We exist to develop disciples who . . . Love God

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

“We exist to develop disciples who . . . Love God”

(Selected Passages)

Vision Series: Part 1 [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

January 14, 2018

Introductory Comments:

Illustration: I recently went with my wife to Universal Studios and visited the Harry Potter attraction. I knew when we walked in the park that we were supposed to go towards the wizard looking castle in the back. It marked the spot. The castle gave us a picture of where we wanted to go. It was all the way to the back of the park, so it was a challenge to get there, but we kept our eyes on where we were supposed to go and we moved in that direction.

Today we’re going to be talking about our vision statement. We’re going to be talking about where we want to go as a church.

Since before I started working here, I have been praying about, thinking about, and discussing the idea of our vision statement.

Before we actually get into our vision statement I’d like to cover a few things.

First, . . .

Why does vision matter? [on screen]

Simply put . . .

A vision gives us direction. [on screen]

We have something at which to aim.

We’re able to answer the questions,

“Where do we want to go as a church?”


“What kind of church do we want to be?”


Also, I want to make clear that our vision statement is guided by discipleship.

We are to make disciples!

Well, . . .

Why does discipleship matter? [on screen]

It matters because it’s at the core of the mission that Jesus left us with.

Look at Matthew 28:18-20 [on screen]

18 Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

These are some of the last words of Jesus on this earth.

This is His commissioning of us as His followers.  We call this the Great Commission!

Discipleship matters because . . .

The Bible puts a premium on making disciples. [on screen]

First and foremost, as a church, we want to develop disciples.

That word develop matters also.

We are always developing; we are always being made more like Jesus.

We have never arrived to where we don’t need to grow.


We also want to develop a certain type of disciple.

This is where our vision statement comes in.

Here it is:

Our Vision Statement: “We exist to develop disciples who love God, love the church, and love others.” [on screen]

Pretty easy, right?

This statement is simple, specific, and scriptural.

I’m hoping that every one of you can memorize this statement.


Let’s pray together as we continue to walk through this sermon.


This week we will look at the first aspect of this statement . . .


Well, from where did I get this statement?  This first statement comes directly from the Bible.

Let’s look at the biblical foundation for being disciples who love God.

I’ll be reading several different passages this morning so hang with me.

Biblical Foundation [on screen]

First, look at Exodus 20:2-3 [on screen]

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. Do not have other gods besides me.

In the ten commandments, God made it clear that we are to have no greater devotion than our devotion to God.

No other gods; no idols; no interferences between God and our love for Him.

God makes it clear that He is number one.  We should love Him!

Look also at Deuteronomy 6:4-7 [on screen]

“Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

God delivered to Israel this passage, which we call the shema.  This passage was something that all faithful followers of God in the Old Testament would have been familiar with.

They knew that they were to love God with everything and focus on Him all of the time.


In the New Testament Jesus is asked about what is the greatest commandment. He responds in the gospel of Matthew.

Check out Matthew 22:36-40 [on screen]

36 “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important command. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

Jesus lays it out there very clearly.

The greatest commandment is to love God with all that we have, so we should strive for that!

I could go on with other passages if I had more time. The Bible is clear that we are to love God.

That should be one of our goals as a church.

That is part of our vision: disciples who love God.


Here are a few ways that we can love God.

I. We love God by engaging in biblical worship [on screen]

We gather here on Sunday mornings to worship the living God because we love Him.

Everything about our service should be devoted to loving Him.

Our prayer, our singing, our giving, the reading of Scripture, and the preaching of God’s Word should all be driven by our love for God.

Second, . . .

II. We love God by participating in Bible study [on screen]

Disciples who love God study the Bible!

Why?  Because God is speaking to us through the Bible!

To achieve our vision we must study God’s Word in large group (like we’re doing now), small groups (like many of you did earlier), as families, and as individuals.

Third, . . .

III. We love God by living godly lives [on screen]

Because we love God we will live lives devoted to Him.

People will notice a difference in our lives because God’s love has changed us!

We will not be hearers of the Word only, but we will be doers also.

James has something to say about this also. I’m tempted to go back to James, but I must stay focused! ?


Fourth, . . .

IV. We love God by finding our satisfaction in Him [on screen]

We will love God by finding our satisfaction in Him, not in the things of this world.

We must be joyful, content, and fulfilled with Jesus alone!

We must be satisfied in Him!


I want to wrap this up with some final thoughts.

Concluding Thoughts:

For this week, think about this bottom line:

Bottom Line: Become a disciple who loves God[on screen]


Here’s our weekly challenge.

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

  1. Think about what it means to be a disciple[on screen]

Do you consider yourself a disciple of Jesus?

What does that mean for you? What does it mean for you to be a disciple of Jesus?

  1. Identify ways that you can love God[on screen]

Start being intentional about this now.

Tell yourself, “I will be a disciple who loves God and I will develop disciples who love God.”

  1. Identify ways that our church can love God[on screen]

We’ll need to do this more later!

Starting thinking now because later we will strategize as a church as to how we can love God.


As we finish today commit yourself to this first aspect of our vision: disciples who love God.

Next week we will talk about loving the church, and the last week of the month we will discuss loving others.

If you have any questions and comments about our vision statement, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. You can find my contact information in the bulletin.

If you’re here this morning and you’re looking for a new church home, it’s a good week to be here. Now you know what our vision is. We’d love to have you join here.

If you’re not a follower of Jesus, if you’re not a disciple of Jesus, you can become one this morning!

God created you to be in relationship with Him, but our sin created brokenness in our lives and separation from God. However, He sent Jesus to fix that. Jesus came, lived, died, and lived again so that we could know God. He lived a perfect life and never sinned, yet He gave His life on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins.  After His death, He rose from the dead, and walked on the earth again, and then went back into Heaven with God the Father.  Jesus fixes the brokenness so we could be back in relationship with God, according to His original design.

In just a moment we’re going to sing a song and give folks time to respond to how God may be leading you. I encourage all of you to recommit yourself to loving God as a faithful disciple of His.

If you need come forward to talk to me while we sing, I’ll be here for you.

Let’s pray and then we will sing.

(Gospel Presentation)

(Closing Prayer)

Closing Song: Just as I am


It’s been great to be with you all this morning.

Tonight we will gather here again for our study of Thom Rainer’s book, I Will, at 5:30. We will be in chapter 5 tonight. This has been a good study. You can jump in with us tonight if you would like.

Let’s dismiss by singing the Doxology. 

(Sing Doxology)

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