The end of one chapter is generally the start of another. The end of summer is the beginning of fall. The end of daylight savings time is the start of short afternoons and cold mornings. The end of Thanksgiving marks the beginning of Advent. The end of Advent marks the beginning of Lent which ends with Holy Week and Resurrection Sunday. And so it goes, things and seasons end and new things begin.
I love chapter breaks in books. I don’t know why it is so important to me, but I love to close one chapter and start another. I recently read a book that had chapter breaks every two to five pages. I loved it! I don’t know if I have ever read a book that fast, but it may have been because of the chapter breaks.
What are the chapter breaks in your life? Are you currently coming to the end of a chapter? Are you excited about what the next chapter holds? Is your excitement driven by fear or eager anticipation? Either way, are you prepared for your next chapter?
Each year, the elders and pastors of HarvestDowntown head up to Camp Elim to consider the previous chapter and consider what is necessary to turn the page to a new chapter. This year was no different. We spent time thinking about what we value and why we value what we say we value. We considered the purposes of the church and why we exist. We evaluated those goals that we set in place a year ago, and we compared our accomplishments with our stated objectives. Ultimately, we submitted all of our thoughts, dreams, goals, objectives, and values before God and asked Him to lead, direct, prune, and empower our church body.
Our conclusion: We don’t need to do more, but we need to be more intentional about why and how we go about doing the ministry of the church.
What if, rather than trying to accomplish more, we tried to accomplish the same things with a different purpose in mind? What if, rather than trying to increase our activity, we addressed why we do what we do, and how we go about doing it? Worldview, values, and culture answer most of these questions.
What things does the next chapter of your life hold? What are you hoping to accomplish this next year? What if you spent the end of each chapter of your life aligning your worldview, values, and personal culture with those of Christ and His Kingdom? I believe that most of us are doing the right things, but most of us need to consider why and how we are accomplishing the objectives of our lives.
How are you preparing to turn the chapter on your current situation? Are you submitting your dreams, goals, and objectives to the direction of the Holy Spirit? I am not convinced that Jesus wants us to necessarily add more activity to our lives, but there is certainly room for more intentionality to what we are already doing.
If we were to turn the page on why and how we engage in activities, what would that look like? These are some practical implications of this, but they are not mandates, just ideas of how this shift in motivation could play out in our lives:
· Instead of just reading a book, invite someone else to read the same book and then discuss it
· Instead of eating alone, invite someone to eat with you – maybe your spouse?
· Instead of running alone every day, why not invite someone to run/walk with you?
· Do you like hiking the incline? Invite someone to join you
· You like to be alone, what if you invited someone to practice your value of silence?
· Board games are a great opportunity to engage coworkers, neighbors, family, and friends in conversation
· What if we paused after a movie to discuss the movie with someone else who watched it?
· Going to a sporting event with someone creates space for community and mission
· Instead of sitting by yourself at your kid’s basketball game, sit with another parent and ask about their kid
· Don’t just attend Compass Group because you feel obligated, but see that community as a support group for those trying to live the Christian life and invite your support network to join you
· Instead of engaging in activity because we are busy, ask God to be in our activities, conversations, and choices