First Thought in the New Year


It’s 2018 and the year begins. Well, for most pastors it is a mixed bag of beginning and continuing. While the fiscal year is based on the calendar in most churches, the program year really begins at the end of summer. So in many ways, you are in the middle of the year. The good news is that you begin a new budget year and hopefully people’s generosity at the end of the year brought some pleasant surprises. The challenging news is that you have just finished the exhausting Advent-Christmas season and you only have 7 weeks before Ash Wednesday begins the Lent-Easter season.



Before you get bogged down in the details of planning, take a day and do a little dreaming. Find someone else’ church library, take your laptop or notepad but do not open email or any of the other distracting sights on the internet. Take an hour to pray about your church. Perhaps take a church directory and begin by praying about the individuals in your church. Move from there to pray about the congregation as a whole.



Now step back from the specifics of your individual congregation and begin to think theologically about the Lent-Easter season. Either on paper or on your computer, try to list some of the significant theological issues that are addressed during this season. Once you have five or six theological issues identified, begin to jot notes about the implications if your congregation were addressed by the truth and challenge of these issues. Don’t worry about the order of events. If you are first drawn to the cross and later to the temptation story, or the last supper, just allow your thoughts to flow.



Play with the possibilities for your congregation being grasped by the truth of various aspects of this season. Don’t worry about the details now, but simply allow your imagination to dream about the ideal faith journey for your congregation through this season.


After dreaming and praying for several hours, go get a cup of coffee and feel the energy of having stepped outside the demands and breathing in the spirit.

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