I still consider myself a “new” pastor. I’ve been serving my current church for right at a year now. Which means I’m still learning. A lot. All the time. I took about a year to study my surroundings. I’m amazed by pastors who come in and immediately know exactly what do do, how to do it, and when to do it. I need more time than that. I guess I’m just not as smart as those pastors. I need to take my time. Observe. Learn.
But, after a year of observation, here are a few things the Lord laid on my heart for our church. Some things we need to think about. Some areas we need to concentrate on. So, here are seven areas of focus for 2013.
1. First Impressions. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Ever heard that? I believe it’s true. What do you think is the first impression of a first-time guest at your church? I’ll tell you what I want them to see at my church. A clearly defined place to park. A safe and caring place to leave their kids. A friendly and loving atmosphere. Smiling faces to greet them and help them find their way. I want guests to feel like they belong. They are welcomed. And they are loved.
2. Connecting Internally. We are a multi-general church. This is the way the church ought to be. But it’s not enough to be a multi-generational church. It’s important to have those generations connect. I love to see grandpas and grandmas coaching Upward and teaching Awana. I am so grateful for the people that invest in our students and in the lives of my children each Sunday and Wednesday. I see a church where the younger learn from the older and the older learn from younger. Read the book of Titus. This is the way God intends it to be.
3. Growing Intentionally. Our task is to make disciples of all nations for the glory of God. We are going to be intentional about making disciples. At Second Baptist Church we believe that a disciple is someone who will Connect, Grow, and Serve. You will connect with God in worship, both privately and corporately. You will grow by participating in a small group Sunday School class and in discipleship. And you will serve in ministry within the church and in mission beyond the church. This is what it means to be a disciple.
4. Kingdom Investment. I am praying for radical generosity from the lives of our people and through the ministry of our church. I’m praying that we will make a kingdom impact through kingdom investment. This means that we work hard this year to pay down our debt. It means investing in Church Planting and Church Revitalization efforts in our town and around the world. It means training pastors internationally in Brazil every year. It means adopting an Unreached and Unengaged People Group around the world. That’s kingdom investment.
5. Strategic Invitations. I want our church to be an inviting church. By that I mean, I want our people to invite others. God has placed you right where He wants you. And He wants you to impact those He has put around you. Here’s a simple four-step process: identify, invest, invite, introduce. Identify those in your sphere of influence who need to know Jesus. Invest in their lives. Invite them to church. And introduce them to Jesus. We will have several days a year where we focus strategically on inviting people to come worship with us at Second.
6. Bold Intercession. I want my ministry to be rooted in prayer. I want our church to be rooted in prayer. Why? Because I want to see some things happen here that only God can do. I pray that God will give us a ministry upon which the sun never sets. I pray that we will change the world from Warner Robins, GA. I pray that our city will be different because Second Baptist Church is here. I pray that we will reduce the population of hell each and every day. I pray that we will minister to the down and out, the least of these. I pray that we will be a church that experiences such incredible things that it can only be explained through the power of God.
7. Irresistible Influence. Early in my ministry I read a book that changed my life. It’s called The Church of Irresistible Influence. It’s the first book I gave to our pastors and the first book we read as a staff. Simply put, the church should love its community in such a way that its influence in the community is hard to resist. I pray we will show the love of Jesus in a practical and powerful way. Someone once said, “The light that shines the farthest will shine the brightest at home.” I pray that we will go across the street and around the world. I pray that we will touch our neighbors and the nations with the gospel.