Article: Looking Ahead

Last Sunday we had one of our two congregational meetings of the year. I talked about several things but I reflected that as a leader and as your pastor I need to be thinking about Bethel in multiple levels of time all at once.

I need to be thinking about:

  • The day-to-day operations of Bethel
  • What is happening in the coming year
  • What we should be planning for in the next 5 to 10 years

That doesn’t necessarily mean a strategic plan but it might. However, I do know that I need to be aware of long-term trends both in the church and in our society.

The importance of this hit home last night when I had the opportunity to hear John Maxwell speak. (If you don’t know John Maxwell, you are missing out. He is a pastor, author and leadership expert.) This is what John Maxwell said about any leader: “A leader must be able to see more than anyone else in the room and they must be able to see it before anyone in the room.” He also said, “If you aren’t seeing more than everyone else and before everyone else in the room, then you better get in line because you aren’t the leader but a follower.”

John Maxwell was being blunt in his assessment of leaders and leadership. This isn’t just true for pastors but for any leader in any capacity. As he continued speaking he told those listening that we should strive to be “more-more” and be “more before” (see more and see it before others). This isn’t about being the best or being in charge. This is about making sure we are prepared for the current moment and being prepared for the future.

There are many things we need to be thinking about as it pertains to the future of the church, however I want to talk about the only one I mentioned on Sunday: Invitation.

What is preventing us from having an active worshipping community of 400, 600 or even 800? Invitation. If each family in our church invited another family on the same Sunday, guess what would happen? We would double in size.

If we don’t invite, Bethel will most likely stay the same size and then slowly shrink. This is not about institutional survival. Jesus has already told us, “…on this rock (the truth of Christ) I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Matthew 16:18 The Church will continue on because Jesus promised it will, but individual congregations come and go.

I believe we should invite others because we have something the world doesn’t. We have Jesus. We have joy and love. We have community and we have reconciliation. The people you know need what we have. This world is starving for these very things. Even if you feel uncomfortable talking about such things, invite them to Bethel. I promise you that I will talk about these things to anyone who will listen.

Let us be light for this dark world! Not just in this time but 100 years from now!

God bless,

Pr. Ben


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