Vision for Christ Central Soweto

We live in a society where people are confused about the identity and vision of the church. There are many churches out there and those many churches are seeking to do many different things and are teaching many different things. There are some who come with good intentions and seeking the welfare of the community while some if we look a bit closer their intentions are not so good. We thought it would be good for us opportunity to share with you who we are as Christ Central Soweto and what is our vision for Soweto.

The vision of Christ Central Soweto is not something we came up with now, this is a vision that has been there for many years as some of our brothers prayed and waited for many years for the right opportunity for us to start a church. The idea of a church in Soweto also did not come from people outside of Soweto, people who don’t know the location but it comes from people here. People who were born here, some moved into Soweto, some even if they live outside of Soweto still love Soweto and saw a need for a church like ours in Soweto. Our vision is for Soweto, which is why the church is called Christ Central Soweto because our business is with Soweto and this is the place we feel God is calling us to.

So what is our vision? Our mandate as Christ Central Soweto comes from the bible and we are going to look at 1 Timothy 1:12-17 to explain this.

Who are we? Grateful sinners who were shown mercy (vs. 12-14)

Paul the writer of this letter begins in vs. 12 with thanking the Lord Jesus Christ because he has given him something that is amazing to Paul. Paul has been given a mandate, a task that he is to do. Jesus did not stop at just giving Paul a task but he gave him the power to do this task but also, more importantly to Paul, Jesus considered him faithful. Now why is it important to Paul that he is considered faithful?

Today when it comes to getting work we don’t celebrate that people see us as faithful, we are told to go there confident and proud of our abilities. Even if you don’t know the work they say as young people you must fake it till you make it but this is not what Paul does. Paul knows that this work that he has been given is beyond him and he doesn’t have it because he was a good person but because Jesus Christ did something for him.

This is very important for us to understand and we need to challenge this idea that Christianity is for good people. I often hear people say to me that “I can’t be Christian now, I first have to get my life in order first, get married, stop drinking, stop smoking. After those things then I will become a Christian. It didn’t happen like that for Paul and didn’t happen like that for us.

When Jesus found Paul he was a blasphemer. To blaspheme is to not respect God and to treat him like he is nothing… that was Paul. Okay all of us are disrespectful now and then, so maybe you are thinking that’s not too bad but Paul went further and he persecuted God’s people. When Paul initially heard about Jesus Christ he was so angry that looked for Christians and he killed them, in fact he was so good at this that he was sent by the Jews to arrest Christians. He was like the Eugene de Kock to the Christians in the first century and Christians feared him. It was in that state that Jesus found him.

We also were not good people when Jesus found us. In our hearts we also did not want Jesus, we showed it in many different ways. Some took drugs while others were rude to their parents. Some of us slept around with girls and some were thieves. Some of us were very good at pretending so when people looked at us they saw good people but we knew we were evil. When somebody came to speak to us about Jesus our hearts would become hard because we did not want Jesus.

But Jesus responded to us in a way we did not expect. In your home if a child is disrespectful he gets a hiding, if someone does something wrong in the community we expect that they will get disciplined. Yet Jesus responded differently, instead of judging us he showed us mercy. And it wasn’t just a little mercy here and there. No, he showed us mercy till it overflowed. That mercy did not just come alone but it came with faith and love. Let me give you an example: it’s like if there is a small child, a boy who keeps jumping into your garden and steals your plants and fruits and runs away leaving a mess. One day you catch him, what do you do with him? If you were that little boy and Jesus caught you, showing you mercy is not hitting you but giving you a warning. Overflowing grace is Jesus inviting you in, cooking for you supper, giving you new clothes, and giving you access to his garden the next time you want fruit.

For Paul, the Eugene de Kock of the Christians, who was killing Christians and hating Jesus. Jesus took him and he forgave him his sins. Then Jesus took the most precious thing he had, His people, and said to Paul I want you to go and preach the gospel that grace to them, he entrusted the message of salvation to a man who once lived to stop it from spreading. This is what overflowing grace is, this is what we experienced and this is what Christ gave us to give to Soweto, the Grace of God.

What do we aim to do? We have a story to tell (vs. 15-16)

The apostle Paul puts it nicely in vs. 15:

15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.

This saying says Paul is so important because it is trustworthy and those who hear it must accept it fully. The main reason why Jesus came into this world was to save sinners. When he looked down on this world and saw all that was happening Jesus didn’t say leave them to destroy each other and die. When he saw that because of our actions the wrath and anger of God is going to destroy us he didn’t say they deserve it but he came down, he lived among us, he showed himself to be God who wants to save and he died for us so that we are saved.

And lastly to show how powerful he is to save us, he saved the worst sinner to demonstrate that he has power to save all sinners. He went into the world and found the person that everyone said: even though God is powerful Paul is beyond saving, he is so evil and lost- even the Holy Spirit can’t do anything for him. Jesus went and saved him so that we know that he is willing and able to save sinners.

