5 Things For 2016

By Matt Sapp

By Matt Sapp

At the beginning of 2015 I outlined 5 goals that I hoped would guide our work together over the course of the year. And in last Sunday’s message I reflected on those goals (we did a pretty good job) and introduced some new goals for 2016.

So that you can see it in writing, here are the 5 things I hope we’ll accomplish together in 2016.

1.   Implement the first stage of the Strategic Plan

Since you approved our plan in September we’ve been hard at work to begin implementing what you’ve authorized us to do. You might not see it yet, but we’re on target to have much of that work completed by Easter of this year. This work is designed to better position us for outreach and evangelism in this community. And it is work that will allow us to better communicate a clarified identity and a honed purpose—two of our goals from last year.

There are only 80 days between now and Easter. That means you’ll start to see a lot of things happen very quickly. I want you to be prepared for that so you’ll hear me talking about it a lot between now and then.

2.   Agree upon a second phase of development through the strategic planning process

We’ve already agreed to begin looking at preliminary plans for physical improvements to our buildings. In 2016, I hope we’ll be able to take the next steps in approving worship space updates, audio/visual improvements, and an overall physical plan for our property that aims to facilitate growth.

This spring we’ll be prepared to begin sharing some specific proposals with you, but you can join me today in praying that God will bless our efforts as work to make our worship spaces more inviting and welcoming to people who will find God in them.  

3.    Expand discipleship opportunities

That means, very simply, if you’re not in a Bible study group right now, I want you to find one. In 2016, I’d like to grow our discipleship group participation by 50%. To do that, we’ll work to expand your opportunities to participate in Bible study groups. These groups provide support and friendship and accountability; they lead all of us toward regular engagement with scripture; and participation in them ultimately leads each of us to become more like Christ. 

God's desire is for each of us to become more like him. And God’s intent is that we do it together. That’s what groups are for. We’ll explore and introduce new ways to get you connected to a group as the year goes on. 2016 needs to be a year of expanded discipleship opportunities for you and for our church.

4.   Integrate technology more completely into what our church does 

Technology is a ministry multiplier. Properly used and exploited technology can multiply our effectiveness, our impact and our reach. Here are several specific ways I hope we’ll improve our use of technology.

-Improve our sound capabilities in worship
-Build stronger engagement with social media
-Deliver better electronic communication to your inbox
-Make online giving an option for all of our members
-Develop stronger video capabilities
-Increase website engagement

The way people use and engage technology changes every day. We have to be prepared to change with it. I want 2016 to be a year where we focus on more complete integration of technology into what our church does.

5. Improve our systems for pastoral care

Every church should put this on their list every year, but I want this to be a special emphasis for us in 2016. How do we better care for our members who need it? How do we better communicate and demonstrate the love of Christ to members of our community who are hurting? How do we better serve families with teenagers and children? How do we better serve those who are sick? How do we provide better, more consistent care for our homebound members and the elderly?

Our deacons don’t know it yet, but I’m going to challenge them to help lead in this task this year. We want HERITAGE to be the kind of church where everyone says at the end of the year, “No church has ever cared for me like HERITAGE cared for me in 2016.”

That is, after all, what it means to be more like Christ. And that’s what it means for our world to look more like God’s kingdom--Christians caring for each other as God cares for us.

Those are our five goals for 2016. They will guide my efforts as I seek to be your pastor and God’s servant in the coming year. I hope you’re willing to pray for them, internalize them and adopt them as your own as we work together to achieve God’s purposes in 2016.

Last year, after I shared my five goals for 2015, I said,  

“I’ve been praying for 2015 at HERITAGE. I know some of you have been, too. My prayers lead me to believe that if we do these 5 “nuts and bolts” kinds of things well, we can trust God to do the big stuff of life change and community transformation even better—in 2015 and into the future.”

I would say the same thing for 2016. In the end, the nuts and bolts are what we’re best at. The big stuff is what God’s best at. So if we keep plugging away at the nuts and bolts, I believe God will change us to become more like Christ and change our community to look more like God’s kingdom.

Bill Gates says, “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” I think that’s true. As Christians, I also think we tend to overestimate what we can do and underestimate what God can do.

If 2015 was a year of preparation, then 2016 needs to be a year of action. This year, let’s trust our preparation and refuse to underestimate what God can do through us this year and in the years to come.

See you Sunday.