‘So I say to you: ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Luke 11: 9-10)
2018 has been a busy year, so far. Throughout January, along with the usual demands of parish ministry, I, along with the Kirk Session and Congregational Board, completed the initial stages of the Local Church Review (LCR) process.
LCR replaces what was known as the Quinquennial Visit. Over several meetings, we filled out parts 1, 2 and 3 of the paperwork. We were encouraged to reflect on the history of our congregation, and be honest about where we are at the moment. These were submitted to Presbytery: we now wait for them to send a team to us, which will help complete part 4. This is the most important part because, when complete, it should give us a 5-year mission plan for our congregation. All these documents are available for viewing – if you are interested, please just ask!
March is showing no signs of being any less busy. Not only are we now building towards Holy Week and Easter, we are also reaching the stage when we need to finalise and present the 2017 accounts, and organise our congregational AGM. While these may seem quite dry and boring things, they are actually vitally important: these things give us an opportunity to reflect on the year which has passed, realise how things are going for our congregation, and decide how we wish to proceed.
While the accounts are still to be finalised, a draft which was shown to me gives the rough estimate that, if our finances continue in their current state, we will run into serious problems in around 5 years’ time. While this is somewhat alarming, I cannot help but notice the correlation in numbers here.
God willing, by the end of the LCR process, we will have a 5-year plan for our congregation: a plan which is, essentially, God’s way of saying, “this is what I need you to do if you are following and serving me”. If we follow God’s plan for our congregation, in 5 years’ time, we will see the fruits of our labours. If, however, we ignore this plan and continue as we are, the accounts give us a prediction: we will not be able to continue as a viable congregation.
I am sure we all want our congregation to succeed for God. So, how do we go about ensuring we follow His plans for us? We do so by praying!
Using Jesus’ teaching above, when we pray about this, we should:
ASK: ask God to show us the way forward for our congregation.
SEEK: God’s will and His plans for our church.
KNOCK: at the right doors, the ones which God is opening for us.
Once we have done this, and the door is opened, we then need to have the courage and wisdom to walk through! Only then will we definitely be following the path God has set for our congregation: only then will be succeed for Him!
There are some tough times ahead: but Jesus never said the road would be easy. It will, however, be rewarding!
May God bless you, Stuart