Now that we are a couple weeks into our congregational discussion of the upcoming leadership transition at Kossuth, one of the questions you might be asking is, "Then what?" On a number of occasions, we have explained that the lead elder change is "Phase 1" of our strategic plan for the future. If that's the case, though, what will "Phase 2" look like?
During a combined Connections hour this past Sunday, the two of us had the privilege of providing an introductory glimpse at the vision that will drive the multi-year plan which we hope to launch next September (a.k.a. "Phase 2"). Our presentation revolved around what we're calling "5 Values for the Next Season at Kossuth."
Ultimately, these values are the fruit of our development of the "4 Commitments" document a year ago and our Spirit-led thinking about how we can better manifest those commitments of Word, Worship, Community, and Mission in the life of our church. These values don't stand on their own, nor are they meant to be a comprehensive picture of what future ministry at Kossuth will look like. Rather, these values depend upon those ideals for the local church that we have discerned from the Scriptures, and they represent a key opportunity for growth and impact as we strive to align ourselves more closely with those ideals. Simply put, these values are focused priorities for a focused season of ministry.
So here's what we've done: we've taken the congregational input gathered during the CommonVision meetings, the many hours of prayerful interaction with the current elders about our future directions, and the growing dreams that have been coming together in our own hearts during the past four years, and we've put it all together to arrive at these five values for the next season of ministry fruitfulness at Kossuth:
Established churches with a rich history and heritage—like Kossuth—must constantly be on guard against the temptation to hunker down and become an insider’s club. By championing accessibility, we hope that we can resist that temptation. We long to be a church whose doors are open wide to any whom God might bring along our path. If we truly believe that we are ambassadors of the best news in the world—the message that God saves hopeless sinners—then we have every reason to remove the obstacles that might get in the way of people hearing it. Because we have an inclusive gospel that invites and receives, we want to be a church that invites and receives.
Kossuth Street Baptist Church has a long and rich history in the neighborhood that surrounds it. Many of our members have invested heavily into those who live nearby, and we want to follow their example by making neighborliness a church-wide priority. Our vision is that Kossuth might become a go-to in the neighborhood, that others would recognize our church as a place where they can be helped and encouraged, that local neighborhood associations would see us as a partner, that our neighbors would view us as their ally and advocate. In short, we want our authentic love for Jesus Christ to drive an authentic love for this city.
The only thing more exciting than watching a life that's been transformed by the gospel is watching a life that's been transformed by the gospel contributing toward the transformation of someone else's life. That's multiplication. It's what happens when someone turns to Christ in saving faith, announces their new allegiance in baptism, begins to grow in holiness and maturity, and then starts finding ways to point others to Jesus, as well. We've made some significant progress in this area, but more work remains to be done. We long to see the gospel bear fruit and grow. In other words, we want to grow our church by growing the Church.
Effective ministry is the result of effective equipping. This little maxim is certainly true: "As the leadership, so the church." For a long time, Kossuth has been devoted to the important task of leadership development. We've raised up missionaries and pastors, deacons and Care Group leaders, children's workers and women's ministry leaders. But we don't want to rest on past success. We have a vision to go from good to great and from great to greater. We believe that we have a wonderful opportunity in the next season at Kossuth to become more intentional in how we train and disciple future leaders. Great leaders will make for a great church.
If you’re going to take a road trip, mapping out your route is good, but it isn’t enough. You also need gas in your tank. You need fuel to propel you to your destination. As Christians, grace is our fuel. We delight in the tremendous biblical paradox that only by resting in God’s acceptance of us apart from works that we can we truly be zealous and productive in good works. So even though we are ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work, we must recognize that if we labor from any motivation other than grace, we might as well try to drive across the country in a car without gas. Only grace can adequately sustain our dreams of diligent, earnest, generous kingdom living.
Hopefully you resonate with these five values. Hopefully this vision leaves you hungry for more, eager to dive into the next season that God has prepared for us. But even if you're still a bit apprehensive about how all of this will look, be assured of the fact that Jesus is our Good Shepherd, our church belongs to him, and we can trust him to grow us, stretch us, and mobilize us to fulfill his commission.
We can't wait to see what God has in store!