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Vision Sunday - Don't Shrink Back

Vision Sunday - Don't Shrink Back

Is anyone else ready for February to be over? It was Thursday, February 2nd, that I noticed a rash breaking out on my forehead, face, and my right eyelid. That weekend, my doctor let me know he thought it was a severe allergic reaction. A couple days later, it was obvious that I had shingles on my forehead, face, and in my eyelid. I have never been in that much pain in my entire life. I was in so much pain that I couldn’t be at Epic on February 12th, for what was supposed to have been Vision Sunday. On February 16th, I went to an eye doctor for the first time in my life. The ophthalmologist let me know that I had shingles in my actual eye.

So I have been in a lot of pain most of February, I’ve taken more sick days this month than the entire 12 years I’ve been working at Epic, and I’ve done way too much research on shingles. One of the things that concerned me the most was learning that when you have shingles in your eye, a possible side effect is the loss of vision.

And when it comes to your life or our church, we too should be concerned with losing our vision.

It is possible to lose the vision for your life.

It is possible to lose the vision for our church.

There are many things that can lead to the loss of vision. Distractions. Disappointments. Delays. Difficult seasons. Success. Busyness. And anytime you make surviving the goal, rather than thriving – you know you’ve lost your vision.

While I am so thankful for our first 12 years and the kind of foundation God has built, this is Vision Sunday. A vision is a picture of a preferred future. A vision tells you, “This is what we’re believing for and this is what we’re going after.” And for the first time ever, I want to share a vision for the next 5 years. To be clear, I’m referring to January 1, 2023 through December 31, 2027.

Here's why I’m sharing a 5-year vision. I’m convinced we all need something significant enough to lead us out of where we’ve been. We need to be led out of a life that’s been paralyzed by fear and out of our willingness to simply settle for the status quo or to make mere survival our goal. One of the reasons we named our church “Epic” is because part of what epic means is something “beyond the ordinary or status quo”. And I believe what God has laid on my heart isn’t going to happen overnight…but I believe all of it is possible over the next 5 years.

If we’re going to pursue a significant vision, there’s something that must be present. To see what this is, let’s look Hebrews 10:32- 11:2. The writer of Hebrews spends much of his letter convincing Jewish Christians that Jesus is better than anything and he encourages them not to abandon their faith in Jesus. In other words, don’t lose your vision.

When he gets to the middle of chapter 10, he starts encouraging them to persevere in their faith. He says things like: Draw near to God. Hold onto the hope you profess. Consider how to spur one another on towards love and good deeds. Don’t give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing. Stop sinning. And we pick it up in Hebrews 10:32-11:2.

Hebrews 10:32-11:2 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved. Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.

The writer encourages this community to remember when they lived full of faith, even when they were in the middle of great trials. Great conflict full of suffering. Publicly exposed to insult and persecution. You suffered alongside those in prison. Your property was confiscated.

We have been through a lot here these last few years. But nothing like this first century community. Look at verse 34 – “You joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew you had better and lasting possessions.” How could they joyfully accept something like this?

It is easier to give up temporary things IF you know you have better and lasting possessions you will never give up.

Back to our passage in Hebrews. He writes, “Do not throw away your confidence.”

Have you ever thrown away your confidence?

I have. When what I was believing for wasn’t happening. And instead of going towards the fulfillment of the vision, things actually went the opposite direction. Let me take you back to 2019 and early 2020. Nov 2019 – launched HOME. January 2020 – largest average attendance for any month in our history – 768 people. At that moment, I was believing God for so much.

Then we all know what happened in early March of 2020. And this took away our rhythms and our plans…and for so many of us, it also took away our confidence. Our confidence in our plans, in our ability to endure challenges, and even our confidence in God. And maybe you completely left your faith at some point over the last few years.

Don’t throw away your confidence. Why? First, because God is faithful. And so you will do God’s will and be richly rewarded. If you have thrown away your confidence, let’s get it back today. Like right now, just express this as a breath prayer to God – “God, please give me back my confidence in You today.”

There are two groups mentioned in verse 39: the group that shrinks back and the group that has faith.

Will we be in the “shrinking back” or “having faith” group?

We can’t shrink back. There’s too much at stake. Let’s make a declaration that we’ll belong to those who have faith and keep their confidence. Confidence in what we hope for. Assurance about what we do not see.

Are you able to see what you cannot see yet?

