Charting the Course
How many farmers do you know wake up on a beautiful day in October and decide, “I’m going to plant some corn?” Or maybe they wake up in November and decide to start…and then just go out with no prep work and no plan and just start working? Probably not many. If you do know someone like that, my guess is that they are not a very successful farmer.
If you are going to plant corn you have to prepare for the growth of corn. You have to make sure the soil temperature is right... You have to prepare your soil a few weeks before you plant... You have to make your rows the right distance apart from each other… The rows need to be the right depth. Then when you plant your seed you have to make sure that the seeds are spaced out...covered and then watered properly. Then…once the seeds are all planted, you have to make sure that the moisture levels in the soil stay at the right level for maximum growth.
If you plan on growing a successful, healthy, multiplying crop of corn…you can’t just go out on a whim and start growing. No, you have to prepare for growth… You have to prepare for your seeds to multiply.
Our spiritual growth and local church multiplication are not so different. If we want to grow as Christians…we need to prepare for growth. And if we are going to grow as a church and multiply disciples…we have to prepare for multiplication.
It is interesting that in the business world planning is an absolute necessity. Businesses make plans that forecast their strategy for growth for the next 5, 10, and sometimes over 20 years. People planning out their business goals are typically very intentional and focused on measuring results as they expect the multiplication of their business. But then often when we come to the sphere of local church planning and strategy, we take a much more relaxed approach.
I’m sure there are some churches that have a very strategic and intentional mindset. Unfortunately, those local church ministries may be few and far between. Many local church ministries tend to be more reactionary in their approach to planning than they are intentional and strategic. When we are reactionary in our planning, then we are rarely able to see growth in our ministries, much less measure it.
2020 was supposed to be the year of “perfect vision.” Many churches around the world held conferences with that as their theme. How well did that work out?! Ha! As we take the first steps into 2021, the leadership of our church has decided to be intentional in our focus, and strategic in our planning. For the last six months we have been seeking God’s leading and discerning His guidance as we have laid out a vision for what life and ministry should look like moving forward. We have set some measurable goals with the expectation that God will work in our hearts and lives. We have seen the need to prepare for the harvest now…even before seeds have been planted.
As we chart the course for our ministry for this year, God has laid on our hearts several specific areas of growth. Our plan is to help our local church family to grow in these areas throughout the year. Our goal is that every area of our ministry (preaching of the Word, singing in worship, giving, disciple-making, community interaction, etc.) would play an important part in the process of growth in these areas. Each church family is most likely going to have different areas in which they need to grow. Here are the areas that we are expecting God to grow us in 2021:
Foundational understanding of God’s character
Consistent practice of each spiritual discipline (Bible reading, meditating on Scripture, prayer, fasting, worship, service, learning, etc. — 1 Timothy 4:7 — “train/ discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness”)
Gain a clearer biblical understanding of soteriology (salvation)
Embrace our purpose of multiplying disciples
Understand the biblical roles of church leadership
Maintain an eternal perspective while growing in our effectiveness for the Kingdom (being both heavenly minded and earthly good)
Grow in our understanding and practice of Biblical conflict resolution
As you begin 2021, have you thought about what your year will look like? Have you charted your course? I would like to suggest that the old saying, “failing to plan is planning to fail,” has a lot of truth to it.
In what areas would you like to grow this year? In what ways would you like God to work in your life this year? How are you expecting God to grow and multiply your ministry this year?
Just like a successful farmer plans and prepares for the harvest, one of our responsibilities as Believers is to work hard at preparing for God to work in our lives, and in the lives of those to whom we minister. We need to expect that God is going to do something amazing this year!
If your desire is to grow in some area of your life, then you are going to have to put in the effort and the work of preparing for growth. How are you planning to be used by the Lord to represent Him to those in your circle of influence? How are you preparing for growth this year?
As you prepare to be grown by the Lord this year, remember that any growth or progress in our lives is made possible because of God’s grace.
Remember that “…the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works. Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.” (Titus 2:11-15)