Healthy Church Resolutions

By Superintendent Mark Adams |  January 1, 2018

The article below was written by our Superintendent, Mark Adams and distributed in our conference monthly newsletter.  I find his words challenging and wise as he directs our focus for the new year.  If you would like to read other articles from Superintendent Mark’s monthly newsletter by email, you can find them on our conference website, under “About” and then “theNUB” or you can copy this url into your search bar on your computer:

Healthy Church Resolutions

By Superintendent Mark Adams

As we celebrate the birth of our Lord, we also move into a period of reflecting upon the accomplishments of the previous year and goals or resolutions for the new year coming. As churches move into annual goal setting and resolutions for the new year – avoid these traps:

Love the past.
Ignore conflict.
View culture as the enemy.
Talk and plan only.
Focus on growth.

On the other hand, you might resolve to focus on spiritual substance, align your congregational priorities around those of Christ Jesus, and discover revitalized growth taking root.

Honor the past but resolve to embrace the future.
A congregation that fails to honor the missional impulses of its founders and work of the Spirit leading to the present does a disservice to the acts of God and sacrifices of Christians who have gone before us. Missionary Adoniram Judson wisely wrote, “There is no success without sacrifice. If you succeed without sacrifice it is because someone has suffered before you. If you sacrifice without success it is because someone will succeed after.”

However, in faith and with hope we must face windward into the future. No living church should be a museum to the 1950s or 2012s. Be aware of trends, bring Christ into each one, and rather than seek a return to “golden eras” or repeating strategies that worked yesterday - resolve to let God do something new today.

Don’t fan flames, resolve to act Christlike.
Conflict is inevitable with any living, growing, changing group. The majority of conflict flows from a failure to act upon our cherished gospel principles. If a church is frequently bickering and arguing, why would any new people want to stay? The New Testament is a virtual manual on conflict resolution, be we often prefer to gossip, refuse to confront unhealthy people, and choose to deal with anyone except the parties directly involved. Change the world from the inside out when you resolve to communicate openly with grace, tell the truth in love, forgive and reconcile with one another. You will amaze people.

Don’t see culture as evil but resolve to engage the world.
Every culture from any era has aspects both aligned with and opposed to biblical values. A cursory reading of Scripture reveals that prophetic challenge and apostolic admonitions were leveled not usually at the world around the people of faith but to the faithful themselves. A church that makes ‘culture wars’ its first line of gospel proclamation (us versus the world) often appear to expect non-believers to act like believers, and promote a rigid and defensive way of life that is a barrier to being salt and light in the world. If you treat your unchurched neighbor like an enemy, why would she ever want to be your friend? Resolve to find commonalities that create relational and spiritual bridges while bringing restoration to areas of brokenness.

Talk is good but resolve to act.
Binders full of goals, strategies and tactics aligned with mission, vision and values statements collect dust in every church office (or float in the cloud). While prayerful strategic planning is a real asset to launching 2018 on a positive trajectory. it is meaningless without a few key actions. Do something. Resolve to be led by the Spirit toward meaningful action that saves souls.

Growth as a focus is misaligned, resolve to be like Jesus.
The underlying root of the kingdom of God is God. Only a people empowered by the Holy Spirit, heard through devotion to the Word of God, prayer and fasting, paired with obedience to the leading of the Spirit will grow. Our roots must be sunk deep into the living water of Christ, or the plant that grows will wither. Resolve above all to draw near to Jesus and be more like Christ.