“What is Hot and What is Not: How Should We Respond?”
I just described ten major trends to watch for in 2006. Now what? New trends present unique opportunities to offer ministry in the midst of change. As the year unfolds how will you choose to make a difference in our ever-changing world? Let me put it another way: “What if you had the opportunity to do something about the future and missed it?”
So how could we specifically respond to the ten trends mentioned earlier?
- Oprah is hot… We look for creative and aggressive ways to give to those in need.
- Google is hot… We use the internet to offer encouragement and spiritual guidance.
- Health care is hot… We offer the medical talents of our members as free resources.
- Economic outlook is hot… We offer financial advice and help to those in need.
- Warner is hot… We set a leadership example by emphasizing ministry over politics.
- Natural disasters continue… We form a disaster response team to be ready.
- Pandemics… We don’t panic but we do educate ourselves and prepare.
- Decisions in Iraq… We join the debate while sending encouragement to the troops.
- Terrorism continues… We set the example by building cultural bridges here at home.
- Spirituality is hot… We recognize the need and the opportunity to reestablish the church as the best possible place for anyone seeking to deepen their relationship with God.
Those are all good answers but can one church possibly respond to all ten trends? Of course not, but we can do something. So, how can your particular church prepare for the future?
1. Pray for a vision… There is no way any one church can adequately respond to everything. So how would God guide you with the resources you’ve been given? “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Mat. 7:7)
As an example, I describe our church as a lighthouse offering safety, comfort and encouragement utilizing God’s light as inspiration to lead others by our witness and through acts of love. Our mission statement to guide us: “A light to guide you safely home!”
We have an extraordinary opportunity to make a difference for God within our community and in the world. How do we do that? Here are five basics every church can and should emphasize:
- Gather – We offer a safe place for worship, prayer, fellowship and encouragement.
- Grow – We work on strengthening our relationship with Christ through small groups.
- Go – We aggressively respond to needs within our community and world.
- Give – We teach and model the discipline and joy of Godly stewardship.
- Glorify – We celebrate always remembering to give God the glory.
2. Seek to turn the vision into concrete goals… Can we allow God to guide our commitments? Will we risk trying to accomplish far more than we could achieve on our own? “For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Mat. 7:8)
As another example, we turned our church vision into the following goals:
- Continue our leadership and assertiveness in missions and outreach.
- Better communicate our vision to our membership and to the community.
- Continue to seek, welcome and encourage newcomers to our church.
- Recruit, develop and strengthen more leaders as we establish new ministries.
- Develop and strengthen a teams ministry. Individuals burn out but good teams thrive.
- Expand our ability to provide quality small group ministry opportunities.
- Become a theological voice for moderate churches and mainline denominations.
- Provide leadership, resources and financial aid to struggling churches.
Praying for a vision from God and setting goals will certainly help but wait… there is more.