“Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” Psalm 127:1
Ready or Not… It’s another new year! Praise the Lord! As I begin each new year, I have been in the habit of taking time to revisit my personal and professional goals for the upcoming year. As I do so I can’t help but reflect upon what I have been called to do at House of Prayer.
First and most importantly, I need you to all remember that I have been called by God to serve Christ. To do this means that I may not always agree with what others think is best. But know this, I am also called to serve you on behalf of Christ, and that means that I try my very best to do what is best for the people of House of Prayer congregation as well.
We live in a time in Christ’s church that I believe someday people will look back and talk about how much change occurred… maybe even as significantly as during the Reformation. What does that mean for us today? Well, according to the Barna Group, 3500 – 4000 churches close their doors each year (from the Barna Study — www.barna.org). Usual Sunday church attendance has dropped from 1,606,000 to 881,000 (www.churchsociety.org in 2005), and only 21% of Americans attend religious services each week (www.religoustolerance.org).
Now I know that in scripture God promises to “… rise up children from the very stones…” (Matt 3:9) if we fail to do what God calls us to do in the world. But short of this, WE are called to be the Church.
This year we will be participating in the Saint Paul Area Synod’s Mission Renewal ministry. This means that we will be exploring “What is God calling us to be and do in this time and place?” It follows that, in order to answer this question, there needs to be a deeper understanding of the three actors in this equation: God, us, and this time and place.
Congregations that are growing in the world are those that are focused on building deeper relationships with Christ. This means that members gather together to study scripture and to pray and to get to know Christ in a deeper more intimate way. They also strive to make connections with their local community where they practice the faith they are learning and live out a life of service in the community. In other words, people of the community begin to know the church for the difference church people are making in the community and the world.
As we begin 2013, my goals are simple: 1) To encourage each member to deepen his/her relationship with Christ. 2) To begin the process of understanding what God is calling us at House of Prayer to do in THIS time and place. 3) To encourage each member to serve God not only on Sunday morning for an hour or two, but also in the community through ministries of House of Prayer, reaching out and inviting others to be a part of this effort.
God has blessed us, may we be a blessing to others! – Pastor Dan