A new year has begun and most of us are off and running. As January ends, 1/12th of the year is over, and the clock continues to tick. What are your dreams for 2023? What are your aspirations? What steps are you taking to make them become a reality?
As we enter into 2023, things feel a bit different than they have in nearly three years. Whereas life changed dramatically during 2020, it feels like 2023 will provide an opportunity for us to get our feet back underneath us again, and maybe even to begin to dream a little bit again. With that in mind, what are you dreaming about?
I was listening to a podcast several months ago, and the speaker made the statement that if your organization (church) had been planning something in 2019 that was put on hold in 2020 due to Covid, it would likely be a mistake to pick right back up, post-Covid, and implement your plans in the same way you had intended to before Covid struck. Why? Because the world has changed dramatically in the past three years. Today we are living under a “new normal.” Life is different.
We see it in our churches. We see it in the economy. We see it the way we do business. So much has changed. So, what now? Where do we go from here?
This past summer at Ministry Conference our theme verse came from Philippians 3:13-14b, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Isn’t it encouraging to know scripture hasn’t changed? Our calling hasn’t changed. Our mission is still the same. We continue to press on towards the goal to win the prize! So, what does that look like for you in 2023? How are you pursuing the prize this year?
Our Leadership Team at the Ministry Center spent quite a bit of time during the last six months of 2022 asking that question. As I shared with you back in August, Tony and I identified (3) major areas of focus for the foreseeable future:
- Pastoral and Church Health
- Church Planting
Based upon how God has wired, equipped and called us, we believe these are the best things we can offer EFC-MAYM in the days ahead. Having come to that determination, we then spent time with our team fleshing out what that would look like and developing some plans and initiatives in each area.
First, the health of our pastoral families and churches is paramount. In light of this we are in the middle of conducting (5) regional leadership retreats focusing on the topic of personal spiritual, mental and emotional health. At the same time we are continuing to ask the question, “What does a healthy church look like, and how can we facilitate that?” It would not be an exaggeration to say that we have spent days unpacking those questions and are working on some new plans that could significantly impact how we approach this topic.
Second, not only do we have 60 plus churches who partner together under the umbrella of EFC-MAYM to serve our children and youth and send missionaries around the world (among other things), but we have growing connections with our other (5) EFC yearly meetings across North America as well as our two institutions of higher education (Friends University and Barclay College). Those partnerships and growing relationships are of utmost importance as we, together, seek to raise the next generation of Godly leaders and reach the world around us.
Finally, we MUST plant churches. If EFC-MAYM continues to be a vital movement in the heart of America we must plant new life-giving churches in the years ahead. In 2023 our primary goal is to seek out and identify potential church planters who are gifted and sense God’s call to give their lives to reach and bring hope to the increasingly dark world around us. This year our hope is not only to identify potential church planters, but to conduct a church planters retreat in the fall of 2023 for the purpose of praying, dreaming, and equipping those who God is calling into the harvest locally. Is that you? Could it be someone you know? If so, please contact me (Thayne@efcmaym.org) so that we might visit more about God’s calling and plan for you and for the future of EFC-MAYM.
Here’s the deal. The clock is ticking. One of Satan’s greatest tools is distraction. By keeping our minds on other things, and on terms like “tomorrow” rather than “today” he can take our focus off what is most important. So, what does it look like for you to “press on towards the goal” today? What does it look like for your church? There is so much need and so little time. As we begin 2023, let’s commit ourselves to fulfill the purpose for which God has called us. What better cause…what greater reward than the goal and prize our Heavenly Father has in store for us who follow after Him.
May 2023 be the best year ever for you, your local church and EFC-MAYM!
Thayne Thompson, DMin
Lead Superintendent, EFC-MAYM