Pastor David also publishes a daily devotional blog.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
So who among our church family has made, or plans to make a New Year’s resolution? Resolutions are great if you keep them. But what happens so often (especially for me) is that New Year’s resolutions last for about a week before they are broken. After another week they amount to wishful thinking. And finally, after about three or four weeks New Year’s resolutions are all but forgotten. Why is it that so many people have such difficulty keeping their resolutions?
The reasons we make New Year’s resolutions are varied. There are those who make resolutions in order to live a healthier lifestyle. They resolve to lose weight, exercise more, quit smoking, eat more healthy foods, and eat less junk food. You get the idea. Throughout my life I have made and broken more of these resolutions than you can shake a stick at. I have never been any good at keeping this sort of New Year promise to myself.
Other people look past their physical life style and make New Year’s resolutions that might help them in their spiritual journey. Through the years, I have also joined others in making such resolutions. Many folks resolve to develop better faith habits; attend worship each week, pray every day, read the Bible, or attend Sunday school. All of these are great resolutions but, just like the ones that pertain to physical lifestyle, resolutions regarding faith require work and discipline if one is truly going to keep them. Heading into the New Year, congregations are much like people in that they recognize that some changes might be needed in order to remain healthy.
Instead of making resolutions, many congregations take up the practice of setting goals. Goals differ from resolutions in that they are measurable. Goals also give something for the collective membership to strive for with each person having a role to play. Having something to strive for makes a difference. When the goal seems within reach, people will usually work harder to meet it. If the goal is unrealistic, it can be modified to fit plausible expectations. Goal setting is a healthy way to address congregational needs. Goal setting, however, is not something that we have been particularly engaged in here at Union.
If we were to set some goals for our congregation, I would suggest three particular areas in which our church family could improve upon. The first goal would be to find ways to incorporate each of our church family members into the mission and ministry of our church. There is an old saying about churches that eighty percent of the work is done by twenty percent of the people. While I don’t necessarily believe this to be accurate for Union, there are a small number of folks that are overly burdened with responsibilities. We need to learn how to address the issue of so much work being done by so few people.
Another goal I would set for our church family is placing greater emphasis upon the YOUth of our congregation. This is something that a few of our church family members have recognized and taken up an active role. We now have a few volunteers each week working with the children’s and YOUth choirs. Judy Boyd and Patsy Lyerly have developed a new YOUth group for our 3rd through 5th grade. But two glaring aspects
missing within our YOUth ministry are having lay YOUth leaders for our teens and the involvement of men. Our teenagers need to understand that they truly are a vital part of our ministry, and especially our young boys need the example of Christian men who can talk about faith issues with them.
And finally, a third goal I would set for our congregation is that we get out of our box and begin evangelizing the community in which we live. This means telling others bout Jesus Christ, inviting them to worship with us, and helping them grow in faith so that they can do the same. Jesus give the commission for his followers to go make disciples. This means we must first learn how to be disciples ourselves, and then put what we have learned into practice. These are but a few areas in which our church family should consider placing emphasis for the coming year.
My prayer for 2017 is that we take Jesus at his word and embark on a journey of discipleship together. I pray that we set attainable goals for our mission and ministry and strive to reach them together. And even if the goals seem a bit to lofty at first, we can rely on the strength we have in Christ Jesus. Remember, not only does our Lord call us to a life of discipleship, he also promises to be always with us.
Grace to you and peace,