“Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Grace and peace to you and your households in the name of Jesus Christ! As the pastor of a wonderful congregation of faithful witnesses, the people called “Grace on Harbison,” I believe this is a time in the life of our church that God is calling us to discern the Vision for Grace for the next chapter of life and ministry for this place and time. The world around us has changed drastically in the past decade. Expectations and norms continue to evolve within the context of ministry. By some estimates, 80% of people remain unchurched on Sunday morning.
Congregations live and serve in an ever changing world. Though God’s redemptive mission remains constant, the particular calling of any one congregations shifts over time. When congregations come to times of transition, uncertainty, or lack of focus, Visioning clarifies God’s calling for the next chapter of congregational life and ministry.
Vision – God’s particular calling for a particular congregation, situated at a particular place and time. The Vision is a description of what the congregation will be doing as they live out their calling as God’s church in the next one to two years.
It seems to me, that naming our visioning process GRACE 2020 captures the essence of who and where God wants us to be in the year 2020. Also, 2020 depicts vision made perfect through the discernment process by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The overall objective of GRACE 2020 is to discern God’s calling for the next season of life and ministry together, resulting in major ministry initiatives (Vision) and a Ministry Plan (Action Steps, Timeline, Leadership Assignments)….identifying our compelling vision, our identity as the “People of Grace on Harbison.”
After the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, his Disciples met and prayed together as Jesus had instructed them to do… to wait for the Holy Spirit to come upon them. This was a time of Spiritual Cultivation, a time of Spiritual Discernment… as we recall the following Scripture. [Jesus said,] “You are witnesses of these things. 49 And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:48–49)
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. 13When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers. (Acts 1:12–14)
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. (Acts 2:1–4)
GRACE 2020 includes four major activities:
- Formation of GRACE 2020 Coordination Team to facilitate the process – 10 committed members, cross-section of membership, led by the Pastor and includes the Church Council Chair.
- Spiritual Cultivation begins First Sunday after Easter, April 23. (Luke 24:48- 49, Acts 1:12–14; 2:1-4)
a. Congregation is commissioned for the GRACE 2020 discernment process, committing itself to seeking God’s calling (includes a commissioning in worship). Goal is for everyone to commit to 40 Days of Prayer.
b. Prayer Emphasis begins – Disciples are placed in pairs or triads and meet together at some point in the week to pray for the church and openness to God’s calling. Also, every disciple is asked to pray daily for the GRACE 2020 visioning process and for the congregation’s ministry each of the 40 days. We will use the 40 Days Of Prayer Guide for guiding each disciple during this Season of Prayer. Timing – Prayer emphasis continue entire 40 days. During this time, a daily email from the 40 Days Of Prayer Guide will be sent out.
c. Spiritual Cultivation Time refocuses our perspective to “Thy Will Be Done.”
- Harvesting of Information
a. Listening Groups
I. Input from the congregation is gathered by the GRACE 2020 Coordination Team between after the end of the Season of Prayer using small groups.
II. The focus is on listening and gathering information.
- Discernment by GRACE 2020 Coordination Team
a. Understanding the input from the congregation,
b. Understanding the current state of the church,
c. Discerning God’s calling for the next steps (the Vision).
d. Action steps are identified to implement the Vision.
e. Draft of Vision is compiled and shared with Church Council for review and or modification.
- GRACE 2020 Vision is shared with Congregation on Anniversary Sunday (last Sunday in September)
Please prayerfully join with me in GRACE 2020 as we continue to fulfill our Mission: “To Know Jesus and To Make Him Known to Others”
We believe the best days for Grace are ahead of us.
We believe with all our hearts these words that Paul writes in Ephesians 3:20
“God, is able to do far beyond all that we could ask or imagine by his power at work within us.”
Follow Jesus & Fish!