On Nantucket Island, there is a little museum devoted to a volunteer organization formed centuries ago.
In those days, travel by sea was extremely dangerous. Because of the storms in the Atlantic along the rocky coast of Massachusetts, many lives would be lost within a mile or so of land.
So a group of volunteers went into the life-saving business. They banded together to form what was called the Humane Society.
These people built little huts all along the shore. They had people watching the sea all the time. Whenever a ship went down, the word would go out, and these people would devote everything to save every life they could.
They did not put themselves at risk for money or fame, but only because they prized human life.
In fact they adopted a motto that said: “You have to go out, but you don’t have to come back.” Not a great recruiting slogan is it?
These were people who would risk everything—even their lives—to save people they had never met.
But over time, things changed.
After a while, the U.S. Coast Guard began to take over the task of rescue. Eventually, the idea that carried the day was, “Let the professionals do it. They’re better trained. They get paid for it.”
Volunteers stopped searching the coastlines for ships in danger. They stopped sending teams out to rescue drowning people.
Yet, a strange thing happened: They couldn’t bring themselves to disband. The life-saving society still exists today. The members meet every once in a while to have dinners. They are just not in the life-saving business anymore.
Two thousand years ago, a band of rag-tag followers of Jesus began to meet regularly to pray and strategize how they could rescue a ship-wrecked world.
It was a calling they took seriously.
Their motto was, “You have to go out, but you don’t have to come back.”
The writer of Acts wrote as they embraced this slogan that “…they(the church) added to their number daily.”
Followers of Jesus were known as people who would adopt abandoned children, serve the poor, fight and die for justice, and stay in plague-filled cities to care for the sick, while others fled to safe places.
Rulers and governments were intrigued, confused and threatened by the willingness to give their life for others.
The early church left a permanent mark in the secular history books of the day.
What will history write about today’s church?
It was willing to go out, but it did not having to come back?
Or, it was judgmental, exclusive, irrelevant, fearful, turned it over to professionals, no longer in the life saving business but kept having meetings?
Peter Drucker says “It’s the human propensity to start with a clear vision and to get it muddied up along the way. It’s just kind of what happens to human beings in organizations.”
How badly the church is missed in our culture.
Yet there seems to be a church on every corner.
How can the church be missed when it is all around us?
The prophet Isaiah said that when the church is busy with meetings it becomes powerless.
The churches power comes from caring for the poor, feeding the hungry, fighting injustice, and protecting widows and orphans.
The impact of the church is not predicated on frequency of meetings and the eloquent nature of its rhetoric.
Its impact is not determined by a nice, accessible location.
The impact of the church has to do with its willingness to lay its life down for a ship-wrecked world.
When the church begins to re-live the motto, “You have to go out, but you don’t have to come back”, it will become relevant once again.
Let me share with you the Green Valley Life-Saving “Dream”.
The Green Valley dream is a dream where those who are hurting, hopeless, discouraged, frustrated or confused can find love, acceptance, guidance, hope, encouragement and forgiveness.
It is a dream of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ in our community and beyond to the world.
It is a dream of thousands of people growing together in spiritual maturity through learning together, serving together, loving together, laughing together and giving together.
It is a dream where our love for one another would attract people to Christ.
It is a dream where people will look at Green Valley and say “Wow, church is a good thing!”
It is a dream where every person uses their time, talents, passions and resources for God’s purposes so that we honor God, by giving him our all, by giving him our best.
It is a dream where we continually reach back to invest in a new generation of children and youth who are our future leaders. It is where we look beneath the surface of their lives and see God’s gifts and potential in them.
It is a dream where we will serve the poor, take care of the sick, and love those who have walked down the wrong paths of life because that is where you actually meet Christ.
It is a dream that we will keep simple. LOVE GOD, LOVE PEOPLE. And we will allow no other issues to get in our way.
It is a dream where we will constantly put ourselves in situations where we can’t do it ourselves, so that we will have to trust God and see him do amazing things.
It is a dream to never play it safe, but actually believe that God came to seek and save the lost. And actually believe that God told us that we must lose our lives in order to save them.
IT IS A DREAM THAT GOD LOVES.
It is a dream where He says, “Make yourself fully available to me. Fully available in your worship, talents, passions and resources. Fully available to love one another, forgive one another and serve one another. Make yourself fully, wholly, unconditionally, unreservedly, unashamedly available to me and I will blow your socks off with the miracles that I want to do.”
God says today, “Dreams do come true!”