Three Pastoral Mandates
It probably does not need to be said but the last two years have certainly been stressful ones in our world. We have had the covid pandemic hanging over everything that we plan and do. It would be wonderful to again return to days of health and innocence, days when we were unconcerned about either infection or about needing to guard every word lest we offend others views and practices. It seems like wishful thinking to approach 2022 as the year for turning the corner and of establishing new beginnings.
And yet that is exactly what I want to offer to us all as the New Year starts. I am not talking about the things beyond our control such as the present uptick in covid infections, or of the fact that 2022 makes us all another year older. No, I am suggesting that it is time for us as individual Christians and as a church to refocus ourselves and determine together that we will make this a year of decision making, of personal ministry, and of growth. Although I do not have the authority to make these mandates I do believe that they have Biblical support. Let me suggest three ways to walk into 2022 together.
Since these are my suggestions and therefore should come from my own involvement and not merely my words, let me reinforce them by connecting them to my teaching role in the church. As your pastor I stand before you each Sunday and call you together to worship and I then preach to you from the Bible. Following our Sunday Worship we have an Adult Sunday School Class and although I am not the only teacher for that my turn is coming up again the first of the year. The other regularly scheduled Bible Study that we have is held each Friday morning from 10:30 to 11:30. Teaching that class has always been my responsibility. Using these three teaching times here are my suggestions.
A Fresh Start – The past couple of years has pushed us all into some sort of withdrawal. Initially when covid hit we were shut down and could not meet at all. Then we were allowed to reopen and we have kept going. But to some of us perhaps our energy and activities are limited. We have lived in the atmosphere of the negative. You may have felt like the Israelites in the wilderness. They had the assurance of the promised land but were also told they would not get there until a generation died. No matter what positive things happened in those forty years death was all around them.
But those days ended and the time of new beginnings came. The story is told in the Old Testament book of Joshua. It is the story of stepping up to face whatever enemies the new land brings but doing so with confidence and assurance that God is leading us forward. Joshua will become our textbook in our Friday Bible Study starting on January 8. Read ahead and come and join in. Determine now to make the Bible your guidebook for the future.
Determined Decision Making – One of the side-effects of any form of withdrawal is the tendency to let someone else do whatever needs to be done. We become less critical and more relaxed as long as whatever we think is most important is getting accomplished. We can sidestep, deny or just delay addressing what will ultimately be unavoidable. Here in the Amber Church that means leadership. We must face the fact that our congregation is aging, young people are needed to step up into primary roles, and it won’t be long before we will have to get a new minister. Yes, I have been telling you that now for several years but the reality is getting closer and closer.
So my topic for my Sunday sermons will pick up again on another Biblical retirement account. This year we will focus on Elijah’s story to try and gain insight on what we need to do now to prepare for the inevitable. See the topical outline listed under the Worship News heading below.
Ministry Involvement – Interestingly, we began the Natural Church Development program just before the covid pandemic started. It hasn’t been the easiest time to focus on what we are doing well and what we are doing poorly. We have just been trying to do something. But we cannot shrink from our need to refocus our lives on the priority of Jesus. In 2020 we focused on “passionate spirituality” and in 2021 on “gift-based ministry.” It is now time for each of us to put those together and get involved in whatever ministry God has for you.
Our Adult Sunday School class will be seeking to provide assistance in knowing how to do this as we will discuss what specifically our spiritual gifts are and how they can be used to benefit the church. Don’t let this class be just for others. It’s your turn to step up. We all need encouragement and accountability if we are going to be faithful in our profession to follow Christ.
Hopefully as this new year starts I will see more of you in Bible Study and Sunday School as well as in Worship.