Vision Sunday 2024

2024 Messages

Today was "Vision Sunday," in which Timothy Ateek shared the elder's answer to this question, "What is the most God-glorifying, Christ-exalting, gospel-believing, proclaiming, and advancing version of Watermark?"

Timothy "TA" AteekJan 7, 2024

In This Series (5)
When Someone You Love Is Not Okay: A Conversation About Mental Health Part 2
Timothy "TA" AteekMay 12, 2024
When You’re Not Okay: A Conversation About Mental Health Part 1
Timothy "TA" AteekMay 5, 2024
Easter 2024 | John 11:17-44
Timothy "TA" AteekMar 31, 2024
Good Friday 2024
Dave BruskasMar 29, 2024
Vision Sunday 2024
Timothy "TA" AteekJan 7, 2024


Today was "Vision Sunday," in which Timothy Ateek shared the elder's answer to this question, "What is the most God-glorifying, Christ-exalting, gospel-believing, proclaiming, and advancing version of Watermark?"

Key Takeaways

If we are going to be the most God-glorifying, Christ-exalting, gospel-believing, proclaiming, and advancing version of Watermark, then ten things will mark our church. These markers will shape the preaching calendar of 2024 and will serve as a backbone for our church in the years to come.

  1. A gospel-saturated church. The gospel isn’t just for unbelievers. It’s for believers too because it’s not merely information for transportation to heaven, but God’s means of our transformation into Christ. A gospel-saturated church rests in and is empowered by the perfect works of Jesus’ righteous life, obedience, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension, not in our imperfect works (Romans 1:16-17; Galatians 2:20).
  2. A praying church. We aren’t just a church that prays, but a praying church. Prayer is God’s gracious means to maximize our enjoyment of Him (Philippians 4:4-6).
  3. A Bible-revering church. We teach and preach expository messages, which means that the main point of every sermon is the main point of the biblical text. We will always unapologetically and courageously stand on the truth. We don’t have the luxury of changing our beliefs as culture changes. The Bible will have the final say for us on all issues (Matthew 4:4).
  4. A Spirit-led church. We want to be people who have a deep sensitivity to the Spirit of God. We want to grow in our ability to listen to the Spirit, to be convicted by the Spirit, to be led by the Spirit, to be victorious over sin by the Spirit, and to serve the church by the power of the Spirit as the Spirit works to glorify Christ (Acts 1:8: Galatians 5:16, Galatians 5:18).
  5. A missional church. This year we will be committed to praying for the lost. We are going to gain confidence in starting spiritual conversations and sharing the gospel. And we are going to live on mission in our neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, and in any other sphere of influence God has placed you (Matthew 28:18-20).
  6. A maturing church. We always want to be people who are taking ground, taking our next step, identifying spiritual muscles that need strengthening. We want to be a place where one generation is helping the next generation pursue maturity in Christ (Colossians 1:28).
  7. A sending church. In the coming years, we want to send out church planters to less reached cities in the US, and less reached or unreached places in the world. A good place for us to start is by praying individually and corporately for the unreached people groups in the world (Matthew 28:18-20).
  8. A shepherding church. We want to be a church where you are known, prayed for, and cared for (Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:1-2).
  9. A community church. We want to see all community groups thrive in four areas: Bible application, prayer, mission, and being fully known and fully loved in the context of community.
  10. A unifying church. With other like-minded gospel churches, we want to pray for and reach the city.

Discussing and Applying the Sermon

  • Are you trusting in Christ? Do you need to take that step of faith?
  • How is God leading you to participate in these ten markers in new or renewed ways? As you hear them, is there anything that needs to be realigned or reclarified so that you can live on gospel mission as a Watermark member?
  • In what ways are you being transformed by the gospel? What resources does it have to transform you?
  • How can you grow in treasuring God’s Word?
  • What does it look like, both individually and in our lives together as a church, to be Spirit-led?
  • How can we cultivate joy in praying?
  • What does a mature Christian look like? Where do you need to “grow up?” Talk with your community group to see where you can grow together in Christ.
  • How can we be living on joy-filled mission both here and abroad? Would you and/or your community group consider going and taking the gospel to the unreached?
  • Is your community group flourishing in areas of Bible application, prayer, mission, and knowing and loving each other? If not, reach out to your community shepherd if you know them. If you don’t, email

Rob Thomas: We want to welcome you today to Watermark, and we want to welcome you into the new year. We're seven days in, guys. I don't know about you, but some of you guys out there are already killing it with your resolutions. A big majority of you guys, like me, are not, and then there are some of you out there who just found out it's 2024. We welcome you. We're glad you're here.

We're actually really excited about many things we have planned for this year, and we want to make some of those announcements. I'm going to send it down to Mickey, who's going to make it, but let me introduce these guys. This is Blake Holmes, Todd Anders, Ben Caldwell, Mickey Friedrich, Kyle Thompson, and Timothy Ateek. He goes by "TA."

