move to a different part of the frame. The bottom part of our frame here is strategy, and we’re going to take a look at that. If you’re going to go somewhere, if you’re going to accomplish some things, if you have a mission and you have some key values, you also need a strategy for approaching what you’re going to do. First, though, I’d like to take a look at what God calls each of us to do. If you’re not yet a Christ follower, then we have all been there, and we welcome you here. You’re going to get a brief picture of what God actually gives His kids responsibility for, and then we’re going to take a look at our strategy.
First of all, God calls each one of us to live a self-supported, respectable life. Here it is in 1 Thessalonians, small letter to a church: “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life…” That means you’re not the problem in the neighborhood. You can handle yourself rightly. “...to mind your own business…” ...instead of everyone else’s… “...and to work with your hands..” At that time, work was primarily with hands; now you can work with your mind. “...just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders…” You ought to be respectful. “...and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” God intends all of us to be contributors as we grow up. Sometimes, things happen in life, and we do become dependent on others, due to health problems. He calls us to live this kind of life. Actually, that takes a lot of energy; it takes a lot of time. If you have a normal job, then you’re working 50 hours a week, maybe more. You want to support yourself. My dad, many years ago, put in his 40 hour-a-week job, get overtime, and then make cabinets to support the family. He was a security guard. You do what it takes. That seems like an awful big part of life, so it’s very easy for us to sort of stop there. But, actually more things are given to us as responsibilities.
We’re God’s child; He brings us into His family, and He wants us to worship Him. John 4:23: “True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” We spend time with Dad, and we tell Him our appreciation for His great kindness to us. We do it together as a group; we do it privately. This is a responsibility given. This is something God is seeking.
Another one--connect with and encourage believers. Again, we, just pulling off the respectable, self-supporting life takes a tremendous amount of time. The ones who received this letter, many of them worked from sun-up, as soon as there was light, to sundown just to make a way. Some of them were slaves. They started before sun-up and went on after sundown. We connect with and encourage other believers. Hebrews 10:24 and 25 talk about this. 25 says this: “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing…” Some people do this. “...but let us encourage one another…” We’re to get together and encourage one another. You need encouragement, right? Sure. Encouragement is great, and discouragement is pretty abundant. We all need encouragement. You get encouraged, and then you’re discouraged again before long. We just need it. You’re to actually connect and be encouraged.
Actually, what you discover as time goes on is one of the major impacts on your life is the people you spend time with over time. If they’re people on TV, you tend to move that direction. If they’re people in family, you tend to move their direction. If they’re...whoever they are, they really impact your life. The Bible talks about this.
Another responsibility--serve in His church. This is beginning to sound like time consuming. You’re already tired, right? You’ve been supporting yourself all week, but the Father gives us this responsibility. 1 Peter 4:10: “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” The idea is God actually gives you some abilities. He does it so that you will be of help to other people, because He wants some help. He could step in and do everything Himself, but you’re His kid. You’ve been brought in to the Father’s work, and He wants to work through you and give you the joy of helping people...and give people the joy of being helped, knowing it came from God. So, we have some part of the action.
Today, it’s sort of hard to get hold of. When people grew up on farms...my folks grew up on farms. Everybody got part of the work; my dad told stories about plowing when he was eight years old, with a mule plowing the fields. My mom, at six years old, would get a chair, stand on it at the countertop in the kitchen; she would make biscuits and gravy and then fry eggs for the whole family of eight. Today, you go out in the backyard; there’s no room to plow anything. Neighbors would get you if you had a mule. So what do you do? Play video games? It’s a different setting today. A little bit hard to get a grasp of this, but the Father actually brings us into His work. It’s a part of your responsibility. You can’t do it all the time. You have to support yourself, but you can take a piece of the action. The word in that verse, it starts with “each,” not “some,” but each. This is the responsibility given to each of us.
Then, take intentional steps to grow. There are several verses like this in the Bible: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Grow in the grace and knowledge; grow in your understanding of just how much God favors you and will help you, and grow in your understanding of who He is. Don’t make up things about Him. Learn more because life is going to operate from that angle. It’s a command; it’s grow. It’s not a statement: You will grow. It’s a statement: You must take steps to grow. The reason is spiritually we just grow by intention. Physically, all we do is hang around and eat and sleep, and we’ll grow if we’re a child. Spiritually, you have to be intentional. So again, working a 40 or 50 hour-a-week job or taking care of family and you’ve got all these responsibilities, but somewhere in the middle of it, you take advantage of opportunities.
