Some of you know I started working on my Doctoral Degree. The degree is entitled Doctor of Emerging Culture: Semiotics and Future Studies. For some the title is a bit intimidating. However, what that title seems to be getting at is quite simple. It in intended to train leaders to engage in the future of God’s church as much as, if not more than, we have engaged in the past. Nearly every trained pastor spends more time on church history, ancient biblical commentary and dead theologian’s perspectives than we do on God’s work here and now. Trust me…learning those things is a very good thing. There is much to learn! But the point is that maybe we spend too much time on what once was as opposed to what God is leading us towards.
Its natural right? It is how we think. We often are defined by our past. We are defined by our education, our parents, the town we grew up in, the people we have been friends with, the things that have happened to us and so on…right? It is also true for our church, for Hope Lutheran church. We are defined by the group that first broke away from another church and founded this one, by the farm house that was purchased and the building places that took place, by the pastors that served us and the relationships we built. We often like to look back…but too often it is at the expense of looking forward.
I think we should do both.
Over the next two weeks at Hope we will be both looking back as well as looking forward. We have two really important weekends before us:
November 13th…Stewardship Sunday (all services)
November 20th…Congregational Meeting (after the 11am service)
Matthew 4:18-22 is a story of Jesus’ calling his first disciples. Two brothers are at work fishing (think of yourself at your place of work). Jesus shows up (maybe in today’s day and age Jesus might text you if He can’t get to your cubicle). Jesus then says, “Stop what you are doing and follow me…”.
Can you imagine if the brothers had a conversation and said “We’ve never done anything other than fish. It is who we are!” or “Following a Rabbi simply is a new thing. So, umm…we’re gonna keep doing this. So…ummm…no thanks” Right?!? That would be an example of allowing the past to define the future. Can you imagine?! If that were the case, then no one would have dropped everything to follow Jesus.
The other part of the story is that Jesus doesn’t completely ignore their past either…instead of being fishermen, they become “fishers of men”….fishers of people. The past is not forgotten or ignored…it is brought forward in a new and exciting way.
When we follow Jesus our work is isn’t about remembering, reliving or staying in the past…it is about using that past, those experiences, those lessons those things that shape us to do whatever it is that God calls us to do in the future. Jesus’ work, in other words, God’s work is about tomorrow. One might say in terms of the title of my doctoral work, Jesus’ work is about that which is new, that which is yet to come, that which is emerging…
Your Strategic Planning Council (SPC) has approved a Mission Plan (budget) that was proposed by your Financial Committee that represents the ministry God is calling us to embark upon tomorrow…the next year. It includes vibrant worship, Children, Youth and Family Ministry, Service Ministry and Outreach, as well as the maintenance and upkeep of our facility (just to name a few). The financial cost of doing ministry in and through Hope in the year 2017 is set at $650,000 (of course we still need lots and lots of volunteers!).
This is a very achievable goal! We really can make this happen!
PRAY: I encourage each of us to pray and give thanks to God for the abundance we have been blessed with. We really do have a lot to be thankful for!
ASK: I also ask that you pray about what God is calling you to give financial perspective to support God’s work through Hope next year. Yes…giving 10% of our Gross Income is a goal and some of us give 11% and 12%!! THANK YOU!!
However I ask that each of us pray about increasing our financial gift to Hope just 1% or 2% of our income over last year. If we all do this, we should easily be able to collectively meet our ministry goals for 2017.
ATTEND: I urge you to come to church this Sunday, November 13th and make a financial pledge to the work God is calling us to do through Hope next year. Let us together celebrate both our abundance as well as God’s future showing love and grace and forgiveness, doing God’s work through this place tomorrow and beyond.
As the story in Matthew shows us, doing God’s work isn’t about doing what we’ve always been doing. Doing God’s work, ushering in heaven on earth, building God’s kingdom and following Jesus are always about doing something different into the future.
What are you going to do differently in order to follow Jesus into His future?