The new year always provides an opportunity to assess where we've been and make plans for where we want to go. It's become a tradition of mine on the first Sunday of each new year to share those thoughts with my church. I value a dynamic, healthy, vibrant church that seeks the will of God for our lives together, so that's why I take time frequently to look within and look ahead. Here are a few of my thoughts for the essentials in 2017:
e will be starting our Feasibility Study on our church facility. s you know, the challenges of our aging facility continue to be problematic for us, consuming our financial resources and energy of our people, particularly our leaders. We own our building free and clear, but we need to take a deeper look at the structural issues in our building so we can make informed, faith-filled decisions. It is highly unfair for us to kick this down the line to the next generation.
e will be investing a lot of time in building our ministry teams and leadership. s we make changes in how we "do business", we need to support those who have taken steps of faith to serve God in this church. Including every member of the body in service is a sign of a healthy church and healthy individual relationships with Jesus. Remember, we're in this together!
e will reexamine our membership. n the years our church was struggling with day to day survival, a lot of things were left undone. Consequently, we do not have any records of who actually holds membership in CCC or not. We want to hit reboot and invite people into a committed relationship with each other and the church. In a world in which no one is committed to anything but themselves, commitment is a sign of vitality, health, and Christian maturity.
Here's what I need from you:
1) Guard our unity. Is your presence uniting or dividing? Are you looking out for just yourselves or for the church? Each one of us -- in love for God and the church -- should do our part to build and preserve our unity.
2) Cultivate healthy Christian relationships where healthy boundaries and grace flourish (marked by forgiveness where required). Guard yourself against complaint toward your sisters and brothers. Be careful not to dump your toxic waste on to those you love.
3) Renew your commitment to Jesus Christ and His church. How is our relationship with God being prioritized in our life? How is our relationship with Jesus being reflected in our relationship with his Body, the church?
4) Be present and pray. Your presence in this place encourages us all. Pray for the church and pray for your leaders. As your pastor, I need this from you.
My number one responsibility in the church is this: to teach and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This doesn't deserve my left-overs, so it has to receive my top priority. A mentor of mine once told me this: "Don't work to hold on to people in your church; work to grow your people." Teaching those who earnestly run after Jesus energizes me. I can give to that end over and over again.
Thank you for your faithful presence in my life and in our church. For those who've given their service, their time, their care, their finance, and their love, I'm grateful!
So we look forward to 2017...