As every year comes to a close, and I begin to look ahead and seek what God wants to do through Vandalia Baptist Temple, it is a daunting weight that comes over me. As senior pastor, I know that our congregation is looking to me for vision and direction; not one that I can personally develop, but the one that God has for us as a local church. I pray that God will give us the faith to set goals and take risks that will align us with the heart of God and invite Him to manifest His power and glory (Psalm 63:1-2). May God lead us to pursue things that are far bigger than us, and that we could never possibly accomplish if God does not make them a reality.
Some years I have drafted 15-20 specific, measurable goals, and each year the LORD allows us to see the majority of them fulfilled. This year, 2013, was no exception. But the more I think about 2014, the more I see the value in focusing on one or two things which, if done in the power of the Spirit of God, can breathe new life and revival into the heart of God’s people.
My heart’s desire for 2014 is for our church to effectively do two things:
1. Serve the needy in our community
Our church family has a tender heart for those in need. Time and again they step up with generosity and acts of service that display the heart of Jesus. Our teens currently travel over 30 miles away every month to help another church deliver groceries to around 200 needy families. But the needs are all around us. There are apartment complexes and residential areas in which kids are going hungry on a regular basis. Students are struggling with their schooling. Home life is heartbreaking. My prayer is that God would raise up servants to help us organize free meals on a periodic basis, free tutoring on a weekly basis, and loving mentoring and encouraging to kids needing someone to love them and show interest in their daily life. God, help us to love the needy like You love them, and to do so in practical ways!
2. Build deeper relationships within our Bible classes
I thank God for our volunteers that step up each and every week to teach Bible study classes in Sunday School to people of all ages. The truths that are being instilled are life-changing. But there is so much relationship-building that needs to happen during the week, between members of each class. Prayer requests need to be followed up on. Absentees need to be contacted. Guests need to be visited. Opportunities need to be created for members to just hang out together and get to know each other. Service projects need to be planned to help cover some of the basic life needs that families go through. My prayer is that God would show us a clear path to building community in the “small groups” level of our church, which I believe is the key to overall church health and growth. God, help us to love one another and spend time getting to know one another, so that we can truly be the Body of Christ that we each need from our church family.
Are there more things to do? Absolutely! All other ministries still need to be evaluated and led effectively. But I believe that if God would raise up volunteers to lead, recruit and execute in these specific areas, there would be a fresh wind of God’s Spirit flowing throughout the heart of God’s people that would impact every other ministry of our church.
Please join me praying for God to make these dreams a reality. Perhaps God would burden you to lead or assist in some specific way. May God allow us to manifest His love, compassion and grace to those within and outside our church family, for His Kingdom and glory.