When They Prayed
FROM THE BISHOP DAVID GRAVES   I chose the theme of our 2023 Annual Conference session, “When They Prayed,” based on Acts 4:31: “And when they had prayed, the place in which they ...
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Common goals unite us

January 19, 2020

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:1-1, NIV)

Happy New Year! Did you make a resolution? Multiple resolutions? Did your congregation, church, Sunday school class, Bible study group, or small group make any resolutions?

A resolution is a promise you make to yourself because you know there’s something that needs to change. Groups are no different. Members of groups can recognize that the group needs to change. Congregations can recognize that it’s time to make a change. Perhaps attendance has been declining or certain events are not well supported any more. Perhaps it’s time to consider a new vision for the congregation as it seeks to serve Christ in the community in which it is planted. If we consider the story of the Magi, we can discern a way to move small groups and congregations forward.

The first step is agreeing. The Magi agreed that the star in the sky revealed an important message and that they needed to make a journey. In those days, making a long-distance journey was far more complicated than it is now. It meant packing everything you might potentially need for a journey of at least 12 days on the backs of camels and then walking. The Magi agreed on the message and the method for following through on the message. When a group considers a change, it is important for the group to agree on what’s needed and how that will work out. This can be a difficult process, but can be accomplished by a church or a small group in the church if everyone keeps Christ at the table during all discussions and decisions.

The next step is working together. The Magi had a lot to do to accomplish the trip they made to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and back. They agreed on the goal – finding the newborn king – and then worked together to accomplish it. I’m sure they didn’t always agree on the next step, but they did always agree on the final goal and kept that in mind as they were making plans for and taking the next step. In a small group or a small congregation, it’s important that everyone work together. A dozen people can accomplish far more than one or two.

Finally, the Magi were willing to take a risk. Imagine what the neighbors thought when they closed their homes, packed up their lives, and left on a long journey. The Magi took a risk and found the newborn king. If we want our church groups and congregations to move forward into a new vision of serving Christ in our local communities, sometimes we have to take a risk. There may be folks who are skeptical of either the goal set or the pathway to the goal. There will be folks who are unhappy with any change and will use the famous phrase, “We’ve never done it that way before.” Give these people opportunities to express their concerns, listen lovingly to what they say, then share the goal of the group and invite them to walk with you as you try to move forward in what you believe God is calling you to do.

Even though we’re well into this new year, there is still time to consider what God might be calling you to do this year and make the necessary steps to follow his call. If you haven’t set a resolution for this year in your small group or congregation, please do so. Common goals unite us as we seek to serve the newborn king.

Dr. Nita Crump serves as Director of Connectional Ministries. Contact her at nitac@sgaumc.com.

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