A couple of weeks ago in the bulletin we looked at the question, "What is our greatest challenge?" The answer to that question is that our greatest challenge is ourselves. If we can overcome our own personal fears, setbacks, difficulties, and problems, then we can go forward to become a better Christian in service to our Lord (Phillippians 3:13, 14). We also have challenges of a more corporate nature--that is challenges that are presented not to us individually, but to the body of Christ. We cannot meet these challenges unless individually we have decided to do everything that we can possibly do to support the work of Christ's body, the church. Once we have resolved to do this, then the work of the church will go forward.
Several months ago, as many of you know, the elders and deacons met together to discuss the budget for this upcoming year, the year 2003. And over the past several months, they have been working on this. This morning, they will be presenting this budget to the congregation during our Bible class hour. Although I, personally, have not been involved in this process, I am encouraged by several things. First, the eldership has a desire to place a budget before the congregation that will challenge us as a congregation. Second, the eldership has a desire to place a budget before us that will stimulate our work. Third, the eldership has a desire to place a budget before the church that will be more future oriented. Each of these items is something that we, as individuals, should be concerned about doing in our own personal life as Christians. As a church, we also should be concerned about each of these areas.
First, it is important for us to be challenged as a congregation. For an individual to face no challenges in his life is for that individual to wither up and waste away. We recognize that in order for children to grow and learn we must challenge them both physically and mentally. The butterfly that is helped out of its cocoon will never fly. The chick that is helped out of its shell will be weak and sickly. Challenge is essential for growth and health. For a church never to be challenged, but simply to remain in the doldrums of the status quo is for a church to come undone. It is essential for us as a congregation to be challenged.
Second, it is important for us to be stimulated in our work. The church has work to do and we must be involved in getting it done. Unfortunately, sometimes that work can stagnate and go undone. The eldership has a responsibility to the congregation to ensure that this does not happen. Part of their efforts in this regard involves making the necessary changes for the congregation to spur them on toward continued efforts for the Lord. The stagnate pool will develop algae and moss and eventually choke out all life. Stagnation is not for the Lord's body. As opposed to a lifeless bog, we need to be like a running river. Rivers sometimes have slower places, but there is always a current to keep things going.
Third, it is important that we look toward the future. The past should not dictate our activities. I want to be clear that I am not talking about the worship of the church or her organization or mission, but her work in matters of expediency. There are more expedient ways to accomplish the Lord's work today than in the past. Some of this is made possible through new technology. (I don't think I could happily go back to using a typewriter to compose my sermons.) Some of it is possible through the better education of our membership (when you have CPAs in the church, use them!). The Lord's church should embrace these things and find better ways to accomplish her mission.
It is indeed an exciting time for us as members of the Lord's church. We have the opportunity to do much good in the kingdom of God. As the eldership sets before us a plan of work, let us resolve to support their decisions. Let us resolve to engage in the work that they set before us. Let us resolve not to be hindrances and roadblocks to the work of the church here in Berryville, but let us resolve to help in whatever way that we can toward the accomplishing of much good in the Lord's service. We are workers together with Christ (2 Corinthians 6:1).