Mickey Friedrich: Thank you, Rob. We would like to say, "Good morning." We are so excited to be with you this morning. This is a special Sunday. We have several things we would like to share with you. Over the past several months, the elders have felt a growing conviction and hunger to seek how we can maximize every opportunity to be the most God-glorifying, Christ-exalting, and gospel-proclaiming church we can be; therefore, we spent significant time in prayer, seeking the Lord, and processing together what God would have for us in our next chapter.

At the same time, we recognize, as we enter our twenty-fifth year as a church, the last several years we weathered a lot of transitions. First, we've had various leadership transitions. Secondly, we've had a global pandemic, which affected every aspect of how we do ministry. Thirdly, we've had an influx of new members. Everybody may not know it, but out of those of you who are members here, 40 percent of you have joined since 2020. That represents about 2,800 members.

As we started processing what God would have for us in the next season, we started by going back to what we've always been about. This is an opportunity, first, for us to clarify and recommit to what we've been called to from the beginning. At the same time, we recognize that a lot has changed over 25 years. Our body has changed significantly, our communities look way different, and our world looks way different.

So, at the same time as we recommit to who we've always been, we recognize that there are some significant ways God could be calling us to abide with him and live as light in the world together in the days ahead. So, today, TA is going to share with you 10 characteristics we believe God is calling us to be marked by as a church.

Now, while many things change, several things never change…that is, God and his Word. So, on the one hand, these characteristics have defined the church in its purest forms since the time of Jesus, but on the other hand, we are excited about ways God is going to call us to radically and relentlessly pursue him together in this next season.

As you know, we added TA to our elder team in the fall. One of the reasons we did that was because of his unique gift set in helping to crystalize, communicate, and galvanize a people around a shared vision. Since he has joined our team, he has increasingly been acting as the mouthpiece for our shared vision. He also played a significant role in shaping these 10 characteristics.

All of the elders believe our next step of faithfulness is to elevate TA to empower him to play a more significant role on staff and within our body and also to recognize ways he has already been leading. So, this morning, we are going to recognize him as a lead pastor at Watermark, and he's going to carry the title, serve with the title of Lead Pastor of Vision and Preaching. In order to link together more closely this renewed vision, these 10 characteristics, with our Sunday morning teaching, TA is going to serve as the primary communicator on Sunday mornings. He's also going to shape the preaching calendar.

Blake Holmes is going to serve in the position of Lead Pastor of Ministries and Staff, and he will continue doing what he has largely been doing over the last several years, doing it so faithfully and so well…shepherding our staff and ensuring that our ministry strategies align with this renewed vision. So we're excited to continue to have Blake lead out in so many ways that he's so gifted to do as well.

Then, even though TA will be our primary communicator on Sunday mornings, we have asked John Elmore to continue to serve as a teaching pastor. We love how John brings the Word week after week, and we pray he continues to be extremely instrumental in proclaiming the Word and leading with this vision in the days ahead. We've also asked John to take on additional significant leadership responsibilities on our staff, so we look forward to the days ahead getting to serve together.

Finally, in the days ahead, we look forward to introducing to you a new director of The Porch. We're excited about this person, not only for what it will mean for the next chapter of The Porch but also how it will free up TA to be able to focus more of his time on his new lead pastor role. So, with that, we could not be more excited, and we eagerly anticipate what God is going to do in all of us in the days and weeks ahead. We're excited about how good God is and the ability to get to serve him together.

Blake Holmes: As Mickey shared with you, we're entering into our twenty-fifth year as a church. I've had the privilege and the blessing of being on staff for nearly 23 of those 25 years. It has been such a privilege to have a front-row seat to see what God has done through this local body. I just want to say, "Thank you." Thank you for the ways you've encouraged, challenged, led, given, served, and for being the church of Jesus Christ in this city.

You've not only changed my life, but I've seen God change the lives of literally thousands of people. It is my joy and my encouragement to work alongside each one of these guys, and I really do believe Watermark's best days are ahead of them. I'm particularly excited about continuing to work closely alongside TA. So, let me pray for us. Let's just go to the Lord in prayer and thank him.

Father in heaven, we come to you this morning with hearts of gratitude. I stand in awe and amazement of your grace toward us as a church. I thank you, Lord, for what you've revealed to us over these past 25 years, for what you've done in and through this local church. I thank you, Lord, for lives that have been changed. The lost have been found. The blind now see. The deaf now hear. Story after story, as we read in the Watermark News, continually, we see of those whose lives have been impacted by the power of your Spirit through the faithfulness of your people and the truth of your Word. Thank you for bringing people to yourself.

Thank you for the gift of community and for how for thousands of us over these many years, Lord, you've allowed us to experience community as you've intended, for people to be seen, known, loved, cared for, prayed for, encouraged, admonished, rebuked, and helped. We've seen evidence of your grace in our lives. Father, I thank you for the ways in which this church has equipped us by the power of your Spirit and because of your grace, Lord, and the truth of your Word, whether in small groups or large-group Bible studies or the preaching of your Word Sunday after Sunday.

I thank you, Lord, for the commitment to the truth of your Word and how it has informed, instructed, and guided us. I thank you, Lord, for how many have stood on this stage and boldly proclaimed its truth unapologetically, and I know that will only continue. I thank you, Lord, for your Spirit which has given each of us a gift, that we could use our gifts, that this isn't a place where we just come and listen but we're able, as a body, to serve others and be a light in a really dark world.

