Every year at St Mark's we have an annual vision that gives focus and challenge to all we do. For the last two years it has focussed on our conviction of the Christian hope, and our courage to talk about it. We continue in the same vein this year as we explore living out what Jesus call the greatest commandment:
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength, and ... love your neighbour as yourself." (Mark 12:30-31)
The two parts hold as one: loving God empowers
us to love others, and love for others is how
love for God is demonstrated. So we’re exploring how that looks with all our heart (love, will and commitment), all our soul (spirit, devotion and prayer), all our mind (thinking, learning, reading and watching), and all our strength (gifts, time, energy and money) - all of me integrated: body, mind, spirit, and emotion, becoming whole-life disciples
. What can that mean for my friendships and family, my church membership, fellowship and commitment, my weekday occupation and recreation? And what about reaching my long-term friend or relative, my local neighbour or colleague, my unlikely contact, my contact across the world? And what does it mean together: in the church’s heart
for the lost, our corporate soul
in prayer, praise and using our spiritual gifts, our mind
as a learning church, and the strength
of our ministries and mission? And how can we express it as a loving family in outreach, to our parish residents, our ministries to the local community, our global Christian family?
A great first step in engaging with this vision personally would be to listen to our three foundation sermons
, and start thinking about how to apply it to your life. (Click on the links below to listen now.)
We also have a recommended book for the year, Hunger for God
by John Piper, which you can purchase at the St Mark's bookshop.
This year we'll be teaching further into these topics. We'll also be offering great resources
like the Wholeness Course and the Single Life Workshop; developing various new kinds of small groups; encouraging mentoring and intensive training through the Disciple-Making Disciples course; exploring spiritual gifts and prayer through Deeper and Abide; supporting those witnessing in the workplace; encouraging short-term mission trips; partnering in solidarity with the global suffering church. We’ll be resourcing hospitality initiatives and aiming to be more accessible to all. We're also producing a new resource, the Speak Hope Podcast, which will launch this summer.
We also have four specific goals for this year to help us better love God and others:
5-5-2 for Goal 4
GOAL 1: ALL IN accountability groups - no isolated believers: the goal is 80% of our members.
GOAL 2: ALL IN regular serving and giving - everyone having one role before anyone has three or four: the goal is 80% of our members.
GOAL 3: ALL IN growing the membership through radical discipleship and courageous witness. The main goal here is to be in a position to plant again in 2020. We are also aiming to grow our male membership to 250.
GOAL 4: ALL INVITING and INVESTING in others. Last year over 1000 guests heard at least something of the gospel through one of our faith-sharing ministries: the goal this year is to double that.
Every time someone puts their trust in Jesus Christ, they cross from death to life and the whole of heaven rejoices! We're really excited that so many people engaged with the gospel at St Mark's in the past year, but we also believe we can definitely surpass that if we get even more intentional and each set ourselves a personal invitation-and-investment goal
. We can, of course, all set our own personal goals here. But here’s an example which we felt might be manageable for most of us: a total of 12 people, broken down into 5-5-2.
5 guests: Why don't we each aim to bring 5 guests to an event in the coming year? Stats show that will probably mean at least 25 invites. But many of us could easily bring 5 guests simply to one carol service!
5 resources: Let's try to send a helpful resource to 5 truth-seekers, such as: a link to a Big Questions talk – thousands of people have used our online BQ archive; a book, like Lee Strobel's excellent Case for Christ; some other resource to get a conversation going
2 conversation partners: Are there two people who you could be specially praying for, investing in and meeting up with regularly to talk about God? e.g. a monthly breakfast to work through a gospel or discuss a book
These goals are so important if we are to be ALL IN - demonstrating our love for God, reaching out to our neighbours, loving them as ourselves, and taking all the means to reach all we can...
ALL INVOLVED (together)
ALL INVESTING (our gifts)
ALL IN (our whole life)
Could you be part of a team, championing this? We want to know, do let us know
Our prayer for this year
‘Lord, I’m sorry for the many ways I have failed to love you with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and failed to love my neighbour as myself. I affirm my desire to be a whole-hearted disciple of yours. Deepen my personal walk with you, strengthen my love for others, make me more honest and open in my relationships and teach me what it means to be sacrificial in service.
I commit with my brothers and sisters in Christ to the vision of being ‘ALL IN’ - rising to fresh challenges, risking true accountability, stepping out in faith and living a truly integrated life. May we spur each other on to these goals and aspirations, and may we become a community of believers who show in real and tangible ways that we are loving our God and our neighbour with all our heart and soul and mind and strength.
To the glory of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen'
View our newly elected PCC here