"If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do"
Psalm 11:3 (ESV)
Much as been said and written about 2016. It seems as if there is an agreed upon narrative that 2016 was a year of unrest and loss and very few seemed to lament turning the page on the calendar to 2017.
As a pastor of a new work that began in 2016 I have a bit of a different perspective. Yes it was a hard year in many ways. There has never been a time where I have been driven to my knees like I was in 2016. From the things going on in the world, our country to the more personal arenas of life, ministry and family to the hunger of seeing Christ be all and in all as we began Redeemer Fellowship; all of these things had the similar results. I was driven to prayerfulness and realizing my true desperation for Jesus and the leading of His Spirit. In challenging times and times of rejoicing and everywhere in between. Something was ignited in my soul to more fully realize my utter dependency on Christ. That seems to be exactly were Jesus would want me and want us as a body, so perhaps though 2016 was not always comfortable, it may have been quite profitable. As the saying goes, "God is more interested in our holiness than our comfortability".
That was a message that I got loud and clear in 2016.
Starting a new year off: the right way
As we begin this year, we are beginning a new series that we really want EVERY person who calls Redeemer Fellowship their home to be reading as well. Most of the installments will be short and pertaining to one foundational aspect of who we are as a church. The idea behind this comes from Hebrews 2:1, 'the idea of paying close attention to the things you've already heard lest you drift away' and the verse quoted at the top of the page from Psalm 11:3, 'if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?'
Both verses speak to the need of having a strong, established foundation of truth to be able to constantly go back to as a compass so we do not meander without direction.
As we have approached the new year, and have laid out our goals for the new year, few of them pertain to beginning new things. Most of them are more of the direction of, "How do we make sure that we are all building on the same foundation, that it is a healthy foundation, and how do we get all of us on the same page for that foundation?". As we ask those questions the questions are not "how can we do more things" but instead, "how can we do a few things REALLY WELL and build off of those to create a healthy culture for future ministry?". Which further begs the questions of, "What are the things that we should see as foundational?"
The other big question we are asking as elders is, "As we begin laying out the foundational building blocks for the church, how do we get the information out to everybody and make sure we are on the same page". So, for the purposes of this blog, I am going to answer those few questions and rather than sharing a foundational piece, instead do some architectural work to lay a solid foundation for laying a solid foundation. When a house is built, they do not just start pouring the masonry. They first draw up a plan to see how to effectively pour the foundation so that it will remain a solid structure to build upon for years to come. That is the purpose of today's installment and in the days and weeks to come, we will begin building the trellis to hang our vine work on.
What are the foundational pieces? These should be big categories. Categories that almost every church should be able to hold to. They should not be the kinds of things that are unique to a specific vision or a specific culture. They are the kinds of things that we should be able to look to God's Word and say, "These are mission critical in the life of any healthy, Christian church". Each writing from here on out will deal with (1) ONE of these and that will be quite enough because these are big topics.
Foundational pieces are the kinds of things that you never, ever move on or budge.
If you think of the foundation of a building, it does not shift its foundation every couple of years. No. The building may change shape and have additions, and these are often good things but they are aided in their ability to do so from the strength of a solid foundation. The changes that are made in a structure are built up on the foundation, they do not undermine the foundation.
How do we make sure that we are building on the correct foundation- Each of these pieces, to be called foundational, should have clear, biblical truths that they are founded upon, and we should be able to give an account for the priority Scripture places on each area if we are going to call it a priority.
As we begin laying out the foundational building blocks, how do we get the information out to the whole body to make sure that we remain on the same page? That is the entire purpose of this blog series. In the weeks to come we will be heavily engaged in what we are calling an "Air war and ground war".
What we mean by that is that we will be writing blogs, sharing our organizational documents and position papers, giving sermons about our core identities, mission and vision as a church, and sharing various things through our community groups and other outlets. Our goal is to have all written communication, technology systems, social media and more formal times of preaching, teaching, upcoming family meeting and community to all be sharing these foundational truths so that they are being reinforced and "taught and caught"
Why are we doing this? It is very simple really. We had so much explosive growth and ministry in 2016 that it would be simple to just ride the wave of that. That can work great. Until the wave stops. Then churches faces the crises of, "Where there is no vision the people perish" (Proverbs 28:19).
As elders, we have been doing more work behind the scenes than anyone could ever know and we are ready to begin sharing that work. This work has been exhilarating and a true labor of love. But we've all come back to the same question, "This stuff is great and our people will be really excited about it, so how do we get it in everyone's hands so that all people who want to be in-the-know are able to?".
That's where you come in. Please help us. Please read along with the series. We will be posting them online, facebook, Twitter, printing the teachings out, starting a webpage dedicated to foundational documents and audio/video teachings on our foundations, talking about it on Sundays, and printing off written copies and copies of sermons for those who desire to follow along that way. We will present more than enough opportunities to 'be in the know' we just ask that you assist us and remain prayerful and interested, because we need everybody and each person's gifts to build the Christ-centered, mission-minded, authentic Gospel community that we know that Jesus is asking us to build.
Next installment- "Foundations: Gospel Intentionality"