FOUR-fold FOCUS For Cross of Christ Fellowship in 2018
(The following is a document we sent out to the congregation to share about what we are praying and working toward together in 2018)
A FOUR-FOLD FOCUS FOR CROSS OF CHRIST FELLOWSHIP IN 2018
Another year is before us and under way. Every day, and every moment, is a gift from our eternal God, who loves and cares for us. We do not own 2018, God owns it. We do not own Cross of Christ Fellowship, it belongs to Jesus who is the head of the church (Col 1:18).
As we look ahead, we may be asking ourselves these questions: What will 2018 be like? Will it be easy or hard? Exciting or ordinary? Painful or joyful? Will there be difficult trials? Will there be unexpected blessings? Likely, we as a congregation will see a mixture of all these in our lives, depending on each of our situations and what God sovereignly and lovingly brings our way to refine us. God’s design for us is NOT an easy, comfort-focused (‘your best life now’) life, but our holiness, our growing conformity to Christ, and our living out more fully the reality that we are a new creation saved to delight in God and bring glory to His Name.
We don’t know what 2018 will look like, but God does. And God knows what He is doing—He is infinitely wise and kind. Our task, as disciples of Jesus, is to trust Him, love Him, love our neighbor, and be faithful with the time given to us.
With this mind, we are hopeful for what God has in 2018 and we desire to be faithful with the time given to us. As a leadership team, in an effort to grow in our faithfulness, we believe there are 4 areas that we a church plant can focus on, pray for, and work toward. We are praying that God, in His grace, allows us EXPERIENCE GROWTH in these areas, regardless of whatever additional numerical growth we also see. The four areas are the following: 1. DELIGHT in God, 2. Understanding and application of sound DOCTRINE, 3. Intentional DISCIPLESHIP, 4. Courageous EVANGELISM.
- DELIGHT More in God.
Our prayer is that we as a church would grow in our DELIGHT in God, both corporately and individually in 2018.As Christians we recognize that God Himself is the prize to have and behold. The things He gives us are to be enjoyed, but NOT in the place of the Giver Himself. Knowing God is more delightful than every earthly pleasure—including all the good things we experience here in Naperville. Jesus has saved us that we might enjoy God and love Him whole-heartedly. This is eternal life (John 17:3).
Our prayer is that we would experience and live this reality out more fully in 2018 both individually and corporately. Individually, we want to delight more in God: to see in our hearts every day that God is supremely wonderful to know and love and more important than any task and every other thing. Corporately, we want to delight in God together: to come each Sunday to enjoy and treasure God as we behold Him through the preaching of God’s Word, hearing Scripture, singing biblical truths, and taking the Lord’s Supper; and to delight in God through our fellowship with each other in our community groups and discipleship groups.
This first emphasis is vital for us in Naperville, as we live in a land full of delights, distractions, and comforts. It is tremendously difficult to keep our affections fixed on the love for Christ where we live, but it is something that God can lead us forward in by the power of the Holy Spirit.
- Sound DOCTRINE
Our prayer is that as a church we would grow in our knowledge and application of sound Doctrine in 2018.Doctrine refers to knowledge about God and reality. We all have doctrine, but the question is this: Is my doctrine sound? That is, is it rooted in the truth, which we have access to through the Scriptures? We pray that, by God’s grace, we grow in this individually and as a church in 2018.To help us grow in doctrine, we are encouraging everyone to learn the New City Catechism. This 52 question and answer catechism, if learned by heart, will provide each of us with a strong theological framework for thinking and living, and prepare us to answer questions from unbelievers and those we disciple (including our children). (You can find the catechism and resources to help you learn it here: http://newcitycatechism.com/)
Of course, this attempt to learn the catechism will be along with expository preaching (preaching through books of the Bible) and community groups that are geared toward helping us think through and apply the truths of Scripture to our lives.
- Intentional DISCIPLESHIP
Our prayer is that we would grow as a community that is active and intentional in discipleship.
To disciple another person is to intentionally come alongside an individual with the intent of helping them grow as a follower of Christ. We’re all called as followers of Christ to make disciples (Matt 28:18-20). As parents we are to disciple our children—pointing them to Christ and knowing that only God can bring them to saving faith. As a church community we are to disciple each other.
One way to facilitate this is through discipleship groups (groups of 2-3 same-gender individuals who meet regularly to disciple each other, pray together, and share deeper issues of the heart and life). We also facilitate a degree of discipleship, along with fellowship, through community groups: here we help each other understand what it means to be a Christ-follower, we study the Bible and fellowship and pray, and we go out together on mission.To provide another level of instruction regarding discipleship, once per quarter there will be a ‘Spiritual Disciplines’ session covering Bible Intake, Prayer, Discipling others, and Evangelism which will take place at our community groups. Finally, discipleship also takes place through the preaching of the Word, as we hear what God says through the Scriptures. The theme of our sermon series in Matthew is “DISCIPLE” and we’ll often be thinking about how our passages teach us about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
- Courageous EVANGELISM
Our prayer is that we a church would grow in our faithfulness to the task of evangelism.
Evangelism is sharing the good news of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection with others with the hope that they would come to faith in Christ. This is perhaps the most easily for us to neglect, because it is the most culturally inappropriate and offensive. Our tendency as believers is to neglect evangelism and become inward-focused and ingrown.We pray that, by God’s grace, we would have many opportunities to share our faith with others in the community and in our lives. We’ll have corporate rhythms that will help us: an evangelism training session; Last Fling Labor Day Outreach; Cookies and Carols; Meetup Discussion Groups. But the most effective way to reach out community will be each of us ministering to those around in your life and you sitting down and sharing the gospel with them or bringing others along with us to church.
Please pray that God would lead us to grow in each of these areas in 2018 for for the glory of His Name.
Your Cross of Christ Fellowship Leadership Team: Tom, Tim, and Craig.