In 2009, Twickenham's shepherds (our congregation's leaders) asked a group of people to come together and participate in a long range planning exercise. The group consisted of about 20 men and women including several of the shepherds and staff members and a cross-section of Twickenham members. Our shepherds challenged the group to consider who Twickenham is as a body and where we should go in the future.
Initial discussions centered on what we do and how we do it.
The natural tendency was to begin where we were and then tweak or adjust operations and methods out of a genuine desire to improve. The group met every couple of weeks and began to pray for God’s leading and wisdom. During that process, the focus of discussion changed from the “what” and the “how” to the “who” as the group began to focus more and more on our need for a real and ever deeper relationship with God that will continue to shape “what” we do and “how” we do it. In other words, the relationship drives the mission, an inside-out approach that begins with lives yielded to God’s will and committed to his ways. Over a span of months the long range planning team participated in a challenging and rewarding journey as God continued to work in their hearts.
Back to Basics
This really is a back to the basics approach. As the long range planning group met, it became clear that our core beliefs (or theology) determine our core values (those elements of our faith that, according to the Bible, are of utmost importance) which then overflow into ministry opportunities or practices consistent with those beliefs and values.
Our approach initially was to focus on Core Beliefs and Core Values. Our prayer is that as we focus on our relationship with God and his mission for us, the Lord will lead us into ministry opportunities and practices that are in tune with his heart and accomplished for his glory.
To that end, we developed a series called “The Journey” that was taught in our Sunday morning classes between January and May 2011, and is reviewed with all new members. This is not a destination, a declaration or a program but rather the continuation of a journey of faith, grounded in God’s word, empowered by his Spirit and focused on his eternal purpose.
Points of Emphasis
- This is a journey. As we seek to understand God’s leading for Twickenham, we do so with the knowledge that we do not have all of the answers. We’re asking everyone to join us in prayerfully considering God’s calling and leading in our individual lives and in the life of our church family. Please commit to pray daily for wisdom, humility and direction as we walk this out together.
- God’s eternal plan is unfolding according to his will. It is not about us, and it is not about now. Our sincere desire is to align ourselves with God’s purpose, extending his grace for his glory. Our prayer is that God will grant us the understanding to know his will and the courage to adjust our lives in response to his great calling.
- Why is this important, anyway? While we strive to develop more effective programs, stronger marriages, healthier families and lives of service, we recognize that what we really need – first and foremost – is God. As we come to know him more deeply in relationship, we will see the fruit of the Spirit and enjoy God’s eternal blessings in all aspects of our lives. It is because of our relationship with God that we understand our purpose and encounter our mission.
- The scripture of the Bible teaches an “inside-out” approach to our spiritual walk. That is, our actions are an overflow of our hearts as we come to know God more intimately and abide with him daily. As we focus on God, die to ourselves and yield to the Spirit, the Lord will lead us to the right ministry opportunities at the right time according to his plan. Our prayer is that, by God’s grace, we will have open eyes and ready hearts to follow wherever he leads