Vision Casting

vision

Vision casting is not so new is it?

Christ our Lord says, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48 When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:47-50).

One of the ridiculous thoughts of the church is that she can define herself and her vocation in this world. She can declare herself to be something or someone besides what Her Husband, the Lord Christ, declares her to be.  The Church cannot, not shouldn’t, but cannot define herself and create her own vocation in this world. When she stops doing what Christ gave the Apostles to do in JOhn 20 and Matthew 28, then she is no longer the church, but a non-profit organization along side of other groups. The Church is not a social group! She is a Bride, The Bride of Christ, and it is Christ who defines her and gives her her mission in this world.

What is that mission that Christ gives to His Bride the Church. The message of Matthew 13, to caste out the net of the word and nothing else. The Church is not called to be a visionary of new ways to get that word out. It is simple. Open your mouth and forgive sin. Preach the Law and the Gospel and let God do the worrying about who repents and is forgiven, as the text in Matthew calls us to do. Luther called the Church the sheep who hear the voice of their shepherd. Luther says even a seven year old knows this. Clearly we need to have more seven year olds to remind us that the Church is the place where the Gospel of Christ is proclaimed and  the sacraments are administrated in accordance with the Gospel for the forgiveness of all sinners.

What should the Church’s vocation look like then? First, for Pastors! Preach the Word in season and out of season. Pray, meditate on Scripture, preach, teach, and administer the Sacraments. If you’ve found a better set up than this, pray some more to have the revelation that this is not biblical, but comes from the mind of the devil himself in an attempt to tear you away from the cross of Christ. Second, for hearers. Hear the Word, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest it. Live in your baptismal grace by confessing your sin and receive holy absolution. Go to the Sacrament when it is offered and eat and drink your Lord’s Body and Blood. Third, all the baptized, love your neighbor. This is it. This is what has been and will always be given to us in Holy Scripture. Anything outside of this is not from above, but proceeds from our fallen conception of mission work and conversion. Every program created by Man fails because it is not blessed by the Word of God. Enthusiasm, Pelagianism, Kennedy method, or any programs currently being practiced in our LCMS will not work because they do not proceed from Above, but from below in man’s fallen reason and sense.

One good example of how to grow your church, if you need an example. Parents, catechize your children. More specifically, Fathers., catechize your children and your wife. Bring them up in the six chief parts of the Catechism, take them to church ,pray for your food, be Christ to your wife and your children. If there is not a father around, mothers fulfill the vocation of catechizer in the house. If anyone can find a better example than this, repent and forsake any false notion of a miracle program that will make man stop hating God and turn to loving Him. There is no program for conversion, only the Gospel, only the Word of Christ can kill and make a man alive eternally.

About Pastor Chris Hull

Chris Hull is the Senior Pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tomball,Texas. He was married to Allison Desiree Monk on June 3rd, 2006. They have been blessed with four boys, Lochlann Richard Patrick, Eamonn Julius Luther, Tiernann Thomas Walther, and Jamesonn Frederick Flacius. Pastor Hull graduated from Concordia University in River Forest, Il in 2006. He received his Master of Divinity from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 2010. He is currently in the STM program at CTSFW.

Comments

Vision Casting — 29 Comments

  1. “The Church cannot, not shouldn’t, but cannot define herself and create her own vocation in this world. When she stops doing what Christ gave the Apostles to do in JOhn 20 and Matthew 28, then she is no longer the church, but a non-profit organization along side of other groups.”

    What!?!? How DARE you speak such Scriptural sense to those seduced by American evangelicalism!

    😀

  2. @J. Dean #1
    What!?!? How DARE you speak such Scriptural sense to those seduced by American evangelicalism!

    About time someone did! And trumpeted it in the ears of those leading flocks away from Lutheranism (and probably Christianity, if the cult of “the leader” gets too strong).

  3. @Pastor Chris Hull #3
    Pastor Hull,

    You mean you’re not into adapting your preaching like the 5-2ers at the wiki conference? Say it isn’t so. How could a pastor not latch onto some of the wonderful tips for a successful ministry put on display in Katy? My favorite is the, “Why Our Preaching Should Be More Like A Sitcom.”

    😉

    http://www.fivetwo.com/preaching-like-a-sitcom/

    In all seriousness, nice article Pastor Hull. Thank you.

