After ten years of being in Calgary I am accepting the fact that church activities slow down during the summer. But it doesn’t prevent me from already thinking about, planning for, and getting enthused about the Fall. That is especially the case this year because of our church staff situation, which, of course, includes two new staff members. Hope’s nearly two-decade knowledge of our church and Jonathan’s skills in various areas (even beyond organizing and leading our worship) make me confident that the Fall of 2016 will be one in which we are positively headed in the right direction. I have been blessed in the past with wonderful staff colleagues, and the trend continues. For that I am grateful.
September will actually be here faster than most of us probably realize (Labour Day is just 9 Sundays away after this Sunday—sorry to point out how quickly summer will pass by!). What should we all expect with the coming of the new “church year,” which we tend to think of as running from September through June?
I am excited about the new series on biblical discipleship we will develop on Sunday mornings and in Life Groups. The sermon themes are planned, the LG lessons are being worked on, and a vision for what it means to be a fully devoted follower of Jesus is taking shape. If between now and then you want to get a head start on the theme, I suggest you read the gospels, especially Matthew, Mark and Luke, and note the ways in which the teachings and ministry of Jesus challenge those following after Him. What should characterize those who follow after Jesus? What should this mean for our church? For you? For those we know and those whom we love?
We anticipate a jumpstart for our Life Groups. As much, if not more than, in any other year, we want to encourage everyone involved in our church to be involved in a Life Group. We have seen over and again that those involved in Life Groups, especially those new to us who choose to be involved in a Group, end up being those who remain with our church, involving themselves in the church’s stream of ministries. This is not always the case, but as a general rule it describes the situation of our church. Often those growing the most and being most involved are those who also choose to be part of a Life Group. My sense is that often it is a Life Group that significantly sustains the active spiritual life of those longing to be disciples of Christ.
We will again see Friendspeak activated at a renewed level, and that means contact between willing servants in our church and those from our community. This is a great ministry in which to be involved, and for those whose first language is English, Friendspeak is an easy way to build relationships with those from outside our church (or those new to our church who want to improve their English!).
I could go on listing things about which we should be excited as the new “church year” approaches. That’s enough, however, to indicate to you some ways in which you can think about being involved in the church’s ministry in the Fall of 2016. And, if, by chance, 2015-2016 was a period in which, for whatever reason, your enthusiasm or level of activity was less than you would like, Fall 2016 would be a great time to resurrect a fervent spiritual life. My sense is that we have positioned ourselves in numerous ways to both offer our members wonderful places to engage in ministry and to offer our community genuine opportunities to know Christ and to follow after Him in a life of Christian discipleship.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Matthew 16:24-26