Mark's Minute 

June 1 2017

One of the best parts of launching our new service format last week was learning what your dreams are for Parkland’s future. Today I want to reflect on what you said and what it means for our church.
 
First, though, I want to give a huge shout out to the people who worked hard to bring this plan to fruition. The staff did an incredible amount of work in planning and coordinating, and the food service team was amazing. Thanks so much for catching the vision and being willing to run with it.
 
And if you weren’t there on Sunday or weren’t able to stay, I hope that you can join us this week.
 
One of the questions I asked the table hosts to ask you was this: “What’s one thing you hope will be true of Parkland one year from now?” I had no idea what the answer to this question would be, but it turns out that a number of us have similar dreams.
 
There are two themes that stood out in the majority of the answers: (1) we want Parkland to be a healthy and vibrant church family, and (2) we want to make a difference in the community.
 
I love how those two themes capture exactly what the church is supposed to be. We want to fulfill the Great Commission to go and make disciples, and we know that we can only do that when we’re strong and healthy.
 
You may already know this about me, but I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Baptist who is completely sold out to the idea of congregationalism. The congregation is the first recipient of the Spirit’s voice in the church—not the pastor, the staff, or the board. Together, we listen to his voice and talk about what he’s asking us to do, because we know that if it’s the right thing for our church then we’ll find an uncanny level of agreement about it.
 
My job as the pastor is to listen to our voice and figure out how to guide us down the field and toward the goal to which we’ve been called. That’s why hearing your ideas is so important. 
 
That model of decision-making is the one the early church seems to have followed—at least on one particular occasion. In Acts 6, Luke tells about a problem the church was facing with the inequitable distribution of food, and how the leaders of the church heard what people were saying, then came up with a solution and presented it to the people.
 
And in verse 5, Luke reports that “what they said pleased the whole gathering.” And it did so because the congregation was listening to the Spirit and the leaders were giving shape to the call.
 
As we move into the summer, one of my big projects is to think carefully about where Parkland is going and what we need to do in order to get there. It’s a project that requires careful thought, prayer, and the willingness to believe that God can do bigger things than we can currently see.
 
And it also requires you. Your voice matters. Your discernment matters. Your willingness to listen to the call of the Spirit matters. 
 
Together let’s build a culture of open dialogue—one in which we’re not afraid to talk about the hopes and dreams that the Spirit is laying on our hearts, even if they seem completely outrageous, because he’s probably laying that same dream on someone else’s heart as well.
 
I hope you can join us this week as we continue to build the future together. And hey, lunch is on us.