As God saved Paul he also saved us when we were sinners, we had no desire or ability to save ourselves but when the gospel came out and Holy Spirit touched our hearts we couldn’t resist it. And so now we have a heart to see the world saved from their sins. We know from the Word of God that those without Christ are on a collision course with the wrath of God because they have rejected their true king. The only way to be saved is for them to run to their true king, the Lord Jesus Christ for he came into the world to save them. For many of us it was not enough for us to stay at our current churches, the gospel needs to keep going out and spreading. And nothing makes the gospel spread like a new church because alot of the time people in old churches don’t concern themselves much with telling the gospel to outsiders, they are more concerned about things in the church. Some even fight among themselves and get old in the church. Some churches have lost the true message from the bible and preach about themselves and their own ideas, not the Word of God. But in a new church there is an energy and a passion to see the lost saved.

That’s why we want to be a church planting church. We want to see 29 churches planted in 29 locations here in Soweto. We want to see Christ at the centre of life here in Soweto. We want to see a new gospel centred church in Diepkloof, Orlando, Protea, Dobsonville, Meadowlands,…all the townships of Soweto. Why? Because we are passionate about seeing the lost saved.

As Christ Central Soweto we believe in working together with other churches because we don’t want to build our own kingdom but we want to see God’s kingdom grow. We ourselves come from a church in Auckland Park called Hope church, whose aim is to know Jesus Christ and make him known. We are part of a denomination called REACHSA which holds to the belief that God’s Word is above all things. What we get from these two entities is a passion for the lost and a passion for the gospel. They will hold us accountable to seeing Soweto transformed by the gospel. The gospel is the message that Christ came into the world to save sinners and we as a church plant of Hope church and a part of REACHSA want to make the gospel known.

Why do we do this: For the glory of God (vs. 17)

And all this we do, not so that we can be famous and be well known. I am happy if no one remembers my name, if I die and people forget about him but people must not forget Jesus Christ. He is the one that we do this for. He is the one who has saved us when we were sinners deserving death. He saved us and deployed us to go make him famous in all the world.

When Paul looked at the grace of God and what God had done for him and for us all, he couldn’t help himself but to praise God. And our ultimate aim is the glory of God

Like Paul this message of the gospel fills us with praise, it is so good that we can’t keep it to ourselves. God not only saves us from sin, he gives us eternal life. Life that will never perish, fade, or be taken away. He is incredibly patient with us and doesn’t treat us like we deserve but he shows us mercy. He is the only one who deserves to be worshipped, he is the only God, eternal, immortal. Yet this king chooses us, no body’s, sinners, and he wants to save us and give you eternal life.

That is our vision, we want to see 1% of Sowetans (13000 people) reached with the gospel, planting of 29 churches in the 29 townships of Soweto. We want to plant a Church and later churches that entrenched in the community and engaged with society because they have a heart to see Soweto transformed by the gospel. A church where truth of God’s word is valued more than money, where your soul can be fed nourishment of the gospel of Christ week in and week out without worry. A church where the truths that we learn are not just good catch phrases that have no impact on how we live our lives but where these truths are nurtured to take root in our hearts and transform our lives and outlook on life.

A church where we love one another deeply because we first were greatly loved by God, and as such we truly invest in one another’s lives as communities of the gospel. We want to be a church that is more concerned about others more than we are concerned about ourselves, because we know that this is what God did for us. When we were lost in sin he came down into this world and he became one of us, giving up everything so that we can be saved. And so we do the same for the communities of Soweto, we want to engage them, to love them, to share our lives and possessions with them but more importantly to share the gospel with them.

As we become this church we want to multiply and build more communities like this all over Soweto, reaching out to 1% of this great township by planting 29 churches. We would love if you can join us and be a part of this community.

Our Mission: Soweto Plant

Today I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you our mission that we as a plant want to achieve. It’s important for you here to assess our mission carefully because the mission of a church reveals a lot about what type of a church it is. The mission of the church, in our view, must be in line with the mission of God, because the church was created because of God and when the church meets it meets because of him so he should dictate what the church’s mission is.

In Colossians 1:24-2:4 the apostle Paul helps us with insight with regards to his mission that he was given by God for his churches. This passage not only shows us the mission of Paul but also for the church of God and this is our mission as a church plant.

Paul in the book is writing to the church at Colosse. This church that was not started by Paul himself but by Epaphras a faithful servant in the Lord. This was a church that had a great faith in Jesus Christ and it loved other fellow Christians, bearing the fruit of the gospel but there was a problem, there were other teachers who wanted to steal the joy that this church had in Christ. These false teachers were saying to them it’s good for you to start with Jesus but if you really want to progress as Christians you must do other things. In fact if you start with Jesus and continue in him you are an immature Christian, you need to move on to the next level (where you will see Angels, not eat certain foods, and follow certain special days) [paraphrase]. These guys were treating Christianity like it was a Tender, only people with special connection can get access to God and this access is not for everyone but for those who are very spiritual. Paul writes to this church and he warns them …no, no do not listen to these false teachers. They speak like this because they don’t understand what God is doing in the world, they don’t understand what the church of God should be doing in the world. In fact they don’t understand how important Jesus is to the God’s mission [paraphrase]. And in 1:24 he tells them what is he trying to do among God’s churches, the work that God has called him to and he is calling us to as well.

