Preaching Articles

Bah. Humbug.

I admit it. I used to hate New Year resolutions. They seemed so contrived and short-termed. I’ve probably had resolutions to lose over 2,000 pounds over the course of my life.

Obviously, my resolutions have lacked staying power.

Still, I see the New Year as a time for recommitment and re-focus. And though it is simply the changing of the page of a calendar, it is still a good time to be reminded about those areas that are most important in our lives.

With that in mind, I have seven suggestions for church leaders. Consider these seven resolutions to be statements of renewal. Ask others to keep you accountable. Above all, ask God for the wisdom, strength, and perseverance to move these commitments of renewal to reality.

  1. A commitment to move beyond the inward drift in our church. 
    It does not take long for a church to lose its outward focus. It does not take a long time for the tyranny of the urgent to replace the priority of the important. It does not take a long time for most ministries and activities to be focused inwardly instead of outwardly toward the community we serve.

  2. A commitment to renew our attitude. 
    Leading a church is tough. Church members can be critical and demanding. But God has called us to serve in the messiness of life and people. We all can use renewal of our attitude toward others and towards our life situation.
     
  3. A commitment to become a more grateful leader. 
    It can be natural to focus on the negative, the naysayers, and nitpickers. But we need to turn to prayer and ask for supernatural help in focusing on all the blessings God gives us. A review of Philippians 4:8 would be helpful as well.
     
  4. A commitment to be a leader of greater faith and courage. Again, this commitment cannot be realized in our own strength and power. But we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
     
  5. A commitment to be the leader who realizes our family is our first line of ministry. We seek not to fall into the trap of putting family in opposition to church. First Timothy 3:5 is a clear reminder that our families are our first line of ministry. We can’t be blessed in the totality of our ministry if we are lacking there.
     
  6. A commitment to clear the church of clutter and activities. By clutter, I mean all the ways we keep our members busy. We are often expecting our members to participate in so many activities that we implicitly discourage them from caring for their families, their health, and their ministries.
     
  7. A commitment to be an Acts 6:4 leader. If we are not giving focused attention to prayer and the ministry of the Word, we need to get out of vocational ministry. Ministry has become human-powered rather than God-centered.

I remain an obnoxious optimist about the local church. I see God working in so many great ways. I have no reason to believe 2017 will not be a great year for our congregations, especially if our leaders are willing to make these commitments of renewal.

Happy New Year.

 

 

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Thom Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources and the co-author of Transformational Church: Creating a New Scorecard for Congregations.
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