  4. Someone please enlighten me-what is fivetwo.com? I just visited their website which is confusing to a 60 yr old layman. By the way Pastor Hull, great article, something the Church needs to hear again and again. Like the Isrealites, we continue to get confused and stray away often.

  5. @Randy #4
    Randy,
    some preaching in the LCMS is as bad as a modern day sitcom. I need to be told when to feel bad and when to pick myself up by my bootstraps.

  6. @Pastor Chris Hull #5

    Unfortunately, that happened during one of my more recent visits to a Lutheran church near my house. The service and sermon were FAR TOO much like the evangelicalism I and my family had just run away from. I said to myself “Are you kidding me!?!?”

    And I have to ask: exactly WHY do Lutherans who like non-Lutheran things still insist on calling themselves Lutheran when the non-Lutheran things will eventually be at odds with (and ultimately overthrow) the Lutheran things which characterize Lutheranism? I would really rather that they make an announcement to their congregations and say “we are dropping the ‘Lutheran’ from our affiliation” and be honest about what they want to do, instead of constantly acting like LINOs.

    Did we learn nothing at all from Schmuckert?

  7. Hmmm, I really don’t get the post????? What are you against? Luther was a visionary, he brought the Gospel to the people, wrote the Bible so people could read it. Lutherans are visionaries, we put things back the way it should be.

    Can we not envision ways of bringing the Gospel to someone that is “hard of hearing.” We cannot change the Message, we can be better at delivery. And yes, in the end, all glorby be the Holy Spirit, He does the true conversion.

    So, examples of “bad vision” please…

  8. Rev. Prentice,

    Did you not see the recent BJS thread found here regarding this movement:

    https://steadfastlutherans.org/?p=37885

    Please spend some time reviewing what Rev. Woosley and his 52/Wiki Conference/Sacramental Entrepreneurs are up to. Then, here’s an excerpt from the source that can be accessed here:

    http://www.fivetwo.com/about/fivetwo-story/

    2013 saw a shift in terminology, moving from “church planters” to “sacramental entrepreneurs” because we realized churches that have not started anything in decades needed to start small before going big. The title change included more people in the startup culture.

    2014 brought a refinement to our mission and arrived at a crazy 2044 Legacy Vision that can be summarized in one sentence: FiveTwo exists to launch 10,000 Sacramental Entrepreneurs who start 1,000,000 sacramental communities by 2044.

    So here we are: the train has left the station, steam spewing from the stack, but slowly enough that you can leap on board at the next crossing. The more people in the car, the more fun the trip.

    We hope you’ll join us!
    __________________________________________
    So, I don’t know about you Rev. Prentice, but I’m not about to get on their 2044 Legacy Vision Crazy Train. Are you?

  9. @Pastor David L. Prentice Jr. #9

    Thanks Rev. Prentice. Don’t get me wrong. These folks are great at using the old CGM storyline by weaving bits and pieces of scripture into their methods. At first blush many may think that “THIS IS WHAT WE’VE BEEN WAITING FOR!” But one must take a closer look at what is being said. They play on ones emotions to gain “enthusiasm” for their movement. Who wouldn’t want everyone to grow in the one true faith? Buuuuut, when you are looking at their website take notice of numbers. Lots of numbers. Then, see how they wrap their message in something that seems good, right, and salutary. But look closely. For instance, here’s their “Five Keys to Releasing The Sacramental Jesus in Others:”

    Sacramental identity is the unique presence of Christ in you, a God-combo of your Psalm 139 knitting together and your baptism-day-Holy-Spirit washing. It is the predestined, divinely patented you, ordained by your Creator Father for His purposes in the world. In sacramental terms, it is the sacramental Jesus in you, the real presence of Jesus wrapped in your bread and wine.

    First, I have to confess, this seems like a bunch of mumbo-jumbo to me. But, HEY, at least he said phrases and words like, Baptism, and Bread & Wine. So, all is well, right???? Wrong! Woolsey’s church, for instance, only administers the Lord’s Supper once a month. How important is it to them if that’s the case. Again, is this the vision we seek?

    Then, look at the literature and sources they use and promote. On the following page they reference C. Peter Wagner, Ed Stetzer, Peter Drucker, Michael Scott (yes, the TV character from the TV show “The Office”), Larry Osborne, AND, oh yeah, they also quote Jesus……….

    http://www.fivetwo.com/quotes-to-plant-by/

    I have a quote too. Regarding the CGM: You can polish a turd all you want, but it’s still a turd.

