By John Pappert, Grace First Church, Colorado Springs, CO
We’re a couple months into the new year, and that likely means that you’ve been guilty of, or witness to, the breaking of some resolutions. The changing of the calendar ignites within so many people a desire to make changes to better themselves, but without the right tools or teachers we often fail to reach our goals.
God doesn’t have problems with getting changes made.
He’s big on transformation.
We see that as we examine stories in the Bible.
We acknowledge it in others when we hear their stories of where they were versus where they are now.
We certainly should have proof of it in our own lives. For instance, I see it in myself when I marvel at how, in the space of 20 years, He took me from non-believer to pastor.
And now, in my role as pastor, I consider what that means for the church that He has entrusted to my care.
Here in the state of Colorado we have multiple fantastic tools available to help in transforming ourselves and our churches, and it’s important for us to recognize what they are. For starters, we have scripture. While that’s not unique to our state, it’s important to remind ourselves how fortunate we are to live in a time and place where we have so many translations readily available and the freedom to read them when and where we please. The study of scripture for us is not an illegal or subversive act, though it is perhaps an unusual one nowadays.
Second, we have our member churches. There are highly traditional churches, Cowboy churches, non-English language churches, college churches, and so many other varieties. Just as in 1 Corinthians 9:20-21 Paul tells of becoming like others to reach others, so our constituent churches strive to reach people of differing cultures and backgrounds.
Next, we have Gateway Seminary. In 2011 I heard God’s call to ministry, and I knew that I was woefully underequipped for that role. Through the teaching of some great professors and the support of so many fellow students who rapidly became friends, I advanced to being just mostly underequipped. I say that with tongue planted firmly in cheek because what I learned through my seminary journey is invaluable, but I doubt any of us in ministry ever feels truly and fully equipped. Without my seminary training I could not effectively fulfill my role as a pastor.
Gateway Seminary is such a great resource for folks in the Rocky Mountain region who want to expand their knowledge of Scripture and the depth of their relationship with the Lord. From certificate and diploma programs to Master’s level teaching and doctoral degrees, there are paths of study for anyone who wants to learn. With classroom options that include traditional weekly classes, to hybrid one-week courses, to weekend classes, to “remote access” options that allow students to be in class through their computers, it’s almost impossible to NOT find an option that works for any prospective student.
Finally, as part of the Colorado Baptists, our churches have the option of enrolling in the “Next Step” process. The church where I serve, Grace First Church in Colorado Springs, has just started this process. From the first meeting with our facilitator we felt a renewed energy within our leadership. There is a much clearer vision on how we are to work with the community we serve and what is required to transform our church from what it’s been to what we believe God is calling it to be. We are excited to be part of something that pushes away from the traditional path of working with a “program” and instead has us striving to fulfill a purpose.
Resolutions are a promise that we make to and for ourselves. We tend to not be the most reliable creatures out there, so if we want to see real, lasting transformation it depends on God. Let us have the wisdom to avail ourselves of His tools and teachings as we seek change that honors Him.