The start of a new year is always an interesting time. For whatever reason changing from one year to the next gives us a sense of excitement and purpose. We make resolutions, some of which we have already gone back on (and its only January 7th)! Some of us look back on the sorrows of 2013 and our hope is that 2014 will be a better year. Others are thankful for a successful year and our desire is that this year will be even better. Whatever our perspective is, there is always a sense of “newness” when January 1st rolls around. It is a sense that things can be different, that better times are coming.
To celebrate the New Year many from our church gathered together to play games and enjoy hanging out with their friends and fellow church members. Julie and I did something different this year that was huge blessing to us. We asked each person to spend a few moments with us in a side room so that we could pray over them. We had one simple question: What would you like us to pray for in 2014? The question allowed them to share whatever was on their heart, and the answers were incredible. Some are concerned about relationships with family and friends, others are concerned about emotional battles they struggle with deep inside them. There were some who were worried about their finances and still others who were concerned about their health.
As we sat there, listening to people give us insight into their thoughts and hearts, I could not help but be reminded about the importance of the work we are doing as a church. The new year may bring many new things into our lives, but the reality is that many of the same hurts and pains we felt at the end of 2013 will be with us for the days, weeks, months and even years ahead.
The good news is this: It may be a new year with new challenges, but the church has the same mission. We will roll out new things this year but underneath it all, the church has the same mission. In fact it’s the same mission the church has had since the beginning: to point people to Christ.
If you are familiar with church mission talk, you will know that we often use Matthew 28:19-20 as a foundational verse to describe what the church should be doing:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20, ESV)
It is pretty clear really. Make disciples and do this by teaching them to observe the commandants of Christ. In other words point them to Christ. Help them in their journey to be a disciple (a follower) of Christ. Teach them what Christ taught his followers. Yet there is an important reminder often left unturned in verse 18, And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. (Matthew 28:18, ESV)
That is a comforting verse for me. The call to point others to Christ is rooted in the truth that He is the authority over all things. When someone comes to Praxis looking for meaning and purpose in their life, I can point them to Christ. When a person is broken and in need of a savior, I can point them to Christ. When a member of our church is wounded and hurt at a level that I will never understand, I can point them to Christ. When we call men to be strong leaders in their homes and they need motivation and guidance, I can point them to Christ. Why? Because he is the authority over all things and he has called us to help others grow in their relationship with Him.
2014 is going to be a huge year for our church. We have some exciting things planned, but further more I can feel it. This is a defining year for us. There are new things coming that I am really excited about and all of those things are built with one thing in mind: It’s a new year, but the mission is still the same. We are still in the business of pointing others to Christ, and everything we do should serve that mission.
Over the next few weeks I am going to blog about some specific things we are going to focus on in 2014. Each of these things is built upon our mission statement – to be a church that exists for people to live and share in the good news of Jesus Christ. In other words, to be a church that points others to Christ.
Get ready! It is going to be an amazing year together.
Thankful for you!