This is a copy of the presentation shared with LFM on Sunday morning, 8th January 2012.
In it we look back at 2011 to acknowledge what God has been doing, and then recognising where we are we look to the future and what our priorities for 2012 are.
2011 has been an amazing year! We began with the words of Exodus 33 v 15-16 as our heart cry:
“Lord, unless your presence goes with us, don’t send us up from here; how will anyone know we are any different unless your presence goes with us?”
12-months ago we shared with LFM “Unlocking Our Potential” – a booklet that outlined what as a leadership we felt God had called us to, clearly defining our mission, vision & values but putting some meat on the bones to explain what this meant in practice.
Looking back, I am so excited and encouraged to see that the first step of what we shared has been happening. We have experienced arguably a 50% growth in the last 12-months, particularly through under 30’s making LFM their home. But we have also made a series of investments:
• Physically in the building, giving it a much brighter, warmer and welcoming feel;
• In ministry, with a new youth work team, expanded 18-30’s work, mission’s policy but particularly in Celebrate Recovery, which has been serving both an internal & external need to help people find true, lasting freedom and new life;
• In people, with a new Church Administrator, developing the staff team, mentoring of future leaders, and creating an environment where people can feel safe, loved and empowered to live the lives God always wanted them to have;
• In pastoral care, with a lot of support for hurting people and almost everyone who has made LFM their home being visited; and
• In strategic, external relationships with other churches, the Police, City Council, NHS, agencies etc.
It has been a really busy year, not without some significant challenges as God has been allowing people’s pain and pasts to come to the surface in order to deal with some deep seated issues. Such holiness is never a comfortable experience, but refining us in order to give us a firm foundation for the future is part of the reality of walking by faith, and living with God.
What really excites me is to know I am part of something that God is doing that is very, very real. And it feels like God has been laying foundations and opportunities for the future; to quote a certain band: “the future’s so bright, we gotta wear shades.”
I am particularly excited by the strategic relationships being built, especially with the police. Recognising that Celebrate Recovery is both an internal, pastoral resource/tool it is also an opportunity to serve our city, and it would seem that our pastoral care has now become our external outreach – perhaps how it always should have been? In a city in England in 2012, where the social challenges are no different to the rest of the UK, off the back of Celebrate Recovery it would seem to be that as we care for people within the church who are hurting, the city is saying “Will you do that for us too?”
Opportunities are developing for us to become a real recovery community, supporting people in a number of different ways in recovery from hurts, habits and hang-ups of all kinds, developing bridges for people from the community to connect with us through: J2R, Addaction, RLI hospital, the police multi-agency partnerships, rehabilitation of offenders, mental health, youth mentoring and more. As we walk forward exploring these possibilities, I find myself stirred to believe that genuine faith means more than just what we preach; it matters how we live, and how we can build a real loving family, a real community where we can offer more than a fish, rather helping people to learn to fish for themselves.
As 2012 looms, the challenge therefore becomes looking at how we do life together? How do we help people connect? How do we disciple people so that they can know the full transforming power of God at work in their lives?
“Lord; unless your presence goes with us…”