Much of my burden comes from my own assembly and the assemblies of close friends. I long to see us grow in the Lord and be a shining light in the communities we have been placed into. That doesn’t come without effort and dedication to the leading of the Spirit.
As we look to a new year ahead here are 8 ways I see the assemblies moving forward and making progress. I pray that these become a vital part of every assembly in 2018.
1. A fresh surrender to the Holy Spirit
This is not the first point by accident. I believe of all the things we can talk about this is THE most important. For too long the Holy Spirit has been placed in a corner of the assemblies and neglected. Maybe it’s out of fear of appearing too “charismatic” or because we don’t want to face Him and what He will require of us.
We need to let go of our hang-ups regarding His work in the church and let Him empower us again. Churches that give first place to the Spirit will grow as His fruit is displayed in the lives of the saints.
2. Abandon apathy
Apathy is displayed in many ways but primarily it is shown in the lack of enthusiasm or excitement. It’s possible to be faithful in ritual and dead in spirit. Do people love being at your assembly more than anything else? Or is it just another thing to do out of obligation or habit? It’s not that hard to spot the difference. As a soccer coach would say, “Get in the game!”.
3. Revive hospitality
I can’t get away from Acts 2:46. They met in each other’s homes and in many assemblies this has been forsaken. If we want to see true growth in fellowship then we must open our lives and homes to God’s people. Not just a few times a year but all the time. Not only will this greatly benefit your local church, it will also change your life too. Give it a shot in 2018.
4. Stop the gossip
The plain truth is that gossip will kill the fellowship of a church. It’s like a disease that eats away at the joy of the Lord. Add to that slander and back-biting and it’s a sure formula for disaster. Assemblies that are thriving give no place to this kind of attitude and activity. To grow we must endure, put others first and lay down pride. It’s the only formula that will work for assemblies this year.
5. Build bridges
The gap between the generations has never been wider in the assemblies. The older ones struggle to hang onto control and the younger long for change. Instead of sitting on either side of the table let’s engage in meaningful, productive discussion to foster unity instead of division.
This means compromise on non-essential, non-biblical issues. It means sacrificing some of your own preferences for the greater good and health of the church. The churches that are building bridges are seeing tremendous growth and blessing.
6. Mentor someone
Paul’s challenge to Titus was to teach the older that they had a responsibility to the younger believers (Titus 2:1-5). They had to first be worthy of mentoring and then were to engage younger Christians in order to impart truth to them. Churches that foster this kind of mentoring atmosphere will thrive in 2018.
I have visited some assemblies in the past few years that have blessed my heart by sharing the joy of the Lord. They are genuinely overflowing with thanksgiving and praise because they have been touched by the grace of God. They can’t help it and it’s evidenced in their lives.
It doesn’t mean they don’t face trials but despite their difficulties their love for the Lord shines through. Let’s remove the deadness in our fellowships by fixing our eyes on the Lord and expressing the emotion of our hearts.
I put this last to act as a bookend to point number 1. If you are holding any form of bitterness, resentment or an unforgiving spirit against a brother or sister then the Holy Spirit is being prevented from having full reign in your life. The Lord can’t bless those who have unresolved issues towards His people.
John tells us plainly that we are not walking in the light if we are keeping ourselves in bitterness (1 John 2:9). In order for the church to grow it must be emptied of this damaging attitude. It starts with each one of us laying down our pride and giving the hurt and pain over to the Lord. Will you do that in 2018?
A lot more could be said but these points are meant to get discussions going within your assembly. What do you need to work on in 2018? What goals do you have to help your church grow?
Together with the leading of the Spirit, our assemblies can change our families and communities. We can make an impact on the lives of those who are a part of our local fellowships and those who are searching for a Savior.
May 2018 be a year of spiritual maturity in your own life and the life of your local fellowship!