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How can we bring hope to our communities this year?

January 07, 2019

My wife, Sherrill, uses the Notes app on her iPad to greater advantage than anyone I have ever seen. At last count she had accumulated more than 10,000 notes covering more topics that I can imagine. Those notes are a treasure house for me. The following note seems especially appropriate for us as we enter a new year. Even though I do not have the name of the author I am glad to be able to share this with the South Georgia Conference: 

We, Christians steward the only message on planet Earth that can give people what their hearts need most, which is hope. Hope that sins can be forgiven. Hope that prayers can be answered. Hope that doors of opportunity, that seemed locked, can be opened. Hope that broken relationships can be reconciled. Hope that diseased bodies can be healed. Hope that damaged trust can be restored. Hope that dead churches can be resurrected… Of all people, we must claim that hope and live in it and radiate it to others. And we must proclaim that message of hope to everyone God gives us the opportunity to influence.

Perhaps this spoke to me because one of the questions we are asking in South Georgia is, “How will my local church bring hope to our community this year?”

Without hope, our communities become depressed and find it difficult to muster the will and the energy to move toward a new future. Churches are places of hope. Christians are people of hope.  Here is a way we can explore how to bring hope to our communities: Discover, Dream, Design, Deliver.

First, discover (list) all the ways we have brought hope to our community in the past.

Second, dream of ways God might be calling us to bring hope into our community in the future.  What resources do we have that suggest how we might be equipped to bring hope? What needs to happen in our community that is not likely to happen unless a church does it?

Third, design the way we will bring hope to the community. What steps have we already taken to move toward this goal? What else do we need to know? Who needs to be at the table with us?  Adding local residents, government officials, educators, public safety officials, counselors, and community agency representatives is key in discerning where and how God is calling us to bring hope.

Fourth, deliver hope to the community. How will we know when we have reached our goal?  What will people be seeing, saying, and feeling when we have brought hope to our community?

For the unknowns and uncertainties of any new year, one thing remains clear and certain: communities need hope. Churches are places of hope. Christians are people of hope. This is our great opportunity in 2019.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

R. Lawson Bryan

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