Lord, we come not just to receive and to take but to be reminded of the mission you called us to be a part of. Father, in the years ahead, I just pray that as your eyes move to and fro throughout the earth they may strongly support those whose hearts are completely yours. I pray, Lord, you would be pleased at what you see at this body. Father, would you lead us in the days ahead? Would you guide us, instruct us, encourage us, help us, unify us, and protect us? We pray all of these things in your Son's name, amen.

Timothy Ateek: Good morning, Watermark. How are we doing today? It's good to see you. I hope all is well. Happy 2024. If this is your first time ever to Watermark, I'm so glad you made it. I hope this place feels like home very quickly. Thanks for trusting us with your Sunday morning. I want to start, and I want to pray one more time for our time together. I'm pretty expectant for what is about to be shared with you, so I just want to take a second and pray for it.

O Lord, I do pray that as we look at what you have for us in 2024 and beyond, your Spirit would move in power in this place, that the spiritually dead would be awakened to life. Lord, for those who are starting '24 feeling spiritually dry or disconnected from you, that you would draw them in close, Lord.

Thank you, God, that this is your church and, ultimately, we sit completely under your authority. Lord Jesus, we want you to be magnified. We want you to be glorified. I just ask and pray that by the power of your Spirit you would lead us into all you have for us as your people here at Watermark. We love you. In Jesus' name, amen.

Yesterday, I went to my 6-year-old's basketball game. Here's the reality: the win was that kids were there. The score was not kept, so truly, no one won and no one lost. The win for the kids was that they just showed up. For the kids who clearly had not yet fully understood the game of basketball, they got to play just as much time as everyone else.

If a kid decided to just carry the ball down the court like it was football, that was celebrated. If a kid attempted to dribble and ended up double dribbling, triple dribbling, quadruple dribbling, that was fine. The win was just that they were there. Every kid after the game was told there were people who were proud of them and they did a good job, even if they didn't. That's what happened yesterday. The win was just that they were there.

I have been entrusted the responsibility this morning of clarifying for us what the win is here at Watermark. Here is the reality: God has given us amazing things to steward. He has given us a facility right in the heart of our city at one of the most important and high-traffic intersections in our entire city. He has given us thousands of people who call this place home who represent neighborhoods that span the Metroplex.

If you look at all of the different people who are in this room and call this place home, this place is packed full of people with different wirings and different giftings and various influence here in this city. On top of that, God has given us a $33 million budget to steward. Here's what I'm trying to tell you: this is a really bad place to just play church. The win here at Watermark is not that we just show up. We don't have that type of luxury to just play it safe, get comfortable, and call it a win if we show up, get something out of the message, and our kids are fine for an hour and a half.

If that's what you're looking for in a church, Watermark probably isn't the place for you, because God has entrusted us with amazing things. So, the question the elders have sought to answer and that I want to unpack for you today on this Sunday… This is the question I want to answer for us…What is the most God-glorifying, Christ-exalting, gospel-believing, proclaiming, and advancing version of Watermark?

We, as elders, feel very responsible that we have great clarity on that question. I believe we do have clarity. As Mickey shared with you, we've spent months praying and processing what it looks like as we step into our next season of faithfulness. We believe God has made it clear that there will be 10 things that must mark our church if we are going to be the most God-glorifying, Christ-exalting, gospel-believing, proclaiming, and advancing version of Watermark.

So, what I want to do today… This is going to feel a little bit different than most Sundays. I just want to walk you through these 10 things. The reason it's important for me to walk through all 10 is these are going to serve as the backbone for the church for this year and beyond. All of our sermon series for 2024 will be shaped by the 10 things I'm about to share with you. My hope for you is that as I'm sharing these things, if you call this place home, a fire would be ignited in you and you would be expectant for the days ahead.

Now, here's what I want to say before I get into them. As we, as elders, have shared these 10 things with different people, we've gotten different responses. Some people have heard these 10 things and have said, "That's what we've always been." If you sit here today and hear that, that's incredible. That's good news.

Some people have heard these things and have said, "You know what? That's who we were early on, but we've drifted a little." Okay. That's okay too. Other people have heard this and come to the conclusion, "This is a distinct change for Watermark." Do you know what all those three different responses tell me? What it tells me is we need clarity.

We need to make sure we all know what the win is for Watermark. As Mickey shared, 40 percent of you are new since 2020, so some of this is going to feel new, period. So, what is the most God-glorifying, Christ-exalting, gospel-believing, proclaiming, and advancing version of Watermark? Here it is.

  1. We will be a gospel-saturated church. If you're new to Christianity, gospel means good news. Watermark has been a people gathering together for almost 25 years, and we have gathered together every Sunday for 25 years to rally around the same good news. The news hasn't changed, and it is that good that it is worthy of us gathering together every Sunday for the past 25 years and for the next 25 years and, honestly, until Jesus comes back. It is sufficiently good to keep us satisfied for all of that time. That's why we are gathered together today.

