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We are talking about our congregation’s future today. And I want to begin with a bit of recent history. Leadership has been working at ways for our congregation to move forward for quite a while now. Long before the two services plan was offered. And after it wasn’t accepted, we certainly have worked hard. Many hours of meetings. For myself, and I am sure others, many more hours of thinking and praying and working at this.

This is important because it is about vision for the future; our future. And it’s important that any group, our own church included, has a sense of direction and purpose; that we know we are going somewhere and somewhere good. Of course, you can never control the future and what will happen. But at least with a plan you can be intentional about setting a direction and moving toward some specific goals.

As Elders and church council members I believe we have come to a point of clarity on moving forward, although we will ask for your blessing at our annual meeting in July. (And you will be able to see the details then).

But before we get to moving forward,  first –

Some words of encouragement

I guess it’s just a part of human nature that it’s much easier to see the negative in things rather than the good. Right? We often focus on all that we should be doing better as a congregation; all the areas we are weak in compared to other churches. We don’t often think about what we do well, and where we are gifted; where God has blessed us.

Let me give you some examples of this, and then I will let you give some as well:

  • Our children and young people – what a good group we have, and we want to invest in their lives.
  • Our musical gifts and worship times
  • We have many who are willing to work with their hands to serve others – service trips, MDS, helping members with needs.
  • We have many people who are highly committed and work hard at serving the Lord. And I thank God for each one.
  • We like to have fun with each other – eating, hanging out, joking, laughing.

Also mentioned by the congregation –  our Pastor (and, of course, I joked that I would pay Dale for saying that after the service). We have many good teachers in our congregation. And we are a multi-generational church.

These are all precious gifts from God. And we should be thankful to be in a congregation so blessed!

Brothers and sisters, let’s have a good image of ourselves. Not because we are anything, but because God is good to us. And let’s build on these good things as we move forward.

Now let’s talk about the future. First of all, we want to –

1. Make involvement in ministry the center of our church

Romans 12:4-6 says, “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them . . ..”

Everyone of us has gifts and abilities, given by God. And as Paul says, we want you to use them!

So we want to shake up how we are organized. We don’t want to focus on administration so much and simply coming to meetings (too much of which can suck the life out of the best of us). We want to focus on a number of ministry teams, building on what we already have, and having a flexible structure so that as God leads, others can be formed.

For instance we are now working on creating a “Hospitality Team” which will focus on welcoming visitors, and also will bring together other roles we already have that are related to this. We want to make this a focal point of ministry. And we want to do it well.

Each such ministry team will be led by someone who has gifts and a passion in that area of ministry. And they will be encouraged to give leadership and be creative. And then we will recruit others to help out, who also have gifts and a desire to serve in that area.

So this change is about unleashing people to serve out of their strengths. Because when people are acting out of their gifts and their passions, the work, although it can be hard and time consuming – is life giving. There is joy in it!

So there is a change in organization involved, but we also want to shake up our thinking about ministry.

  • Under the supervision of the Elders, we want to give leaders freedom to lead and be creative.
  • We want to get everyone involved in some way or another with ministry – according to the grace that God has given them. This should be seen as normal, not exceptional – from our seniors all the way to our youth.
  • And we want to learn to be flexible. If people come forward with a vision and gifts, new ministry teams can be put together. And if there is no longer a vision or a person wanting to serve, the team can cease. We need to learn to ask. ‘Where is God working among us?’ ’Where is God stirring up vision and giving us people with gifts?’ And we need to pursue this.

Second and just briefly, we want to –

2. Be prepared in practical ways for growth

This comes as an expression of our faith – that God will work among us.

So we will be working at putting in place a five year plan for our building and grounds. We have at various times bumped up against the limitations of our facilities, since I have been here and even before.

As we grow, as God works among us, we want to have a pathway in place; a roadmap for how to move forward and what steps are involved. We want to be ready.

We make this plan in faith, and we will enact it a step at time, as there is need. Whether it’s in five years or not.

Alright, having put in place a way for people to use their gifts in ministry, and having in place a plan for what might come of it, third, and most importantly, we want to –

3. Invite God to work through us

Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” I know I certainly don’t want to labor in vain. So we need to seek God.

God is the key. Because it is God alone who brings real growth, and fruit that remains. As Paul says, it is “God who gives the growth” – 1 Corinthians 3:7.

How this works is a mystery to us. As Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” – Mark 4:26-29.

We just tend the garden, but God has to act to bring life and growth. So this is a matter of prayer and seeking after God.

This is what I believe

I believe if you aren’t moving forward, you are moving backward. There is no neutral in the Christian life.

I believe that if we just focus on being comfortable and doing things like we always have – we’re gonna find ourselves a few years from now asking, ‘Why don’t we have any new people?’

I believe God wants to move among us; that God wants to do something special among us.

I believe that God has given each of us gifts for his kingdom which he can use to move among us. And that none of us will find true joy until we do serve the Lord. Because this is what we were created for.

I believe that God wants to touch people’s lives through us. And that there are people out there waiting for us to kick it into high gear, so that they will be touched and transformed and turned into those who minister to others as well.

What I am asking of you

I am asking you to believe that God can and will work in us and through us in powerful new ways. In other words, I am asking you to have faith; to be excited; to have expectation; to be looking forward to what God will do among us.

I am asking you to be committed; to give more priority to this church body than to other activities, worthwhile as they may be. I am asking you to invest yourself in this congregation; your time and your resources.

Finally, I am asking you to use your gifts. Find out what they are, and then don’t be shy. Be teachable, but be bold to step out and serve.

William Higgins

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