New years create wonderful times of reflection both on what has been as well as what is to come. It has been an exciting past year at First Church. From the first full rotation of our Disciple’s Journey to numerous youth going through our confirmation process to the most baptisms we have had in many years, we give thanks to God for God’s amazing blessings! It is an exciting time to be part of God’s church.
Be on the lookout in the weeks to come for more highlights from this past year. My hope is two-fold when you see some of these highlights. One: I hope we will be drawn to give thanks to God for God’s goodness and blessing. Two: I hope you will be inspired for what lies ahead. God is using the church in powerful ways, but we have only just begun to experience what is possible.
As you well know, we are reaching a pivotal time in the life of our world and culture. With increasing numbers of people no longer connected in a local church, or even knowing what “church” is, it has never been more important for today’s church to learn how to again go to meet people on their turf instead of expecting people on their own to come to church. In an increasingly post-Christian world, it is imperative for today’s church to reclaim its original, apostolic mission as in Biblical times. This is the mindset that we are increasingly living into here at First Church. But the only way we can experience the full potential of this mindset is if we live into it together.
I love how my friend and colleague Michael Beck says it when he notes:
Our denominations are not going to unfold some plan that will reverse the decline of our churches. God is asking us local church people the Moses question “What’s that in your hand?” (Exo. 4:2). Revitalization will not come from “the top down,” no matter how well-intentioned those plans may be. Revival movements are released from disruption, experimentation, and risk-taking from the bottom-up, not the top-down. Denominational hierarchies rarely (if ever) cultivate renewal in local churches, but local churches can cultivate renewal of denominations. The way
forward will be how we decide to be with the people right in front of us today.”
I could not agree more, Church! Now is our time. In the weeks ahead you will hear more about what this means for First Church and specifically how we can all live into such a reality. Will you join me?
The first thing I want to ask you to do is to join me in daily prayer at 5:17 AM/PM. You will remember that 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to pray continually. We prayed in unison at 5:17 AM/PM in 2018 for baptisms and God blessed us with the most baptisms we have had in many years.
For 2019 I am asking you to join me in this prayer every day at 5:17AM/PM: “Lord, help us to make more connections with new people.” We know there is
power in prayer. Will you join me in prayer?
May 2019 be a year of change, growth, experimentation, risk, faith, and most of all glory to God! I am so privileged to journey with you First Church in this