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Faith Bible NEXT: Mark 6:13-32

Faith Bible NEXT :: Vision Series Part 1
Mark 6:13-32 :: August 15, 2021

As an introduction to a larger discussion of the new vision God has given our church family, we want to look at a surprising narrative in Mark 6. The context sets Jesus and his disciples in the Galilee area, north-central Israel. This is Jesus’ home base and near the home towns of many of the disciples. He spends much of his early years ministering to the Jews, the poor and the Gentiles in this area. After a frustrating time in Nazareth, Jesus’ boyhood town, He continues to travel through the villages, preaching and healing. It is in this context that Jesus commissions, instructs and authorizes His disciples to go and do the same.

Mark 6:6b simply says, “And He [Jesus] was going around the villages teaching.”

Immediately after this we see Jesus summoning and sending out the Twelve. In the succinct language of this account in Mark’s Gospel, we see at least eight things about the assignment on which Jesus sends His disciples. These points of insight and application will help us understand the Vision that the same Jesus has given us.

1. The fact that Jesus sent these men out at this particular time is rather alarming if you read the full gospel account. They are very green as followers of the Rabbi Jesus, often misguided, frequently bickering and struggling to understand just about everything He says. That Jesus sends them out now powerfully relates a simple yet profound truth: the power of God through them was primary, not their prowess as missionaries.
2. Jesus sends them in pairs. Two people is the base level of community, support, counsel and friendship. This instruction from Jesus reminds us that His calling is not extended to lone superheroes or individuals acting in isolation. He designed this assignment for community. He calls us to the same method of going out.
3. And “He gave them authority over the unclean spirits.” With this statement we see a priority and emphasis on subduing evil spirits, which reminds us that Jesus’ assignment was not simply education, information transfer, social revolution or party-building. No, the assignment was one of battle, spiritual warfare and the opposition of spiritual realities.
4. In the same statement we see Jesus’ transfer of authority. Clearly in Mark, as in all four gospels, Jesus displays ultimate authority over unclean spirits, disease and death. In this commissioning, Jesus transferred this authority to His disciples, whom will later be called “apostles” because they were sent out as authorized representatives (see verse 30).
5. We must pause here in the narrative and remember verse 6b. Jesus is sending out the Twelve, not into a new mission field, but where He has already been working. This reminds us that Jesus’ assignment does not invite us into a “new” work, but as a continuation and extension of the work that Jesus is already doing in people.
6. We also see the specific tactics and rules of engagement that Jesus provides to the disciples. He tells them what to take (staff, tunic, belt, sandals), what not to take (bread, bag, money, second tunic) and how to act (stay with one host, shake off sandals if not welcomed). These instructions remind us of Old Testament events (see Exodus 12:11 and Judges 7) and ensure the disciples will walk by faith, not by their own wits or a well-supplied support system.
7. The interruption in Mark’s account at verse 14 abruptly takes us back to John the Baptist, recounting his death as a flashback. This format serves a powerful purpose in Mark’s account, reminding the readers of the cost of discipleship and commission. Following Jesus will cost you your life. But rejecting Jesus and hoarding your life will cost you even more.
8. Finally, as the disciples return from their assignment in verse 30 (we do not know how long, but it seems reasonable to assume it lasted many days), we get a sense of the joy and pain of stories related even though nothing specific is mentioned in the text. The disciples seem tired, as does Jesus, and they gather away to a secluded place to relate all that has happened. This reminds us that the experience of faithfulness in a difficult community assignment builds our faith and deepens our intimacy with Jesus, the one who authorizes, commissions, instructs and sends out.

We could reorganize this account under four terms that often have a confusing set of overlapping definitions in pop culture: mission, values, vision and strategy.

Mission is actually greater than a simple assignment or task. It is not a trip or event. Mission best describes identity. Mission defines who we are. The mission of the Twelve then is simply as disciples, followers of Jesus, commissioned representatives equipped with Jesus’ own authority.

The identity of mission is built on Values, which form the missional foundation of our identity. Values define why we are who we are. The disciples values were fully gleaned from Jesus’ character and the nature of His work among those He served. The Twelve would have based everything off of these same values, which would have included things like peace, grace, truth, the Kingdom of God, repentance and God’s Word.

