It's that time of year, when you are wrapping up the holidays and looking forward to what the New Year will bring. There have been very significant challenges this year that touched on everything else. When I think about a year that included a probate battle grinding to a conclusion, a tornado in Macon, wrapping up seminary, big decisions on ministry and my mother in law's battle with her health - the very first thing I am doing is giving thanks for the grace of God that was and is sufficient to meet all our needs.
He has provided. Again and again and again.
Today I'm working on gathering more information about Dot's options for home health care, reading a couple of books, jotting some notes about Sunday and beyond, and wondering. What will 2009 bring?
The "Let It Be Christmas" series really seemed to inspire our people to join in worship and invite their friends. Using secular music - really just using someone else's idea for a series was something we had never done before, but it worked. The transcripts for the messages in the "Let It Be Christmas" series were little more than an idea about where that pastor thought the topic led. I put as much work into the series message preparation as I always do, and was pleased to see how tightly the themes suggested by the secular music integrated with the answers the Bible gave for those universal needs. (Hint - love, God, love your neighbor, follow Jesus closely)
So I am really thinking about laying out the year (been working on it for a while) in series. Some we'll come up with, and some will get their genesis in the hearts and minds of others. But they will all be God focused and call for repentance and renewal. I hope over time to get better at taking a book of the Bible and creating a thematic series that communicates to today through music, graphics and text. I really admire the folks that do that well.
Sunday night is also an area that we'll come to a consensus on very soon. We limped to the end of the year in that area, and that's unacceptable. Lots of reasons for that, all of them valid, but I'd really like to see that length of time used for small groups meeting whenever during the week they can. We have the materials for the revised edition of "Experiencing God" and that will be our first small group of 2009.
One crazy idea I had this weekend was to have a monthly "Solomon's Porch" type gathering that would focus on one topic but that would be intensely intentional about exploration and discussion versus a data dump lecture by yours truly. We'd decide on a topic - say "heaven" for example, let that be known weeks early, and then meet over snacks in the fellowship hall or even somewhere else and drill into the topic together. My role would be to help guide the discussion when it strayed.
Any thoughts on that?
It would seem to me to shift people out of receiver mode into participant in the learning experience, and draw people in who are tired of hearing someone tell them what the Bible says.
Today is rolling along, and tomorrow and the New Year are racing forward. Back to work.