I still remember the meeting when I was introduced here as your new pastor. I listened to each person speak their desires for the church. Two comments struck me in their apparent differing perspectives, while at the same time informing my “first steps” in leading the congregation forward for Christ. What were those comments? The first was an expression of frustration, stating that many ideas had previously been put forward for starting ministries to reach new people, but they never seemed to get beyond the talking stage. The second comment, which quickly followed the first, was an expression of concern about my making changes, stating that if it isn’t broken then please don’t fix it. One voice was crying out for change, while the other expressing fear of what change might bring. These two voices can be found in every church. One seeks to move forward into the unknown, hoping and seeking to find new life. The other seeks to hold fast, standing firmly on the stable foundation of past success. The truth is that every church needs both voices. One calls us forward, willing to risk going where we’ve never been to advance God’s kingdom, while the other helps us remember and honor our heritage so we don’t tear down what has stood the test of time for something that may not last.
My “first steps” were to empower those seeking to move the church forward in reaching new people for Christ, while reassuring others that their voices of concern were being heard and that we would continue to cherish and protect all that they valued and loved. The truth is that all churches must go through “change” in order to reach new people for Christ. The church is no more our grandparents’ church than it is our grandchildren’s church. It is made up of all of us and must serve all of our needs, but even more importantly, it must serve the needs of those who do not yet know they need the church. Actually, the church—the body of Christ—was never intended to serve the body, but to reach and make disciples for Christ. Just as Jesus said, “Whatever you do for the least of My children you do for Me” (Matthew 25:40), we the church are called to reach out to and serve the least and the lost.
Having spent much time listening to you and in the community to discern who the least and the lost are that Christ is asking us to serve, it should seem clear to us all that is it is families with children. Did you know that 73% of all the people that seek assistance through our Devine Food Panty are families with children, including two and single parent families, and grandparents raising grandchildren? Many families with kids in our community are struggling financially, and even more spiritually. So many find themselves in a dark place dealing with brokenness, addictions and abuse. Demographic studies say that these parents desperately what moral guidance and hope for a better future for their kids, but they don’t know where to turn to find help.
We know that Christ is the true source for restoring all that is broken, and is our hope for a better tomorrow. This is why we placed so much emphasis on reaching out to families with children. And because we have turned talking into actual ministries, we are seeing so many new young families visiting our church. You can clearly see that Christ is blessing our efforts to be a blessing. But there is much that remains to be done, for we have only begun.
Our 212 Prayer is another good beginning, asking God’s will be done in our congregation, and that He lead us into our “next steps.” Answers to our prayers have already been seen. Prayers began July 29th and on July 31st an “out of the blue” opportunity was given us, offering to help us discern and fund two new outreach ministries over the next nine months. We have been praying for a praise band, and new young adults in our church have come forward offering to share their gifts of music. I wonder what else God has planned and where it will all lead. But we should already know the answer. God will continue to provide more and more ways for us to reach more and more people for Him, if we will simply continue to say: “Yes, Lord, we will follow and do whatever you ask.” Let us continue to honor and hold sacred the firm foundation God has already provided, while we continue to risk going new places as Christ leads us. May all we do give Him glory!
Your fellow servant in Christ,