  10. @Randy #10

    I’m 2 generations removed from the startup culture but I know quite a few of them. Unfortunately they commonly talk in this goofy jargon and all think they are the next Steve Jobs.   I agree the language seems like a ridiculous parody. 🙂

  11. @John Rixe #11

    I hear you, John. Truth be told, I do my own “vision casting” all the time. For some odd reason these days I find that I have to “cast my vision” further when I read. I do this by stretching my arms out a little further so I can focus 😀

  12. @Pastor David L. Prentice Jr. #10
    Pastor, while you’re at it, visit the church’s website and listen to a couple of their sermons. I’m sure you’ll understand where they’re coming from. “You got saved, so get to work,” is one version. The Gospel as information, and works, works, works. Here’s the website:

    http://www.crosspt.org/

    Enjoy–and don’t forget to get to work!

  13. @Joe Strieter #17

    Can you please point me to the particular sermon, Joe?  Thanks.  

    Are they saying works contribute to salvation or simply that sanctification follows conversion (Eph 2:10)?

  14. From the main post: “The Church is not called to be a visionary of new ways to get that word out.”

    Was starting the Lutheran Hour a mistake, then? Should Issues, Etc. be shut down? Are missionaries not to be concerned about establishing means of communication that are well-suited to indigenous cultures?

  15. @John Rixe #18

    Yes, I listened to two of them. I did a “Crosspoint Analysis” Excel spreadsheet and sent it to Norm. You’re welcome to it. Contact Norm. There is also a blank tab that you can use to do your own website analylses if you wish. But here are my comments from that “Crosspoint Analysis”
    1. LISTENED TO “PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS” FROM “FIVE BAD GOALS” SERIES. 8/24/14. JESUS CAN GET YOU HAPPINESS. “FOLLOW JESUS” AS LAW. LOTS OF “JESUS TALK,” BUT ABSOLUTELY NO GOSPEL! NOT EVEN A CHRIS ROSEBROUGH “GOSPEL NUGGET.” GAVE IT “2” (Out of 10)

    2. LISTENED TO “PRODIGAL SON” FROM “JESUS FICTION” SERIES [about the parables] 4/06/14). SERMON WAS JUST OVER 30 MINUTES LONG. DID A GREAT JOB WITH THE PARABLE, AND EVEN HAD A COUPLE OF “GOSPEL NUGGETS,” AND I WAS QUITE IMPRESSED, UNTIL THE
    LAST COUPLE OF MINUTES WHEN HE TURNED THE GOSPEL INTO “THE WAY TO SHOW THE RIGHT LOVE OF THE FATHER IS TO RECEIVE IT FIRST OURSELVES,” AND “WHEN WE LET THE FATHER DO THAT, IT CHANGES HOW WE START LOVING OTHER PEOPLE.” CALLS IT THE “GOSPEL RISK”–SOMETHING WE HAVE TO DO. 30 MINUTES OF PRETTY GOOD EXEGESIS RUINED BY TWO MINUTES OF GOSPEL AS LAW. NO REAL PROCLAMATION, EITHER,
    JUST A COUPLE OF “NUGGETS.” GAVE IT A “2” [out of 10]. “JESUS TALK” IS NOT THE GOSPEL!

    If you’d like, Norm can give you my email address, and I’ll send you the spreadsheet. Operators are standing by! If you act within the next five days, we’ll send you a bonus of five (5!) Rick Warren and Joyce Meyer sermons on “Making God Smile.” Just $50 for postage and handling. DON’T MISS IT IF YOU CAN!

  16. @Joe Strieter #20

    PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

    I heard quite a lot of gospel:

    “Happiness is a gift to be received not a right to be claimed.”  “Happiness is not merely a feeling.  It is founded in having the undeserved yet unlimited favor of God.”  

    I didn’t hear that he said “following Jesus” was law that helped merit salvation.  What’s wrong with following Jesus? 🙂

    Let us ever walk with Jesus,
    Follow His example pure,
    Flee the world, which would deceive us
    And to sin our souls allure.
    Ever in His footsteps treading,
    Body here, yet soul above,
    Full of faith and hope and love,
    Let us do the Father’s bidding.
    Faithful Lord, abide with me;
    Savior, lead, I follow Thee.

