Last year, in an effort to take concrete next steps in serving our vision to see a gospel movement on the North Shore, we prayerfully sought the Lord for his guidance in setting two concrete 3-5 year goals, which would serve as benchmarks in helping us to focus our efforts on what matters most: the advance of the gospel deep and wide.
As a result, we felt the Lord leading us towards what are our current two 3-5 year goals. The first goal is about developing disciples who are being deeply transformed by the gospel, and the second goal is about establishing another outpost of Christ’s kingdom on the North Shore—planting a church. These function as concrete targets for church-wide gospel growth, deep and wide.
When we finalized these goals, back in Sep. 2018, with the feedback, wisdom, and help of over 50 leaders in our church, we also set a number of 1-year goals to help us make progress in our longer-term goals. Now that that full year has passed, it’s been truly exciting to see the way the Lord has gone before us in the power of the Holy Spirit, showing us how committed he is to the expansion of his kingdom. As an update, here are just a few encouragements as we looked down the list of our one-year goals.
- Kingdom-centered prayer is steadily increasing in the life of our church. There is a growing group of committed prayers, begging the Lord for kingdom advance every Friday morning, and prayer focused on God’s kingdom is beginning to surface in meetings, small groups, and Sunday AM’s.
- Church planting has moved from idea on paper to a live process that’s already begun in our church. We’ve held our first two church planting meetings, established an e-mail prayer group, researched funding, and are close to launching our first ever church planting resident search later this fall. Ed Marcelle, our Converge Northeast church-planting catalyst will be visiting with us, and preaching on Sunday, Oct. 13!
- Our discipleship emphasis and strategy are growing in clarity and focus. A gospel movement happens only by saturating the North Shore with transformed disciples. Therefore, we wrestled over, then preached through a church-wide definition of a disciple, spelled out and illustrated characteristics of growing disciples, and are beginning to fruitfully shepherd using these lens. We’ve piloted a model of intentional, multiplying discipleship, and are praying towards its multiplication.
- There is a palpable sense of people in our church developing deep, meaningful, and honest friendships both inside and outside the church.
It’s the Lord’s work
All of this gives us great reason to celebrate how the Lord is at work! At the same time, as we reviewed each goal as leaders, we were humbled and reminded of our own limitations: this year, for example, we were unable to form a concrete partnership with a church in Lynn (the largest city in Essex County), and our community presence in Beverly Farms is increasing, but still slowly. Likewise, we are interested in, but still seeking wisdom in how “missional communities” might benefit our church.
In total, however, this has been a real season of encouragement for us, and we need to remember to stay humble as a church: “Unless the Lord builds the house, the laborers labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1). But we also need to celebrate the Lord’s work!
How to Celebrate
Here are two ways that you can celebrate God’s work
- What stories do you have of God at work in NSCBC and on the North Shore over the past year? We’d love to hear about them so we can share them with others and celebrate together! If you’d like to share something get in touch with Ben at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Give thanks to God in prayer with joy. Practicing gratitude and celebration is an important spiritual discipline that does us so much good. Privately or with some close friends think of how God has been at work in your own life in the last year and praise him for what he has done!