Several months ago I gathered every young adult in our rural church and asked them one question, “What will this church look like in seven years?” “In seven years your children will be teenagers and 10% – 20% of the church will pass away or move away.” We were reminded by reports, “10% of United States churches will close.”
Tomorrow increasingly became important to us.
One middle-aged woman commented, “We shouldn’t concern ourselves about the future, God will take care of that, we must take care of today.” The statement bothered me, God does take care of today and tomorrow, however, scripture cautions and duty demands us to prepare for tomorrow.
With the input of our young adults, we developed a seven-year plan for teaching, reaching and growing in our rural church. When Joshua crossed over the Jordan River, God commanded, place 12 stones on the inside the Jordan and the outside of the Jordan, as a testimony to future generations. (Joshua 4:6-7). We intended, by the grace of God to create a testimony for future generations.
We taught our young adults, leadership principles, such as communication, relationships, determination, and giving. Our young adults set up and clean up in the fellowship hall for various gatherings, they served Thanksgiving meals to the homeless and poor, they volunteered for open positions and gave to several projects. IF YOU DON’T TEACH IT – THEY WON’T REACH IT
We planned a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University program in a large room of the local civic center inviting other young adults to come. The results would be twofold, we would gain information about finances and meet other young adults struggling with the same issues, for the purpose of introducing them to Jesus Christ and to invite them to our church. IF YOU DON’T GET OUT OF THE BOX–THOSE WHO LIVE OUT OF THE BOX WON’T RESPOND.
We created a young adult dinner for fellowship and brainstorming on vision, purpose and planning our outreach calendar, (we desired a regional church instead of a rural church). We became partners with the local school and created ministries to area children. Our Bible Quiz teams grew, almost doubled, when we invited the community to take part. (We chose Bible Quiz to develop a discipleship for future generations). IF YOU ARE NOT EXTERNALLY FOCUSED YOU WILL BE INTERNALLY FOCUSED.
We became more interwoven, instead of compartmentalized. Our children’s groups incorporated the elderly, our young adults and elderly served together, side by side, in various outreaches, fellowships, and ministries. Just like Nehemiah did when they rebuilt the wall, “I even set the people after their families.” (Nehemiah 4:13). IF YOU ARE NOT INTERWOVEN YOU WILL BECOME COMPARTMENTALIZED.
Prayer groups began prayer before every morning service, asking for God’s help and for the Holy Spirit to move in our church and in our community. Even though the group has been small at times, it definitely is one of the most important things we do on a weekly basis. IF YOU DON’T PRAY ABOUT IT – IT WON’T HAPPEN.
A disclaimer may be necessary: this took months – not weeks and two families left because the church was changing. Yes, it was, no longer intrinsic but extrinsic. Our missions, benevolence and outreach finances grew, our community outreach to schools, the needy, and the poor expanded. Instead of people asking, “What is the church doing for me?” A good majority of the congregation asked, “What am I doing for God?” This is difficult, not magical and not “bought in” by everyone but it’s part of the seven-year projection. The wins have been substantial and we have just started. It is still a work in progress and may not work for everyone but we are still trying to influence this region for God.
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