You might be wondering, "What is that good news?" My hope is there are people here just visiting, and you're in the midst of your New Year's resolutions where you're like, "You know what? This is the year where I'm going to try to get back into church or kind of figure things out spiritually. I want to become a more spiritual person." If that's you, I want to make sure you know what we believe the good news is.

Here's how I like to explain it. If there is a God, then he has to be perfect. Right? If he's not perfect, then what makes him God? If God is perfect in heaven, his place must be perfect. So, if God is perfect and heaven is perfect, that's important. What we have to figure out is…How do we, as imperfect people, get to spend eternity with a perfect God in a perfect place? That kind of doesn't make sense.

The reality is God has created every single one of us to be in relationship with him, yet every single one of us is born with a broken relationship with God. Why? Because every single one of us has been born with a spiritual disease called sin, which manifests itself in thoughts, words, and actions that are considered rebellion against God. That's what makes us imperfect.

If God is perfect and heaven is perfect and we are imperfect, how does it make sense for imperfect people to spend eternity in a perfect place with a perfect God? It's not possible, because if a perfect God lets you into his perfect place and you're imperfect, your imperfection makes his perfect place imperfect.

So, what do you do about it? Here's the answer: there's nothing you can do about it, because no matter how hard you try, no matter how many times you come to church, no matter how many times you pray or open your Bible or ask God for help, you will always be imperfect, and that's bad news. The good news is when you could do nothing, God did everything. A perfect God left heaven and came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ lived a perfect life. He perfectly satisfied the law of God. He did what we couldn't. Then when he went to the cross… The reason the cross is so important and central to our faith is on that cross Jesus died for all of our imperfections. But it's not just the cross that is important to us; the empty tomb is important to us. We believe Jesus didn't just die for our imperfections; he conquered our imperfections through his resurrection.

When you trust in Jesus Christ, when you give your life to him, when you surrender your life to Jesus, something miraculous happens. Jesus takes all of your imperfection and gives you his perfection. What I'm not saying is that you become a practically perfect person where you no longer do things you shouldn't do. What I mean is that Jesus' perfection gets credited to your account in such a way that now a perfect God, when he looks at you, sees the perfection of Jesus. That's how it makes sense for imperfect people to spend eternity in a perfect place with a perfect God.

The incredible news is God doesn't just save us in such a way so we can spend eternity with him in heaven; he actually comes and lives inside of us by the power of his Spirit, and even though we will be imperfect, the rest of the time we're here on earth he is doing something in our lives. He's empowering us to look more and more like Jesus and less and less like the world. This is what we consider good news.

I love what Pastor Kent Hughes said. He put it this way. You think about standing on the tarmac right before you step onto an airplane. Just picture yourself there. You're on that threshold. What he says is one step, just one step, and you're on the way to a different destination. Just that one step and you're on the way to a different destination, but if you stay inactive, you will never go anywhere.

The reason I'm telling you that is if you're visiting today and you just understood good news for the first time, take a step. Today you can be on your way to a new destination: eternity with a perfect God in a perfect place. This is the good news that has always been proclaimed from this stage, and it will always be proclaimed every single Sunday. If there is ever a Sunday where the gospel is not proclaimed, please hunt me down, because we need to know.

Now, we're talking about being a gospel-saturated church. This point is, by far, going to be the longest, but I have to make sure… Before we move on, it's important for me to speak to the people in the room… You are Watermark members. You've been a Christian for a while now. I just want to make sure you understand. Do you know what our tendency is? If we're not careful, we will live as if the gospel is simply a means of transportation instead of a means of transformation.

What I mean by that is we will live as if the gospel is just news that gets us into heaven, but it's actually news that gets heaven into us now. The gospel isn't just for unbelievers to get saved; the gospel is the means by which we, as Christians, are transformed into the likeness of Jesus by the power of the Spirit. If we're not careful… Don't miss what I'm telling you. If we're not careful, we will slide into moralism without even knowing it.

Do you know what I mean by moralism? I mean we will try to change ourselves for God. I felt it this week. I'm doing Join the Journey, the reading plan here at the church. This is what I read in Proverbs 3:3-4 this week. It says, "Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man."

When you read that, you might think, "Okay. I want favor and good success. I want God's favor. I want other people's favor. So in 2024 my resolution is to be more consistent in my love and faithfulness toward God. I'm going to do that by waking up earlier and reading more consistently and praying more, and I'm going to try to stop sinning. I am going to be more faithful and more steadfast in my love." That's actually moralism. Do you realize that? That is actually you trying to change yourself for God.

A gospel-saturated application of this verse is to say, "God, I haven't loved you steadfastly. I haven't been faithful to you as you require. Only Jesus has been perfect in steadfast love and faithfulness. He perfectly fulfilled your law and then endured your wrath for all of the ways I haven't been steadfast in love or faithfulness, but through faith I've been made new. Your Spirit lives in me. I have a new capacity for love and faithfulness. Today, God, may you empower me toward love and faithfulness, not to earn your favor but because I already have your favor in Christ Jesus."

