Summary: State-of-the-Church Message, showing what the church did last year, and what it should be doing this coming year. (Deals with change) Read the last paragraph - - 53 responded to invitation to covenant change in the church!
Can you believe 2005 is over already? It doesn’t seem possible that it has been ten months since God led Diana and I from our church in Arizona to this church in Oklahoma. So many wonderful things have happened to us and to this church during this time that we are left with nothing but anticipation for what is yet to come.
As we enter this New Year, we have two options. We must remember the year we just stepped out of, but we must also keep focused on the New Year that is just ahead of us. As we remember last year, we will be drawn back in memory to relive some of those times, and some of those times will not be the best. As I said this morning, life is like a book. Last year is the chapter we just finished, and 2006 is the chapter we are supposed to begin.
Now I want you to think of something. Almost 20 hours of the New Year has already passed; but have we used much of it for God’s glory? Most of us would say very little indeed. Have you spent any time today actually talking to God in prayer, or reading His Word? One thing that is important to do that many of us never do is to ponder His Word. We should be spending time each day thinking about how His Word can impact our lives for His glory. Think about what He wants you to do and whom He wants you to talk to. In fact, if we really do love the Lord, we should spend our life in His Word; learning as much as possible about Him; understand how He loves us; and trying to show others His love from without our own hearts.
Most of us like to think we are very close to God, but rarely spend much time at all doing any of these things. What does that actually show God about how we really feel towards Him? How do you think this makes God feel? I will tell you. It makes Him feel the same way you would feel if someone you loved very much never had time for you.
God gave us this New Year. This could be the greatest year in our lives; if we want it to be. Whatever we’re going to do with this New Year, we had better get moving, because time is already started to pass us by. Time waits for no man, and time is not going to wait on us while we decide what we want to do this year. One other point I want to make is this; no matter what else we do this year, we had better use this time to get closer to God than ever before.
2005 was a tough year for some of us. We had to make choices we really didn’t want to make, and this church found it a little difficult, too. You hired a new pastor who sees the necessity of changing some things for the good of the church. Change is always a difficult thing to endure, too. But I was told before I was hired that you wanted me to change this church. Let me explain.
Every conversation I had with every board member between the time I came here a year ago to the day we moved here to take the position, was centered around two dictates. I was told I was being hired to preach God’s Word, and to lead this church out of the box. Those are exact words that I heard over and over again.
Upon these commands, I based my decision to take this job and I put my trust in the Lord that He would lead me wisely as I began to fulfill my job requirements.
We initiated a strong Praise Team where none existed before. We did away with the pre-Sunday school gathering in the main sanctuary; moving it to the Fellowship Hall and modifying it so it would appeal to more people, especially any new people who might attend.
We saw the desperate need to join the 2000’s and got computers for the secretary/treasurer and the pastor. We initiated a Sunday evening service, and we began to include some contemporary songs in with our traditional hymns. We are almost to the point of installing our audiovisual display and we have upgraded our sound system by adding newer speakers.
Are these changes working? Let’s look at the figures. The average attendance for 2005 was almost 54% higher than it was in 2004. The tithes and offerings also showed increases in percentages.
Those are a lot of figures, but the point I am making is that as each person has a choice whether he grows in Christ or not, so does each church. This church has too much going for it to just lie down and roll over until it dies. And I am going to do everything in my power to do those things that I believe God wants done in this church so it will have more impact upon our community and upon the missions fields.