A little over a week ago, we gathered around pancakes, prayer, and conversing about the future of our church. A few of you were not able to be there and so I wanted to recap what we talked about and remind the rest of us where we are heading.
So where do we go? There is a great Christian philosopher named Dallas Willard who wrote, "There is nothing wrong with the church that discipleship will not cure." I agree. The question we have going forward is are we disciples? Are we deeply committed to Jesus? Have we attached our very selves to the life, death, teachings, healings, and resurrection of Jesus? Going forward, we are going to work on being a Jesus-centered church. We will find our life, our health, our vision, our strength in the very person of Jesus Christ. We will keep Jesus as the center of our faith and life together.
What does this look like practically? It looks like a life of sacrificial love together based on the love of Jesus. Paul says it like this, "If you have any encouragement in Christ, any fellowship in the Spirit . . . do nothing out of selfish ambition of vain conceit, but in humility consider others more than yourself" (Philippians 2:1,3).
In worship, everything we sing, pray, and teach will celebrate Jesus and the work that God has done and will continue to do in our world. We will sing with the organ and piano. We will have a choir. We will also sing with guitars and maybe even drums. We will sing old songs and new songs. We will sing modern songs in modern ways. We will pray. We will continue to read from the scriptures, our source of God's revelation. We will have soloists, duets, trios, and other groups who will bless us with their musical talent. We will seek to creatively teach and preach the word of God. For me, this means for a while, doing sermon series. To go along with the sermon series, we will also produce weekly guides during the week to help us interact with what we are learning together.
Discipleship wise, we have been a bit unorganized. We have lots of groups - Sunday School classes, small home groups, women's Bible studies, felt need groups like GriefShare. However, we have not had much organization with them, as we have let most of the classes and studies self-govern. That will not change. What will, is that I will start doing a better job of encouraging, praying, and keeping up with what is going on in our small groups. I will invest in our leaders through prayer and occasional meetings. I am also taking over leadership for one of our young adult Sunday School classes - Repurposed - for a while. We need each other. We need our brother and sister in Christ to speak into our lives and help us grow into the fullness of Christ.
We will also find ways to participate with God and His mission in the world to reconcile the world back to Himself. We will start right here in Shawnee. We have incredible ministry opportunities within the 10 blocks surrounding our church. Shawnee needs the gospel. We have trips scheduled for 2016 globally in Guatemala (hopefully) and nationally in San Francisco, CA (May 2016).
What we need most though is prayer. Prayer is the life-blood of the church. It is where we fall on our knees before the Creator and Redeemer of the Lord and confess our need of Him. It is where we find healing and deep communion with God. We need prayer groups. We need a group to gather before worship on Sunday morning and pray over every pew in our sanctuary. We need a group to walk through the church during the week praying for our ministries. We need a group prayer walking our neighborhood. We need a group praying about our mission opportunities. We need groups praying for healing for people in our church, and not just physical healing, but deep soul healing.
Where are we headed? We are a church being conformed into the image of Christ. For that to happen we need to get out of the way, and rely upon God alone. My prayer is that "he who began a good work in you would carry it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6).
Love you all and see you Sunday.