“Enlarge the place of your tent,
and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out;
do not hold back; lengthen your cords
and strengthen your stakes.
As I was praying into 2017, God put Isaiah 54:2 into my heart. And this verse is always really exciting because it talks about enlargement, of growth! And who doesn’t like growth?! Yet there was a slight caution that came with that passage. In verse 3 in the NLT says, “For you will SOON be bursting at the seams…”, which again is something that always excites us! Yet a closer look at the context of this “soon” shows that the fulfilment of this prophecy for the Israelites took at the very least 70 years.
This helped me to see that as a church our goal should not so much be placed in results, especially results we have zero control over. Rather, our goal is in the preparation. If God is showing that the growth will come at some point, then we need to be prepared for that growth!
For us in 2017, we want to get stronger so as to be prepared for what God has in store for us, no matter when that happens. There are 3 main areas we are focusing on, as seen in Is 54:2.
1. Bigger Hearts - “Enlarge the place of your tent”.
More important than any physical space, I believe is the space in our hearts for people. If we are to see more people be a part of our family, we need to have hearts that welcome them in. This can mean different things for different people in our church family. For some it means being ready to get to know more people, to go beyond our comfortable friendship circles in order to help others find family with us, the same way that each of us did at the start.
For others it means growing our teams, to train and equip others even though it might be easier to stay with the current teams that are already functioning so well. The thing is that we are functioning well now, but we need to be looking ahead and preparing for what is coming, not what currently is.
What is your “bigger heart” challenge for 2017?
2. Further Reach - “lengthen your cords”.
A larger tent needs a further reach to be stable. Personally this area excites me greatly because it feels like a release from God to start dreaming outside what we currently are involved in. When we started Lift Church, Bec and I were very careful not to overstretch ourselves and kept what Lift did to 3 main areas, our Sunday Experience, Lift Kids and Lift Groups. But in 2017 we are going to start looking at reaching further into our community.
We have already started laying the foundation to launch our youth group in Term 2, and we are also beginning to look into more partnerships with other organisations in our Town that are doing a fantastic job. Stay tuned because I’m believing for great opportunities to come our way in 2017!
If you feel like God has placed a passion in you to make a difference somehow, why not let Bec and I know about it. We’ll see whether we can create a further reach into our community with your passion.
3. Deeper Roots - “strengthen your stakes”.
With a bigger tent and longer cords, the stakes need to be suitably deep to hold the structure together. We are excited to see how God takes us deeper in our understanding of who He is, and the Bible. As always, our Lift Groups are key in this. Make sure you are a part of a Lift Group in 2017!
With bigger hearts, further reach and deeper roots, we believe that we are going to be stronger in 2017. We are so excited to be on this journey with you! To a #stronger17!