Do you see the difference? That is a gospel-saturated response. So, my hope is that this year the people of Watermark, those who call this place home, would grow in their ability to apply the gospel to their lives every single day and that we would be changed not by our strength but because of what God is doing in us by the power of the Spirit to the application of the gospel. So, first and longest, we just have to be clear: we want to be a gospel-saturated church.

  1. We want to be a praying church. We draw distinction between a church that prays and a praying church. When the elders are saying, "We want to be a praying church," what we are saying is we want to be known for prayer. We want to be marked by prayer. We want the members of Watermark to live with a conviction that there is nothing more important and nothing more satisfying than prayer.

Some of y'all might hear that, and it might not sit well with you. You might hear me say there is nothing more important than prayer, and you might say, "Well, yeah, but what about the Word of God? Reading the Word of God is more important." Let me just ask you… Do you know how arrogant prayerless Bible study is? Do you know how arrogant prayerless evangelism or prayerless ministry to the homeless in our city is?

When you study the Bible without prayer, you're saying to God, "I've got it. I can read this and understand it all by myself. I can change someone's life on my own. Just watch, God. I'll do it for you." No. Prayer is at the foundational level. Martin Luther said, "To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing." We want to be known for and marked by prayer.

Honestly, for a good majority of my life, I would say I majored in the Word of God and minored in prayer, and then I had this massive revelation in 2021 where God shook me up and I came to the realization that I had misunderstood the purpose of prayer for the majority of my life. I thought prayer was the primary way we got more from God. Then, starting in 2021, I realized the primary purpose of prayer wasn't to get more from God; the primary purpose of prayer was to get more of God.

Prayer is the primary pathway God has given us to greater intimacy and enjoyment of him. Jesus says in Matthew 6:6. "But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you." What's the reward? God will just give you more of himself.

I hope the members here at Watermark will take me seriously. The people in this world who enjoy God the most are the people who tap into the joy of prayer. This year, we want to get more of God together. Our goal is that you would enjoy God through prayer more this year than you ever have in your life. Next week, our first sermon series for the year is called A Praying Church. We're going to be walking through how we become people and a church of prayer.

Then, starting February 1, we are starting 21 days of prayer and fasting as a church. So, if you consider Watermark your home, get ready for it. We're going to give you more information. If you just had the thought, "I'm not going to eat for 21 days?" that's not exactly what we're saying. Don't freak out. Don't rule yourself out from now. We're going to unpack it. We believe it's going to be a defining time for our church, because we want to be a praying church.

  1. We want to be a Bible-revering church. We believe that right now we are holding the Word of God. God has gone to great lengths to speak to us. That means we can hear from God every single day. If I were to sit down with you and ask you, "Hey, when's the last time you heard from God?" you might be like, "I don't know if I've ever heard from God."

You should be able to say, "I heard from him this morning. I'm actually hearing from him right now," because we're actually reading his Word. When you open up this book, it's like you're opening up God's mouth. If you want to hear from God, all you need to do is sit and begin to read this, and by his Spirit at work in you, reading his words, he'll speak to you. I tell you that just to say we are committed to being a Bible-revering church.

Jesus says in Matthew 4:4, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." We want the members here at Watermark to live not off of Timothy Ateek's words or John Elmore's words. We want you to live off every word that comes from the mouth of God.

People have a tendency to assume that because of the size of Watermark, the size means we're shallow when it comes to teaching. I just want you to know that we, as elders, have a deep conviction that we will always be a large church that goes deep, that we will always open up this Word. This will never be opinion time with Timothy Ateek or John Elmore.

Here at Watermark, we're committed to what is called expository preaching. It means the point of the text becomes the point of the message. We believe every passage in this book has a purpose. God put each passage in the Bible for one primary reason. We don't have the luxury of reading the passage and getting super creative and being like, "I want it to say this." We don't have the luxury of bringing our own agenda to the Bible.

We don't have the luxury of reading a passage and just using it as a launching pad to actually talk about what we want to talk about. Here at Watermark, every Sunday we will open up this book and read it. My commitment to you is that John and I, every week, will spend considerable time seeking to understand what God's point for the passage is, and then we will let God's point become the point of our messages. That's what we're committed to.

Because we're a Bible-revering church, here's the deal: we will always unapologetically and courageously stand on truth. We don't have the luxury of changing our beliefs as culture changes. The Bible will have the final say for us on all issues. So here's our goal. Our goal is that every Watermark member would experience the joy of hearing from God every day through the reading of his Word.

This might be a hot take, but I'm going to say it anyway, and I say it in love. Devotional books are a great supplement but a terrible replacement. If God has spoken, don't you want to hear from him? You don't have to hear from God indirectly through another imperfect human being. Devotional books are great supplements. I have friends who have written amazing devotionals, but they would even want you to treat it as a supplement, not a replacement for the Word of God.

If you're not on a reading plan yet, join us. Go to We have amazing resources to help you study the Bible and understand the Bible. We're going through Proverbs right now. It's one or two chapters a day. We can do this. Jump in with us. Then there's going to be a Sunday even this year where on Sunday morning, from the stage, we're actually going to show you how you can get more out of your own personal Bible study.

