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Aim and Atmosphere



Aim and Atmosphere

David Hardy |






Aim and Atmosphere
Ministry Plan 2020–2021
David Hardy
September 13, 2020


Thank you for being with us today, whether here onsite or online. My name is David Hardy, and I want to propose the atmosphere we’d like to promote that can help you overcome whatever you’re facing today, and I’d also like to propose the aim of our Ministry Plan for the new church year that begins on October 1. If you’re watching online and you’d like to follow an outline of the message, you can click Resources to find the Message Guide, or if you’re here onsite you can use the Brookwood Church App, tap on Message Resources, then Outline, and you can follow the outline and see the verses we’ll be using, and we’ll have verses on the screens.


I’m not sure what your personal experience has been in the last few months, but there have certainly been some challenges in our culture and in our churches. We’ve either experienced or heard of people experiencing anxiety, depression, conflict, fear, frustration, lack of funds, loss of loved ones, recognition of racism among us, uncertainty about the future and about this virus. There are many things to overcome. But even though the conditions around us may be chaotic and out of our control, we can still overcome those conditions to experience an atmosphere of Peace. Let me suggest that we can overcome whatever, fill in the blank for yourself, we can overcome whatever by Promoting Peace.


Overcome _______________ by promoting PEACE.

What do you need God to overcome so you can experience Peace?

You fill in that blank. Is it anxiety? Conflict? Racism? Uncertainty? We need God to work in all those ways, but what can we do? The Bible says:

Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Romans 12:18 (NLT)

That verse implies at least three things.

One implication is that we can have peace with those around us, that we can take steps to overcome conflict and division. We can do something to be at peace with others.

A second implication is that we can have peace within ourselves. We can live in peace, as we live with everyone. As you know, not everyone around us fosters a feeling of peace.

Peace within ourselves, and peace with others.

A third implication is that there is something we can do to foster that peace. It says, Do all that you can. Some translations say, “As much as it depends on you” So what can we do to live in peace . . . with everyone?

I’ll use the word PEACE as an acrostic to describe steps we can take to overcome whatever by promoting an atmosphere of Peace.


P – Pray first.
Someone sent me a devotional several weeks ago that had these simple words: Seek God before seeking a solution.

Before you seek a solution to what’s going on around you, seek God. Why? It’s the first step to experiencing peace. Philippians 4:6-7 says:\

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. 7Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)

In the midst of that situation you want to overcome, pray. What do I pray? This verse has a simple guide for prayer.

Tell God what you need. What do you need right now? In your mind, tell God right now what you need.

Thank Him for what He has done. Thank God right now for one thing He has done for you.
What if I don’t know what I need or what to thank Him for? Ask God to put in your mind what you need, and what to thank Him for.

But what if I don’t sense anything from God. What if I still don’t know what to do? Jesus said:
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7 (NLT)

Praying is a way to communicate with God, and it’s a key step toward peace. So keep going back to Jesus, He’s the only one who can bring peace. Next thing we can do is:

E - Engage and empathize with someone.
Engage someone in conversation. During this time in our culture, engage someone whose skin color is different from yours or whose background is different from yours, or whose opinion is different from yours. When you engage, try to empathize. What do I mean by that? Seek to understand their perspective. Try to feel what they’re feeling, even if you disagree. Especially if we disagree. Romans 12:16 says:

Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Romans 12:16 (NLT)

I read a devotional this summer, I think it was from Rick Warren, that talked about living in harmony. Harmony is a musical term that describes when different notes are played or sung to make beautiful music. We each bring a different note, different gifts, a unique sound to this church family, to the body of Christ. We don’t all have to sing the same note to be in harmony. In fact, harmony implies that we’re singing different notes. Of course, we can all be singing different notes and it may sound like a bunch of noise and be very unpleasant. So what’s the key to singing in harmony: Sing the note assigned to you by the director, by the maestro, because it’s the maestro that brings us together to make beautiful music. Carry out what God has assigned you to do.

So how do I live in harmony with others?

  1. Engage someone – enjoy the company of someone different than you, so God can bring harmony out of our differences.
  2. Empathize – don’t think you know it all. See what you can learn from their experience in life, or their experience as a follower of Jesus.

    One more thing I can do, Romans 14:19 says:
    So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up. Romans 14:19 (NLT)

  3. Aim for harmony by trying to build each other up. What’s one thing about you that I can affirm, and thank God for?

Ask God to show you someone you can talk with who has a different background or different opinion, and get to know them, seek what you can learn, and find a way to affirm them. We are thrilled to have a church where there are black people, white people, Hispanic background, Portuguese background, people who use sign language, people from Central and South America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia, India and more. Engage someone different than you.

When we engage others, if we just rely on our own opinions for guidance, it may be difficult to achieve harmony. So remember to follow the lead of the Master. What can help us follow the lead of our Master?

A - Apply the Bible.

-Explore and apply what God says to any situation so you may experience His peace. Jesus said:

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NLT)

The things Jesus has told us will bring peace. I think this applies to everything Jesus said, which is basically the whole Bible since Jesus is God. I have told you these things so you may have peace in Me. Even though the trials and sorrows of this world will try to steal your peace, Jesus says, I have OVERCOME those things. So listen and apply what Jesus has to say in order to experience peace. For example:

When Brookwood stopped meeting onsite for a while in March, we were seeking God as to what we should do about meeting onsite again, and what that should look like. As you can imagine, we had various opinions being shared with us as to what we should do. So we prayed, and sought to apply God’s Word, seeking to have peace in our minds and among our people.

As we read God’s Word we recognized a couple of things that God wants us to value. One: He wants us to value caring for others. To be considerate of their needs, and considerate of what will help them pursue a relationship with Jesus. Romans 14:21 says,

It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble. Romans 14:21 (NLT)

Consider what’s going to help someone else pursue relationship with Jesus. Or what might hinder that pursuit.

And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:21 (NLT)

Consider other’s needs as more important than your own. So as local and state medical officials were recommending that we take precautions to deter the spread of the virus, we felt a need to express care for those who are susceptible, or who care for others who are susceptible, to the effects of this virus, and consider how our actions would express care to people in our community. If that’s all we considered, we might still not be meeting onsite.

But God’s Word also guides us to value gathering in person.

And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:25 (NLT)

Not only do we want to express care for those concerned about the virus, we also want to trust God to take care of us as we gather in person. Even though this verse was written primarily to people who were gathering in churches that met in homes, it communicates the value of getting together to encourage one another. So we decided to start meeting in person again, while also expressing care for others by staying six feet apart, and wearing face masks in cooperation with our brothers and sisters in the medical field. And we’ll continue to offer services and resources online for those who have concerns about being in crowds.

So we sought the Bible for guidance on how we could experience peace within ourselves and each other in the midst of so many feelings and opinions.

Now there are Bible believing churches who are doing things differently than we are, and I respect their decision. Even when we apply the Bible to bring us together, we’ll have differing opinions. So we aim for peace and harmony as we apply the Bible to our situation.

And then when we see our fellow believers acting contrary to the Bible, let’s:

C - Confront with care.
Confront with care. The Bible gives some guidelines for that. Galatians 6:1,

Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Galatians 6:1 (NLT)

-Key words: Gently and humbly help.

If someone who is a believer in Jesus has strayed from Scripture in their behavior, or has even used Scripture to tear apart rather than promote peace, let’s gently and humbly help them back onto the right path. I’m not talking about lobbing darts at each other on social media. I’m talking about a caring conversation.

Consider what is essential that we agree on, and what is not essential.

It’s not essential that we all agree on whether or not to wear a face mask. Though I may express care by wearing one, you may feel you’re expressing care by not wearing one.

It is essential that we agree on treating one another with dignity.

If you see someone treating another person unfairly or as “less than” because of the color of their skin, or their background, confront them in a kind, caring manner. Racism goes against one of our key values of Dignity for All because God created all people in His image and sent His Son to die for all. It’s not acceptable in our community, and it’s certainly not acceptable in our church. But as we deal with each other on this issue, or any other issue, let’s do so with care, with love, with submission to each other.

Then as we confront, or as we acknowledge our differences, and our uniqueness . . .


E - Embrace diverse believers as family.
Those with diverse opinions, diverse backgrounds, diverse skin color, diverse languages, diverse ways of doing things. Followers of Christ are family.

For Christ Himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in His own body on the cross, He broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. Ephesians 2:14 (NLT)
It is Jesus who died for us and brings us peace, who unites us and gives us a new identity, regardless of our background or skin color. Galatians 3,

26For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. 28There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26-28 (NLT)

What unites us is not our opinions, nor our backgrounds, it’s our faith in Jesus.
So whether you’re

Black, Asian, Hispanic, Indian, White

Speak English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French,

Wear a Mask, or No Mask

Go to Church Onsite or Church Online

Democrat or Republican

None of those things are what unite us, nor are they our identity.

What matters is our faith in Jesus. And that identifies us as children of God.

There’s no benefit in focusing on the things that divide us. Galatians 5:6,

For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love. Galatians 5:6 (NLT)

The Old Testament law told the Jewish men to be circumcised. It was a mark of a man who followed God. But the leaders of the early church said, we’re not going to force the believers who are not Jews (the Gentiles) to be circumcised. Because that’s not what matters. What matters is faith expressing itself in love.
Faith in Jesus expressing itself through love.

I’ve had conversations with many of you about our processes for gathering onsite during this season. There have been some conversations where I’ve tried to explain why we’ve done what we’re doing, and tried to justify it as the right thing to do. After one particular conversation, that I didn’t think went as well as I’d hoped, I was asking God what He wanted me to know. And I sensed God saying this in my mind: I don’t need for you to prove you’re right to everybody, I want you to love people.

What’s important is faith in Jesus expressing itself in love.

The best way we can promote an atmosphere of Peace is to aim for pursuing a relationship with Jesus, and aim for helping others grow their relationship with Jesus. So that brings us to the aim for our Ministry Plan in the coming church year that begins October 1.

You can find a printable version of our proposed plan for ministry on the Brookwood Church app or at brookwoodchurch.org/ministryplan, but I’ll show it to you on the screens.

Slide: Front cover of Ministry Plan brochure


If you view that Ministry Plan you’ll see that our overall aim continues to be to Pursue a Relationship with Jesus. Why? So that everyone experiences transformed life. That transformed life is evidenced by: a growing love for God and people, and living more like Jesus. Our Ministry Plan promotes three categories of things we do here to sink the roots of our life into a relationship with Jesus by faith. We grow our faith through:

  • Communicating with God.
  • Connecting with Christians.
  • Caring for others.


Which is another way of saying the things we can do to promote peace. All of our ministries promote those three C’s. We have five focus areas in our Ministry Plan:

  1. Worship - Our Worship ministry provides an atmosphere where we can communicate with God together through praise, Bible teaching, and prayer, enhancing that experience both here onsite and in our Online campus.
  2. Adult/Recreation - Our Adult Discipleship ministry helps those 18 and older Connect with other Christians in groups, or one-on-one, or in events with men, women, or young adults or programs like Essentials to engage and encourage one another to pursue relationship with Jesus. Our Recreation ministry helps all ages Connect with Christians.
  3. Family/Students/Children - Our Family ministry works with those 18 and under to Connect with other Christians in groups and with a leader who can help them do all 3 C’s of pursuing relationship with Jesus like in Sunday large group and small group ministries, and large events like Adventure Week for children, and OneCamp for students, and other activities throughout the year.
  4. Care/Serve - Our Care Ministry helps us Care for Others who are a part of Brookwood by serving alongside people through support groups, one-on-one counseling and prayer ministries, giving practical help through our Financial Care and Pass It Forward teams, and large groups like Re|Engage for marriages, or Celebrate Recovery for hurts, habits and hang-ups. Our Serve ministry helps connect people with ways to serve and helps us connect with people both onsite and online.
  5. Outreach/Missions - Our Outreach/Missions ministry helps us Care for Others in our community and around the world by serving alongside people and sharing the good news of Jesus through service projects, mission trips, and partnerships with ministries and pastors around the world.


As we planned for the coming year, we considered how we’ll carry out groups and ministry activities while social distancing, or whether we’ll do those ministries online or onsite, or both. We also understand that it’s a difficult time financially for everyone and many folks aren’t able to give what they normally would, and with the lower onsite attendance on Sundays there’s less money coming in the offering. So as we considered the fact that our giving since March has been running about 80% of our current budget, we prayed about how to do our ministries with less money this year.


Total
The total proposed budget for next year’s Ministry Plan is $7,221,636, a decrease of over $400,000 from our current year’s budget. So we’re taking some steps to decrease expenses in the coming year.


Steps to decrease expenses:

  • Every ministry reduced planned expenses
  • No raises or bonuses in FY21
  • Prioritize what’s necessary

-------


We want to continue:

  • Helping people pursue relationship with Jesus
  • Supporting mission partners
  • Paying employees


So that’s an overview of what we plan to do in the coming church year, while continuing to seek God as to how He wants that to happen with limited funds. If you’d like to know more detail about the Ministry Plan, come to the Ministry Plan Q&A session next Sunday afternoon in Pod I at 2 pm to ask questions, or email or call the church office and we’ll do our best to answer your questions. You can also view our latest financial update at brookwoodchurch.org/give. We’ll vote on this Ministry Plan at the end of each service on Sunday, September 27.

(Target with JESUS as the bullseye, Outside the target – PEACE)

So we have our target to aim for – pursuing a relationship with Jesus in an atmosphere of Peace. The atmosphere we want to promote is peace and the result of growing a relationship with Jesus is peace.
So this coming year – what step can you take to aim toward Jesus?


My Commitment
You can pursue your relationship with Jesus by taking a step to communicate with God, connect with Christians or care for others. We’ve provided a commitment section in the Ministry Plan where you can pick the steps you’d like to take to grow your relationship with Jesus. Take time to review those options, ask God what steps He wants you to take, and ask Him what He wants you to give to support His work through Brookwood.

Let’s aim for Jesus, and trust Him to give us an atmosphere of peace, in ourselves and with each other.

Because what matters is faith in Jesus expressing itself in love. PRAY

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