Preparing for God's Next

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This week on all the church’s social media channels we officially announced that we are rebranding the church. What was once known as Centerville United Methodist Church will now become Restoration Church Centerville. August 19th will be Restoration Sunday, and we have big plans to launch this fresh expression of what God is doing in our community.

And while this decision was met with cheers and celebration on the internet I need to be honest with you; it was the hardest discussion I’ve ever been a part of in ministry. With this rebranding is an acknowledgment that the past really is the past, and the future is still to come. And for many of our church members, they have been going to this church longer than I have been alive. So, the emotion around this topic is real and painful. There was a ton of vulnerability in the discussion and honest conversation about what the future might hold.

And have I talked about the fear? Whew, the fear is real! This much change is scary stuff! In addition to the rebranding, we are also launching a 200k capital campaign. We are redoing sanctuary spaces, flooring, chairs, lighting, and restoring classic stain glass windows. All of it at the same time and man is that scary!!!

The logical next question is: Why? Why do all of that right now? Well, the answer that the board and I came to was pretty simple: To prepare for God’s next.

God’s next is our belief that God has called us to continue to reach the lost and de-churched. Our current community is taking a cue from the faithful pioneers who built this church and have demonstrated for us what stepping into NEXT looks like. Afterall, our community was founded out of a tent revival in the early 1800's! This community has been stepping into NEXT for decades. We believe that the Holy Spirit is on the move, and the crazy part is – it’s already happening!!! We are seeing so much life change, so much hope, so many new faces that God is clearly leading us to a different place. We are choosing to be obedient to that call.

God’s next at a local level means that we need new spaces for new faces, it means that our environment needs to match our spirit. And that is ridiculously exciting.

God’s next also involves the United Methodist denomination. The United Methodist Church seems to be at a crossroads, and the future of the denomination is incredibly tumultuous (to find out more about that go here). And while we believe that God will lead this denomination to what’s next it is also important for the local church to begin to prepare that changes are coming. We don’t know what the changes are, but the landscape of the denomination is already beginning to shift. To all my pastor friends, if you aren’t having this conversation with your church – please start! As a child who experienced the discourse of divorce one of the worse things we can do is to surprise them after the options are already on the table.

We aren’t abandoning our Wesleyan Theology and we are still paying our apportionments (think mission support to the larger church) – yet we believe part of this rebranding will help us respond to the uncertainty in the denomination.

Here is the really cool part – I/we have no idea what God’s next looks like. We don’t know what it looks like for the local church or the denomination. What we do know is that if we prepare for what we believe God is calling us to, then when the next is here we can respond. So much of what it means to walk by faith is to take steps and continue to let God be in charge. And while all of this is scary, challenging, and difficult it is also incredibly rewarding. Rewarding in the sense that God truly is in charge, and we have no idea what will be next.

How are you preparing for God’s next?