Every year I do a message called the State of the Church. It’s a time when I pause, reflect, and celebrate all God has done in and through our church over the past year, as well as cast vision for the new year.
“Remember today what you have learned about the Lord through your experiences with him.” (Deuteronomy 11:2a, GNB)
Can I be frank?
This year I honestly didn’t want to do it. My first thought was, “Wow, with all that COVID did to our church in 2020, I might be depressed looking back.”
I know, I know. So much for being a spiritual leader! Ha!
But then, almost as quickly, my mind went back to the basics. The foundations of why our church exists; God’s eternal purposes for the church:
- Stewardship (Time, talent, treasure)
- Partnership (Evangelism)
When I began to examine our church in light of God’s purposes, I found once again that God did so much more than I ever realized!
THE PROBLEM: The real problem that we all struggle with is measuring the WRONG THINGS!
Too often, we measure the church’s success based on nickels and noses. How many people attended and how much did they give?
Even though those are important metrics for a church to track, they are NOT the most important!
The truth is, Jesus gave us purposes, not programs.
He called us to make disciples, not decisions.
Pandemics or politics do not thwart his mission.
“…I will build my church; and all the powers of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18, The Living Bible)
When I looked back and measured our church by God’s purposes, I discovered TONS of amazing things God did during this challenging season.
Specifically, I found that our:
1) Worship Multiplied – Our worship multiplied because we reminded ourselves that the mission never changes, but our methods must continuously change. Nearly every church in America was forced to consider new ways for the body to gather, the saints to sing, and the Word to be heard. COVID helped stuck churches to face the future. For us, COVID accelerated our online platform in ways we had been putting off for years. Thanks, COVID!
2) Fellowship Unified – Our fellowship unified because nearly every family in our church experienced a crisis in one way or another. There’s nothing like a crisis to remind us of how much we need a spiritual family. So many relationships deepened during this season. Thanks, COVID!
3) Discipleship Diversified – Our discipleship diversified because we moved our Growth Track to a fully online learning management system. We saw a 117% INCREASE in people taking their next steps in our life development system! Thanks, COVID!
4) Love Magnified – Our love magnified because we stepped into the community’s needs and mobilized our people to serve their neighbors with love. We trained leaders, built ramps, repaired homes, distributed TONS of food, fed front-line workers at the hospital, provided free WiFi to the public schools, and moved our counseling, recovery, and care groups online! Sorry COVID, lockdowns can’t lock down love!
“My friends, you were chosen to be free. So don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do anything you want. Use it as an opportunity to serve each other with love.” (Galatians 5:13, CEV)
5) Outreach Intensified – Our outreach intensified because we double-downed on one of our core values: FAST / FLUID / FLEXIBLE. When Christmas rolled around, we saw how families felt the sadness of losing this special holiday, so we pivoted our annual free family holiday event and took it outdoors! Over 500 volunteers participated, and nearly 5,100 people celebrated Christmas at our Santa’s Wonderland Drive-thru experience!
I bet you, too, will begin to see how God did some amazing things in your life and church when you examine them through the lens of His purposes.