This is what the ancients were commended for. They were not commended for their intellect or their beauty or their accomplishments…they were commended for believing God could do and would do what was humanly impossible. Faith or confidence in what God would do – this is what the ancients were commended for. And this is what we’ll be commended for too. This is the prerequisite for us going after the 5 year vision.

A big vision is costly…and it’s worth it. And there’s encouragement in Psalm 27 for us to keep our confidence…regardless of what we come up against these next 5 years.

Psalm 27:1-3 The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.

Psalm 27:13-14 I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

Open Our Future Home at 414 Brannan Street

Ownership makes a statement that we are here to stay. This is us making a massive investment in the future of SoMa, San Francisco, and the Bay Area.

Our increased visibility is going to help others know we are here. When I think about what this place will represent, the word “beacon” comes to mind.

beacon: a fire or light set up in a prominent position as a signal or celebration; a lighthouse or other signal for guidance

How you can help accelerate this vision: Pray for the entire construction process – permits, timeline, and costs. And you can give towards your original HOME commitment or your HOME 2.0 commitment. Or you can join us and begin giving towards HOME.

Baptize 200 people

We want to continue to see people declare their faith in Jesus. 4 so far, only 196 to go. And we already have people scheduled to be baptized next Sunday. If you know baptism is your next step, I encourage you to take it next Sunday. Let us know today.

Write Songs and Produce Worship Albums

We are seeing a passionate worship culture growing here at Epic.

God has given us an incredibly gifted worship pastor and songwriter in Seth. Seth is already in the process of writing and beginning to record new songs.

Just imagine – songs written in our house, for this community…but they will go out from here and be a huge blessing to other individuals and churches.

Double the Number of Kids and Students Attending on Sundays

We ended last year averaging around 80 kids and students per Sunday. This means we desire to see 160 kids and students attending by the end of 2027, if not before.

If you don’t have a vision for the next generation, then you don’t have a vision.

I also think about the many college students and young adults who have become part of our church.

Give Away $1 Million to The Hope Project Annually

This is how we fund our local, national, and global partners each year.

The most we’ve ever given to The Hope Project was $519,000, in 2021.

Reach 100 People Attending Alpha Each Session

The Alpha Course introduces people to Jesus and it serves as the ideal environment for those exploring faith, those who are new to faith, or those who are returning to their faith. Counting leaders, we currently have 58 people doing Alpha this session.

Open a Center for Sacred Vocation

One of our unique callings from God as a church – the intersection of faith + work.

We’ve done: Teaching Series, Workshops, and Events.

In September, we launched Awaken – a 9-month leadership development cohort that is investing in close to 20 vocational leaders. Atul Dighe and Minnie Lee are providing incredible leadership to that community.

We also care about entrepreneurs. In fact, if you have been an entrepreneur, you’re one currently, or you aspire to be one – save the date.

On Wednesday, March 8, we’re doing an event for Epic Entrepreneurs featuring Ben Chelf and Jasmine Lawrence.

Helping Christians at Epic and throughout city learn how to live their vocations for God’s glory and to be a blessing to others.

Global Impact through Training and Development – we have a team traveling to our partner church in Chile during April to put on a Sacred Vocation conference.

Well, there you go. It’s one thing to have a compelling vision, but you also need to know how you’re going to go after the vision. So how do we fulfill this vision. For starters, we can’t do this without the favor of God.

Psalm 127:1 Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.

We’re desperate for God to play his part, but we can also be confident that He will. Will we play our part? Will you play your part?

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Will you give yourselves FULLY to this work? Our team is going to pass out a couple of cards to you at this time. One has the highlights of the vision I’ve shared today. The other gives you a chance to tell us if you’re going to be part of the vision we’re pursuing.

I will seek to orient my entire life around Jesus.

I will be all in on this vision: praying, being part of a group, serving on a team, and inviting others.

I will prayerfully consider staying in the San Francisco Bay Area for the next 5 years.

I will help fuel this vision through my generosity.

Faith Builder: start giving - $30/month

House Builder: 10% of my income

Kingdom Builder: Over and above 10%

You can receive from this vision without playing a part in it. But a high percentage of us will need to be All In if others are going to be able to receive from this vision. Will you be part of this vision? It’s not a small vision, but I don’t want to live for small visions. We can’t shrink back. By faith, let’s go after this vision with all our hearts for the next 5 years.

It’s going to take the favor of God, prayer, serving, living in community, inviting others, and overflowing generosity…all while being deeply rooted in this place.

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