It is great to arrive. Many of you will be traveling this Thanksgiving week to wonderful destinations to be around family and friends. For some, you will have long journeys. For others, you may have a shorter trip but with a car full of kids, it too will feel long. Either way, you cannot wait to get to where you are going.
There is great joy in arriving at your destination.
Too often, I am tempted to live my life this way. I want to jump through life from one “destination” to the next. However, if you do that, you are going to miss much of life. You will miss many reasons to give thanks along the way.
I wanted to pause here today and give thanks for the journey, specifically the journey that Barnitz and Mt. Zion churches are on.
Both churches have rich histories and long journeys. However, in the fall of 2014, we decided to begin a new journey. We decided to explore and answer the question, what makes our churches “unique”? What specifically is God calling us to focus on and live out?
An invitation was extended to all who wanted to be part of this conversation and process of prayerful discernment. A group was formed, consisting of leaders from both churches in 2015.
We met monthly throughout most of 2015. There were times where we were confused. There were times where we were not sure where we were going. However, it was great to see God shine light on the path as some things kept being repeated. We eventually were able to answer important questions such as:
Mission: What are we doing?
Values: Why are we doing it?
Strategy: How are we doing it?
Measures: When are we successful?
Connecting People to Christ’s Love – This is how we answered the first question, what are we doing? We are seeking to Connect People to Christ’s Love.
We started to discuss this earlier this year. We spent more time over the summer focusing on what this means for us. Then on Sunday September 18, 2016 we presented a goal:
Midground Milestone (1 Year) – by July 1, 2017We will magnify Connecting People to Christ’s love like never before as if its the most important event in one’s life. Our Connectors of Welcome, Worship, Grow, and Serve will be created to accomplish the highest degree of mission impact and led by trained teams of volunteers solely focused upon Connecting People To Christ’s Love.
What this means is that we are seeking to align everything we do with Connecting People to Christ’s Love. More recently we have been exploring our values together:
Looking into next year, we are planning to intentionally help everyone connect to what we are doing. I recently shared in a letter to the churches:
One of the things I love about focusing more and more on Connecting People to Christ’s Love is that it helps us realize and appreciate more of what we are doing, both individually and together as the Church. I love too hearing people use the “connecting” language and seeking ways to be a “connecting” church. It has been a great blessing to know that some are seeing for the first time how much you do give and serve. For me, Connecting People to Christ’s Love is shining a light on how wonderful you all are and the amazing work God has done through you and desires to continue to do through us.Continuing to focus and align everything with Connecting People to Christ’s Love is important so that kids, youth, and adults know that they are part of something awesome here – the working of God in our midst. It is important so we know how to better celebrate and rejoice in the fruit we see.
There is much to celebrate and give thanks for throughout our journeys. Our journeys are not always easy, but if we forget to celebrate along the way, look at how much we miss.
We pray, and invite you to pray with us, so that we will see more and more fruit, to see more and more people know how much Christ loves them.
May you all have a truly blessed Thanksgiving.
(All scripture cited above from Common English Bible Copyright © 2011)