Why are we Here, Where are We Going, and How do you get there

Steve Viars January 7, 2006

- Imagine with me this morning that Faith Baptist church is like a train...
- and today we’re pulling 40 cars of freight, and we’re going 40 miles an hour...
- in other words, there is a significant amount of ministry being accomplished for the Lord by the family of people involved in this endeavor...
- let’s walk through some of the ministry cars together...
- maybe the first one would be the nursery car...
- and there are all kinds of friendly people providing compassionate care for infants...
- and the babies are doing all the things you would expect babies to do, but people are caring for them well...
- the next one is the Children’s Ministry car...
- and there are children learning the Word of God...and their teachers and helpers are well trained and passionate about the importance of what they’re doing...
- then we walk into the youth car filled with teenagers...but these kids are really trying to love the Lord, and have positive relationships with one another...
- and there’s a different breed of workers here, people who are gifted and called to work with teens...
- then we walk into the choir car...and people are using their musical gifts to lead us in worship...
- and then the orchestra car and that sounds wonderful and vibrant...
- and then we walk through the counseling center car and a tremendous load of ministry is being transported there...
- and then there’s the Adult Bible Fellowship car...and friendships are being established, and discipling is taking place, and the Scriptures are being taught practically and powerfully...
- then you walk into one with 27 elected men and their families serving and leading and meeting needs---sure, that’s the deacon car...
- then you walk into a car and it’s 90 degrees and there’s these great aromas---do you know what that one is?...the Pig Roast car...
- then the next one is really cold...it’s snowing...you’re in the Living Nativity Car...
- then you walk in one where there’s six grumpy guys half asleep waiting for the next Sunday---yep, that’s the pastor car...
- and you keep walking through the Christian school car, and the building maintenance car, and the CFE car, and the sports ministry car, and the VBS car...
- are you getting the picture...
- a ministry freight train...with 40 cars, going 40 miles an hour...

- now, that’s all well and good...but now let me ask you this...18 months from now...what do we want that car to look like?...and more importantly...what does God want it to look like?...
- is the answer...still having 40 cars, and still going 40 miles per hour?...

- now you might say, well, PV, we already made that decision...and you would be right about that...
- in fact, can I ask you to take a minute and look in your bulletin...
- in the lower section of the middle inside panel, we report our church family’s giving...
- we don’t say a lot about that because we don’t have to...
- but we’ve decided as a church family that stewardship involves trying to invest and increase what God has given...
- we planning to begin the construction of a community center this summer and improve the way we do community outreach and add a number of new approaches...
- we’re also planning to begin a free, church-based seminary program for people training for Christian ministry...
- and we are planning and working to have both of those programs up and running 18 months from right now...
- and what the panel in your bulletin demonstrates is...
- in many ways the people around here aren’t loud...they’re not flashy...they’re just faithful...you might say, quietly aggressive...little talk, lots of action, to the praise and glory of our God...
- so, in other words, we’ve basically said...18 months from now, we believe the Lord would be pleased for us to try to lengthen the train, and perhaps speed it up...
- good stewards grow things to the glory of God...
- so let’s add 20 more cars of ministry, and let’s stoke the boiler and get it going faster...
- if we’re 40/40 now, why not 60/60 then?...

- now, please push the pause button on that for a minute, and let’s think about this  individually...
- what part of our ability to haul 40 cars of ministry now does your life, and gifts represent?...
- what stake do you have in the length and speed of the ministry train?
- and, 18 months from now...should that answer be the same...or should it be different...

- all of this brings us to the theme we have selected to emphasize this year...
- Gearing Up for Greater Effectiveness...
- the opportunities 18 moths from now are either going to catch us off guard and will probably will be squandered...
- or we’re going to be prepared...we’re going to be ready...
- when the length increases, there will be a ready stream of trained servants to transition into those cars...
- when the speed picks up, nobody is going to lose their footing...it’s time to gear up for greater effectiveness...

