Last year was an excellent year for our Church. Attendance rose about 20 people each week. Numerous visitors came through our doors, especially over the last three months since going to two worship programs. Our Vacation Bible School had a near-record attendance. We saw a dozen people get baptized. A large group of people took our membership class, and we are close to 100 people making a new commitment or reaffirming an old one. There are so many positive things that happened in 2017 it is hard to list them all.
After a year like that, it is easy to feel content. Things are going well, people are growing, and the bills are being paid so let’s slow down and take it easy. Let’s take some time to make some improvements on what we currently have before moving forward. Can’t we just enjoy the moment and stop moving forward?
The simple answer is no. We are not going to stop moving forward with the message of the gospel. We are not going to stop reaching out. We are not going to stop growing.
This year will bring exciting new activities.
This year we will sing new songs.
This year I will speak on new topics.
This year we will make changes around the Church of all types.
This year I am planning on teaching new classes at new times.
This year I am praying for many more guests.
This year I am asking everyone to pray for at least 20 more baptisms.
This year we will try new things. Some will succeed, and some will fail.
This year the Church will move forward in new and exciting ways.
One of the biggest temptation a Church faces is living complacently because of the successes of the past. Sometimes we think to ourselves, “Last year was good, now we can slow down and relax.”
Jesus tells a series of parables in Luke chapter 15. One is about a lost sheep and the shepherd searches everywhere until he finds it. One is a woman who lost a coin, and she cleans her house frantically looking for that one coin. The final story is of a father, and he loses one of his two sons, and he longingly looks down the road until he comes home. A preacher friend of mine summarized these stories with one penetrating line. He says, “No matter how big a group of believers are, they should always be looking for one more.”
At the Church I lead, this year we are not going to coast on our past successes. We are going to push forward with the message of the gospel always trying to reach one more.
It will take effort, and at times it will be uncomfortable. It will lead to awkward conversations and frustrating failures. It will also enable us to celebrate one year from now all the good things God did in our Church in 2018.