Summary: The first of the year message proposing a change in the way we approach the work of this church.
State of the Church – 2010
* Each year at this time my thoughts return to the words of Peter Drucker, the business guru, who always asked business owners 2 questions: “What business are you in?” and “How’s Business?” This is a great pair of questions for the church today. As I stated last week, it is super easy to get distracted and even deceived about the mission and mandate to which God has called us. From time to time we need to be reminded.
* This reminds me of a story told about the great Green Bay Packers coach, Vince Lombardi. It is told that every year at the beginning of training camp that the great coach sat his players down for an opening speech and each year he began his speech at the same place. Holding a football up for all to see, he said, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” The intriguing part of him doing this is that he was talking to the crème of the crop, the best of the best, and men who had been playing this game for many years. Yet, Vince Lombardi was a great coach because he understood the principle of fundamentals. To win football games, you must execute as a fundamental level.
* To win at the game of life and, more to the point, in the building of the Kingdom, we may think we understand the fundamental just like those pro football players did, but it is easy to lose sight of what it means to execute God’s plan for us.
* I begin our time by saying that unequivocally, it is my belief that God has brought this church body to a crossroad in 2010. During this year, decisions may well be made which determine whether HBC will be God’s church in this community and thus, become a flagship church OR whether we will be seen as just another of brick building on the side of the road. You know, one of those structures people pass by every day on their way to work, school, or the like, and they never notice. Why do I say this? It’s because of some language I keep hearing from the teams who are diligently working and praying to discover God’s will. In the last 12 months, I have heard more people say, “We have to do what is best for this church, for God’s church, and/or for God’s people.” And that attitude is contagious and is catching on. Last week I was handed a piece of paper which informed me of the neat things going on among our ladies who have lost their husbands. Additionally, since our Pastoral Ministries director is stepping aside, I have begun to hear that some people believe God is leading them to step up and perform ministry in this way. We are seeing people, not staff, become the leaders of these types of ministries – and it is exciting!
* Some may ask, “Why is this exciting?” The reason this is exciting is because it reflects the image of the first century church. People doing ministry is what a church body is all about. As we simplify and clarify what we are placed here by God to do, we could see God’s hand perform some acts among us that will blow our minds. For some reason, He expects & requires us to participate, so we are back to those questions.
* Now what is the state of this church? It seems to me that it is pretty good and getting better. No, our numbers are not getting better, but this brings up 2 important thoughts. Attendance is not the only “barometer we should watch” AND always a little pruning is required to make way for new growth. It is my simple belief, that as we pray, evaluate, update, and understand our divine task; the Holy Spirit of God will give us the empowerment we need to reach this community.
* Perhaps one of the things which have dwarfed our growth is ‘confusion.’ Listen, I stand before you to say that “I’m sorry; perhaps I’ve been a culprit in causing confusion about our task.” Personally, my motivation is peaked by knowing what God wants, putting it in some kind of written or verbal form which I can sink my teeth into, and them attempt to implement. I’m not much of a politician and wouldn’t work well in Montgomery or Washington. Sitting around discussion a subject to death is not my idea of ‘getting it done.’ BUT, in all honesty consider with me the confusion someone could have as a member of this body.
* (Turn your attention to the screens and watch) We begin with the Old slogan and the slogan I have suggested. Add to this the mission statement and the purpose statement. Add to this the core beliefs. Honestly, can anyone give all of those to me without being prompted?