  1. We want to be a Spirit-led church. This is the tricky thing about saying we want to be a Spirit-led church. Some of y'all are like, "Oh, there it is. Watermark just fell off the cliff. We're turning charismatic." No. Others of you are like, "Finally! Because for a second I thought this place was 'Father, Son, and Holy Bible,' and now, finally, it's going to be 'Father, Son, Holy Spirit.'" We have people on different ends of the spectrum.

Here's the deal. We want the Word of God to ground us regarding the Spirit. Acts 1:8: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." The Spirit is given by God to empower us to accomplish his purposes in the world. If you read the book of Acts, the Spirit is mentioned over 60 times, because it is the Spirit that glorifies Christ through the church.

Ephesians 5:18: "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit…" Galatians 5:16: "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh." We talked about "Should we call it 'Spirit-led'? Some people might get triggered by that." Well, Galatians 5:18: "But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law."

We want to be a Spirit-led church. What do I mean by that? I just mean we want to be people who have a deep sensitivity to the Spirit. We want Watermark members to grow in their ability to listen to the Spirit, to be convicted by the Spirit, to be led by the Spirit, to be victorious over sin by the Spirit, and to serve the church by the power of the Spirit.

So, the second sermon series we are doing this year, right after we talk about being a praying church, is a series called A Spirit-Led Church, and it is going to be a deep dive into understanding who the Spirit is, what he does, how to listen to the Spirit and be led by the Spirit, and how to use the spiritual gifts you have been given by the Spirit to build up this body.

  1. We want to be a missional church. Matthew 28:19 is referred to as the Great Commission that Jesus gave shortly before ascending into heaven. Listen to what he says to his closest friends. "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…"

If you want to know what the mission of the church is…not just this church but the church, the universal church, everyone who's considered a Christian lumped together…it's to make disciples. Making disciples starts with sharing the good news, the gospel that I just shared earlier. The reason we share it is we hope people would trust in Jesus.

We want to see people who were spiritually dead come to life. We want to see neighbors and coworkers and workout friends and family members and baristas and waiters and waitresses and mailmen and mailwomen and repairmen and repairwomen put their trust in Jesus in 2024. So, this year, as a people, we will be committed to praying for the lost.

We're going to help Watermark members gain confidence in starting spiritual conversations and sharing the gospel, and we're going to call every Watermark member to live on mission in your neighborhood, in your workplace, at your gym, and in any other sphere of influence God has placed you. We want every Watermark member to experience the joy that comes with sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with someone who has never truly understood it.

The hope is that we would have hundreds, if not thousands, of stories this year of people sharing the gospel, hearing the gospel, and even putting their trust in Jesus. Here's what I want you to think about. If every Watermark member shared the gospel once a month, 80,000 people in Dallas would hear the good news in 2024. If every member at Watermark shared the gospel once a week, 348,000 people in Dallas would hear the gospel.

Here's the great news: the Spirit of God is moving and working, the gospel is winning, and tens of thousands of people are trusting in Christ every day around the world. Here's what that means: the Spirit is at work in Dallas. If the people who call this place home were to share the gospel and tens of thousands of people were to hear it, I have to believe that in 2024 we could hear thousands of stories of people trusting in Christ, taking that step onto the plane, and heading toward a new destination. But we must live on mission. We have to live on mission.

Some of y'all are already feeling anxious and have already considered yourself a failure. We're only seven days in, and you're like, "I'm not going to be able to do this. Once a month? Not going to happen. Definitely not once a week." Here's the deal. We want to be a joy-filled missional church, not a shame-induced missional church.

So, our third sermon series of the year will be called A Missional Church. We're going to be walking through the book of Jonah, and we are going to be inviting you into God's mission. We're going to help equip you to have spiritual conversations, because we want to be a people who live on mission.

  1. We want to be a maturing church. Colossians 1:28 says, "Him we proclaim…" That's talking about Jesus. Jesus we proclaim. "…warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ." That's our goal. Our goal is that every person who calls this place home would grow up into spiritual maturity.

A few years ago I did an exercise. I read Colossians 1:28, that our responsibility is to present people mature in Christ, so the question I asked myself was, "What does a mature Christian even look like?" I want to challenge you, if you call this place home, to think about that sometime this week. Write down your own answer. What does a mature Christian look like?

If you don't look at the Scriptures and define it, you might end up being like that guy who goes to the gym and never does leg day. It's just upper body. Even worse… I don't know if there are people like this, but you might become that person who's only working out one bicep. You go to the spiritual gym, and you're just cranking on your left bicep. Do you know what happens? You become lopsided. A mature Christian is someone who works out all of the different spiritual muscles.

So, I sat down and began to think about all the Scripture I knew, and I began to answer the question…What does a mature Christian look like? For me, I identified 11 different markers of a mature Christian. For me, a mature Christian is someone who understands and can articulate the gospel. They have a firm grasp on their identity in Christ and the implications of it (they live out of it). They have a robust view of God and know the intricacies of his attributes.

