I love the concept of newness in the New Testament, don’t you? It rings with such hope, power, and life. Part of my love for newness is how I’m wired – I love the mornings and I dislike the night. I love the freshness of a new day with new grace. On the other hand, I love newness because of passages like these:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lam 3:22-23)
19 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh (Ezek 11:19-20)
My title for Sunday’s message is “It’s a New Day!” We’ll be doing two things: 1) Walking through Matthew 9:9-17 – the story of the new wineskins, and 2) Talking about where College Park Church is headed in 2010. It is what we’ve come to call Vision Sunday. It is an opportunity to celebrate what God is doing and to look forward to what we are asking him to do in the next year.
The main thought for the message is this: Jesus brings a new kind of new. The newness that Jesus brings involves new people (like Matthew, a tax collector) and new ministry (like new wine in new wineskins).
There’s been a lot of “new” at College Park in the last year. Here are a few examples:
· From January-November, we had an average attendance increase of almost 700 people!
· Over the last 18 months there are 1,000 more people coming to College Park.
· We’ve had 500 newcomers come to our Let’s Eat and Fellowship Night
· Our “20 Somethings” Class has exploded from 45 in 2008 to over 100 in 2009.
· We have 252 new members join the church in 2009
· We invested over $425,000 into the Brookside neighborhood, launching 10 new ministry initiatives
And we’ve got more to do. On Sunday I’ll identify our top three priorities for 2010. Here they are:
EXALTING CHRIST: Effectively implement our growth strategy, addressing our pressing facility needs in a comprehensive way
EXPERIENCING COMMUNITY: Increase our small group participation percentage and effectiveness in ministering together
EMBRACING A CALLING: Develop a ministry-wide focus on leadership development
You could think of our goals for next year in three words: Broader, Deeper, Together.
We’ve seen the Lord pour out his grace upon us in 2009 with more opportunity for ministry than we’ve ever had. We’ve discovered ways to ministry to more people (3,300 last Sunday), more effectively while using the same facility and resources. We’ve worked hard to make that happen. And the Lord has blessed our efforts.
More for more sake can be idol. But more for the glory of God and the good of the church is a target worth shooting for and a passion worth pursuing. There is a viral movement among our people; it is a gift from God, and we must be good stewards of it. This Sunday is all about humble gratitude for what God has done, and a heart-felt plea to see what could be next for our church.
A great example of this is what happened last Sunday. I was talking with two guys after one of our services about a counseling matter. I spent about 10 minutes walking them through a biblical perspective on the issues that they were trying to deal with. At the end of the conversation, one of the guys said, “Thanks, Mark. By the way, is there anyone here who could meet with my friend? He’d like to talk with someone about receiving Jesus today.” I laughed with joy! That kind of thing is common here, and we should never take it for granted.
On another note, I’m heading to a conference next week on Renewal and Revival. It is a national gather of pastors and ministry leaders who have a common vision and burden (www.heart-cryforrevival.com)I’m doing a workshop at the conference called “When Pastor’s Pray…Together: The Beauty and Boundaries of a City-wide Prayer Movement.”
While I’m there I’d like to experiment with something. I’m going to use a blog (www.ignitingapassion.blogspot.com) to blog the conference and what I’m thinking. We’ll see how it works, but I thought you might be interested in following what I’m learning. We’re considering adding some kind of blog to the website, so I’m practicing and experimenting. You get to be the guinea pigs!
I’ll leave you with a great quote I found this week while studying. It captures what is on my heart today for me and our church:
“Take me captive, Lord, and I shall be free!”