2012: Following the Lord
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The LORD said to Abram, “Leave your land, your relatives, and your father’s home. Go to the land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation, I will bless you. I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you, I will curse. Through you every family on earth will be blessed.” So Abram left, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran. (Genesis 12:1-4, GWV)
Did you ever notice that, his entire life, Abraham never knew where He was going? Once, he made a decision himself to go somewhere, Egypt, and it didn't go well for him. The rest of his life, He left the decision up to God's leading. And look at the fruits of his obedience to God's leading: everything in the Bible afterward, including Moses, who wrote his biography in Genesis, the birth of Jesus, and your salvation from sin death and the devil. Take a moment now to thank God for Abram's obedience, and when you get to heaven, thank him personally. His willingness to follow God to places unknown will result in your eventual arrival in heaven.
2012 will be a big year, a year like none Shepherd of the Ridge has never experienced. And 2013 will likely be even bigger, since many of the big changes won't get started until September at the earliest. But here's a sneak preview of some changes in the upcoming year, noting that everything here is subject to change by the Lord's leading.
Our January Voters' Meeting will be of critical importance. Almost the entire roster of officers and board positions is up for re-election, due to not having elections last year. While all of these positions will only exist until we implement the Accountable Leader Model in September, many lasting decisions need to be made in advance of the change that will have long-lasting effects. We will need leaders who put the Kingdom of God and the task of making disciples above all else.
Two Focus Groups, both scheduled for January, will finish the information-gathering process of the Vision Task Force. Once we have all of the necessary information, we can begin piecing the puzzle together and praying about it to find God's specific plan for us. While we need to wait on God's timing, I hope to have the answer before Easter. Once we have the Vision, we can begin streamlining every aspect of the ministry with it. This will be by far the greatest change.
New Task Forces: Discipleship, Transition, Contemporary Worship, and Traditional Worship
I've already mentioned in the past the need to overhaul our discipleship process, which is not so much a process as a Marc's Closeouts department, where you pick and choose from what happens to be available with no real direction or pattern. A task force will help me figure out how to best help everyone grow spiritually and measurably, so you'll be able to look at your life and faith and be able to see the difference over time. This task force will begin meeting during the first quarter of 2012.
I've also mentioned a Transition Task Force in the past. I know we can't please everybody, and really, a church exists not to please people, but to make disciples. The Transition Task Force will seek to help all members adjust to necessary changes, continue to build communication, and make sure concerned voices get heard. I hope to launch this task force in January, but no later than February.
The Contemporary Worship Task Force will help work out the details of the new service to make it run as smoothly as possible, and a Traditional Worship Task Force will look at our existing service and make recommendations how to improve it. I plan to have representation from the Elders on both Task Forces, and under our existing structure, those task forces will make recommendations to the Board of Elders, who will make the final decisions. I plan to have both of these begin in January.
I plan to launch the contemporary service on April 22, 2 weeks after Easter. We still need to decide how service times will change. After surveying the preschool families, many of whom expressed interest in attending, 84% said they preferred 10 or 11 AM. That will obviously require more discussion about service times. I also hope to give the congregation an opportunity to hear the band play in advance and will work with the Elders on the best way to do this.
That's a lot, and that's all in the first half of 2012. But making disciples is not negotiable. It's the purpose of the church. If we're not doing that, we might as well start selling pizzas instead, since that seems to be the most common use of a building in North Ridgeville!
What can you do? Pray. Pray for the vision, for direction, for the ministry to effectively make disciples of both our members and those who don't yet know Jesus. Pray for personal direction, that you may use your individual gifts to aid the Body of Christ in this joyous task. And speak up. If you have ideas, concerns, or other thoughts, tell me. Tell me in person or in writing, but tell me, and don't do so anonymously or through a gossip grapevine. If you don't like something, tell me, but be prepared to tell me why, and don't get offended if I ask you for more specifics. I won't tear you down, but I need to know where you're coming from. I've heard a lot of anonymous and vague comments over the past year that offered no direction whatsoever. And also take your concerns to God, and ask Him for guidance, then be sure you watch and listen for an answer.
Another Abraham, President Lincoln, once said in regards to the Lord siding with the North in the Civil War, "I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord's side." While not Scripture, these words ring true. In whatever your thoughts for or against actions of this congregation, pray that we always be on the Lord's side in all we do.