Talk of "Vision Meetings" can make Presbyterians nervous. We wonder, "What's going to change?" This bothers us because Presbyterians hate change-- almost as much as we hate surprises! Yet, at Christ Covenant this summer, there is no denying we seem to be standing at a unique moment in the history of this church. Over the past year, the Lord has sent a constant stream of new visitors and new members our way. And with this new growth, our giving has soared to unprecedented levels. This is all tremendously encouraging, and I know I can speak for the whole session when I say, we all feel the need to steward this momentum Biblically, carefully, and faithfully.
What will this mean for our ministry. Well, when it comes to our deepest commitments, priorities, and practices, it will mean very little. Except that we are determined to keep first things first. By God's grace, we are determined to ensure that Christ Covenant remains a church where the preached word is front and center. We believe when the word of God is truly preached the voice of God is truly heard.
It means, we will still be a church striving to worship God according to Scripture reverently, joyfully, and simply.
It means we will still be a church where the Great Commission is our outward focus to the community. We exist to make more and better disciples of Jesus Christ. As Jack Campbell exhorted the men last year, we want to know Christ and to make Him known.
And it means, we will still be a church where the Reformed Faith is treasured, emphasized, and proclaimed down through the generations.
On the logistical side of our ministry, however, we do feel the need for some development. Your elders and deacons are prayerfully taking a number of steps to ensure that a lack of planning on our part does not suffocate the spiritual, numerical, and financial momentum God seems to be pouring out upon our ministry together.
- We intend to invest our new personnel and financial resources immediately, strategically, and appropriately. We hope to see Christ Covenant deploying a significantly increased footprint in both local and world missions across the globe. Pray for our deacons as they put together a 5-year financial plan to steward these resources.
- We will continue to strive training up new leaders to shepherd and oversee the spiritual and physical needs of our congregation. Please pray for us as we plan another Leadership Development Class this year. In the coming years, we long to add new elders to our session. We believe this is vital-- perhaps our top priority. Pray God will raise up the right men, the men we need for this task, the men He has called and equipped to lead us.
- We are also keenly aware of our need to begin hiring staff to support our ministry. As a first priority this summer, we intend to add a pastoral intern to our ministry team. One of his roles will be to head up our Evangelistic ministry as a church. We are in the concluding phases of our interviewing processes. If all goes well, I believe we will have a specific announcement to make soon. Please pray that God will give us a man with a heart and a mind to plan and organize effective ways for us get the gospel out into our parish community.
- We are in the process of setting up Breeze, a new Church Management Software solution. You can read about it here. We believe this will help us engage the diverse gift-sets God has lavished upon our membership.
- We want to make the best possible use of the facilities God has entrusted to our care, ensuring our worship space, Christian Education and Fellowship rooms, restrooms, and parking opportunities are all sufficient for our needs.
As I look forward to the future with a tremendous sense of hope and gospel optimism, I would like to leave you with two exhortations:
First of all, we must pray. I cannot tell you how heartened I am to hear so many weekly reports of how much the Lord is blessing the preached word at Christ Covenant. I want to be very clear here: the cause of this is the blessing of God alone. I am not the secret of this success. You must pray for me. I have no power to move a saint or a sinner one inch closer to heaven or one inch further from hell. Only God can do this. Without His blessing, my best sermons will be as barren as field sown with pearls. At Synod this week, a fellow minister asked me what is my greatest struggle at Christ Covenant? What causes me the greatest frustration? Without hesitation, I said, "I am!" "My sinful heart. My forgetful mind. My detail-challenged brain. And the list only goes on!" Please pray that I will not be a hindrance to the blessing of God, that God will give me wisdom to know what to do, where to go, and how to respond to the many challenges of the ministry. I thank God for Eric and JIm who remain a tremendous support to me.
Second, we must watch against the devil. You can be sure the blessing of God has not gone unnoticed below. I am convinced the devil is on the prowl, looking for weak places to attack. So beware. When angry, frustrated, annoyed, critical, unforgiving, negative thoughts rise up in your soul, do not receive them uncritically. Ask yourself could this be the devil? Surely if the devil can use Peter against the Savior, he can use us (any of us) against ourselves. Now is not a time for spiritual lethargy. We must stand firm clothed with the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6). We must resist the devil, knowing full well that when we do, He will flee from us.
May God continue to bless us as we press on together!