Regulars to Woody Road will know that each year we have a vision statement. We’ve found it a useful way of spending some concentrated time thinking about one aspect of what God wants us to be. Often it is easy as we preach through books of the Bible, which is our normal pattern, to look at a theme and then quickly rush on to another. The vision statement enables us to try to apply one thing deeply across the year. It provides the focus for our preaching and homegroup studies in January and we return to it in a variety of settings in the months that follow.

Next year our vision statement is drawn from 1 Peter 2-… That you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. I’m due to be preaching on that verse on 5th January in the morning so I won’t exegete it now but I thought I would explain the reasons we as elders landed on it as our vision for next year.

It has a focus on mission. Peter’s readers were facing an increasingly hostile culture but nevertheless they were called to head back into it to tell the world how great God is. Next spring we are due to re-open our church building. As we’ve been talking about how we use it, the main thought that has struck me is that it must be a resource for mission. It is not to be kept to ourselves. We want our new facilities to be a place where Christians and people from the local community naturally mingle giving us the chance to praise God to them. I think that is a fantastic opportunity. In addition, I think we are increasingly realising that we have a responsibility to the different communities in which we live- places like Kidlington, Wheatley, Waterways and so on. Our hope is that intentional homegroups in those areas will begin to proclaim the praises of God to these localities.

The vision of doing this together is right because this verse is talking about God’s people corporately. It is addressed to God’s chosen people. The image is of a chorus praising God to the world rather than a single soloist. It’s another reason I’m keen on intentional homegroups seeking to reach a locality- it is better to be focusing on an area as a group rather than as an individual. And our mission from our base in Woodstock Road will definitely need real teamwork.

As we talked around the theme of mission we were aware that there can often be feelings of guilt and inadequacy that actually make proclaiming God’s greatness to the world more difficult. The beautiful thing about this vision is that mission flows from a deep appreciation of what God has done for us. We were in darkness but now- praise God- we are in light. Our lives have been turned around by Jesus from a place of confusion, concealment and danger to a place of understanding, openness and safety. When we really grasp that we will want to overflow in praise. The people who have really seen the transforming work of God want the world to know it.

As we reflect on our vision then we will consider what it means to move from darkness to light, we’ll think about our call to live as children of light and we’ll respond to it all with praise that ripples out to those around us. Please pray it would be a good year for us.