A Healthy Word for the Year

So far this year there have been a couple of internet phenomena that I have noticed.  One was the “how much did you age” thing on Facebook, which didn’t really inspire me to write.  So I won’t be subjecting you to pictures or reflections of what time has done to me. The other one did get me thinking though.  It was the idea of “what word would you choose for the year”. And I thought about that and prayed about that. If there was one word that I would share with churches this year, what would it be?  

The word I came up with is the same word I come up with a lot when I think about churches and health and what God wants.  With that in mind, let me give you my word and some things for you to. Not for “them” or the pastor or “leadership” but for you/us because you/we are the church.  

The word is “Go”.  It’s from Jesus to us, and here is how I would like us to think about it.

Go – to church.  Jesussaid “Go and make disciples.”  That’s not just getting people to become Christ followers, it’s helping everyone grow into Christlikeness which is a lifelong journey.  The best way to be a disciple and to disciple others is to continue to meet together for worship, fellowship, learning, serving, prayer and all the other things that healthy churches do.  I know it is easy to choose to get busy with other things and show up less. I know it is easier to sit on the sidelines and complain about the way things but the more we opt out, the more we sit on the sidelines and the more we choose not to engage the worse off we all are.  Things will not get better at church if you don’t engage in the way God has created and called you to. Relationships will not get better, forgiveness will not be offered and received, issues will not get worked out if you don’t go and engage. You will not grow the way you are supposed to if you don’t put yourself around other Christ followers regularly.  So go to church. Really go. Don’t just slip in and out. Don’t just be a spectator. Dive in to this wonderful gift of each other that God has given you. Go to church.

Go – into the corner of the world God has placed you in.  Your neighborhood, workplace, family, school – wherever.  You are there because that’s where God has placed you to make a difference for His Kingdom sake.  So look for those whom you can love and serve in Jesus’ name. Build relationships with folks that need to know who God is and how much He loves them.  We are not where we are to lock ourselves away in our own houses or to keep ourselves busy running from one thing to another. We are where we are because God has placed us there to be salt and light.  Go into each day and place remembering this and looking to join God is what He is doing.

Go – into your community.  I want to be careful how I say this.  There are times when writing a cheque matters and is of great help.  Don’t stop that, but if all we are doing as churches is writing cheques I am not sure we are doing all that God has called us to do.  We talk in FMCIC circles about taking responsibility for our communities. We can’t do that unless we actually physically go and help and love and serve.  If we don’t show up in some rooms, we will miss what God has for us as He looks to make us more like Himself (serving does more for us than it does for those we help in many cases).  So together and individually we need to look for ways to go into our communities.

Go – into groups.  I suppose I could assume that when I talk about going to church we would all figure out that this is a part of it.  But I didn’t want to take that chance (and I needed 5 points). To be discipled and to make disciples, we are going to need to be in some sort of small group.  We need at least one or two other folks who will help us wrestle through how to apply Scripture to our lives. We need spaces where we can be known and loved and where we can know and love others.  We need venues to live out the “one anothers” of Scripture.  We need folks in our corner who will pray with us and hold us accountable and call us on things we need to be called on and encourage us on and laugh with us and cry with us.  And we need to give that gift to others as well. Find some folks and enter into life together.

Go – to God.  This helps us go into the rest of the spots I have challenged us to go into (and that I believe God has called us into).  Make time and space to read and apply His word regularly. Make time and space to pray and listen regularly. We need to be as close to Him as possible if we are going to be the people He created us to be.  We need Him to lead if we are going to go. Go to God. The best news is He is right there waiting for you with open arms.

Ready?  Set? Go.

Marc McAlister

Director of Leadership Development, the Free Methodist Church in Canada.