Welcome to 2017! I trust you’ve had a break to rejuvenate, and now you’re ready for another great year.
As we press into the New Year, it’s important that we ensure we’re all on the same page and pushing in the same direction – what some people call “alignment.” Organisational alignment means that, while we may all be working in different areas and at different tasks, those different efforts are all contributing to a common goal.
For us as a Church, our overall vision is to become a “Planting, Multiplying, Sending, Equipping Church that tells people Every Person Is Important To God.” We want to be a Church that equips and sends people in such a way that we see disciples multiplied and congregations planted. We’re a Church that’s focused on people rather than programs and families on mission rather than buildings.
But each year, God lays a specific word of focus for the coming year. In 2016, that word was “abide” – God called us to focus on abiding in Him well, because He promises in John 15:7-8 to bring about fruit if we abide well. And we saw lots of fruit in 2016!
We’re not ready to plant a new congregation yet – the groundwork is not laid. If we did try to start a new service or congregation, there would be additional work put on people who are already overloaded. But one thing we have realised is that planting is an outcome of good discipleship. If we focus on the discipleship well, God will take care of the planting. As Ps Geoff has said before, “If you plant a Church, you don’t always get disciples. Bu if you plant disciples, you always get a Church.”
In 2017, our focus is on “Faith Steps” – identifying the fruit of faith in people’s lives. A verse that God has led us to is Isaiah 32:8, “But the noble make noble plans, and by noble deeds they stand.” The fruit of nobility is noble deeds. The fruit of generosity is generous deeds.
The fruit of faith is faith steps – new steps in living out God’s mission.
So, in 2017, we’re asking all ministry leaders to identify “faith steps” in your ministry – it might be someone coming to faith for the first time, someone asking to be baptised, someone stepping up to serve in a new way, someone sharing their faith. It doesn’t really matter what the step is but we want to start hearing them and recording them.
We have said previously that the traditional measures of a Church are the “3 B’s” – budgets, buildings and bums on seats. But, they’re not biblical measures. The Bible measures in faith steps:
- “Those who accepted his message were baptised, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” (Acts 2:41) Three thousand people took a faith step;
- All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had… For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.” (Acts 4:32-35) People took faith steps;
- “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.” (Acts 8:4)
We are convinced that God still wants us to plant more congregations. We are convinced that we are going to see the Holy Spirit do great things in our community. And we’re convinced that the thing God wants us to focus on is abiding well by calling people to take faith steps that will result in God’s Kingdom growing.
So, as leaders, that’s what we’re asking you to do with your team this year – record faith steps, promote faith steps, celebrate faith steps and pass those faith steps on to the Pastoral Team.
“Everyone really does win when a leader gets better.” (Bill Hybels)
God said to the Israelites, “Then I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.” (Jeremiah 3:15)
Father, as we tear into a New Year, help us to keep our eyes firmly focused on You. Help us to take new steps of faith and leadership in our own lives and to lead others to take those steps in their lives. To Your glory alone! Amen.