What the Church Can Do Differently in 2019

I know we aren’t through Christmas yet, but I wanted to help us get a jump on our New Year’s resolutions, and this is my last post until 2019.

Here are some things I think the church should resolve to do in the coming year. And when I say the church, I don’t mean the building (which would really only have one resolution – don’t fall over). Nor do I mean “them” – pastor, board, leaders, young people, old people, super spiritual people, left handed people – basically whoever you think should be doing this stuff instead of you. The church is me and you so these are our resolutions.

We will engage with Scripture regularly. I know this one seems like a no brainer but studies (including our own Discipleship Survey) show that Bible engagement is slipping across the church. As the people of God, we need to be reading, wrestling with and looking to apply Scripture to our lives. For bonus points, resolve to meet regularly with another person or people to discuss what you have read and how to live it out.

We will pray regularly. Again, seems simple enough. But I think we need to get better at being quiet and listening when we pray. God has things to say to us, and we need to be silent long enough and regularly enough to hear them. And then we need to be relentlessly obedient. For bonus points, resolve to pray regularly with other people. Out loud and for stuff that’s going on in your life and their life. Other church people sure. Good start. But how about with
just other people?

We will open our homes and our lives to others. We need to engage in fellowship and hospitality if we are going to be the church we have been called to be. Fellowship would be opening my home to others in order to practice the “one anothers” of Scripture.  Hospitality would be opening my home to “the other” (people who do not yet know Jesus). We have turned our homes into little fortresses to keep the world out. We need to let the world in.

We will make our small groups (or whatever we call them) more than social gatherings. We will
have to figure this one out together, but we need to be discontent with visiting and coffee with a short or long study thrown in. It might mean we get more intentional with what we are studying and hold each other accountable for applying what we learn. It might mean we look for other people to include and maybe even think about being two groups so that we aren’t a clique. And it should mean looking for ways to regularly love and serve others in Jesus name.

We will be mindful of visitors when we gather. We really need to be better at this. Before and
after service we are really good at talking to the same dozen or so people. Which means we
don’t pay attention and welcome those who are new. Too often folks can get in and out of our buildings
without anyone welcoming them (which is more than just saying hi). Also, when we preach and make announcements and pray and serve communion and so on, we need to act like there are people there who don’t know all our lingo and who don’t have a church background.

We will roll up our sleeves and serve our communities. Being on mission is more than just giving
money to things (although there is a time and a place for that). But if all we are doing is cutting a cheque, we are missing out on what God has for us and what He wants to do in our communities.

We will look to encourage and build up leaders in our midst. Most stories I have heard about people entering into vocational ministry have a section that includes a part where folks tapped them on the shoulder and encouraged them as they stepped into their call. I am sure this would also be true of people who faithfully and effectively serve in our churches. But I hear less and less of these types of stories. Let’s make sure we aren’t neglecting to encourage folks to step into all that God has for them.

I have listed seven things here.  And seven is a good start. At least try a couple on for size. The specifics will look different from person to person, but hopefully I have given us all a good jumping off point.

Happy New Year everyone.
Marc McAlister

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