They live on mission. They know how to read and understand the Bible. They have a robust prayer life and enjoy God through practicing spiritual disciplines. They have a cultivated heart for the nations, specifically those in the world who have never heard the name of Jesus. They have a cultivated heart for the church and are fully invested in the church. They're rooted in sound doctrine. They have a solid foundation on theology. They're pursuing godliness and forsaking sin, and they're reproducing their faith into the next generation.

The reason I share that with you is to make the point we always want to be people who are taking ground. We don't want to be 10 years into our spiritual journeys and still nursing on the bottle. We want to grow up spiritually. We want to move toward solid food. We don't want to just be on milk. So, we want to be people in 2024 who are identifying the spiritual muscles that need strengthening, and we also want to be a place where one generation is helping the next generation pursue maturity. This is known as discipleship. Disciples make disciples who make disciples.

If we're going to be a maturing church, here's what that means. It means some of you are going to realize, right here on January 7, it's time to grow up. God is inviting you into more. The Spirit of God is kind of pounding on your heart right now, saying, "Look. It's time. It's time to get going. It's time to grow up." Then, others of you who would consider yourselves a mature Christian… My question for you is…Who are you investing in? Who are you discipling?

Maybe this is the year where you're going to grab a few younger men or a few younger women and invite them into your life, and you're going to help them take steps toward maturity. I promise you there's nothing better you could give your time to than helping the next generation grow into Christlikeness. We want to be a maturing church.

  1. We want to be a sending church. I already read Matthew 28:19, but I want to read it again, because I want you to see the wording. "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…" The Great Commission is a specific call to make disciples of all nations. So, we don't have the luxury of… Some of y'all want to look at the Greek and be like, "You know what? It doesn't mean go; it means as you go." Well, yeah. That's why we talked about missional living.

We want to be a missional church. So, as you go, make disciples, but you can't avoid the fact that Jesus' command to his friends is "Go." The reason we know it's "Go" is because then, when you look at the book of Acts, you see people leaving the city they're in to take the gospel to the places it has not yet gone. We know there are places in the world where the gospel has not yet gone. There are roughly three billion people in the world who have never heard the name of Jesus.

I want you to think about that. Think about how many churches you drove past this morning. Think about the fact that you're carrying a Bible that other people don't have access to. We have sung the name of Jesus here. We've talked about Jesus, and some people have literally never heard his name. So, we don't have the luxury of just setting our sights on Dallas and just reaching Dallas. That is unfaithful to God's command.

We don't have the luxury of just reaching countries where the gospel is already welcomed. We have a responsibility to be a part of the spread of the gospel to all nations. Here's what that means for us at Watermark. That means robust strategies for praying for the nations and giving to those who are reaching those who have not been reached. It means reaching the international community here in Dallas, and it even means going and sending.

We hope to see young adults from The Porch and even families raise their hands and say, "I feel called to go and take the gospel where it has yet to go." You know what? We have the Watermark Institute. God is consistently bringing the next generation of leaders to Watermark. We are talking about what it looks like in the coming years to raise up future pastors and church planters and send them out to less-reached cities in the US and less-reached or unreached places in the world; for us to send out pastors, church planters, to places where the gospel is not flourishing in our country and around the world.

A good place for us to start is by praying individually and corporately for the unreached people groups in the world. One of the ways you can do that is there is an app you can get called Unreached of the Day, and each day it highlights one unreached people group in the world. Let's just pray for the unreached people group of the day right now. Pray with me.

Lord, we pray for the Chain people group in India, for the 643,000 people in the Chain people group who have never heard the name of Jesus. We pray for today, that you would reveal yourself in supernatural ways, that you would raise up missionaries to go to the Chain people group, that today would be the day of salvation in the Chain people group in India for your name's sake, amen.

  1. We want to be a shepherding church. Hebrews 13:17: "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account." Here's what you need to know: we, as elders, are not chasing numbers. The greatest win is not packing this place out. We're not chasing numbers. That's why, if you don't know this, we reset our membership to zero every single year and ask every member to recommit. Why? Because we, as elders, feel responsible for the people God is entrusting to our care. We want to know who we're responsible for.

So, if you are hurting or struggling or sinning or celebrating, we want to be a church where you are known, prayed for, and cared for. We take our role in shepherding you and caring for you and praying for you and knowing you very seriously. That's why we have Community Groups, and every Community Group has a Community Group shepherd as well as a full-time staff director: so you, Watermark members, can be known, prayed for, and cared for.

  1. We want to be a community church. Community is in the name of our church…Watermark Community Church. The reason it's in the name of the church and the reason we want to be a community church is we believe life is better together. The Christian life is a race that is really hard to run alone. So, we want to see all of the Community Groups in our body thrive in four areas. Just evaluate your own Community Group right now, because we want to see every group thrive in four areas.

A. Bible application. We hope every group that gathers is opening up the Word of God together and seeking to apply it, answering the question, "How will our lives look different this week because of what we're learning?" We want to ask and invite the Spirit to come and apply this truth in our lives.

B. Prayer. We want every group not just sharing prayer requests and one person closing. We're talking about groups fervently praying with one another and for one another on a regular basis.

C. Mission. Community Groups especially that are geographically located, that you would reach your neighborhoods together, and if you're not geographically located, that y'all would encourage one another, that you would pray for the opportunities each other has to reach those who are lost.

