Here we are, standing at the door of 2008. I don’t know about you, but I am looking forward to the New Year. It isn’t that 2007 was bad; in fact, it was a great year for me for many reasons. My older son got married. I celebrated 25 years of marriage with Raquel. I wrote a book. Even so, I am looking forward to the New Year because it is an opportunity for us as a church to build on some of the things that were missed this past year.
Why is it important for the church to be successful in 2008? Because every day neighbors, family members, and friends are dying without Jesus. They are depending on us to share Jesus with them. How? Let’s look at Acts 2:42.
Make prayer a priority
When Peter preached his great sermon on the day of Pentecost, 3,000 people were converted; this was the beginning of the church. One of the things that the early church did was devote itself to prayer. For example, in Acts 6, when the church leaders were burdened with caring for the physical needs of the believers, what did they do? “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (verse 4). The church leaders spent more time in prayer.
Prayer is one of the keys to success. Without prayer, we are without power. Jesus spent a lot of His time in ministry praying to His Father. Was Jesus busy? Yes. He was too busy for prayer? No. Are you busy? Yes. Are you too busy for prayer? No, never! Our success as spiritual leaders requires us to make prayer a central part of our lives. I hope that we all will commit to making prayer a priority.
Build on the foundation of God’s Word
Look at Acts 2:42 again. It says that the church was devoting itself to the apostles’ teaching. This was the Word of God. We must be people of the Word! The Word must guide our lives and decisions. The church must be built on the foundation of the Word. The Word of God is our authority. When we step outside of it, we have no authority.
One of the keys to a successful Christian life is knowing the Word of God and putting it into practice. God gives the Word to us for our benefit. God gives us standards of conduct for our own good, not because He is a killjoy.
Build a strong sense of community
Our Acts passage says that the believers devoted themselves to fellowship. What does that mean? The word “fellowship” means to “have something in common” or “to strive for a common goal.” It also means to be one in action.
Did you know that many people start coming to church because they want to connect with other people? We need to build a strong sense of community with people when they come to our churches. We want them to belong. When they feel a sense of community, they will want to believe as we do, and they will want to behave as God wants them to.
If people feel welcome in our church, they will eventually believe and behave. I believe our church does a great job of that. Our members are wonderful and loving. Let us commit to spending more time together this year.
Have a vision for what God can do
This last key is not in the text, but I think it is very important. As you look at your life right now, what do you see?
I’ll tell you what I see. I see a church that is willing to be challenged and involved in mission. I see many loving and gifted people. I see members who care for each other. I see a church with tremendous growth potential if it will only tap the potential in each member.
What can God do with His church? Anything! What can He do with you? Anything! A new year is before us. Let’s make 2008 a year we will never forget! Let’s live life with no regrets. Let’s make prayer a priority, let’s build our foundation on the Word. Let’s build a strong sense of community and have a vision for what God can do with us.
What will you do in 2008?
General Conference Associate Ministerial Secretary