So the first thing we must know about God’s mission is that he wants us to strive …

To fully know Christ, God’s word revealed to the world

In vs. 25 Paul tells us that the reason he is facing so much suffering is not for himself but for the church. In fact these sufferings give him great joy because he knows that he is partnering with Christ for the sake of his church. And what is Paul trying to achieve for the church? Well he is trying to fulfil the work that God had given him and that work is to make the word of God fully known.

You see there is something very important that has happened in our time that didn’t happen for other people long ago. On the olden days God’s word was revealed only to the nation of Israel and the rest of us did not know what they knew. But now God has made known to the nations his word, and that word is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the word of God because Jesus reveals God to us. He reveals him because he is God himself. In 1:15-20 Paul explained to us who is Jesus and he tells us that Jesus is not just a prophet, he is not an ancestor but he is God himself. He is above all things in this world. He created everything and everything was created for him. He is the one who holds everything together and there is nothing that you can do without Jesus Christ. But Jesus’ work doesn’t stop there he is also part of solving the biggest problem facing this world and that is sin, our rebellion or independence from God has resulted in the world being broken and decaying. Things don’t work like they are supposed to. There is poverty in the world, our families are broken and our leaders don’t know how to get us out of this mess. But our biggest problem is above all this is that God is angry with us. Now if we are the problem, if God is your enemy where do you run to? Well God loves us so much that he devised a plan for us to be saved. 1:20 calls it the work of reconciliation. God has begun his work of making all things anew and Christ is the one who accomplishes this. Jesus is the one who reconciles all things to himself when he was crucified on the cross. This is the great plan of God, to renew all things in Christ through the proclamation of his word.

And now Paul, and us as God’s servants, has been given a work of making this Jesus known to all nations. If you know Jesus Christ you know God fully, you are not missing anything. So this is what we are about and will be about when we plant the church. We want the whole of Soweto to know about Jesus Christ, that he is Lord, that he loves them and he wants them to follow him. We are unapologetic about our single focus on him. Everything that we teach and do is so that he is made famous across Soweto. And as we preach Christ we are part of God’s major work of reconciling the world to himself and renewing all things.

You see, this message is not only for unbelievers but even Christians must know that if we want to grow and know all things, you grow in Christ and not away from him. That’s what Paul is saying in vs. 28, it is Jesus that we preach, we warn people not to move away from him and it is in Jesus that people mature. So we call the people of the world to Jesus but we also call Christians to the same Christ. We don’t keep this Jesus to ourselves and tell people that they need to do certain things to have Jesus, like give money or reach some spiritual level but he is for everyone: puff and pass Bazalwane, uJesu umnandi nendebe eziningi.

So we will teach people about Jesus in many different ways, in our sermons but also in our homes in bible studies, one to one meetings and in workshops or special events that we will have. All these things will have will have one main aim- for us to fully know Christ.

But our aim doesn’t end there. We know that when the word of God goes out it is not just information so that we can be smarter but it is life transforming and God’s word in Christ calls us to be united and love one another as an expression of our love for him.

To be united and in love in Him (2:1-3)

I had already touched on this briefly that Jesus is doing a reconciling work in this world. As Christians we are also part of that work, not only in preaching about the unity that Jesus brings but for that unity to also be seen in us. This is the goal that Paul speaks about in 2:2, he wants the church to be encouraged to hold on to Jesus and grow in him but also be united by love. The love of Christ and us knowing him must not divide Christians but unite them because they have one king.

It is the preaching of Christ that creates unity and love among Christians so that they can continue to proclaim Christ to the world. We are to be a community that at its core gets it. It gets that Christ calls us to be God’s community. A community that is not deceived by the devil, a community that cares for one another both spiritually but also physically, a community that is a family with order and love. A community that loves to meet together, not out of obligation but out of a genuine love and compassion for your fellow family member.

We want to be a family that knows what the great treasure that they have in Christ, such that they are not deceived by the world but at the same time be so amazed by this treasure that they want to tell the whole world about it.

That is who we want to be. Our mission is to know Christ because God has revealed himself and his plans in Christ and we want to be a part of that. We want to love one another because we understand that reconciling with God means that we are family that loves and cares for one another through God’s word but we also want to reach Soweto for Christ because he is the only way for them to escape God’s judgement, all of God’s treasures are in him so we don’t keep him to ourselves but we puff and pass and share Christ with everyone.