I have always had a problem slowing down, I hate waiting, and I like to get on with things. While this “bias-to-action” has served me well in being productive and getting things done, it has a downside. The downside is that I don’t take the time to reflect. Reflection is a discipline that I have had to learn. Taking time to think about where I have been, how I have been doing, and what I need to learn is essential. A friend of mine shared that he writes a R.A.P. once a month that he shares with those in his relationship circle. R.A.P. stands for Review, Apply, and Plan.
Review the past. One way I do that is to take a moment to read through my past month’s journal entries. I ask myself – what was going on? What did I learn? What was God doing or saying?
Apply refers to taking what was reviewed, seeing what I need to remember, and applying it to my life. I have to note the lessons gained in the Review for them to be useful. There’s no point learning something, only to drop it in the mad rush to move forward.
Plan is taking what I’ve learned in the past and committing to putting it into practice in the future.
It’s best to do R.A.P.s at the end of one season and the beginning of the next. For instance, you can do it at the end of the month or the end of a season like Summer going into Fall.
June is the beginning of our Summer season as a church family. It is when the school year ends, and vacations begin. It is the month that starts many next chapters. So I would like to share with you my R.A.P. for the ministry of Mount Carmel, how I see things going for us in our mission to be a Matthew 28:18-20 church – a go into the world and make disciples of Jesus church.
We all know that in so many ways, we are in a season of uncharted territory. I recently read one report entitled “How Church Leaders Are Responding to the Challenges of COVID-19: One Year Report,” written by Enoch Hill, Andrew McDonald, and Ed Stetzer that concluded with these words:
“The sand continues to shift under our feet even as the church continues its progress in reopening. While online services are not likely to reach similar levels of usage/dependence, their importance during COVID has reshaped the nature of church participation. As the end of the pandemic finally seems discernible, pastors need to set realistic expectations for themselves and their congregations.”
Things continue to be in flux when it comes to being faithful to our mission. I guess that is my first Review observation: We are moving forward one day at a time, making adjustments as we go, being more prayerful and sensitive to the Holy Spirit than ever before.
Here are a few of my other “Review” observations:
- Online gatherings are here to stay. Our folks are using Zoom to meet for small groups and Bible studies. We are broadcasting our Sunday services on church online and on YouTube. Even with the easing of restrictions this past Sunday (June 6), we had 64% of our folks gather on-site and 36% gather online. I am not sure if those percentages will change as we move forward into the year, but the bottom line is that we will have a good portion of our church family choosing to gather online.
- Go small, go strong, go slow is working! Before the pandemic, we committed to investing in a disciples-making-disciples strategy. The plan was to set up spaces where Jesus-followers could invest in a few discipling them to be disciple-makers. Three years ago, we began our 1-with-3 groups. Just over one year ago, we wrote our own curriculum for those groups where one would disciple three over a year journeying through the Gospel of Mark and the letter to the Ephesians. In 2020 the pandemic kicked this ministry strategy into high gear. We have seen over 20 or so groups commit to going through the process. Then we initiated the Rooted small groups at the start of the year. The stories of life change from these groups have been incredible. We have seen baptisms, spiritual growth, and Mount Carmel folks equipped in their faith and grown confident within their spiritual walk. Our people are more excited than ever to be part of the Holy Spirit’s work in this world.
- 2021 is a season of transition. Specifically, I am referring to our staff leadership. We shared last year that Rick and Barb Anderson will be moving into different roles with us after 30 years of leading us in the music portion of our worship in January 2022. Tim Peace will move into the role of Teaching and Worship Minister. Aaron Adams will move into the role of Groups Minister. We have hired two part-time positions in our Children’s Ministry. We are currently in search of a Student Minister. We are looking at other staffing needs in light of our ministry needs in this new season.
Here are the “Applications”:
- Prayer has to be our first move in ministry. We HAVE to communicate with our guide, the Holy Spirit, as we follow Him through these uncharted territories.
- Gathering on-site and online means that we have to work on new skills with new personnel to do effective ministry in these very different venues.
- Disciple-making is an all-church commitment.
- The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. We must continue to pray to the Lord of the harvest! (Matthew 9:37)
Here are the “Plans”:
- We will pray, pray, pray! In our gatherings, in our meetings, at our special events. Also, we will continue in our practice of moving forward one step at a time. Our spending is decided weekly.
- We are currently learning everything we can about how to do ministry online and on-site. It is also a learn-as-we-go kind of thing.
- We will continue with our commitments to do disciple groups in all areas of ministry. We plan to launch new groups in the Fall, execute our Meet Mount Carmel and Join Mount Carmel events, Back Yard V.B.S., Student Ministry gatherings, local community ministry, and overseas ministry efforts. Check out the events portion of our website for all the details.
- We will continue to prayerfully pursue the workers that the Lord is sending for the harvest. That means staff AND it means ministry leaders in every part of the church at Mount Carmel.
That’s a WRAP on the R.A.P.!