Our service was structured differently today. Rather than the usual format, we had different people from the congregation share different Biblical principles with hymns and prayers woven throughout.
JoAnn Winship shared with us Biblical Principle # 1: Moving forward into God's future begins with redemptive theology, repentance and prayer, rather than structures, strategies or systems. In Psalm 139:23-24 the psalmist begs God to search his heart and test his thoughts, show in what ways he has offended God and others, and lead him in the right path.
We prayed a prayer together for forgiveness and asked for God's help, grace and mercy. Following that, we sang a Fanny Crosby hymn, "I Am Thine O Lord." Incidentally, when I got home, I found my hymnbook on my kitchen counter open to the same hymn, and I enjoyed singing it again. "....but I long to rise in the arms of faith, and be closer drawn to Thee... Draw me nearer blessed Lord to Thy precious bleeding side."
Biblical Principle #2 was presented by Pam Johnson. Every church is in constant state of renewal, regardless of its current state of health. Isaiah 43:19 admonishes us to not dwell on the past, but to see the new things that God is doing today.
We then prayed together for eyes to see and ears to hear what God is doing, and to allow what breaks God's heart to break ours as well. As a continuation of that prayer, we sang "Open the eyes of my heart Lord, I want to see You." A couple of people then gave thanks for our pastor, and for this body of people who support one another.
The 3rd Biblical Principle given was that to move forward a church must be centered in the mission and the message that flows from the heart of Jesus, rather than just trying to do something, so as to keep from declining. Leonard Armstrong read from John 4:34-35, where Jesus said his food was to do the will of God. Leonard commented that rather than taking energy from us, doing God's work is a source of fuel for us. We prayed for courage to move out beyond the boxes that we live in, and to be salt and light to those in our community who do not have enough.
Nancy Vanderscheuren then shared with us the 4th Biblical Principle, that a church must invest in and take responsibility for joining with God in moving forward. Romans 12:1-2 tells us to present ourselves as a sacrifice to God. Nancy said that when we sacrifice the things that we love, we show that we love God more. We prayed together the well known and loved prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, "Lord make me an instrument of Thy peace..." We then sang a familiar song from childhood, "This Little light of Mine." Pastor Brad then suggested that we each ask God to confirm the best avenue of service for us, and to replenish our souls. Prayers were then given for various people who lead and serve in the church.
So what's the plan? WE are the plan!