“And he said to them all, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23
When missionary Dr. David Livingstone was working in Africa, a group of friends wrote him: "We would like to send other men to you. Have you found a good road into your area yet?" Dr. Livingstone sent this message in reply: "If you have men who will only come if they know there is a good road, I don't want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all."
There’s a big difference between just being interested in doing something and actually making a commitment to doing it! Just being interested allows us the freedom do a thing only when our circumstances permit. But making a commitment to do that thing means accepting no excuses and no reservations — it means putting aside our fears and reservations and moving forward until we see the end result! Dr. Livingstone was looking for results, and this required people of commitment!
The gift of God is the journey – through blessings and breakings – the gift and holiness of life. That is growth. Even failures in that context in the growth of a church are life giving. Such an orientation forces us as a Church outward. It forces us to serve by going deep. That is tough terrain yet in doing that, I think we begin to speak the language, one to another, that is the heritage of Christianity, a heritage not of exclusion but of inclusion, a heritage of life lived for others, a heritage of care for the spirit, a heritage of love and wisdom realized in our lives in partnership with the Gospel message. In that place, we will find the soul of who we are called to be in partnership with a loving God.
I challenge each of you reading this article to take a next step of faith as we seek to grow into our calling to reach the potential as a strong and flourishing church reaching our community with the love of Jesus Christ. The expression of your commitment during this season may be to not miss worship for a month, start attending a small group ministry regularly, serve as a mentor for a young person in our youth group, help lead a Bible study, start tithing, pray daily, consistently read Scripture, or by serving God in the church through your gifts. I don’t know exactly how you will express your commitment, but in taking one step forward in your faith you will begin to enjoy the blessings of spiritual growth and fulfillment like never before.
At our last Next Steps event, all who attended were challenged to take a step of faith and make a commitment to do something greater for God and themselves. In response, people continue to express that they are ready to join the church and see what God has in store for them through FUMC. Please be in prayer for all of those who will come forward on Sunday during our worship services (those who attended Next Steps as well as those who have attended FUMC and have yet to make that commitment) and stake their place in our church through their prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness. May God be glorified in all of our steps of faith in the future!