It wasn’t too long ago that I was a parent with teenage children. I, myself, remember the challenges of being a teenager, and as a father I knew this would be a challenging time for my growing kids. I knew their hormones were changing, their popularity would ebb and flow and they would test boundaries and become more (or less) certain of their own identity. I also knew that I wanted to be a steady and loving father who remained an important part of their life through it all. I wanted to “make connections” with my teenagers during their teen years. I did not want to be an absent father and yet I did want to give them latitude and discretion in making their own decisions.
In order to make connections, I remember taking up mountain biking with one of my sons; I also remember attending a bike-jumping park. I remember attending my daughter’s recitals and getting to know her friends. I remember backpacking with my youngest and playing ping pong. I remember asking them questions and giving them space and room to answer or not. I remember taking them out for coffee or a coke. I remember attending football games and marching band events. I remember a lot of listening, and I would let my kids feel important and right about certain things (even though they didn’t have the benefit of experience like I did). I remember going down to an emissions station with one of my kids and in a car we never thought would pass—but it did! The joy and freedom that my son felt to have a registered car and the freedom to drive was a pleasure to watch.
How does God make connections with us? How does he do this when we are acting like teenagers, willful, determined, very self-aware and in need of guidance—even though we don’t know it? How does God get through to his people, letting us know what he wants us to do? How does God get through to people who are unbelieving or obstinate, even in opposition to God? I want to answer these and similar questions in an October series entitled Making Connections. The series is about the way that God takes the initiative to get through human resistance to lead and guide. The Biblical word “calling” is one that builds out the concept of making connections, and we will see how God makes connections in the Bible.
I will tell you a story about how our church is seeking to let God make connections with us. Some time ago our elder board decided that, in order to use our limited resources in the most coordinated way, we needed a 5-Year Plan. They asked me to pull together a team from a pool of trusted workers. After praying and listening, I asked Dave Bruce, Kyndall Nixon, Eric Krajewski, Melissa Whaley, Justin Cates and Raney Kilgore to join me on a journey. We would invest a number of months and meetings in listening to God make connections with us. We would pray together, read together, study together, learn together and listen together. As a result of connecting with God and developing convictions about his future for our church, we are ready to propose to our elder board what plans He may have for us in the next five years. This teaching series will give an opportunity to roll out these proposals and listen to what God and his people have to say.
The proposals from our 5-Year Plan team are meant to build on the progress we have made in the past years. These include our mission statement ("Inviting neighbors to find a home in Christ"), our values, our strategy and our measures. They are meant to describe God’s preferred future in our community with a “mountaintop” view of such future. To our minds and hearts this involves making connections with Evergreen and Conifer: every individual in our community will personally experience God’s love in a practical way through the people of Aspen Ridge Church. The way we will know we are on track toward this end has to do with our milestone: attendees at Aspen Ridge Church will be involved in one or more healthy small groups. It is from this mountaintop/milestone vision of God’s future we will itemize specific proposals for consideration going forward.
Let me say this with great conviction…God is able to make connections with his people and his world. He is the sovereign Lord of the universe and He is all powerful. He has a way of getting through to us and leading us in his ways. Are you ready to let God “make connections” with you? In the overflow of those connections, are you ready to make connections with your neighbors?