What will 2017 hold? Every year I sit down on New Years and outline what the next year will hold for us as a church. 2016 was crazy – honestly!
The adaptability, willingness and eagerness of our church to see the Gospel proclaimed to our campuses and our cities inspires me. A gospel that is not just an idea or a feeling but a Gospel that is captivating those within our church and causing people to live passionately in service of others with eyes firmly fixed on eternity. What a privilege it is to serve, sacrifice and love together as a church!
When the Gospel captures us it transforms everything: our priorities, relationships, dreams, longings, even our finances. There is no middle ground with Jesus, there is no halfway. As a church we are all in. All-in on Jesus, all-in on his Kingdom. All-in with a passionate conviction that life is found in Jesus and that he has called us to bring that life to those around us.
There are three specific ways that the Gospel call on the life of our church will be carried in 2017. Jesus words in Matthew 9 provide a framework for understanding this.
36 When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. 38 So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”
Discipleship is not about making nice cultural Christians but training people to follow the radical way of Jesus. Discipleship is fundamentally oriented around reaching our those in our world with the hope of Jesus. The motivation of discipleship is not to make “better Christians” but see Jesus followers reach more people with greater effect.
36 When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
That’s why our desire is to see our church continue to equip, resource and support Jesus followers to walk in the opportunities that he has for them.
Our discipleship strategy will see emphasis in three areas.
Over 2017 we will be implementing a number of training opportunities so that our church is better equipped with the tools and knowledge to serve the people around them and the ministry they have been entrusted with.
We will always be a fast-moving church but throughout 2017 we will be providing more structure to support the bigger challenges and opportunities that we are facing as a church. This will start with making sure that our church has access to the best possible training we can provide.
Details of this will be announced at Conference.
Often times as disciples we can feel stuck and unsure what to do. One of the goals in 2017 is to see our church have access to resources – both people and content – so that you are not spinning your wheels in confusion. If you have questions or run into issues where you are not sure what to do we want to make sure that you have access to the tools to overcome the challenge.
Personal Care & Support:
Many people in our church are investing great amounts of energy while at the same time facing great questions and challenges in their own world. One of the beautiful things of following Jesus is that we don’t need to have it 100% figured out in order to serve him. That said, we want to make sure that our church is receiving the care and support that is needed.
You need to know that our Pastoral Team exists to walk with you, listen to you, encourage you and pray with you. If you, or someone you know is struggling, you need to know that the church is exists to care for you.
Jesus heart for compassion in Matthew 9 does not exclude those that we are serving along side with.
2) Serve Our City
After years of experimentation 2016 saw the launch of two internal ministries, Pinky Lewis and Westside, as a part of Serve Our City. This was in addition to our existing partnerships.
These are not just nice ideas to “do good things”. Rather, they are driven by Jesus heart to have compassion on those that are immediately around us.
With almost no resources and limited planning we have been able to foster relationship with hundreds of people in very difficult situations. Opportunities to say “there is a church that cares about you.”
We are just getting started and the potential for impact with these ministries and relationships is truly tremendous.
The heart of Jesus in Matthew 9 is unavoidably about radical social transformation. To take those that are in desperate situations and see them raised to life.
We will continue to invest in and grow these opportunities in Hamilton. In addition we will be experimenting with ways to see something similar, but unique to St. Catharines, off the ground.
3) Church Planting
When I read Jesus words there is both an urgency and an opportunity. As a church we will continue to boldly step into new places to see the Gospel being announced where it is currently silent – the university campuses of our nation.
While this is huge, and challenging it is also very simple. We are praying that the Lord direct our steps and bring leadership and clarity to a new location.
Our 2017 Prayer:
The opportunity in front of us is as big as ever. Lord raise up your church.
Matthew 9:38 So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”