Summary: My first sermon of 2010 on vision and mission

(Slide 1) This time of year, as we are all very much aware, is about new resolutions to change something, eating habits and weight; spending habits and debt; spiritual habits and faith.

It is also a time of transition. The calendar that we use day in and day out and year in and year out, is about transitions from one second, one minute, one hour, one day, one month, and one year at a time to another.

Some transitions are sudden, such as a sudden death of a friend or loved one. The death of my father was this kind of transition.

I remember that warm and sunny Saturday May afternoon when my mother called and told me he was with the Lord; shock, profound grief, and overwhelming numbness were my experience. And, it was transition to a new chapter in life.

Some transitions are planned, or at least planned for. I recall this kind of transition when Susan told me that she was pregnant with Jonathon.

We had been trying and the trying paid off!

Even then, I remember at age 36 taking about a week to get used to the idea that my life would be forever changed as a dad. I had to admit that I had got set in my ways and had enjoyed having no parental responsibilities like many of my peers had. But it was the beginning of a transition that required me to change, in many ways, my agenda and I had to let go of some things that I had enjoyed doing, and focus on the growing baby within Susan and what all that meant.

Other transitions are planned transitions.

For some, some, retirement is a planned transition.

The day comes when the decision is made that it is time to retire and change focus. (Now for growing numbers of people, a change from long-term employment in one profession to employment in a part-time way and pursing other interests is the new normal.)

The transition starts at many levels, there is the paperwork and the letting out of the news, there is perhaps the cleaning out of the desk and the files, then comes the final month, the final week, the final day, the final hour and that period of life and work is done… a transition takes place.

Another kind of transition is an organizational transition. There is a lot of that which has taken place in the past year.

GM is perhaps the most noticeable illustration of organizational transitions.

Some organizational transitions are much like GM’s has been – crisis oriented. And if we have been in those (and I have), it is not an easy time.

Other organizations make successful transitions because they are planned transitions. Planned because they recognize that changes are needed to stay in existence and function both successfully and with good organizational health.

Some organizations make good transitions in the midst of crisis because they have a culture that takes that crisis and makes lemonade out of lemons!

Churches are no different. Yes, we are spiritually oriented, but we are subject to the same ebb and flow as any organization.

With one difference, namely, that our agenda is God’s agenda. The challenge then, as it relates to transitions, is that a church that intentionally begins to transition to a new chapter does so by asking, ‘Which direction does God want us to go as a church?’

I believe that it is time for some new transitions for the First Church of God in Kendallville, Indiana.

I don’t know though, what all of those transitions are, but I do believe we need to start asking (and getting the right answers to) this question:

(Slide 2) What kind of a church is God calling us to be in the years ahead?

This first message of 2010 is your entry point into a conversation about us as the First Church of God in Kendallville, Indiana. It is a conversation that I have started having with our Ministry Council this past year. It is also a conversation that God has been having with me this past year. It is a conversation about the future of our church and, most important, the future that God has for this church.

Now perhaps you have been thinking, “Jim, when you say the word “transition” I hear the word “change” and that concerns me. I don’t like change.” I say, “Who Does? But I also hear and acknowledge your concerns.”

Change is going to be a part of our conversation and, at several points, actions.

But then again, change may not be a major issue. What we may find as we actively seek God’s will for us as a congregation is that we are going to re-affirm some things and move forward with a renewed energy and commitment. Even, then this involves some change at some level.

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