A few weeks ago, we shared with you some specific new ideas and plans for our church, plans which are not really that new but may sound like they are. The Session has been discussing many of these issues over the past few years. In reality, they are simply further implementations of our current vision and strategic plan.
As you probably know, we formulated a vision and strategic plan for the church in 2006 that we thought was biblical, based on what the Bible says every church should be and do. We also developed a set of values and objectives which we have implemented over the past 10 years. We revisited the plan a few years ago, emphasizing our need for personal discipleship, applying God’s Word to every area of our lives, as well as our need to reach others in our community with the gospel.
Now, as we come to the 10th anniversary of our vision and strategic plan, two major themes are coming together to prompt us to expand our vision as we continue to implement our plan.
The first is the successes and challenges of our plan. We are excited by who we have become, our spiritual health and faithfulness to Scripture and our love for one another. We are well established as a church that loves the Word of God, which is not only infallible and inerrant but sufficient for our lives individually and corporately. We firmly believe in preaching, teaching, singing, and praying the Word of God. We strive to fill our lives with the Scripture and to follow Christ according to it. We believe in the means of grace for gathering and perfecting the saints, which is the main mission of the church. We worship according to Scripture. We believe in applying the Bible to our lives, how we worship and live as a community and as families and individuals. We are living and growing together as a church family, caring for one another. We believe in serving others in the name of Christ and making him known.
We believe in being transformed by renewing of our minds, which leads to transformed hearts which leads to service to one another and to those around us in the name of Christ.
We are excited about these things, about being warm -hearted, confessional Presbyterians who love doctrine, knowing God and learning what the Bible teaches, growing in the faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ, and applying it to our lives. We think biblical worship is great, amazing even, and we are excited to worship God this way, meeting with God through his Word by the Holy Spirit.
We think this is the best kind of church and life for Christians, to grow deeply in the faith and knowledge of Jesus Christ, to worship according to Scripture, to mature together in Christ, to serve one another and to make Christ known.
However, we are not convinced that we are communicating this very well to our community, both other Christians and non-Christians. We don’t believe in worldly marketing principles or business methods, being seeker friendly, or in pragmatism. We do believe it is wise to have nice welcoming friendly facilities, to communicate with others who we are and what we believe, to use technology and new methods to proclaim God’s Word, whether that be the gospel itself and how to be saved, or that there is a place to come and grow and learn what the Bible really says and apply it to life, to live for the glory of God, to experience true biblical worship.
We think we are one of the best kept secrets. And it should not be so. We want to better communicate who we are what we believe and proclaim to people the gospel and the means of grace for growing in Christ. It is out of this desire and conviction that the specific changes we are proposing flow.
We believe that changing our name to Christ Covenant Presbyterian Church better communicates who we are, what we believe, our ties to the past and our vision for the future.
We believe that a better summary of who we are is stated as: Grace. Truth. Life.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
Doesn’t that really sum up the Christian life? It begins with grace: Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone for God’s glory alone according to Scripture alone. All of that is captured in one word: Grace. Truth – God’s Word is at the very center of all that we believe, do, and are. We are transformed by the renewing of our minds. We love God’s Word, we love knowing God through it, we love proclaiming the message of salvation found in it. Life: God’s Word is applied to every area of our lives, living coram deo for the glory of God, in full assurance and confidence in God and his Word, in God’s comfort, for his glory and for our joy.
As for God’s mission for his church, the following biblical categories still apply:
- Biblical worship
- Biblical discipleship
- Gospel centered community
- Biblical outreach & missions
We believe that a better summary of our mission than our current “Magnifying…” would be:
- By God’s grace for God’s glory and our joy
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 1:24-25
That is the first theme, better communicating who we are, what we believe, and that this is God’s method for growing Christians in their faith and growing his church.
The second theme pertains to our calling to reach the lost, to proclaim the good news to those around us. John Knox famously said, “Give me Scotland or I die.” As we heard that recently, some of us were convicted that this needs to be our attitude as well. Call it what you like, Henry County, or the Southern Crescent; is that our attitude? What are we doing to reach our community with the gospel?
We want to ask God to give us Henry County, and pray to that end. We believe this means planning on planting a church on south side of county, and maybe other churches as well. This is actually part of our original strategic plan; however, we don’t really talk about it very much, and we have not yet started being intentional about that.
You could say our themes are to gather and perfect the saints, and to be better about each one.
We realize that this comes at a time when we were discussing budget shortages and financial strains, and here we are talking about planting a church. We know that does not make sense in a worldly wisdom or even practical way. Only God can do this. Given our current challenges, it is not just a cliché to say that only God can do it.
So those are our two streams; we hope and pray they come together into a mighty river.
This is not a new strategy for survival or growth; that is not really the goal though of course we hope we grow, mainly so that more people will hear the gospel and more people will grow deeply in their faith. We are simply trying to be faithful to what God has called us to do.
And now as we search for a pastor, please join us in praying for a man who is committed to preaching the Word of God, to the means of grace for church life and ministry, to the mission of the church as understood for 2000 years and formulated best in the Reformation, and who can lead us in communicating who we are and in expanding our ministry, drawing Christians who want to grow deeply, and proclaiming the message of the gospel to Henry County. God has a plan for us, we need to pray that we walk in that plan. To God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.