Crawford asked me earlier this week if I had any goals for the assemblies for 2019. He told me I should write about them, if I had them.
As an ISTJ (Meyer-Briggs) I love both setting and reaching goals. But, setting goals for the assemblies as a whole, seems rather arbitrary. Too big, too general. Too hard to clearly enunciate.
And if I can’t even define the goals, how in the world would I expect to reach them?
Nevertheless, since Crawford laid the carrot before me, I spent time thinking it over. I realized that I’m often leery to voice specific goals because sometimes I’m rather cynical (also an ISTJ trait). Is it even possible for the assemblies to change?
Just as often, I hesitate to voice my goals because I don’t like what they might cost me in terms of time and resources.
But, if I was to step out on a limb and define what I’d truly like to see happen in the assemblies in 2019, this is what those goals would look like.
- Loving well. Agape love for both believers and unbelievers. Young and old. People like us or completely different, whether racially, economically, sexually or religiously. Loving when it is inconvenient. Loving when it is hard. Loving sacrificially-like Jesus Christ. Love shown in extended grace, prompt forgiveness, habitual mercy, and practiced justice. Love demonstrated in deed and in truth. Love prompted by the weight of love we’ve been shown. Love undergirded by the transforming power of the gospel.
- Less tradition, more Scripture. I love tradition for the sake of continuity and connection with heritage. I despise tradition when it is indicative of intellectual laziness, simple convenience or burdensome legalism. When I have a question I am challenged and encouraged when someone points to Scripture, rather than tradition, as their answer. I can’t argue with Scripture. It’s the Word of God, and it carries untold power and authority in my life. It also has the power to change my life. Tradition, while often good, does not have that power.
- Leading the next generation. My local assembly has almost 2 dozen teenagers in regular attendance. I regularly ponder what is going to keep them in the assemblies through college and beyond? There are three vital things they need to learn (and we need to impart)
- How to study the Bible. Bible reading, study, and prayer are crucial to a relationship with Christ. We must teach the young people how to study in order to learn what the Bible says, what it means, and what it has to do with their day-to-day lives.
- What we believe. The young people need shown from scripture what we believe about basic Bible doctrines, as well as church practice. As necessary, they need us to honestly confront our personal ignorances and biases and dig in to what exactly the Bible really teaches. Our explanations should not resemble intricate gymnastics precariously suspended on tightropes of tradition or preference. We must provide clear and simple explanations, plain truth and main truth.
- How to teach others. Christians were never intended to be dead ends; they are supposed to be channels. Conduits passing on knowledge and blessing through teaching and service. The young people need taught how to prepare a sermon, how to lead music, how to lead a Bible study, how to teach Sunday School, how to organize a community meal, how to share the gospel, how to be a missionary, how to practice visitation, etc. etc. etc. There is so much they need to learn, and it is our responsibility as older and (more) mature believers, to teach them. It requires systematic, purposeful teaching- both didactic as well as by example. We need to provide opportunities to serve. We need to provide a safe environment for mistakes, failure, sin, grace and forgiveness.
Investing in the next generation will cost in both time and resources. It will require sacrifice on our part. But, what we must realize is the exponentially detrimental cost if we fail to invest in the next generation. The ramifications of that failure will outlast our lifetime.
As I look over these goals, I realize they are not easy. There are not quick and guaranteed results from implementing a simple 3 step process. The only way these goals will become reality is as we submit to the Holy Spirit’s refining process in our personal lives. As we look into the mirror of the Word of God, and the Holy Spirit transforms us into the image of Christ.
That personal change will spill over into our assemblies and communities. It will impact souls for eternity. It will bring glory to God.