We, the Cypress elders, have a vision for Cypress over the next five years. In our vision we see our
congregation gathered for worship on a Sunday morning. As we look around the sanctuary, it’s packed
with people and pulsating with life. There are young and old, rich and poor, and people from many
nations, tribes, and tongues filling the pews. In some ways what we’re seeing in our vision looks a lot
like our worship services now – we’re singing, praying, preaching, receiving communion, and baptizing.
But something is different – very different. As we look more closely, we can only describe the worship
going on in our sanctuary as a powerful earthly preview of the great heavenly scene of worship
described in Revelation 7:7-12. And then we realize what’s so different. It’s not what we’re doing that’s
different, it’s who we are! We’re different. We’re not the same. We’ve been changed. Our hearts have
been transformed by five more years of living in the gospel! We’ve grown in our love for Christ. Our
hearts have been filled-up with praise. The Holy Spirit has sanctified us even more. As we keep looking
around the sanctuary, we see a homeless man among other new faces. It’s his first time at Cypress. At
the end of the service, he comes over to us smiling and says “God is here.” Yes. Yes, He is. What we’re
seeing in our vision is Cypress worshipping Jesus passionately, with one heart and one voice.
Our vision shifts abruptly from the sanctuary to homes scattered all around our community. We see everyone who was in the sanctuary now gathered in sermon-based small groups. In every small group, we see our members growing in God’s Word and experiencing the power of prayer. We see new believers and others who have just started attending Cypress getting connected quickly upon joining a small group, including the smiling homeless man we saw earlier. As we’re seeing all this, we’re struck with just how important small groups are to our discipleship strategy as a church. They’re critical! The relationships we see forming in these small groups are creating the fellowship that’s the foundation for us loving one another – and that’s something we pray for fervently, as elders. As we keep looking, we see the Holy Spirit take Jesus’ words from John 13:34-35, where He said, “Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another,” and breathe these words into the hearts of everyone gathered in small groups. This has a powerful effect. All our members begin loving each other. For some of them, it’s the first time in their lives they’ve truly loved someone else. For others, it’s the first time they’ve truly been loved. It’s beautiful. The passionate worship we saw in the sanctuary is being fueled by the love we see growing in homes scattered all around our community.
But then we see something clearly in our vision that’s been fuzzy up until now. It begins when we hear a voice behind us saying, “The gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” We realize these are Jesus’ words from Matthew 24:14. As we hear these words, we see training going on at Cypress. Everyone who was in a small group is now in groups of three and four – men are with men, women with women. They’re training to be godly servant-leaders. They’re studying Jesus’ teaching and immediately putting it into practice as they serve “the least of these” – the hungry, the homeless, widows, orphans. At this point, we have an Aha! moment. This is discipleship! We see our members maturing in Christ before our very eyes. Godly servant-leaders are multiplying all around the church. And then some of them start leaving Cypress. They’re going! They’re going in teams and planting gospel-preaching churches in communities around Monterey County (and the world!) that don’t yet have churches. The gospel is advancing! Great celebration breaks-out at Cypress – more passionate worship of Jesus! This is our vision for Cypress over the next five years. It’s what we’re praying for and dreaming of – that God would continue transforming us from glory to glory as we worship Jesus, love one another, and serve the world!