We have been busy keeping up with the prevailing thoughts for 2021 by respected leaders in church health and, one thing is obvious: no one knows for sure what next year will look like for the churches. Because we have never faced anything like this before, guesswork, assumptions and hunches are the best anyone can offer in helping us plan for the future. So, as leaders in God’s kingdom, all of us are feeling uncertainty at a level that forces us to rely heavily on God’s sovereign and stabilizing grace as we move forward in faith.
Here are four things that are absolutely certain as we leave 2020 (hallelujah!) and step boldly into 2021:
1). The Word of God is still the Word of God!
The Scriptures have endured every disaster, plague and war in history. Hundreds of nations have risen and fallen, political winds have blown left and right, great and not-so-great leaders have come and gone, but God’s Word remains. His promises have brought real hope and truth to discouraged believers in every generation regardless of the false ideologies being promoted by whichever group has held the megaphone. Let’s find the calm strength we need for 2021 by investing time and attention in the Bible.
2). The Spirit of God is still within us!
Anger, frustration, division, factions, hatred, fighting, outbursts of wrath… these are the outflow of hearts living in the darkness of a sin-induced separation from God. This is the best opportunity in our lifetime to show the contrast of a life lived in the Spirit. We cannot overcome these struggles in our own hearts through simple will-power and desire; the energy and ability to offer hungry people the sweet and satisfying fruit of the Spirit comes from God Himself. Let’s not let this world’s darkened logic mold our thoughts and feelings; instead, let’s spend quiet time in His Presence, allowing His life to flow through us.
3). The Wisdom of God is still available to us!
“If any of you lacks wisdom…” Has there ever been a more uncertain time than this to remind us to draw near to God, asking Him to show us how to respond to the loss of strength and vitality our churches have experienced? I think books and blogs and podcasts have their place, but they can never get close to matching the wisdom God shares with us in the throne room. Each church is unique, and God’s wisdom will be different for each congregation. After all, Christ didn’t CC: a single letter to all seven churches in Revelation; He offered distinct instructions to each church.
4). The local Church is still His chosen best method for getting the gospel to the world!
I am a local church man; it is the church He died for, gave His instructions to, established leaders in, and discipled new believers through. He promised the church that He would be with us “till the end of the age;” since He has not returned, we are still living in the purview of that promise. “I will never leave you,” He has sworn. We do not know all that 2021 holds, nor can we see every obstacle we will face, but He does. Let’s stay committed to strengthening the local church, giving our time and energy and resources to see it rise back up triumphantly from this current “knockdown” in the battle. The enemy, once again, will turn away in defeat from his latest attempt to silence and intimidate God’s witness in the world.
Happy (and Grace-filled) New Year!
Dr. Lynn Hardaway