I am often amazed by the ways in which God works. Even though I probably shouldn't be, I am regularly surprised by the ways in which God has orchestrated circumstances, relationships, opportunities and all areas of my life to achieve his purposes. Sometimes it feels like he has been leading me in a really obvious direction but its not until I’ve nearly arrived that I begin to realise where he is taking me. And then, of course, I get the chance to rejoice as I recognise his goodness right throughout the journey up to that point.
It feels like we, as a church, are in a similar situation right now. Recently the Purpose Pastors spent a few days away together praying and planning for the future. We were trying to seek God’s mind and heart for us as a church and as we did so we had what I can only describe as a ‘God moment’. Having stepped back from the day to day pressures of ministry we were probably for the first time, able to see with clarity what God has been building among us and what we believe God is calling us to pursue as we move forward.
It was a hugely encouraging time as we began to recognise and give thanks for what God has already done among us, for the ways he has been shaping our hearts. And I think we all had trouble sleeping that night as we begun to dream about what the future would hold if we boldly, prayerfully and sacrificially pursued the vision that God was laying before us.
God has been bringing new people to join our community, calling people to follow him, we’ve seen people place their trust in Jesus and be baptised. We’ve seen guests among us every week in our services, new ministries and new opportunities to share God’s love with our community, imagine what could be next!
As a result of our time away we have begun the process of crafting a new vision statement for St Paul’s. An explicit goal and something to measure ourselves by. A statement that would answer the question ‘What are we trying to achieve?’ It’s the bit after our purpose statement, which in case you’ve forgotten is:
St Paul’s exists to know Jesus, treasure Jesus and represent Jesus for God’s glory and the joy of all people.
Our vision statement begins with the word ‘therefore’, as a result of our reason for existing we hope to achieve something, and that something is what we believe God has been clarifying for us over the last few months.
During this year’s Vision Series we will unveil this statement which has been worked on by staff, parish council and several key volunteers. This Vision Series will be our opportunity as a whole church to grab hold of that vision and own it. An opportunity for us to realign all that we do as a church so that we can be single minded in our commitment to achieving what God is putting in front of us.
This year we will begin our Vision Series in a reoriented church! Our 9.30 congregation has been bursting at the seams this year and in order to create space for more growth we will be turning the church sideways internally, which will create upwards of 80 extra seats! But not only that, it will also enable us to deliver better clarity of amplified sound, better sight lines for those with hearing difficulties and a more connected experience of corporate worship for all present.
Please be praying for the team who will be making the reorientation happen in time for Vision Series to start.
Our Vision Series will begin on Sunday 30th October and run for four Sundays, all of them will be exciting and there will be a lot of important information for the year ahead. We will kick off the series at our Heartbeat night on Wednesday 26th October. With an opportunity to pray, open God’s word together and begin lifting our eyes to what God is doing through us collectively.
Every year during our Vision Series we take the opportunity to pledge our financial commitment for the following year, this enables our wardens, staff and parish council to utilise the resources we have. please begin prayerfully considering what it will look like for you to be radically generous with your regular giving in 2017 and also to consider how you might contribute to our annual project (more details on this coming soon).
The other really important part of Vision Series is the opportunity to sign up to serve. We believe God has equipped all his people with gifts and abilities that are designed to be used for the building up of His kingdom. We are really keen to help you figure out how God has gifted you and where you might best use that gift to bless as many people as possible.
I believe I have one of the best jobs in the world, I love what I do and I love working with people like you. But I can honestly say that I am more excited by what lies in front of us right now than I have ever been about ministry. St Paul’s is a great church and through us God is doing a great work.
Let me encourage you to take time to thank God for what we get to be a part of together. And as we approach our Vision Series this year, ask Him to show you again how you might play your part in what we’re part of.