- with that in mind, I’d like to invite you to open your Bible this morning to the book of I Timothy chapter 3.
- this morning we’re talking about the questions Why Are We Here, Where Are We Going, and How Do You Fit In?
- it’s pretty obvious that one of the first steps in the matter of “gearing up” is each one of us having a clear and solid set of answers to these three questions...[repeat]

- the book of I Timothy was written by the apostle Paul to a man he often referred to as his “son in the faith”...
- we believe this was written between 62-64 AD soon after Paul had been released from his first imprisonment in Rome...
- he had left Timothy at Ephesus to serve as a pastoral leader there and Paul even hopes to visit Timothy and the church family soon...
- however, that may not happen, so Paul writes this letter to Timothy, and as we’ll read in a moment...these words are given so that the people of the church will know “how to conduct themselves in Christ’s church...”
- in other words, since this church wasn’t very old, and since it might be a while before Paul could visit them...they needed answers to the very same questions we’re posing to ourselves in our day and age...[repeat]...
- this really is an ideal section of Scripture for us to study on this particular day...
- READ I Timothy 3:14-16

- on the inside of the handout we placed in your bulletin today, you’ll see the outline we’re using and I’ll be referring to this quite a bit this morning...
- we’re looking for Three areas we need to understand in order to gear up well.
- that was true of the Ephesians to whom Timothy was ministering and it’s true of us as well..

I. Understand Where We Are.


- you’re only motivated to do what is necessary to get to a better place if you really recognize the importance of the position you’re in...
- now, please think about this...
A. From the Early Church’s Perspective.
- right out of the blocks, Paul is helping them see that they are in...
1. A significant position in history.
- sometimes we get so used to words and themes that they don’t move us like they should...
- but even the first few words of the book...[read 1:1]...
- what is Paul doing?...
- he’s reminding them that...
a) They are fulfilling the mission of Jesus Christ.
- he’s an apostle---he’s been sent to build on that cornerstone...and they now as part of the fruit of his ministry are accomplishing exactly what Jesus set out to accomplish...
b) They are obeying the command of God.
- this is not some unimportant endeavor whose future doesn’t really matter...
- all of this is according to the command of God Himself...
c) They are casting their hope on these truths.
- you could push a pin into the map of human history to the exact point where they were living...and then start tracing threads back to all sorts of places around the Word of God...
- a church like theirs was the fulfillment of the plan...this is what the prophets were driving toward....this was the Savior gave His live for...
- it is not an overstatement to suggest that they were in a significant position in human history...
2. Characterized by a sense of urgency.
- if you just scan over these verses...you pick out phrases like...
- v. 1:3 – as I urged you upon my departure...
- v. 1:18 – this command I entrust to you...
- v. 2:1 – First of all I urge...

- you get the sense that they understand, or at least that Paul wants them to understand the critical nature of their position...
- there’s an obvious sense of urgency to all of this...
- it wasn’t nappy, nappy, time...nobody’s wearing PJ’s or looking for a comfortable chair...
3. Focused on a central purpose.
- you see that in places like...
- v. 5 – the goal of our instruction...
- this was important enough that they didn’t want to squander any of their effort on meaningless activity...there was clear goal to all of this...
4. With hearts filled with gratitude.
- not only did they grasp the significance of their position, they could still hardly believe God had placed them there...
- v. 12 – I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service...
- [cf. the rest of the chapter]...[repeat 4 points thus far]...
5. Understanding that more team members were needed to complete the task.
- this was not about Jesus accomplishing this mission without people, nor was it about Paul being the central focus as an apostle of Christ...
- this book drips with...there’s room for everybody, more are needed, this is a team approach...
- 1:2 – To Timothy, my true child in the faith...
- and you can follow that theme all through these chapters...
- here’s what we need men to do...here’s what we need women to do...
- we need to have qualified deacons...we need to have qualified pastors...
- Christianity is anything but a spectator sport...
- Paul is saying that we need to get as many people on the bus as possible and get them in the right seats on the bus...

- the overall point here is...he wanted them to understand the significance of the days in which they lived, and the centrality of the position they were in...
- this is it....we’re right in the middle of what the Bible said God would do...
- that explains the phrase in our key verse, I Timothy 3:15...”I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself...”...or if you learned this in the KJV...how to behave yourself...
- that’s not, don’t wiggle around in your seat, or talk out loud...
- the point is...we have to get it right...and we are motivated by that in part by understanding where we are...

B. From our church’s perspective.
- please pause for a moment in your mind and answer this question...what should we make of these 40 cars of ministry freight that God has currently given us?...
- we walked through the cars together...we thought about all the people and all the gifts and all the opportunities and all the victories and all the fruit...
- what should we make of that and how should we respond to the position we’re in right now....to what God has given us today?...
- I would suggest, with thankfulness and amazement...
- I will tell you, when I was in college and seminary, I never in my wildest dreams thoughts I would have the privilege of being involved in the church like this...
- there are so many reasons to be thankful now...so many good people, so many marvelous ministries and gifts...
- I hope we grasp the fortunate and unique position God has given us...
- you say, like what?

