I wrote this for whillschurch.org and originally appeared there.
Yesterday, after all the speeches, posturing, debates, and ads – people got out of their normal routine and went to a neighborhood church or school and cast their ballot. Many of them then spent the next few hours watching TV to see if their candidate won. Some went to bed happy, others didn’t.
What is tragic about today is that for most of these people – that will be the end of it. They will pat themselves on the back for doing their civic duty and they will spend the next four years either complaining bitterly or arguing for patience with the system. For many Americans, their responsibility to make this nation great begins and ends with their vote. After that – it’s now in the elected officials’ hands to make “it” happen.
I know of people who treat church that way as well. They show up, have a business meeting, argue, vote, and then the staff and leadership are expected to pull it all off while both detractors and “yes men” sit on the sideline making a lot of noise. It doesn’t work in politics. It doesn’t work in church either. This kind of mentality will not make our nation great nor will it make our churches great either.
We are pretty fortunate at Western Hills. We don’t function that way. Why am I bringing this up, anyway? Because we are closing in on our Annual Meeting (Sunday night, December 2nd, 6 pm) and once again we are in a place where we saw God do some awesome things in 2012 and He is setting the stage for more in 2013.
But it won’t just happen because we hold an Annual Meeting and vote on it.
We know this already. In 2012, we went from helping 25 families with our BackSnacks to 55. That’s a weekly backpack full of food for one kid who is living at or under the poverty line. We sent more students on mission trips this year. We have given more money away to those in need this year. We have supported more missionaries. We’ve given away more scholarships to Upward. We saw more people in LIFEGroups (150 vs. 100). We have started a new partnership with “The Bridge.” These things do not just happen because we showed up and voted on a budget.
All of that is good.
It’s because of that track record, I am challenging us with a few things for 2013.
1 in 47 kids in the Shawnee County area lives in poverty. That’s ridiculous. Thousands of kids go home from school on a Friday and don’t eat again until Monday when they come to school. This should not happen. But it does. And I want us to continue to stand in the gap for these kids.
BackSnacks does something more than just provide food. It builds a relationship between that school and us – the church. It gives us an arena to Serve All, with no strings attached. Just being the hands and feet of Jesus in a place where He is desperately needed.
I want to see 100 BackSnacks coming out of this building every week. To pull that off, we are going to need more transformed people who Serve All.
The best arena to develop transformed people? Our LIFEGroups. This is where we make disciples who Love God, Live Connected, and Serve All. Right now – most of our LIFEGroups are too full. We don’t have enough LIFEGroups. Fundamentally, what this means is that we need more LIFEGroup leaders.
Some of you are ready – and just need a gentle nudge (or more than that!) out of the comfort of your current nest. Expect that nudge to come soon! Some of you are not ready but you could be. You will see a more focused effort this coming year with our Equipping Classes and mentoring relationships to get you ready.
The School District, USD 437, has purchased the land right across the street from us to put another high school within the next few years. WHAT AN INCREDIBLE OPPORTUNITY THIS IS FOR US!! Do you know how many churches would DIE for this kind of access??
However, in order for us to be ready to take advantage of this, WE MUST START PREPARING NOW!
What does that mean?
Pastor of Student Ministries
With the fact of a new high school coming – that we have a ton of younger children who will be hitting the 5th-6th grade years soon, then on to middle school over the next couple of years. AND that we already have a core group of student leaders who have been to Brazil, Amsterdam, Japan, and are leading their own small groups – this is one of the next steps for us.
The Search Team is in full swing looking for someone who can develop adults AND students who Love God, Live Connected, and Serve All. Financially, this will add to our budget for 2013 but it is an investment in the Kingdom.
Building/Gym/Facelift for Beyond 2013
I struggled with what to call this section. I’m open to suggestions. The bottom line is this – there is good news and not-so-good news.
The good news – we have 28 acres and two incredible buildings that are paid for, we have no debt. We have space to provide parks, ballfields, parking, alternative/safe place, after school mentoring programs – you name it – we’ve got the space to do it.
The not-so-good news – our buildings are starting to show some of the mileage we’ve put on them. We will need some technology and equipment updates over the next few years to be ready for this.
The wise man counts the cost and prepares accordingly. We started that process with Fowler, Inc this year, bringing their organization in to do an assessment of what we will need and what that will cost. It includes transforming the gym into Worship Center South for Sundays, then back to a gym for Monday thru Saturday. It will mean digital signage through out the building as well as other infrastructure improvements. It was an enlightening process to say the least.
For 2013, we (Council and staff) have decided ‘People over projects’ meaning – we build LIFEGroup leaders, we hire our student pastor, we invest this year in making disciples who make other disciples who Love God, Live Connected, and Serve All. That MUST happen before and beyond any PROJECT of capital improvement.
We must continue with some capital improvements – that’s just being a good steward of what God has already provided for us. We must plan to be better stewards in the future with improvements, updates, and advancements. But we must also ALWAYS be developing people who Love, Live, and Serve. We must ALWAYS have a focus that we do what we do for those who do not know Jesus…YET.
Again — more details will follow, especially on December 2nd. But for now – this was on my heart this morning as our country moves forward. Fortunately for the church, the mission stays the same regardless of who is in office.
Make disciples of all people who Love God, Live Connected, and Serve All.