What direction are we going?

 I remember one Boy Scout campout where everything went wrong.  While on a hike we got disoriented and somehow found ourselves lost. Even with a compass, we weren’t able to make our way back to our campsite, or the camp for that matter.  As darkness began to set in, and after what seemed like an eternity, we happened upon a farmhouse.  To our good fortune, there was a nice man who loaded us up in his truck and took us back to the camp.  Funny thing about this is that we weren’t all that lost.  In fact a few hundred feet here or there and we would have been back on a familiar trail. 

I find that orientation is perhaps the most difficult task as a leader.  Not only keeping sight of our goal, but also assuring those that are following that we actually have a goal.  This week I wanted to share a little about where I understand Christ Presbyterian heading, some of the steps we have taken, and how we you can help achieve the goals.

Four years ago I arrived at Christ Presbyterian Church following the interim ministry of Bob Harris. Under Bob’s leadership, CPC was able work towards healing previous wounds.  Much of that work led to ministry that was internally focused, at a time when it was needed.  In the beginning of my ministry at CPC I also needed to work on the aspects of trust and to help foster deeper fellowship within CPC. 

When Lent 2009 rolled around Christ Presbyterian began to explore new directions and a new focus.  With the Unbinding Your Heart study our congregation was challenged to consider how we live out the Gospel in the world.  The Unbinding Study was all about stirring within our community a desire to turn our attention from what was a necessary internal focus, towards a bold externally focused ministry.  As Martha Grace Reese pointed out, this is not to the exclusion of building relationships and programs for our members, but is a way to strengthen them.  I believe that the Unbinding Study served as a challenge for our congregation.  It created within us a renewed desire to expand our ministry beyond our walls and to share the message of Christ’s Gospel with those that haven’t heard it.

Unbinding started a time of reflection on our ministry and the overall response from our congregation was affirming of the need to reach out.  Last fall we than took a natural next step in a process of re-visioning.  The Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations study provided for two central needs. 

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ustify;”>First and foremost, the Five Practices gave us affirmation that small group ministries are central to our future vitality.  I was excited to see just how much our congregation enjoyed and spiritually benefited from these groups.

The second need that was addressed was a need for a common framework for transformation.  The Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations provides a practical way to embrace the principles that we discovered in the Unbinding Your Heart study.  Radical hospitality, passionate worship, intentional faith development, risk-taking mission and service and extravagant generosity are ways that we can unbind the Gospel in our congregation.  Many wonderful ideas have been generated and the session is working to discern the way that God wants us to embody them in our congregation.  While this process may not be as  quick as we would like, I believe that a measured approach will lead us to a better end.  Along with that, we also must make sure that the majority of our congregation is ready to put a new vision to work in their lives and the life of Christ Presbyterian Church. 

             Our Lenten study of The Five Practices of Fruitful Living will strengthen our individual members in the practices.  I believe that  Fruitful Living will empower our members to not only understand that the practices are something the church should do, but more importantly, something all Christians should live out.  A congregation with members who embody the Gospel in this way will truly be a powerful spiritual force in our world. 

In our life together we are blessed to have a guide in the Holy Spirit.  Our congregation is on a course that has been set and blessed by God.  Our unified studies are helping to orient us to that course.  I have witnessed amazing spiritual growth in the past four years at Christ Presbyterian.  Our congregation has been like the children on the Magic School Bus:  we have not been afraid to “Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!”  In doing so, we have found fellowship, excitement and discernment.  I hope that each of you will take advantage of this next phase in our journey. 

In the near future the session will bring forward mission and vision statements that express all that we have discerned through our work together.   They are also working to formulate specific goals for us to achieve.  Achievement of these goals will depend on each of our members contributing to the gifts God has entrusted to them.  I hope that at the end of the Fruitful Living study each of you will be ready, willing and able to partner with God in this vital future.