It is the time of year when many people make New Years resolutions.
“ I am going to exercise every day.”
“ I will write thank you notes.”
“I will reconnect with old friends.”
“ I will give away more than I buy.”
You’ve heard them. You’ve made them. New Year’s resolutions tend to be individualistic—about personal improvement. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
But have you ever thought about making congregational New Years resolutions? In a sense, that’s what annual meetings are at their best. They are an opportunity for a congregation to decide together how they want to make a difference in the world, how they want to share God’s love, how they will live out what God has in mind for them.
What might God have in mind for your congregation this next year beyond making budget, fining enough volunteers and paying the staff? What might your congregation do to stretch beyond itself, to reach more people, to serve neighbors who are in need, to deepen members’ faith and witness?
Might yours be the congregation that starts an after school program that keeps neighborhood kids safe? Might yours be the congregation that starts a new adult Bible study in the café in town? Might you partner with another congregation in a different part of the Synod to learn more about their ministry context and challenges?
Perhaps your congregation would like to sponsor a missionary or Young Adult in Global Mission. Or maybe you’ll set a goal for World Hunger that is a stretch. Or maybe you’ll volunteer to help make the Synod House a reality.
Maybe in this next year you will decide to become more involved in the Synod as a congregation, sending voting members and guests to the Synod Assembly and Theological Conference, distributing the Synod News of the Week to the whole congregation. Or maybe you will take on an issue like human trafficking, or childhood hunger, and work with other groups to make a difference.
Whatever you decide to do as a congregation, don’t waste the opportunity of your annual meeting to make your congregational New Years resolution and to make a real difference in the coming year.
As we do to use to celebrate Jesus’ birth, we also remember that he didn’t come just for us, he came for all of creation. And he didn’t set up the church just for us, but for the world. The world that God made, that God so dearly loves, needs the church. That means us. This year.
Jessica Crist, Bishop
Bishop Jessica Crist
Bishop of the Montana Synod of the ELCA