Hazel Hill

Mission & Vision: Our Past and Our Future

In my last blog post, I began to describe a series of discussions me and my staff have been having in order to solidify that we are on mission. We determined that our mission was the non-negotiable mandate given to the global church by Jesus in Matthew 28:19, to "go and make disciples." Once our mission was clear and we had started with "WHY" our church existed, we turned our attention to "HOW" we would go about accomplishing this mission. Our "HOW" became our vision. mission-and-vision-your-past-does-not-need-to-be-your-future

I began the discussion by defining our vision as the contribution our congregation would make to the global church. What problem were we called to solve? What role would we play in the world-wide church?

As we began to discuss this, we quickly realized that our church has already made major contributions to the global church! We had released our founders and world-class leaders Drs. George and Hazel Hill, who have gone on to launch one of the world's fastest and most effective church planting organizations, Victory Churches International. VCI has planted churches in more than 40 nations, plus has started multiple Bible Colleges, orphanages, slum schools, safe houses, and much, much more!

Our church was also responsible for launching our nation's first and only 24 hour Christian television station, the Miracle Channel. And, played a major role in the launch of the Christian political organization the Canada Family Action Coalition. Yes, in our short 33 year history, we have had a major impact already on the global church. But was that it? Have we done our duty?

We emphatically answered, no! As we discussed what we had to contribute in the future, we noticed a clear theme from our past. When Drs. George and Hazel had planted this church, it quickly grew to be one of Canada's largest churches at the time. But it's growth was different than how other churches were growing. The majority of our growth wasn't transfer growth from other churches, it was a revival of new souls that caused this ministry to explode! We had a strong urge to go back to our roots. To recenter ourselves on the original mandate - to reach every available person, by every available means, at every available time with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We would verbalize this commitment to reach outsiders by saying "Our vision is to create a church unchurched people love to attend."

Why do we say it that way? Well, it's simple really. We believe that the natural gravitational pull on every local church is to become insider focused. Every church fights this pull. We felt the best way to keep our vision focused outwardly was to continually create environments that the unchurched would love to be a part of. Another way to say it would be simply, we desire to create environments that our members feel comfortable inviting their unchurched friends and family to. To us, this would be living with the same resolve James, the brother of Jesus, had when he declared to the early church leaders in Acts 15:19  “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God." In other words, we (the church) should not stand in the way of people coming to Jesus because we are only focused on ourselves and our wants and desires.

We felt, as a staff, that this was our contribution to the global church. This was our call and our anointing. We witnessed that last year when we held our first Redesigning Church Conference. Every church that attended boasted of immediate results in effectively reaching the unchurched. We know that we will see the same results at this year's conference for those who attend. God has given us strategies to share, strategies that gave us the ability to lead over 350 people to Jesus in 2012 and we are anticipating many more in 2013.

We're excited about the future, about creating a church unchurched people love to attend!

Question: If you have not registered for Redesigning Church Conference 2013, Feb. 1-2 - register now by clicking HERE.

How to Avoid Backsliding

John Bevere said, “Anyone in your church will backslide if they do not use their gift.” That's a bold statement. Is it true? And if it is true, does it mean being active with our gifts will guarantee we never backslide? What do I need to cross the finish line with confidence?

I have had the privilege of spending a lot of time with my spiritual parents, Drs. George and Hazel Hill, the founders of the church I pastor and of Victory Churches International. I have had the opportunity to travel with them and even stay in their home on a number of occasions and the one thing I admire most about them is their insatiable passion for the Word of God and for prayer. They are even more impressive in private than they are in public - and that’s saying something!

I remember them saying one time, “We have never backslid once, not even a little! Each day we are more passionate for God, His Word and His Church than we were the day before.”

And do you know what? It’s the truth. I believe them. I’ve witnessed it first hand. They have been Christians for over 35 years and have never questioned their faith, never wavered. That’s unusual, don't you think? I know in my life I have had moments of doubt and struggles and setbacks with my faith. So how do they do it? What makes them special?

I was meditating on these questions one day and what hit me was the amazing fact that only a few years after being born again, Dr. George planted his first church. And he has been planting churches and ministries ever since. They have dedicated their entire lives to the expansion of the kingdom. They’re entire Christian life has been lived on purpose! In other words, they are so focused on going forward, that taking a step back is out of the question, even for a moment. I think there’s a lesson in that.

The Apostle Paul wrote this to his protege Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:3-5 (Msg)

"You're going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They'll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. But you—keep your eye on what you're doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God's servant."

In other words, the best way to avoid backsliding is to keep our attention focused forward and to continually advance. The key word in this passage is the word "doing." It indicates that we must be active, using our gifts for the sake of others and for Kingdom advancement. Mother Teresa once said that she couldn't imagine doing her work for more than thirty minutes without prayer.Why? It was because she had to. She had put herself in a position where her strengths were on such a demanding climb that she lived in a place where she actually needed God's help every day to survive. And He was delighted to give it.

Living this type of life is risky. It’s much more comfortable to be passive - to fight only when I need to. If you are like me, you often find yourself placing a higher value on being safe and comfortable over giving, serving, and sacrificing for the sake of the kingdom. But look at how James, the brother of Jesus, warned us in James 2:14-17 (Msg)

"Dear friends, do you think you'll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, "Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!" and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn't it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?"

If you want to experience God on a deeper level, if you want to guarantee you will never backslide, you will need to activate your faith and use your gifts for the furtherance of the Kingdom. It is time to take our faith on a more demanding climb, to a place where we desperately need God help everyday, and where He is delighted to give it.

Question: When have you found your faith to be the most alive and passionate? Please comment in the "Leave a Reply" box below.