These are directions given to each of us, and they are responsibilities that you have. In Hope, the strategy that we have is constructed to help you with these. You don’t have all the time in the world. You have a busier life; you have a lot of things to take care of. Our strategy as a church is laid out to help you fulfill these. Let’s take a look at a picture of the map, our strategy map. Doesn’t look like, well, it sort of looks like a map. There’s Dallas and Fort Worth and Denton and Mid-cities and sort of a map. I’m going to show you how we work through this.
Worship--You’re called to do that. Connect. Serve. Learn. Then, a thing called Start Here. Let’s begin with worship, what we’re trying to do through worship. Our strategy is to help you discover and experience God’s ways through attending the weekly worship services. Most people come into the church through the worship services. They’ll attend the worship service first, and we realize that. So, we designed our Sunday services with guests in mind. They are designed to actually help you, who follow Christ, but also to help people who may just be investigating Christianity. We want to do both. If you’re here and you’re checking things out, you’re in the right place. We’re glad you’re here.
We aim to encourage our members and attenders to invite their neighbors, friends and bring them to worship, if they would like to come. Scripture emphasizes the impact that worship can make on people who don’t yet know Christ. We’ll emphasize “big days,” occasionally, ever so often, to encourage you to bring friends, neighbors at times when they’re most open to attend. There are certain times of year people are just a lot more open to come. Our message series are done to be helpful to Christ followers, but also to help us gain momentum in including our friends, family, neighbors on Sundays. Worship service tends to be the front door to the church. It’s not the only door, but it tends to be the front door. It’s important to us; you’re called to do it. We want to make it really valuable for you.
Attending the next Start Here...start here. This is the “Go” button. It’s a starting place. The Start Here we have not had operating yet. Our goal is to have it operational in January. We’ve had a series of meetings that helped people get oriented to Hope, but the Start Here experience is going to take things to a new level. It’s an experience to give people a taste of who we are, what we’re about, and then very easily understood how they can plug in. Our goal is to invite people to be a part of it and discover more about us, to answer some basic questions, and then to help them see the map of where they might want to go. We’d like to also help them connect with others who can maybe be a guide as they move along in church life. The experience is going to be multi-layered. It will be...it’ll have web videos, meetings, some discussions. It’s going to be a fun time. Ideally, we’d love to see new people attend the Start Here. You don’t have to become a church member, but attend a Start Here the first six weeks after attending Hope Church. If you want to attend it now, hold your breath; wait ‘til January. It will be ready, Lord willing, then. We’ve been working on a lot of things to help us move better into the future. This is one of them.
Third thing, connecting with others through events and through groups--Our strategy here is to help you do this thing of connecting with other believers and encouraging them. We want to be intentional about what we do. It’s one of our...one of the parts of our core values. We’d like to be able to do things that we can invite neighbors to, and so our groups are set up so that that’s possible. And then, the events that we do at Hope, that’s possible. Through groups we invite people to form deeper friendships, whether members or attenders...friendships with people who can actually encourage them as they move forward with their walk with Jesus. We’d like to experience a thing; it’s a Biblical concept. We don’t really have a word that describes it in English. It’s a words called koinonia. That’s a Greek word; it meant “interchange, reciprocity.” The closest word to it in English is probably “community.” But, it’s more than community. It’s the kind of interchange where we do each other good and return good for good done to us, just like we have with Christ Himself. That occurs; it’s actually a beautiful thing, and you can experience it through groups.
Through events, we want to provide meaningful experiences that again you can bring people to, but will be enjoyable for you yourself and them, for your friends and family. An example of one of these is the Fall Family Festival. It will be on the farm; it will be a fun event, and you can bring people. We’re intentional about what we do; we’re not just trying to crank up stuff to get you to do something. We really want to help you with the things God’s calling you to.
Another one...here’s another part of the strategy. Serving regularly on a team or in our community--The serving is something God has called us into; He’s called us into His work. So, we do that. We’d like our members to...and attenders...to serve in a team on Sundays to help create a guest experience where people can learn what the Bible says, where they have a good time and grow in their understanding of following Christ. A win for us...a real win for us would be if a guest came and came back next week with a friend. We want to welcome people like the Lord does, so as you come into the building on Sundays, you run into a lot...well, hopefully you don’t run into the parking team. But, you encounter them and people who help in all kinds of ways on Sunday mornings, making the whole experience good.
We invite our attenders and our members to help on a Sunday service team, but also to serve the community with us. We’ll occasionally rally members and people in the Sunday services to join in as we do service projects in the community. An example is the Trash Bash coming up, September 21 from 8:30 to 11:30 here on the Hope Campus. We’ll be joining in as the community teams clean up the trash on the Trinity waterway here. We want to be a part of that, and we want to make a positive impact in our community. If you’d like to be a part of that Trash Bash, you, maybe if you have children, go to hopechurch.com, and you can sign up for it. We’d like to bring attenders...if you’re here and you’re attending and you’re not yet a member of Hope Church, we’d love you to join us into teams, so that you can find potential friends there. Then you can get a taste of who we really are, what we really value, and what our mission is.
The last one, plugging into learning environments--We try to do a lot of things to help you learn to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. We have the Sunday messages, of course, but also we have classes, seminars, training programs. The training programs really are across different levels of spiritual maturity, so there are things that we do to orient you to Hope Church and things we do to help you keep moving spiritually. We offer equipping; if you’re on one of the teams you’ll be...you’ll have...learning how to do this stuff so that you’re having fun with it rather than stumbling over it.
We offer training programs and opportunities. We have a thing called Horizon. If you’re getting started into the faith or you’ve been around awhile and you really want to move, Horizon is a great place to start. Northstar helps people begin to move forward further. We actually have a vocational ministry training program. All these things--classes, trainings, seminars, etc.--workshops--they may deal with different things, like the Bible or theology or finances or marriage or parenting. But, the desire is to help you help meet the needs you have where you’re at, and then to train you how to live Biblically. It turns out that the Bible really does describe how life works. If you learn how to live in line with it, you don’t end up with a problem-free life, but it’s much better if you’re going with the flow of God rather than crossways or against it.
We’d like to train you to live Biblically. One that’s coming up--Parenting Through the Stages. The same weekend as the Trash Bash, there are different seminars that are done by Dr. Nathan Lewis for different stages of life and different stages of parenting. If you have babies, there will be a seminar for young kids; if you’re an empty nester, a seminar for relating to adult children, and then we’ll have a seminar on helping your parents who are aging. You don’t have to attend the whole weekend, but you can attend the ones that really plug into where you’re at in life. If you’d like to find out about that, you can go to hopechurch.com and sign up for it. Dr. Lewis, some of you know, he’s been the head of...he’s the director of the graduate program in counseling at California Baptist University. He’s trained state-certified family therapists for 25 years and more. He’s also a lot of fun; he’s a dad and now a grandpa. He knows by experience the agonies that you go through.
This is our strategy map; now here it is. There’s a flow for most people. The flow is from worship, probably to Start Here and then to connect and then to serving and then to learning. This is a general flow, but actually people… There may be people at the serving project that just decided they’re going to come to worship. Then, you may have never been to Start Here and don’t want to wait ‘til January to do it before you come to the parenting seminar. There are all kinds of ways you can go. Take advantage of the opportunities that come. Seize them while they are available. Seize opportunities. James 1:25 says, “...he who looks into the perfect law, the law of freedom…” This is God’s Word. “...and continues, not being a hearer who forgets but a doer of the work, this man will be blessed in what he does.” The blessing comes through or after the doing. It’s one thing to know...you know this if you’ve had children. It’s one thing for them to know; it’s another thing for them to do.
As God’s child, He’s given you some responsibilities, and He’s given you a complex life. I’d like to encourage you; just take advantage of the opportunities that you have. Some may be impossible for you, but when others come, you’ll probably be tired. It’ll probably be inconvenient. There may be a major ballgame on TV, but there’ll be other ballgames. Seize the opportunity. Let me show you a picture. We had another part of the strategy map for you. I wanted to highlight two. We’re coming up with the opportunity to connect through groups and then the learning with Dr. Lewis in the parenting deal. Take advantage of these; take advantage of the family fun festival...Fall Family Festival. Take advantage of these. God has given you assignments, not to burden you and ruin your life.
The Father has brought you into His family, and He wants you to find what it really means to discover His ways and to experience Him and know the blessing that comes from them. When we get together for the next time, we’re going to talk about...start talking about...the measures. How do you measure spiritual maturity? How do you measure success in what we’re trying to do? We’ve had some that we’ve worked with through the years, and I’d like to share them with you. There is a strategy, and it’s designed to help you fulfill the things that God has called you to. As God leads, take advantage of the opportunities.