I don't know that I have ever been so excited to begin a new school year, Fall season, etc. as I am right now. We have made so much progress in not only being faithful to reach people over the Summer, but to do the due diligence of following up and building relationships as needed to cultivate growth!
While this season of ministry is very exciting and the adrenaline is intoxicating, I don't want us to ever lose sight of our priorities. The picture above is one of the most awkward pictures that I have ever taken in my life. In case you couldn't tell, that smile was under duress and on the inside my prayer life was in overdrive! Why? You may ask. Is our fearless pastor that afraid of horses? Well, despite a freak accident when I was a young boy on a horse that saw a snake, I really have not feared horses...I just have not had many opportunities to ride. And then there was the story of my uncle who had an accident on a similar tour in, of all places, Costa Rica!
So I had overcome my fears and joined my other two musketeers for our journey (a ride that wasn't much more than an hour in length). While I had my concerns due to the wet cobblestone rocks and uneven ground that we traversed, I figured that these horses knew what they were doing. I also paid a lot of attention when we were instructed exactly how to ride them, what protective gear was needed, and the fact that they were highly trained, so it was a virtually "auto-pilot" experience. (Even though I was confident that I was in control!)
So why would I relive this hair-raising experience to such an extent? Because I believe that we are on an amazing journey! A journey in which I believe we will see God work in ways that we may have never anticipated. As exciting and adrenaline pumping as that may be, it will not be without its trials and pitfalls. Yet, much more so than any steed, God is guiding us and helping us to navigate each and every step despite our trepidation. As I take this journey, I am mindful of others who are traveling with me and I want to give some basic reminders just like the guides who prepared us for the tour.
Buckle up- This has become our mantra in many respects, but the essence of preparation cannot be underestimated. No matter what role we may have in the life of the church, it is essential that we at least have a basic relationship with Jesus. If we are serving in a leadership role, there are even more requirements in how we live our lives as outlined in books like 1 & 2 Timothy and others. If we neglect the basic spiritual principles, we will not experience God's blessing for long. We need him every step of the way and our personal character is of the utmost importance.
Our goal is sending capacity and not seating capacity- While it is nice to have the excitement of numerical growth, if we are not diligently working to foster spiritual growth/discipleship...we are disobedient.
Love- If we are serious about being followers of Christ, His love and grace need to be primary in our lives, conversations, and actions. Engaging in political wrangling, gossip, and other similar activities will not advance the Kingdom of God.
I know that as many of you read this, you may be thinking..."thank you Captain Obvious!" If so, I am so very glad that you feel this way. Despite what we know and may have emphasized before, it is the bare necessities that will make all of the difference as we seek to fulfill the great commandment (Luke 10:27) and the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20). If anyone has questions about what it means to passionately pursue God, please let us know and we will be happy to help you. There are also plans on the horizon to help our church advance and grow in our steps of faith...so hang in there!