Here is an article I kicked 2016 off with in our weekly Life News at Life Church

We’re in that season again where everyone faces the perennial problem of whether or not to make new year’s resolutions. Some people use this fresh start to kick off a health initiative, such as to stop smoking (a great idea!) or start exercising (another great plan). But even the briefest scan of the web will throw up some of the most bizarre new year’s resolutions you can imagine. Here are a few:

  • Will:  My New Year’s sesolution is not to die.
  • Jake: To eat less bacon. Edit: Isn’t less more these days, so ‘eat more bacon’?
  • The Official Dude (a Twitter name): Increase my relationship status [on Facebook] from alone to slightly desperate.
  • Jordie: Learn to clone Nutella.
  • David: To never buy food that isn’t on special offer.
  • Matt (who is not likely to be Dutch!): This year I’m going to be taller.

Looking back – and forward

Moving from one year to the next is also a brilliant time for us as a church family to look back on all the wonderful (and challenging) things that have happened during the previous year and then to look forward and make some decisions about what we are going to give ourselves to in the year to come (hopefully nothing too weird or bizarre!).

Back in October, the eldership team went away for a day of prayer and planning. Part of the point of this was to try to answer the simple question, What should we be focusing on over this coming year? The challenge for churches is that there are so many things we could focus on. Why? Because church life can – and I believe should – touch on all of life! In light of this we’re currently involved in: worship, preaching, Bible studies, prayer, intercession, pastoral care, prayer ministry, pre-schoolers, parents and toddlers, marriage preparation, finances, debt counselling, drug awareness and support, social and emotional support for older people, primary school-aged children’s work, youth work, mid-week discipleship groups, productions, events, leadership development, and so much more. And that’s just the things we’re currently doing. What about all the other aspects of healthy church life that we could be focused on? In light of this, this simple question is actually a very difficult question to adequately answer. It draws together theological, prophetic and organisational strands:

  • Theological: What is God’s plan, as seen in scripture, for his church?
  • Prophetic: What has God been speaking to us about as a church for this next season?
  • Organisational: What do we need to be developing or adjusting to support God’s mission amongst us?

Seven key priorities

After quite some time of talking, writing – and then crossing out (lots) – on a flipchart, we ended up with seven key priorities for 2016. We’ve since shared these with the new Generate Team,  which has been beavering away to try to unpack them into the day-to-day reality of church life. Over the coming weeks I want to spend some time explaining what each of these seven priorities mean, and might look like over this coming season. Understanding that these priorities provide a focus for this season is key. It doesn’t mean other things are no longer important; rather that we need to address these issues for the sake of balance and health across the board.

So, what are the seven priorities, I hear you shouting? Here they are:

  1. Develop excellence and growth at our Sunday meetings (aiming for regular attendance to reach 250)
  2. Develop a culture of invitation
  3. Mobilise every member to serve and find their place
  4. Develop the family culture, including honouring, celebrating and special events.
  5. Invest in the care of leaders
  6. Celebrate diversity
  7. Develop and resource our discipleship communities

Next week we’ll start to explore the first of these priorities.

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