By Donald Lynn Hardaway
One of my favorite maxims from Andy Stanley is, “When your memories exceed your dreams, the end is near.” It is true about life, and it is true about churches. We all appreciate being nostalgic occasionally. Looking back at childhood days, when life was simpler and responsibilities were not requiring so much of our attention, can evoke feelings of goodness and happiness which easily evade us in these days of spread-thin attention. It is often the power of nostalgia, and the fear of losing those feelings associated with past provisions from God, which causes us to resist making changes that may lead to uncertain, and less happy, outcomes.
Thinking about the past is not unhealthy, but choosing to stay there can lead a church to an irrelevant disconnect with the people we are called to reach.
Instead, God calls us to consider the future in His presence, let go of the now ineffective ways and methods of the past, discover His plans for our congregation and obey Him in keeping His command to go “to every generation.” (Matthew 28:20)
Moses, in his messages to Israel, often carried them back in their memories to the dark and demanding days of Egyptian bondage, reminded them of the unimaginable favor showered upon them by Jehovah in His incredible judgment on Egypt and deliverance through the raging Red Sea. He brought to mind the miraculous manna, the wonderful water, and the Shekinah glory resting above the tabernacle. But he knew better than to leave them basking in past glories; he visually crafted a clear and desirable future for them in the Land of Promise. He passionately desired for Israel to live as a healthy nation in a place yet to be acquired, and his words and visual imagery stirred the entire nation to commit to remember God’s power in the past and believe in His favor for the future.
The staff of The Bridge Network of Churches is thankful and humbled by your faithful generosity in 2016; our income from churches has increased by 6% over 2015. We appreciate your trust in the past and remain committed to connecting people, cultivating leaders and coaching churches in the future. We value the past, and share those good memories with you; we also embrace the future, together with you, confident God has greater things ahead for the Network. Let’s dream together of what God can accomplish through a Network focused on strengthening local churches!