When I graduated from seminary in 1981, Carolyn and I immediately launched out to start a new church. We started with virtually nothing: no people, no building, no equipment, no programs and almost no money. Our parents seemed to understand—as a rookie pastor, it was “the only job I could come up with.” Yet it was for us the beginning of a God-sized vision.
I’ve trained church planters on every inhabited continent. This was on a visit to Ivory Coast in 2002.
After 13 years of blood, sweat and tears, that church was well-established. We knew it was time for a new God-sized vision. Instead of seeking a more comfortable role in ministry, we did the same thing again. We started a new church with even less resources than the first time.
Now our parents questioned our sanity. We were leaving a secure position to start again with nothing and trust God to build a church. But we had a God-sized vision and trusted Him to see us through.
What happened? God was faithful once again. The church reached people for Jesus We never lacked. In fact, God provided abundantly!
But just 3 years later we started fresh again. This time, we joined a new and unique God-sized vision: the vision of Dynamic Church Planting International (DCPI) to equip leaders to plant one million churches.
A million church vision was certainly something that could only happen if God was in it!
For 18 years we have labored with DCPI to fulfill that great vision. And the vision has grown—it is now a vision to equip leaders to plant 5 million churches!
Has it been worth the risk? Absolutely! The ministry impact keeps growing. Last year (2015) DCPI trained over 25,000 church planters on every inhabited continent of the world! Those leaders will plant churches that will reach tens of thousands who will follow Christ.
We human beings are funny. On the one hand, we long for significance. We want to be part of something bigger than we are, something that will make a difference in the long term, a God-sized vision.
But on the other hand, we want security, comfort, and an easy road.
Recently I heard it said that “Human beings are much more likely to avoid pain than to pursue gain.”
Can you relate? I can. I want to be part of something big, but if it involves risk, I think long and hard about it.
So here is my thesis for this article: Real faith and confidence in the Lord means embracing a God-sized vision and it’s a very joyful thing to do.
By embracing a God-sized vision, I don’t mean we sit on the sidelines cheering those who have stepped out in faith. I mean that we ourselves step out in faith to make it happen: we put our necks on the line, we risk failure, risk our resources, risk our “reputation,” even risk our safety.
Why do it? Here are 3 wonderful joys of embracing a God-sized vision:
01. Living by faith gives us a chance to see God do miracles.
Do you remember the story of Jesus (and Peter) walking on water? It’s found in Matthew 14:
“Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ ‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’ ‘Come,’ he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.” (Matthew 14:25-29 NIV)
Q & A:
Question 1: How many people walked on water besides Jesus?
Answer 1: Only one, Peter.
Question 2: How many disciples could have walked on water if they would have stepped out in faith?
Answer 2: Probably all of them.
Question 3: Why didn’t the others walk on water?
Answer 3: No one besides Peter stepped out in faith!
Question 4: Where might we be if we had stepped out in faith?
Answer 4: The past is behind us. The future is unknown. The only thing we have control of is the present.
What will we do right now to embrace a God-sized vision?
Maybe you’re afraid of water. Maybe you’re afraid to step out in faith into the deep. That’s understandable. But as someone has said, “If you’re going to walk on water, you’ve got to get out of the boat.”
When we get out of the boat, we see God do miracles in the fulfillment of a God-sized vision!
02. You get rescued when you sink.
You might be thinking, “Yes Mark. But don’t forget that Peter sank. And I don’t want to sink and drown!”
I hear you. I don’t want to either. But remember that Jesus rescued Peter when he began to sink:
“Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.” (Matthew 14:29b-31a NIV)
Isn’t it interesting that fear caused Peter to sink.
Peter had good reason to fear—he was walking on water on a stormy sea! But the Lord rescued Peter as he rescues all who step out in faith.
Not only did the Lord rescue Peter, He also rebuked him: “‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’” (Matthew 14:31b NIV)
When we step out in faith to reach a God-sized vision, we must not allow fear to overwhelm us. That is when we’ll begin to sink!
But even if we begin to fear and sink, Jesus is always there to rescue us.
We might start to sink. We might suffer. We might agonize. We might even die. But even if we die, Jesus rescues us from the penalty of our sins and we have eternal life. We cannot lose when we pursue a God-sized vision that He has put in our hearts!
03. When the God-sized vision is fulfilled, we know God did it because we certainly couldn’t!
“And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’” (Matthew 14:32-33 NIV)
Do you think Peter’s faith was increased by this walking-on-water incident? Surely part of the reason Peter became the leader of the early church was that he stepped out in faith to walk on water.
Likewise, when we embrace a God-sized vision and step out in faith, we’ll grow as leaders and Christ-followers.
And when we see a God-sized vision fulfilled, we’ll stand back and say, “Wow, God came through. We know He did this because we surely couldn’t.”
Then we’ll worship God for all He has done!
Question: Is there a God-sized vision you are pursuing now?
I’m not saying you have to be the point leader for the vision. God may more likely have called you to a team of people pursuing a great goal.
Have you answered the call?
If you don’t know the God-sized vision He might have for you, one of the best ways to know it is to go on a Vision or Prayer Retreat. To learn the why’s and how’s of such a retreat, see my articles on: