. The stakes are high, church. New life requires more than some new paint on the walls or even a new pastor. it requires a supernatural work of God to bring unity, vibrancy, and an outward focus. Yet, the hope for replanting is the hope of the gospel—the hope of light breaking darkness and of life besting death. So long as we are in desperate dependence upon God to work, walking in step with the gospel, we can expect him to continue to do what he alone can—bring dead and dying things back to life. Jesus is our superhero; no pastor or transition team can replace him.
We all have waited for this day, and I can’t wait for God to show off. How will it happen? It begins by DISCOVERING and ABIDING, particularly in these first 6-7 months. As I have communicated in our replant plan, we have two primary goals in this season.
First, it is to discover where present fruitfulness and life are found, that we might flood it with redirected energy and attention. It’s not only our doctrinal statements, our sermons, our Sunday Schools which speak. Every church culture is speaking something, and often much louder than anything else. Its voice may speak rigid legalism. It may speak cold indifference. Or, it may speak warmth and welcome. But every church culture is speaking something. What about Bayless? I am confident that if we open-handedly confess to God, ”Whatever you reveal, we will admit. Whatever you ask of us, we will do,” God will show off in some powerful ways, and none of us will remain unchanged. The culture Jesus wants for us is a culture which is being thoroughly “gospelled,” a culture which is saturated with his love and fundamentally shaped by his person and work such that the watching world can’t help but recognize it. And, only he can make this culture a reality, which leads to our second priority.
Second, our goal is to abide, to rest and reflect upon the gospel, upon what has been done on our behalf, upon what it frees us from and for. The gospel shapes, compels, sweetens, and clarifies everything Christ’s people now do. Jesus is not only our supreme example for obedience; he is our motive and our power for it as well. Friends, sustaining you should be the knowledge that there is no one more committed to our purity than Jesus himself. And if we set our eyes upon him, the Author and PERFECTER of our faith, we can eagerly expect him to show off. It is not your promises to change or the capacities you offer which sustain your hope. It is the work which has already been accomplished that allows us to look for crazy things. “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32).
Here are just a few questions to leave you with: Who can you begin praying with, that God might favor these plans? What excites you about what Jesus is doing right now? What fears is this season awaking in you? How might you find your joy, wisdom, and courage from the gospel?
Your co-laborer and shepherd,