1. A great foundation.
- we share great affinity with the church to whom this book was written...
- their mission is our mission...
- that’s why on the front of your handout, we reminded you of our church’s mission statement...[read it together...]
- in addition to that, for nearly 42 years now, this church has had a number of men and women who faithfully learned, and faithfully, served, and faithfully gave, and faithfully taught...
- we have an incredibly strong foundation...and for many of us, that work preceded us...I hope we don’t take that for granted...
2. A compelling vision.
- our church family 3 years ago went through a exhaustive strategic planning process...and what emerged from that was a desire to build on our foundation by improving our outreach through more intentional and compassionate interaction and involvement in our community...
- to be known as a church that loves its neighbors and has resources in place to help them come to know Christ and find answers from God’s Word for the everyday challenges of life...
- and God is blessing that week after week and month after month...
3.  An exciting future.
- we’ve identified the kind of community based ministries we believe are most needed on our side of town...so the community center isn’t a building...it is a place to conduct ministry to meet the needs we’ve identified together...
- we’ve thought about this issue of ministry training and we want to change that paradigm by bringing it into the local church, and providing housing for our students for free, and a strong education for free, and hiring them to work here for the three years they are in our school so that when they graduate, they can leave and go into the pastorate, or into teaching, or to the mission field...
- without the burden of debt, and having strong families and personal lives, and having 3 years of ministry experience in a local church under their belt, all done in a context of vibrant community based ministry...
- and we want to partner with other churches so they can begin similar programs in their churches and we can share the teaching and the expenses of making it happen...
- those are the 20 cars we hope to add to the train and then we want to make every car better, and faster...
- and friends, we’re so close to that now you can begin to taste it...it’s an exciting future...
4. An ideal location.
- everybody knows the town is moving east, and south...
- SR 26 expansion
- McCarty lane extension
- possibility of SIA getting a Toyota line
- possibility of a hospital or two being built in this direction...
- [deal with --- but that will bring more people, more traffic, etc.---we’re in the people business...please keep that in mind as you patiently wait to exit this morning...]
5. A position of significant reinvestment.
- see, our congregation had to make a very important set of decisions...
- how about going into a maintenance mode?....let’s just enjoy our 40 cars and keep it going at the same rate...
- that would certainly be the easiest plan...that would be the safest plan...the problem is, when you factor in the principle of stewardship, there is no way that could be God’s plan...
- and so we said...let’s identify all the ministry opportunities, let’s shore up our weakness and build on our strengths, let’s gather up all our gifts and resources and reinvest them at a higher level of ministry...
- we’re going from 40 to 60...
- and there’s nothing easy about that...there’s nothing comfortable about that...
- I’d even suggest its not particular safe and it’s certainly not risk free...
- but do you realize...we have essentially crossed the river and burned the boats...going back isn’t an option...
- we’ve got to gear up...

- one of the questions we have to face this morning is...do we understand and appreciate the significance of the position we’re in?...
- we’ve worked hard to get to this place for a long time...
- and God in His grace has allowed us to get here...to the very base of a potentially very fruitful mountain...

- now, what’s the next piece of this puzzle?


II. Understand Who We Are.


- there’s a 3 fold description of the church in verse 15 that is solid gold...
A. The family of God.
- the word translated household in verse 15 has already been used several times in this chapter---please see if you can find it...
- chapter 3 verse 4 [speaking of the qualification of pastors...]...he must be one who manages his own household well...not keeping up with house maintenance---context clearly indicates the issue is his family...[same is true of 3:5]
- when we get to the qualifications for deacons...same emphasis...3:12 – good managers of their children and their own households...
- so this is a family context....
- well, when we get down to this 3 fold description of the church...that the same word that is used...the issue is, the church is like a family...
- that’s why on the first page of your handout under the heading “who we are”...the first part of that sentence...FBC is a family of followers of Jesus Christ...
- we take that seriously...
- we want to be a place where people can feel connected...that’s what families are...
- and what a great picture for what God is doing, and what God is building...
- it’s not an organization, it’s not an entity, it’s not a corporation...it’s a family
B. The church of the Living God.
- the word church means “called out ones...”
- the Lord is the One doing this work...
- [if time, tie that to 2:3-4]....

