As we look back on what has taken place in the life of our church over the last year, what has the Lord has been saying to us over these last 12 months.
First of all some statistics
- Average attendance is up 10% on last year.
- We exceeded our missionary giving target
- Our monthly giving in tithes and offerings has increased
- The majority of people are involved in some way in church life
Now let’s look at what’s happened over the year
At the end of 2017, we met as an eldership and we believed the Lord was calling us to be more outward looking, more missional focused.
And we started our year by launching our vision, which has the strapline – Impacting & Influencing Inverness, the Highlands and the World. It was a clear mental picture of what could be, based on what should be. It is primarily an outward focused vision that is beyond ourselves to see people won for Christ.
We preached through that vision from January – June, using Acts 2-11 because that is the model of what should be – and what could be. We need to operate in the power of the Spirit in the same way those believers we read about operated in. We need the Holy Spirit to impact and influence those around us; just as He impacted and influenced those we read of in the Acts of the Apostles.
Our summer series, conversations with Jesus, helped us learn from the master how to speak truth into the lives of people we encounter
Our current series that we stared in August, Kingdom Living, comes from a place of seeking to understand what it means to someone who belongs to the kingdom of the God, so that by that understanding and the power of the Spirit in us, we can live as those who stand out and point the way to the King.
We’ve had the privilege of having two recognised evangelists in Scotland share with us as visiting speakers – Brian Campbell from Aberdeen and Ricky McAddock from Glasgow. Again, helping us focus outside of ourselves.
From a community perspective, we’ve had two main one-off outreach events – the Big Lunch in June and the Superheroes kids week in July. A significant number of us are volunteers here in Merkinch Community Centre on a weekly basis. We ran a weekly superheroes kids club up to Easter. All these things are building bridges into the community we worship in because we need to be church in the community before the community will come to church.
We’ve continued to reach out into Highview nursing home twice per month.
On 15th December, almost 20 people got involved in sharing Jesus on the streets of Inverness.
The prayer meetings held weekly, have regularly been praying for souls to be saved, and we have seen souls saved within our congregation this year. Hallelujah.
But we are not called just to make converts – we are called to make disciples.
To that end, we’ve had a total of 10 bible study groups run over the course of the year, with a whole variety of subjects being covered, as well as regular groups of cherish, book club, youth and the prayer meeting
One of those studies is learning discipleship material from The Turning as a tool for one to one nurture, because we are believing people are going to need nurtured.
Three people in our congregation have been baptised this year in obedience to the command of Christ.
We’ve had a number of visiting speakers challenging and speaking into our lives and into us as a church
All these events focused on reaching the lost and developing the found.
But what has the Lord been saying to us over the course of the year?
He’s been speaking to us through the preached word, through the events of church life, and we all know he speaks to us through the prophetic. And there have been 4 key prophetic messages that have confirmed the direction He has been leading us in.
In January, the Lord spoke to us on the first Sunday of 2018, through a recognised Prophet, Chris Williams. Here is the essence of it.
Set your heart on eternity with Him
That is your motivation, passion and purpose
Set your heart on pilgrimage with Him
We don’t see His face, but we will see His face
He asks us to walk with Him
Set your heart on pilgrimage with Him
He will achieve His purpose through you but you must get up and walk with Him
Set your heart on eternity while you walk with Him
Don’t walk alone – walk with him
Don’t walk alone – walk with your brothers and sisters with you
We are on a Holy pilgrimage
Times of refreshing are set but do not get distracted by those times
Set your heart on Him. Walk with him
Don’t be stagnant & lazy
Arise mighty army
He is the King of kings and He rules – demonstrate His rule through you as you walk with me
His Purpose for us is not finished until we see Him face to face
We are not on a track that goes round and round. We are going from A to B – on a journey
Don’t look back, look to the future
It’s a pilgrimage – a holy pilgrimage
His purposes will be new – a new challenge – different
But walk with me and walk with one another until you see my face
I will accomplish much through you
Then in May, at a prayer meeting 3 prophetic words were spoken all encouraging us to listen to the Lord; He will bring people – people planted in good soil – what God has asked us to do will happen – we are chosen – we are to work in partnership with Him – to listen to the Spirit and the Word. That encouragement to listen and obey was also preached as part of our series in Acts and then again in September.
Then again, at a prayer meeting in September, 2 more prophetic messages – both encouraging us to Trust Him – to let Him lead us, to stand fast in the truth – to be faithful and He will bring them from the north south east and west, for Jesus is building His church.
And then finally in November, on a Sunday evening, the cry of God to be one. From Ezekiel 37 and the prophecy of the dry bones. The call to come together as one body – one army – filling with His Spirit – fulfilling His purpose in obedience to the master.
I love how the last key prophecy of the year echos the first of the year.
Arise mighty army
As one, together. I love how the Lord speaks to us, encouraging us to keep pursuing Him
So when we take everything together, what the Lord is saying through the prophetic, through the preaching, through church life, if we were to summarise it all it would be like this
Mission in Inverness, the Highlands and the ends of the earth can only be achieved through the power of the Spirit, and the unity and obedience of the saints.
So in conclusion
2018 has been an encouraging year, not only in the upward trend offered by statistics, not only in the activities of church life, but most importantly in the call and encouragement of the Lord.
We do not want just to turn the handle of church, but we want to glorify Him, reach people for Him and develop people in Him because we want to see inverness, the highlands and the world impacted and influenced for Jesus.
Just because 2018 comes to an end, our call, our purpose, our vision from the Lord does not end.
We are not there yet, but we believe as we continue to listen to Him, follow His lead, surrender our lives to Him, we will see God move through us. We are on the right track and each of us have a role to play.
May the Lord help each one of us to use what He has given us for His glory.
May the Lord help each one of us to yield to His will.
May the Lord help each one of us to humble ourselves and pray.
May the Lord help each of us, together as one body, glorify God, reach the lost and develop the found as we seek to impact and influence Inverness the Highlands and the World for Jesus.