Saturday, March 7, 2015

What is Ahead in 2015?

2015 is the first year of East Taieri Church's new strategic plan.  The plan can be accessed on our website, but I have found it helpful to write down some concrete expressions of that plan which we are looking forward to this year.  But before I include that list, let me acknowledge my belief that all human plans need to be submitted to God.  Our ultimate trust in God, not in human plans and strategies.  That doesn't mean that prayerful planning is wrong.  On the contrary, I believe that prayerful planning is an expression of our faith in God.  As God leads us we faithfully plan to follow.  But it does mean we need to be prepared to be surprised.  I wrote the following in a Sunday bulletin in January:

Do you have plans for 2015?  We have some exciting and challenging things planned for 2015 as a family.  Our Sophie will graduate BA/LLB in May, and she is planning overseas travel.  Tessa continues with her study but is planning a semester on exchange in Spain.  Here in Otago, Sam will be working on a research project in fresh water ecology for his BSc honours.  After completing the beautiful Routeburn/Caples in January, Sue and I are planning our next tramp.

At ET we will be launching our new EPIC youth discipleship focus; reviewing and renewing our 10am worship; exploring new fresh expressions of church that engage new people; stepping out in loving service in the community; using community spaces such as Aurora café for evangelism; identifying what sites and facilities we need for future ministry and mission (including considering a commercial café for FUEL)…  These are some things from our strategic planning work.  Come along to the forum and prayer on Feb 18th to have your say and to pray.

But, amidst all these wonderful plans we need to be ready to be surprised by God.  This week my Bible readings and some unexpected ministry opportunities have reminded me that we are not to be so committed to our plans for bringing in the kingdom of God that we miss what God is doing in front of our eyes!  In Luke 5:26 after seeing the Lord’s power at work, the people were amazed, glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen remarkable things today”.  The word is paradoxa – the opposite of what we had thought.  So we plan, but we also plan to be surprised!

Having made that point, I paste below the list of things we believe are ahead for us in 2015:

  1.          Four times a year we will hold our new “The Power Station” gathering the congregations of ET for prayer and dialogue.  This will seek God’s leading and provision in particular areas of our life and gain feedback from the congregations.  First one Feb 18.
  2.          We are launching a new youth discipleship focus called EPIC (Experiencing Power in Christ).  This will gather young people and adults on Sunday Evening for worship and small group discipleship.  We are also seeking to involve 5 adults in the life of each young person.  Our motto is “It takes a whole village to raise its young people.”  This 5 to one ratio means recruiting around 200 adults to be involved.
  3.          We haven’t yet managed to appoint a new children and families pastor, so are seeking to resource this work in other ways.
  4.          We will explore at least two new Fresh Expressions of Church, seeking to engage groups of people we are in contact with in one way or another.  One possibility is families involved in a girls craft group called Sugar and Spice which has up to 70 girls each evening once a fortnight.  We will survey these families and hold a suitable gathering, probably running one a term for the first year.  We are assigning a chunk of our associate pastor, Seb Murrihy’s time to these projects.
  5.          We are running evangelistic events (including Alpha) in community settings such as the Aurora Café downtown Mosgiel.
  6.          We are reviewing and renewing our 10am worship service.
  7.          We are seeking to define what sites and facilities we need for future ministry and mission.   This includes putting together a feasibility study for buying or building a commercial café as a bridging space with our community.  This might well provide a larger venue for FUEL (our breakfast café church).
  8.          Our community facilitator (Joy Davis) is contracted to an alliance of health and social service agencies seeking to establish a pilot programme of a combined referral process for health and social services in Mosgiel.  This will mean people with multiple and complex needs can contact one coordinator who can bring in various agencies as appropriate.
  9.          We are developing consistent communications across all congregations in the parish, and upgrading and redeveloping our website.
  10.          We are seeking to collaborate more with other Taieri churches through leading a new church leaders prayer meeting; developing our collaboration in youth ministry; and focused dialogue with Mosgiel Presbyterian and Maungatua parish leaders (including the issue of future buildings).  We will cooperate with Mosgiel Presbyterian to deliver a joint marriage course.
  11.          We also appreciate prayer for and publicising of the South Island Ministry Conference which we will host May 19-21.  Our theme is “Thriving in Ministry – resilience in the tough times.”  Speakers are Digby and Jane Wilkinson (dean of Wellington Cathedral).
  12.          We will be supporting Kenneth, Kim, Jenna and Shani Fleck as they transition from serving with SIM in Thailand to life back in NZ and worship at East Taieri.
  13.         We will support one of our young graduates, Erica Aarsen, who will be serving as a nurse with Diane and Jim Young in Malawi for nine months of this year.
  14.      We seek to do this within an operating budget which has started the financial year (July) with giving significantly below budget, but thanks be to God, giving is improving throughout the year.