- [show logo] - let me take just a minute and explain this new logo to you...
- we realize that logos are personal things, and can provoke strong emotions all over the spectrum...but let me at least explain how we got here...
- we have had three primary ministry divisions that actually delivered ministry services to people...the church, the counseling ministry, and the school...
- each of them has grown far beyond what we ever expected, and in some ways have taken on a life of their own...
- we got to the place where they each had their own accounting software/systems/reporting...
- their own databases...
- their printed information was starting to move away from one another...
- and so the issue of continuity and seamlessness was becoming a real challenge...
- add to that the fact that we are preparing to develop 2 new ministries...
- so we said last summer, before we go any further...we have to go through a seamlessness process...and we have...
- we are investing in a completely upgraded and integrated technology system...
- everybody will be using the same accounting systems and software...
- we’ll be operating from the same database...
- our web site is being completely redone...
- this is a major investment of time and resources but it is being done in a way that will enable us to develop our new ministries in a way that it all works together when we’re done...
- part of that was our logo...since we have so many ministry emphases...it was very challenging to choose something that would work ministry wide...
- we were also advised by our consulting firm not to try to communicate heavy philosophy with our logo...
- what we believe and stand for is based on our name and our reputation...
- we were encouraged to find something that....
- up to date, unique...
- that was inviting [thus the “there’s room for one more” emphasis]
- could be used by all the ministries
- and that was joyful...
- but the overall idea that there is room for one more because the living God is still building His church is very important to us.

- now, what’s the third description...
C.  The pillar and support of the truth.
- Paul is calling up the picture of one of the great buildings in Ephesus...where they would have strong foundations and massive pillars to hold up the roof...
- that’s what the church is like...the foundation has to be strong and secure, and the pillars have to be high...so the truth of God’s Word is held up high for everyone to see.

- now, when you put these first 2 ideas together, a couple of responses should emerge...
1)  this is exactly where we would want to be...and who we would want to be...
- what a great position in which to find ourselves...
2)  if there was ever anything we would want to advance...to get from pulling 40 cars to 60...this is it...
- and if there was ever a time to do it...this is it...
3) there are 2 crucial ingredients now...
- specificity...
- this isn’t going to happen without a clear plan of identifiable steps...
- so if the theme of “gearing up” has an “engineering ring to it”, that’s because the process of “gearing up” has an engineering component to it...
- personal buy in...this can’t be, “well, we talked today about what they’re going to do over at the church this year...” – God deliver us from the curse of the “they”


III. Understand Where We Are Going.


- let’s highlight some of these initiatives...and please be asking the Lord to help you identify what your place in the gearing up process looks like...
1.  Consider ways to expand and improve our ABF ministry...
- [encourage each person to faithfully attend]...
2.  Offer Leadership Development Training classes...
- develop – started one with Doc Smith this past Wednesday pm – specifically regarding training for future possible deacons – 60 men attended [that is exactly what we mean by gearing up]
- in March/April – a class on Wednesday nights will be offered for men and women who are open to increasing the weight of ministry you are shouldering...or improving in what you are doing now...
- March – Theology of Leadership
- April – men discipling men, women discipling women – The Foundation of Leadership
- Fall – The Practice of Leadership
3.  Continue to develop and use our human resources coordinator position...
- develop the importance of every member serving...
- how has God gifted you, and what are you doing with it...
- we need all of our ministries at full strength, not just now, but for where we believe we need to be in 18 months...
- cf. children’s workers, nursery workers, music ministry...
- walk through the volunteer card for the BCTC...

4.  Review Community Ministry Initiatives
- encourage attendance tonight...

5. Review Faith Global Initiatives...

6.  Our school has some important decisions to make...

7.  We also plan to break ground on the community center in a few months...

- could conclude by discussing how we want every person in our community to have clearly heard the gospel [what they do with it is between them and the Lord...]
- cf. the tragedy of hearing and believing news that ends up being wrong...cf. the miners...

 


- by the way, I realize some might be here and would say...PV...we’re way ahead of what gearing up would look like for me...OK...let’s back up for a moment...
- not sure you know Christ?...
- you’ve trusted Christ, but not been baptized, or need a church home?...Intro to Faith...

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video