Sustaining Change: What keeps whole-life disciplemaking going and growing?
In-depth research reveals key ingredients in churches that have sustained whole-life disciplemaking for three years or more. ...
In the vicarage, we used to take a deep breath at the beginning of December and let it out sometime around Boxing Day. Christmas was a joyous time, a wonderful opportunity to share the good news of Jesus – and exhausting.
But now the carols have all been sung, nativities performed, (many) mince pies consumed. The decorations will soon be going back in the loft. Christmas is done for another year. Now for 2023.
That’s the thing about church-based ministry – it doesn’t stop.
But before we leap into the new year, it’s good to pause and think about the year that’s just gone, as well as start planning the year ahead. What went well? What could have been better? What has God been showing us over the year? What are the things God is prompting us to do and be this coming year?
When we set out our priorities, we need to remember our ministry isn’t just about the big things for our gathered church life – the sermon series, outreach events, mission and vision statements, Easter planning. We can easily forget about the more everyday, but equally important, things that don’t shout for our attention – like equipping people to live out their faith in the places they find themselves day by day, among people who don’t follow Jesus. What we call our ‘frontlines’.
So how can we do keep that balance right, ensuring our gathered times also equip people for their scattered lives? To be clear, I’m not suggesting adding anything else to the already worryingly long to-do list. No good can come from that. But good does come from stopping for some planning and preparation.
When I was training for ordination, one of our tutors advised us to take a week every January to clear up the office and map out the year ahead. I rarely ever found that much time. But even if you don’t have a whole week, the principle is still good: set aside a decent amount of head and heart space for the year ahead. It’s time you will definitely get back.
And a little bit of time to think about encouraging and equipping church members for their everydays over the next few months could go a long way. Even just a bit of time here could make a world of difference. You could take some time by yourself or, even better, grab a coffee with other leaders in your church.
To get the ball rolling, here are some ideas for how you can start inspiring people to see their daily life through God’s eyes. They take just a few minutes:
These are just a few ideas to get you thinking. The important thing is to give yourself a bit of time and space to be creative.
And if you’re looking for more help on how to equip Christians for their everyday lives, we’ve got good news: at the end of January LICC is launching a church leaders’ Facebook group. It’ll be a great space for encouragement and inspiration, and a place to connect with others about the nitty-gritty of making whole-life disciples. We’d love to welcome you to the group. Watch out for next month’s email for details on how to join!
So, what’s your 2023 going to look like? Put the kettle on and give yourself some time to think. And know that we’re praying for you – that God would give you all you need to equip and encourage your congregations to live whole-heartedly for Christ, wherever God has placed them.
Church Engagement Specialist