D. We want you to grow. We want our Community Groups to be places where you can be fully known and fully loved. This takes time. Trust takes time to cultivate. You can't demand it on the first day you meet as a group. It takes time, but we want every Watermark member to experience the joy of being fully known and fully loved in the context of community.

Here's the thing. If your Community Group isn't flourishing right now, then the next time y'all meet you should acknowledge that. You should say it out loud, and then raise your hand. Don't just endure mediocrity for the next six months to a year. Raise your hand. If you know your Community Group shepherd, reach out to them. If you don't know who your shepherd is, then someone from your group email We want to help. We want every group to flourish here at Watermark.

  1. We want to be a unifying church. We firmly believe the future success of the gospel spread will involve the church unifying in Dallas and worldwide. I mean gospel-proclaiming, Bible-teaching, Christ-exalting churches that agree on the core doctrines unifying together. This means we can disagree on secondary issues but unify around the spread of the gospel.

Imagine people from different churches praying together for their streets and neighborhoods or sports teams or workplaces. Imagine churches working together to reach every home in a neighborhood with the gospel. Imagine a day where the church in Dallas gathers together at the AAC or Cowboys stadium to worship together, to pray for our city, and then to be sent out to reach the city. So don't be surprised if you hear us praying for other churches in our city for them to flourish. Let's do it right now. Let's pray together really quickly.

God, I do pray for churches meeting right now in our city. I think about CityBridge, Onward, Lakepointe, Mosaic, Park Cities Baptist, Northwest Bible, and Northway. I think about The Village, Citizens, Eastside, PCPC, HPPC, and there are so many more. I'm just naming a few, Lord God. I pray that as they gather you would do a great work, that as your Word is taught, as your gospel is proclaimed, Lord, people would trust in Christ. We love those brothers and sisters gathering right now. Would you use them and do a great work through them for your name's sake? Amen.

Here's how I want to close. I just want to remind you God has entrusted us with a lot. This is not a place to get comfortable. The win is not just showing up. This is not 6-year-old basketball. We want to be the most God-glorifying, Christ-exalting, gospel-believing, proclaiming, and advancing version of Watermark. You've heard me talk to the Watermark members a lot today. If you're not a member, jump in with us. Most importantly, if you heard the gospel clearly for the first time today, step onto the plane.

I want to end by praying for these 10 things for our church, and I want to ask you to participate in prayer with me. What do I mean by that? Here's what I mean. You can stand in agreement as I pray. You can kneel in dependence upon God as I pray. Then I want to even invite you to agree with me in prayer.

So, if you hear me say something in prayer that you agree with, in the quietness of your own heart you can just say, "God, yes. I agree. Do that." Or you can say it audibly. You can do that here. You can say, "Amen. Yeah, that's good. God, do that. Yes, please, God. Lord, that's good." You can agree, and that is okay. Participate with me in prayer, and let's pray these 10 things for our church. I'll just give you a second. Find the posture that's right for you, whether it's standing in agreement or kneeling in dependence. Let's pray.

God, you've entrusted us with a lot. Watermark is your church. Lord Jesus, you're the true lead pastor of Watermark. You are the head. We're submitted to you. We want only what you want. We exist for your name's sake, for your fame, for your glory, your renown, not our own. We don't have the corner on the market of Christianity, God. We're just one light in a dark city alongside countless other lights, different churches, God, but would you use us, I pray.

We thank you for your gospel, Lord. We thank you for the good news you have given to us, Lord. Lord, I pray this would be a gospel-saturated church. Would you help us to grow in our application. May we be transformed by the power of your Spirit through the application of your gospel. Lord, teach us how to pray. I pray that we would be a praying church.

Lord, I pray that we would all experience the joy of prayer, that we would not just seek to get more from you but that this year, in 2024, we would get more of you as a people, God. Thank you for your Word, Lord. You have spoken. We want to hear from you every day. We want to be a Bible-revering people, Lord. So as we come into this place, would we come with soft hearts, expectant for what you want to say to us.

Lord, lead us by your Spirit. May we be Spirit-led. Teach us how to listen and be led by your Spirit. God, we want to be on mission today. Would you give us opportunities to share the gospel. I pray that today we could see people trust in Christ in our city. Lord, may we be a maturing church individually. Would you call us to take our next steps with you, and would you create a culture here where disciples make disciples that we would grow up into Christlikeness.

Lord, I pray we would be a sending church. Would you use people of Watermark to reach the unreached in our world. We pray for the three billion people who have never heard the name of Jesus, and we pray for revival in our world today. God, I pray we would be a shepherding church, that every Watermark member would feel seen, cared for, and prayed for in this place. God, I pray for every Community Group in this church, that they would flourish, that there would be joy in doing life together.

Then, finally, God, I pray we would be a unifying church, that Watermark would join together with the work that is happening in other churches around this city and we would be a place that is committed to the spread of the gospel alongside other churches that want the same thing. We need you and love you, God. Do a great work in 2024 here in the people of Watermark. In Jesus' name, amen.