Vision then becomes our missional purpose. Vision is burden plus intent. It defines and describes where God is calling us next. Thus for the disciples, Jesus’ summoning and sending them into the villages of the Galilee forms their vision. In essence Jesus says, “Go and do what I do, in My authority.” It is specific, focused and form the time now revealed. This is vision.

Strategy then becomes the how. Strategies are missional tactics, action plans. This is seen in Jesus’ instructions to the disciples on what to take, what not to take and how to act. While these can represent something of Values as well, we recall that mission, vision and strategies are all built on the foundation of core values.

Translating this one further step to Faith Bible Church, we hopefully see each of these four elements operating in our church family as God directs.

Our mission is why we exist. We build generations of Jesus followers who take grace to our world. This is our mission, our identity. Why? Because we long to experience God’s presence and grace, and we want everyone else to join us.

This mission is built on eight core values (which you can fully read on our website).

The vision that God has given us provides a powerful missional purpose for right now, at least for the next few years. Out of these points of vision will flow years of strategy and action. Together these four concepts work to clarify and sharpen our ministry focus, ensuring that we stay on the frontier of God’s work among us and through us. It’s an exciting place to be.

The four vision points that we will be talking about for the next couple of weeks and the next few years are connected. In fact, they flow one to the next, building upon each other and creating momentum and strength. They are stated simply here, but know that the specific language doesn’t matter much. These words aren’t inspired. They are simply an attempt to describe the burden and intent God has communicated to our hearts. This is what we will be chasing together as a church:

1. We will intentionally enrich relational health and a culture of trust in all levels of leadership.
God’s church worldwide is under spiritual attack. It always has been. Typically, the starting place for attack is leadership, as we’ve seen far too many times in recent news. And while the highest levels of leadership at Faith Bible are currently operating and relating with trust and health, we feel strongly that God wants us to focus on these points even more, ensuring that all church leaders are living in a high-trust culture.

2. We will create a pipeline and culture of strategic leadership development, on diverse levels, for our church family and others.
Leadership development has long been a point of emphasis and vision for us, but we feel strongly that God has directed us to focus on it like never before. So beginning immediately, we will gather current and future leaders in large and specific smaller groups in the development of training tracks of diverse kinds. Later we hope to add expanded partnerships with other ministries and internships in various ministries.

3. We will saturate our city with the gospel and an ongoing presence of incarnate grace and truth.
God has planted us here, in this city, in this specific season and time, for a reason. He has designed His church to be a blessing to the world, a light and salt to the diverse mass of people around us. We want to boldly follow God into the complex and challenging culture of our city, with the simple focus of representing Jesus, the gospel, grace and discipleship to as many as possible. We will collaborate with other churches and ministries to do this well and ongoing.

4. We will expand our unique church DNA through strategic, missional multiplication.
We feel strongly that God is calling us to multiply, but we do not yet know exactly how He plans to do that. This final point of God’s vision will take years and will begin with a committed season of prayer, study, investigation and preparation.

This is quite a lot to unpack, which is why we will be spending the next three weeks examining and applying these points even further. For now, let me invite you to two simple but powerful points of application.

Pray - Please read through these four simple points and let your heart and mind wander a bit. Translate your thoughts into prayers for God’s grace, power, blessing, wisdom, clarity, insight and humility as we go. The vision that God has given us will take all of us. There is no better way to begin, and no more important fuel, than to pray. Please pray with us.

Ask God where He has written you into His vision. You are a part of the Faith Bible family, which means that God fully includes you in His plan. Continue your prayers but fervently, repeatedly and with others, praying that God would graciously reveal to specific parts, roles, opportunities and adventures He has just for you.

Group Discussion Questions:
  1. What does the account of Mark 6:7-32 suggest to you about how God summons and sends you out on Divine assignments?
  2. How would you define core values, mission, vision and strategy. What is your perspective on the definitions shared above? Share with your group.
  3. Spend some time discussing the four short, simple points of vision shared above.
    I realize that you don’t have much to go on now, but from what is shared, discuss them each in turn with your group. Focus not so much of evaluation of the point but expansion, application and engagement of the idea itself.
  4. Finally, spend some time praying for our entire church family, all church leaders and for God to continue to carefully direct our steps as we pursue His vision together.
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