Tomorrow this post will hit the blog of Lifehowell.com. But for those that ‘follow’ my and this ministry, I wanted to share it here first. I’m so overcome with desire and expectation to see God’s plan and purpose accomplished here in Howell. In terms of ministry, I’ve never been so excited, so sure, or so determined in my life. Building what God desires here is a process, and I don’t expect it to happen ‘tomorrow’, but I know it will happen.
I think about what a mentor of mine, Jim Wideman, once said at a conference I attended: “The vision God gave me took almost 15 years to happen, but every part of it was accomplished. All I had to do was follow Him.” I’ve never forgotten that statement, and I believe the truth behind it with all my heart. As Pastor Willie George has said “I don’t have a great vision, a great vision has me!”
This is Pastor Devin. I wanted to take a moment to share with you some things from this past weekend and our leadership meeting. I know it was a long day, having church and then our meeting, but I am so glad we did! Not only did we share some important information about the transition from Pastor Anton to myself as the campus pastor, introduce Kaytlynd Spangler as our new youth (and eventually worship) minister, but we also took some time to talk about our vision.
Vision is the ability to see something as done before others see it. Here at Life Christian, our vision consists of four (4) main components:
- A Relevant Worship Service
- Growth Track
- Dream Teams
- Small Groups
Relevant is a word that is often thrown around in the church world today, so let me define for you what it means here. To have a relevant worship service at Life Christian in Howell, we want to have a gathering in which every person who comes through the doors leaves having gotten something out of being here. It can happen different ways for different people. Maybe one day you really get something from the message that helps you and enables you to make changes in your life. That’s relevant. Maybe the message was nice, but during the worship you encountered the presence of God in a special way and are able to leave charged up and ready to face the week. That’s relevant. Maybe during the service someone has a word of knowledge or a word about healing that is for you. That is relevant. Maybe you just get to spend some time being encouraged by other people of faith and are reminded that you’re not alone in your endeavor to live for God, despite the challenges. That, too, is relevant.
The fact is, some services you may not feel moved by the worship, or particularly inspired by the message. That doesn’t mean that the service can’t have relevance in your life, when you’re open to hearing from God. Our desire is to present an opportunity for each person that comes through our doors to hear about God’s love for them and His wonderful plan for their life, and to connect with others as well. That is what makes a relevant worship service.
The second point of our vision is our Growth Track Process. Growth Track is a four week ‘class’ that is designed to take people from the front door to being connected to the life of the church. In Growth Track we discuss who we are at Life and what we believe, we talk about our focus as a ministry, and we help people discover their gifts and abilities in an effort to connect them to others through service.
Why is that so important? Because when we understand that we all have a special part to play in God’s plan if gives us a sense of purpose. Growth Track helps us focus in on how we can best be used to accomplish that purpose in our lives, which will in turn give us a sense of fulfillment and joy that we don’t otherwise find. In Howell, because we are in the process of rebuilding some ministries, we aren’t doing Growth Track as regularly as we normally would (monthly). However, we believe this process is important and look forward to offering it again this fall for those who want to attend. Lunch is always provided for this meeting, which takes place directly after the Sunday Service.
The next point of our vision is our Dream Teams. Dream Teams are the names we give to our ministry service teams. While this may seem strange at first, the reason is actually quite compelling. In most churches you serve on a ministry team. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. But at leave, we don’t just want people to serve on A TEAM. We want them to serve on the RIGHT team. That means when you are serving you are using the gifts and talents and abilities you have to glorify God in your area of ministry.
This is a marked difference from many church cultures, where they work to ‘plug people in’ where needs are. Do we have needs? Sure we do. However we also understand that putting people in slots to work just because there is a need isn’t the answer. If what you’re doing isn’t something you’re interested in and passionate about, then you won’t be happy and feel fulfilled there. That in turn means you won’t last long, and in many cases that you won’t stay at the church, because you aren’t connected to God’s purpose for your life. Our desire is to help you discover what you’re passionate about and do that. We believe that if we do, not only will you be fulfilled, but you will end up helping us accomplish God’s plan and purpose for Life Christian much more effectively than if we simply ‘plug you in’ as needed. Oh yes, things happen and when they do we’re grateful for willing servants. But we strive for that to always be the exception.
The final point of our vision is Small Groups. We believe that relationships are best fostered within the context of small groups. These groups offer us the ability to get to know people more on a personal level and ‘live life’ together. They can be based on common interests or on different types of study (such as a study of a certain book or a certain Bible Concept). Each group meets outside of the church during different times of the week, depending on the schedule that works best for its members. So one small group may meet in a home on Thursday nights to study Psalms. Another group may meet at the track for a devotion and prayer before going for a run!
Small groups are the life-blood of our church, and something we are working very hard to establish. This is a transition for us, but one we are excited about. Currently, we are in the ‘training’ process on how to do small groups together. Each Wednesday I am leading a book study with those that attend. It is discussion based and is more of a traditional small group. Then, about every other Sunday (June 16 and 30 this month) I am hosting a cookout at my house for everyone be a part of. This cookout is relational and is aimed at building fellowship within our church.
Using these models, we will officially launch our first round of small groups in the fall. Until then, I invite you to come join us Wednesdays at 7 or on the 16th and 30th from 5-9 to participate in what we currently are doing. This will help connect you to others and give you a better feeling for what we are looking to accomplish come this fall.
I’d like to leave you with this: I mentioned our leadership meeting Sunday. At the end of our time together I gave all of our leaders a slip of paper that said “By Faith I See” and asked them to spend a few moments in prayer, asking God what He wants to do here in Howell. Then I collected those sheets and our Pastoral Staff shared some of the vision God has been giving us. After the meeting, I read the slips everyone turned in. My heart rejoiced as I read some of the things God is showing our leaders and speaking to you about, from teen to adult. Things like expanding our worship team, seeing people saved, believing for family members to come to church, and much more.
Pastor Anton, Kaytlynd, and I stand with you in agreement that God has big things ahead. I look forward to hearing and seeing how He accomplishes some of these things. For my part, I would like to share here 4 things I believe God has spoken to me about for this ministry, as an encouragement to you and as a way of saying ‘believe with me.’
My vision…By faith I see:
- 100+ adults in the service by the end of this year.
- To see 50+ salivations before the end of this year.
- To see us grow to 300+ and then ‘seed’ 50+ people into a new campus plant within 3 years
- The need for a separate youth facility by 2015
Vision…it’s one of the most powerful things available to us in life. The Bible says without it, people perish. Let’s decided to look forward together, and see what God does next!