Obedient to the Vision
Guest Editorial: Dustin Miller – Campus Minister, Portland International Christians Church

“…I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven.” Acts 26:19  “…Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” Acts 2:17

Everything we build with God’s help, whether a single disciple, a Bible talk, or a ministry starts with a vision. We may have a vision to see a Bible talk in our neighborhood or to have a ministry that reaches a certain type of person. We may have vision for our family members to become a true follower of Jesus and we have vision that the gospel will be preached in our hometown. God puts these visions on our hearts. A few years after I became a disciple God placed on both my wife’s and my heart a vision to go to the East Coast; so began our journey from Corvallis, OR to Hollywood to New York City. While living in Hollywood we were asked to lead a Bible Talk at Cal State Northridge. There we found an incredible bunch of disciples who had not seen any fruit borne from their group in over a year. Through faith and imitation we were able to see that Bible Talk baptize 6 disciples within a few months time. We came into that Bible talk with a vision: a vision to make others great (Mark 10:43-45). We also had a vision to see our group grow numerically. Many of our discussions would have 10-15 visitors.

In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus had a vision for his disciples to Go to All Nations, fulfilling God’s 1st command to mankind in Genesis 1:28 to “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.”

When the Spirit sent us to New York we started another group at City College of New York in Harlem. City College is rated one of the most diverse universities in America. Our vision quickly became to see “all nations” become disciples. Our Bible talk quickly became a region, and as our vision grew, so did our number.  We started out with 5 disciples (including Amanda and myself) and our region grew to almost 30 disciples. We started with one Bible Talk on one campus and multiplied to 4 Bible Talks covering different areas of Harlem. From all the things God has allowed us to see I have learned a few keys to having a fruitful group.

Lulu gets ready to be baptized by her two sons. She said that she thought she was leading her sons in life, but that they ended up leading her to true life!

#1 Vision

“He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed…yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.” Matthew 13:31-32

Again, every group starts with a personal vision. We give this vision to those in our ministry and they in turn give this vision to others.  If the vision does not spread, nothing will grow.

#2 Labor

“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” Proverbs 14:23

Many men and women have vision for their ministry, whereas a leader strives to see it come to fruition. The example is set for us in the book of Acts as we see the First Century disciples preaching the Word “wherever they went.” Jesus also teaches us to wash each other’s feet.  Whether we are sharing the gospel or serving one another, hard work is essential.

#3 Example

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” Proverbs 14:34

A leader must always keep in mind that a righteous example has the power to uplift those who see it.  The ministry will thrive or wither based on the leader’s conduct, and the most important part of their example is their humility. We know that God will expose any unrighteousness in a leader’s character. Attempting to live an exemplary life requires the utmost humility. A ministry will learn from a leader’s mistakes, just as they will imitate the pattern of his or her life that yields victory over challenges.  We are reminded of Paul’s words as he addresses young Timothy: “…but set an example for the believers in life, in speech, in love, in faith and in purity.”  A great leader will always take the initiative when it comes to setting the bar for those in his or her care.

 

Oswaldo and Luis baptize their mother into Christ!

#4 Systematic Approach

“Follow my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.” Philippians 3:17

It also takes humility to follow.  A great leader must first be trained to follow, imitating another’s effective approach.  Many leaders fail because they are unwilling to imitate the established patterns that make other bible talks effective.  One pattern we see in the Scriptures is Jesus’ focus on the willing few.  Jesus’ effectiveness lay in his ability to work with those who were inclined to follow.  In Luke 19:5, Jesus looks up at a willing heart and calls to him: “Zacchaeus, come down immediately, I must stay at your house today.”  Time after time, we see Jesus’ influence limited by a lack of openness; his response was to first pursue those who were eager to follow.

The Odighizuwa family will soon be united in Christ!

Another principle we find in the ministry of Jesus was the amount of time he committed to those he had already impacted.  Consider the man born blind:  “Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’”  Many souls stay lost because of a lack of concern on the part of disciples who do not follow up with them.

#5 Family Time

“Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I have learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15.

At the end of the day, a Bible Talk is only as effective as its ability to build family.  Jesus built family as he set aside time from other ministry needs for the sole purpose of encouraging, teaching, strengthening and feeding his disciples.  We are called to build family this same way.  A great way to build family is by creating identity within your group.  Jesus designated the twelve apostles by giving them a unique purpose and a partner with whom to share it.  A great bible talk will imitate these same principles.  The best friends we have in the kingdom are the partners in the gospel with whom we work to bear “fruit that will last”.  A leader serves his group by helping to foster this kind of friendship.

Working together, we’ll see Jesus’ Vision become reality in our generation!

Jesus valued his small group of willing disciples, even above his own life.  He entrusted them with his vision to evangelize the world.  His lived a life of self-denial and hard work so that others would hear the good news. His example was humility and constant service.  His method was to dedicate himself to investing in those who were open, and he invested most in the servants who became his friends and ultimately his family.  As Hebrews 2:11 says, “Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family.  So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.”  Let us resolve to love our brothers, imitate Christ’s holiness, and work with all we have to obey his vision for the world, and to God be all the glory!

 

Dustin Miller

 

 

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