Yesterday I started a new series looking at our seven key objectives for the coming year – areas on which we, as a church, are going to be focusing during 2016. This week I want to take the first of these and try to simply unpack it in a little more detail.
Key priority #1. Develop excellence and growth at our Sunday meetings
It is really important that we allow biblical imagery to flood our imaginations when considering what excellence and growth mean in the context of a Sunday morning gathering. Thankfully, we have many deep, rich veins of biblical ideas to draw on. For example, in Isaiah 2 we read this prophetic picture of the church:
‘There’s a day coming [shorthand biblical language for the age we now live in] when the mountain of God’s house will be The Mountain—solid, towering over all mountains. All nations will river toward it, people from all over set out for it. They’ll say, “Come let’s climb God’s mountain…”.’
Just look again at what Isaiah says will happen in our days: the mountain of God’s house will be THE Mountain (my emphasis). The New Testament tells us that, in this new era that Isaiah was describing, God’s temple is the church, made up of living stones, and Isaiah goes on to show us that God’s plan is that the local church would be made chief amongst all other mountains. This is the language of first priority!
God’s attention rests on the local church. As Bill Hybels puts it ,’the local church is the hope of the world’. Charles Colson, who was convicted for his part in the Watergate scandal and then became an amazing christian leader, said in his book The Body,
‘The Church is not incidental to the great cosmic struggle for the hearts and souls of modern men and women. It is the instrument God has chosen for that battle.’
Chief among the mountains!
Now our Sunday morning gatherings are a massive part of who we are as a church. It’s not the full picture, by any means, but a huge and very important aspect. It is the one time in the week when we come together as a family to intentionally:
- celebrate and worship Jesus together;
- allow the Bible to shape and mould us, as individuals and as a community, through preaching;
- express and enjoy what it means to be a community of the Spirit;
- connect, align and re-focus on who we are and where we are going;
- enjoy and celebrate the richness of the family God is growing amongst us;
- communicate the gospel message in a way that increasing numbers of not-yet-Christians can hear and respond.
However, another dynamic that makes Sundays important is that, as we continue to grow, it becomes a really important place for anchoring us all together in what God is doing amongst us. We must not underestimate the importance of keeping ourselves all in step and headed in the right direction.
In light of this (and much more), we believe that during 2016 we need to focus our attention on taking our Sundays to the next level. This builds on the tireless efforts of the many volunteers who serve, week-in-week-out. However, we believe there is more that God has for us and so we want to press into this and look to grow and improve every area of Sundays. Why? So we can do all that I’ve just said, but in a more effective way!
So how can you respond to this?
First, I would like to encourage everyone who calls Life Church their home to consider joining a Sunday team. This could be the Setup & Stewarding, Catering, or Welcome Teams. On the other hand it might be Pips, Shoots, GLO, Engage, Encounter or one of our Worship or Tech Teams. If you would like to find out more, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone the church office.
Second, why don’t you write three cards to say thank you to people who serve on a Sunday. Gratitude breaks any consumerist tendencies in our hearts, and at the same time helps cultivate a community of encouragement.
Finally (and most importantly), please pray for all of our Sunday team leaders, as they look to grow what happens on a Sunday morning. Pray for wisdom and faith to blend together in a beautiful way. Pray for many, many moments of salvation and restoration and healing as we go about being the mountain of the Lord here in Peterborough and the surrounding towns and villages!
Next week we will be looking at the second of our key priorities for 2016.