The theme for our church this year is ͞Rooted and Established͟. What does this mean? Why is this the theme for our church this year? How did we get to this point? My hope is by the end of this reflection, you would be able to understand our hopes for this year and how we hope to accomplish this.
During the vision trip to Thailand last September, I was challenged with the question of the condition of our church. This inevitably led me to ask some questions. Who were the people in our church? What kind of Christian are we producing? What has been going on in the past few years? Where is the Lord leading us?
Who were the people in our church? Our church is a mixture of people who have grown up here (spent more than 10 years in this church) and those who spent less than 5 years in this church. There are those here who have grown up here and those who are new to the faith or transplants from other churches.
Our church has experienced a great deal of transition in the past five years. I started here only six years ago, and Pastor John Chang stepped down two years ago. A lot has changed, but more needs to be done. We have spent time teaching the Bible and establishing what it means to be spiritual in our sermons and Sunday schools. If we evaluate the kind of Christian we are producing, I would say we are producing people who are Sunday attendees, but still have difficulty putting the gospel into play in our lives. We have people who don’t understand the big idea of the Bible. We have some who understand the Bible, but the gospel has yet to make a deep impact in our lives.
That is where we are, but where does the Lord want us to go? At another trip to Hong Kong, I visited a church and saw their plans and I thought it was worth ͞borrowing͟. The church I visited had a simple six-year plan that was broken down into three parts. Each part covered about two years worth of effort and at the end of the six years it would repeat itself over again. The plan was a general goal and it offered flexibility in its ministry while giving some structure in the church’s general plans. Additionally, I felt that it was in line with our church’s big vision: to raise worshiping disciples of Jesus Christ through the power of the Gospel.
The first two years were spent reaching out to the community and others with the gospel. The second two years were spent establishing and cultivating these new believers. The third two years were spent sending out these workers to help others to grow.
As I considered where our church was, it seemed to me that while new people were coming to GCC, we were not exactly set up to reach people, nor were we in a position to do so with maturity. We could invite people to the church, but what were we inviting people to? With regards to sending people out, again, we were sending some people out, but not sending people out to minister to people’s workplaces, the community or overseas with confidence. That left us with the second position- we were still establishing.
This is a key step in our church’s growth (I don’t just mean numbers). If we ourselves do not understand or believe in the power of the gospel, we would be hard pressed to invite people to something. Not only that but more seriously, we would be raising Christians in our church who have a deficient view of what it means to be a Christian. Like a newborn baby who does not get the right nutrients,the child would have developmental delays that could affect the child for the rest of their life.
Additionally, the church would not understand why we are here. The church would just simply be a social organization. But we need to continue to root and establish people in the gospel. This gospel message teaches us that our identity is not found in what we have accomplished. Nor is our identity chained to the sins of the past.Instead, the Lord is faithful and just and will forgive us because of what Christ has done.
The way we hope to do this is through the preaching, through the teaching in our Sunday schools and revamping our cell groups. We will be unpacking the gospel in ways and considering the practical impact of the gospel in our lives.
Brothers and sisters, this potentially could be something uncomfortable. We may touch upon things in your life where you have not yet allowed Jesus to touch. The things you have been turning to for safety and comfort may be exposed. But the Lord exposes these things so that we can experience the freedom of life in him. God is in the business of making beautiful things out of broken things. While it may hurt, the Lord can bring you to a place closer to him this year. May the Lord fulfill his promises for our church this year as we seek to follow the Lord and raise Disciples of Christ.