What a beautiful time of year: Christmas. Celebration, gluttony, fellowship, and love fill our homes, and it seems to have all passed so quickly. Then the week after Christmas arrives: that awkward moment of reflection on the past year and, for church leadership, the one Sunday where you have no clue what to do for your worship gatherings. Nevertheless, time continues to pass and all of a sudden you are found in yet another year. Discussion then begins to stir among the congregation about all the resolutions made for the upcoming year. Sounds kind of like this: Weight loss, exercise, and more Bible reading. For the youth pastor, you find the resolve to increase numbers in ministry, increase salvations, etc. All are great goals. The last thing I will be found doing this year, though, is making another resolution.
Don’t get me wrong. This is said with no bitterness at all. Self-improvement and ministry expectations are healthy to any church or individual but, for the Christian and for the clergy, a resolve is the last thing we need. We need a revolution. No, I did not misspell it. Revolution. As cliché as it might sound, here are a couple thoughts as to why we should replace our resolutions with revolutions:
1. Complete change from one constitution to another
1. Resolutions feed Legalism.
Legalism. The Pharisaical epidemic that has swept the church for the last 2000 years. Because of the culture and context that the American church finds itself in Christians are constantly fighting this battle. Resolutions feed this idea. Youth pastors must fight it. None would argue that Jesus’ death was revolutionary. But the constitutional shift of this revolution was not political or cultural but spiritual. His Resurrection brought a living atonement of humanity’s failure and incapability. Resolutions, just like God’s law, shine light on our imperfect and fallible nature. Only through the revolutionary work of Jesus Christ do we see the gap between our goals and reality be filled. So as life happens, we should not focus on fulfilling goals set for ourselves but focus on Christ’s death and resurrection that relieved the weight on your shoulders of having to fill the requirements of success in this life.
Speaking to pastoral leadership, we must understand that no fruit will come forth in ministry unless it blossoms from our continued efforts to bring about Christ likeness. Anything we see happen in ministry that is not built on the simple idea of allowing Christ to revolutionize who we are is not truly fruit and will last for only a season. I have found that Discipleship is ultimately the answer to all questions ministry throws our way. When we see the revolution, or shift, happen in students’ lives then we see the focus shift from themselves to Jesus and they can then reside in that victory. This brings me to the next point.
1. Resolutions focus on the individual.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8,9
The beautiful gift of grace. This unmerited favor reveals that it was nothing we had ever done but what He had accomplished. Belief in this Gospel brings about selflessness. However, resolutions do not. The explanation behind this begins with the fact that resolutions are made in light of our capabilities as people. Therefore, conservativeness arises because of our limited power. However, when Christ brings forth revolution in our lives, the focus becomes about Him. Living and residing in His power allows for boldness in decisions and vision raising the bar for our standards of ministry and purpose. The author of Hebrews speaks of this:
“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
Living with confidence in Christ, life changes as we know it simply because we are not limited to humanity. Your confidence in Him addresses your incapability. Youth ministry changes, church life changes, and personal evaluations become nonexistent because it’s not about you anymore. When leadership removes itself from the equation forgetting its ambitions, dreams, and goals and allows this shift to happen, then true fruit comes forth.
So this New Year let your resolve be only that you strive to allow the Gospel to revolutionize who you are. It is the answer to every problem you may have in life and ministry. Live in His promises, reside in His love, and allow 2013 to bring fruit that lasts for eternity.
– Alex Gailey
High School Worship Pastor/Assistant Youth Pastor at Hamilton Mill, Dacula, GA
Recently married, Heart for Growing Disciples, Worship Leader