“So how can they call on someone they don’t have faith in? And how can they have faith in someone they haven’t heard of? And how can they hear without a preacher?” – Romans 10:14-15
What does it mean to start a new year as a preacher with new resolve, new hope, and new vision? If I may be so bold to offer a piece of advice at the beginning of the year.
Preach like you know they almost didn’t come.
The trend seems to be that our most committed people are attending worship less frequently. Yet, if we look carefully, we will see many who could have chosen to be elsewhere. Yet, they came back early from a meeting or vacation. There are others who are so sad or lonely or distraught that the emotional toll of coming to church is huge. Don’t take them for granted. The preaching task is too important. There is never a good excuse not to handle the proclamation of God’s word with great thought, preparation, and integrity.
Welcome One Another
Since I’m handing out advice, what does it mean to start a new year as a leader or member of a church, a congregation, a community of faith with new resolve, new hope, and new vision? Welcome one other, in the same way that Christ has welcomed you. All for God’s glory.
For too long we have told ourselves that we must walk the walk. I’ll let my life be my witness. I have learned that is a cop-out. It is only a half-truth. It’s not enough to walk the walk. Someone has to talk the talk.
What would happen if you and I began to take the opportunity to tell our God stories? Our stories include encounters with God that shape us to be followers of Jesus. And, our stories are still being formed. Where are you waking up to God’s presence? Right here. Right now. Where do you see God at work? As I said last week, it’s time to wake-up.
The journey of waking up to God’s presence is for everyone – whether you’re a long-time committed follower of Jesus or trying to figure out who Jesus is. After all, how can we welcome one another if we’re not even aware God is with us? As we share our stories of God’s presence, we create space for others to join in what God is already doing.
Do you know your God story is not just for you? Your story has the power to open others to the presence of Christ. What would happen if we led persons to commit their lives to God as they became part of the fellowship? What would happen if we took John Wesley seriously and began to “Offer them Christ” as we developed relationships and talked about what was deeply meaningful us?