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The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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Don’t just dive into January, take time out to plan

And breathe.

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’.

Give yourself time to stop

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.

Simple, practical ways to equip people

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:

  • When did you last have a This Time Tomorrow slot in a service? When could you do another one? If you’ve never done one, have a look at what’s involved and talk to the other leaders in your church about who you could interview.
  • Maybe that copy of Frontline Sundays is still kicking around somewhere, and you’ve not managed to use it yet, or you’re yet to download it yet from the LICC shop (it’s free). Are there some Sundays in the year these powerful ideas could fit into?
  • Are there five people you could email to check how their frontline is going? Or you could put in your diary to contact in the next month?
  • Share some of the stories from our The One About or 6M People series – quick, true stories of God at work through Christians in daily life. They’re a really simple way to help people imagine how they can make a kingdom difference right where they are.
  • Put a note in your Bible or on your desk that just says ‘frontlines’. Then it’ll be there to remind you to think about people’s frontlines when you come to pray and prepare your next sermon.

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.

Jules Gadsby
Church Engagement Specialist

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  1. Thank you for this. Your resources are fabulous. I have always had a retreat and an ‘office sort’ in Jan. This year however I am in a new HfD post and I need to get a grip on trying to balance work with the ‘extra life time’ I have intentionally chosen . Church and people don’t easily stay into one half of a week ! Any tips or resources for that?? Many thanks

    By Julia myles  -  2 Jan 2023

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