16 God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn its people. He sent him to save them! John 3:16-17 (CEV)
The story of God's strategic plan is in all of our holy story from Genesis' creation to Revelation's new Jerusalem. We know it didn't always go smoothly, remember the Garden of Eden--oops, the Israelites wandering in the wilderness--oh my, and the disciples scattering after the crucifixion--yikes! We also know the powerful success of God's strategy of Love at the empty tomb--yes, the Holy Spirit's fire at Pentecost--wow, and the power of the Body of Christ infectiously Loving through the Church--amazing.
Palmyra First UMC is beginning a strategic planning process, and to be sure it will parallel the ups and downs of God's story. We'll get some things right the first time, and we'll make a few humbling stumbles. We'll enthusiastically embrace where God leads us, and we'll rebelliously grumble in our discomfort and discontent. Perhaps, most importantly, God's redeeming grace will shine through in the end, when we choose this journey.
Strategic planning will stretch us personally; God will call and nudge us to new places. Sometimes we'll say "Yes" easily. Most often we'll doubt, dodge and ditch God's invitation for a while. We'll need one another for honest feedback, loving challenge, and mutual support, while we adapt and love on.
Strategic planning will stretch us as a church; God will call and nudge us to new ministry, forms, neighbors and places. Sometimes we'll embrace the new with excited hard work. Frequently we'll avoid, forget, and distort God's invitations to us. We'll need much prayer, holy conversation, and Jesus-inspired boldness, so that we can adapt and love on.
Strategic planning will stretch us in our resources; God will challenge us beyond what we can see. Sometimes we'll step out faithfully with generous choices. Anxiously we'll act protectively, territorially, and selfishly--both as a church and as individuals. We'll need God Moments told joyously, personal faith lived entrepreneurially, and administration lived transparently, assisting us to adapt and love on.
Saved and stretched, stretched and saved, is the story of God's Love in Jesus, the holy story, the Bible's story. This timeless invitation and challenge starts from the inside-out, "Will I trust God and go where I don't choose, can't see, and quite possibly am not comfortable?" My prayer, as pastor and follower of Jesus, is that we all help one another answer, "YES!" because we trust the life transforming, world changing, soul saving Love of God in Jesus Christ.
10,000 Joys in the Way of Jesus Christ, Pastor Dave
*All bible story references and genuine conversation about them available from firstname.lastname@example.org