Why Do We Need to Focus Over the Next Five Years?
When I was in seminary, I realized I needed glasses. My eyesight wasn’t terrible; in fact, after I started wearing glasses, my vision improved slightly—much to the delight of my optometrist. But each year, I return to the eye doctor expecting that my vision needs to be corrected again.
As much as we hate to admit it, we can lose focus as a church very quickly. We can go in so many different directions at once that what we did last year seems to work pretty well this year. We can forget to check where we’re going and if we have the tools and resources to get there. We’ve also added so many new members to our body, that we just sort of assume they know what we’re doing. The reality is we’re a different group of people than we were just a few years ago. Like a river that continues to flow, you can’t step in the river of living water in the same place twice. Jesus never changes, but our focus on his work does.
The needs of our church continue to change. Only 40% of adults are actively involved in Sunday Morning Bible. Even though we know that we need to study scripture, fewer of us are participating in a group. Our surveys have revealed a sense of disconnection among people. We are friendly, warm, and welcoming; but many of our new members and long standing members lack the friendships necessary to sustain the life of Christ through our church. Our facilities, budget, and membership needs continue to grow. Despite the need for greater growth in giving, our giving to the budget is lower than last year.
Our community needs the gospel of Jesus Christ. Each year, 80,000 college students register in Tallahassee to attend a class to get a better education. Surveys reveal that most of these students do not claim Jesus as Lord. Many of these students and faculty come from countries where the gospel is not proclaimed freely. Tallahassee and Leon County continue to be number 1 in the state of Florida in gun violence incidents. According to a report released in July, we have over 22,000 children in out of home/ foster care in our state. The number of children has now reached the highest level since 2008. Forty percent of homes with children are parented by single parent households, and most children in Leon County ages 15-19 have only one parent in the home. Our marriages need strengthening so that husbands and wives who have committed to each other for life and those considering marriage can have resources and models to follow in this calling under Jesus Christ.
The opportunities are now in front of us like never before. We are positioned strategically downtown to be at the intersection of the world. The needs are literally at our doorstep to reach college students, internationals, households, and our city. Just as God has used this church to be a part of the work of the Shelter, the Florida Baptist Children’s Home, and Alumni Village, so God can use us over these next five years. Over the past several years at our church, we have purchased an airplane to send to missionaries in Brazil, commissioned missionaries to India and Brazil, and sustained work in Haiti. We certainly can’t do everything, but we have an opportunity to have a deep measurable impact in discipleship, the church, leadership, households, and the city.
Our vision is to reach people for Jesus. With that singular focus, God will get the glory; and we will be his instruments to see and do the work.