    PRODIGAL SON

    I thought this was a good gospel message.

    “The way to show the right love of the Father is to receive it first ourselves and when we let the Father do that, it changes how we start loving other people”

    What’s wrong with that? 🙂  Where is he implying that loving other people helps merit salvation?

    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5‬:‭17‬)

    ….as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭4‬:‭21-24‬)

    I’m sure not a trained theologian so I hope Pr Prentice has some time to scan these sermons.

  17. @John Rixe #21
    Without having read the sermons themselves, Mr. Rixe, what you quote seems to me more like references to an assumed and not too specific “gospel” than actual proclamation of the Word of the Cross ….

  18. @Randy #14
    Thanks for the short but enlightening response. Let’s pray that others don’t “catch” his vision. Stick to Scripture, we know who’s got the other end of the rescue rope.

  19. @John Rixe #21

    I just watched “Pursuit of Happiness” again. I stand by my evaluation of this sermon, with some modifications. At 21:00 I did hear a “Gospel Nugget.” A few more observations. His statement about happiness you quoted just barely touches the Gospel–however, it hardly qualifies as proclamation. His final statement, however (“I leave you with this thought”), cannot be described as Gospel: “How does your happiness narrative need to change, and who can help you with it?” It would seem that “following Jesus” is the answer, but why should we follow Him? How will He change my happiness narrative? Despite the “Gospel Nugget,” there is no real proclamation. The Gospel was presented largely as information, but not as the power of God unto salvation. A 32 minute sermon with barely two minutes of Gospel information. But, because I missed the Gospel Nugget, I’d be inclined to upgrade this sermon to a “3,” except for this:
    The use of “B.S detector” and “Gave his father the finger,” are inappropriate in a Lutheran sermon. I’ll stick with the “2.”

    As for “Let Us Ever Walk With Jesus,” verses 2-4 complete the call to follow Jesus in verse 1. “From our soul’s destruction frees us” (v.3), and “Since He’s risen from the dead, death and grave must soon release us.” I think those verses proclaim at least us much Gospel as the sermon just reviewed.

    Report on the second sermon to follow.

  20. @John Rixe #21
    Just finished “The Prodigal Son,” again. I see no reason to change my opinion of this sermon. Yes, the same “Gospel Nuggets” were there, and he hinted at the Gospel here and there, but it was still presented as information. Again the last few minutes were all about how we should take the “Gospel risk.” Yes, he told us to “receive the love of the Father,” but then we would see how our lives would be changed as we in turn took the Gospel risk. Again, a good explanation of the parable, although, at the risk of being accused of nit-picking, the overly-repeated use of the word “like” was very off-putting. No matter. This was not a cross-focused sermon. There was no real proclamation. “Love and forgiveness” appeared a couple of times, but not as proclamation. He applied repentance to himself, but did not preach repentance. Finally the use of “Give his father the finger,” and “Rip them a new one,” do not belong in a Lutheran sermon. I stand by my original evaluation: Give it a “2.”

    My use of the term “Law” to describe this kind of preaching is not meant to imply keeping the Law as a means of our salvation. Rather, it is the emphasis on good works, without proclamation of the Gospel. This is Beth Moore, Rick Warren, and Joyce Meyer teaching, but does not belong in an LCMS church. It is also typical preaching of those schooled in Higher Criticism and Gospel Reducitonism: the Gospel is stripped of its power, so works becomes the focus, while the Gospel is mere information–“We all know that, anyways.” It’s a disappointment to see that younger pastors like this man are preaching the same stuff, while CFW Walther spins in his grave.

  21. Thanks for taking the time to respond, Joe.  You just need to hop on the Legacy Vision Crazy Train wiki-wiki. 🙂

  22. @John Rixe #28
    You’re welcome.

    As for the vision thing, I’ve “been there, done that, tried it,” and to paraphrase the famous hand on the wall (Daniel 5:25), “Mene, mene, tekel, parsin,” it was weighed in the balance and found wanting. I hope the days of “Vision,” like Belshazzar, are brought to an end. Tonight would be OK with me.

    In the meantime, if you’d like to go on a “vision trip,” why not visit about 20 websites of congregations in your district? You’re gonna love it. I can take the mission statements (well, mostly), but the visions, well they ought to be cast away.

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