Where Are We Going?
April 19, 2016
The past year has been one of change and growth at Harbor Life. A year ago, we were working on a plan to “re-launch” our church. Our vision was simply to become a positive, stable presence in our community and let people know that Harbor Life was a good place to connect with God and others. Because of the strong work of many volunteers and staff, we exceeded our own hopes in numerous ways.
- Kids ministry continues to flourish, having as many as 119 children and 24 volunteers on a single Sunday morning!
- Involvement in worship has grown as more members have been added to the worship teams. Attendance on Sunday mornings has also continued to increase steadily.
- Through Hand 2 Hand, we’ve provided food for 82 elementary school students every weekend this school year. The number of volunteers has also increased by a large margin as many of you are investing yourselves in this great ministry. Thank you!
- Opportunities at East Elementary continue to abound, with the staff welcoming our presence in new and exciting ways.
- GoSunday has caught the attention of our neighbors, and has shaped how we think of ourselves and what God has put us in this community to do and be.
- Our youth group is growing and thriving, drawing youth from the local neighborhood as well as from within our congregation. Nineteen people are signed up to participate in the mission trip to Boston this summer.
- Partnership, guests, baptisms, births, participation in Breaking Bread, launching Huddles (we’ll get to those in a minute), a fortified missions team, successful outreach events, you name it – it’s going well. Things are moving at Harbor Life, and it’s a fun and exciting time to be a part of this family!
But (and you knew there was one coming, didn’t you?) … Where are we going now? We’ve re-launched. Great! Now what? I’m glad you asked!
UP, IN, and OUT.
A couple of weeks ago, I introduced a concept in a sermon called UP/IN/OUT. It’s simple: Jesus’ life was marked by consistent nurture of three relational directions.
Jesus nurtured his relationship with God the Kingly Father: UP.
Jesus nurtured his relationship with his followers: IN.
Jesus nurtured his relationship with the world beyond those who followed him: OUT.
Harbor Life wants to be a place that focuses on these same three relational directions. Here’s how I hope we will do this in the coming year:
We will continue to improve the Sunday morning experience. This happens through purchasing new and better sound equipment, through introducing new elements to the worship service (like prayers, testimonies, and opportunities to respond), and through getting more people involved in worship services. It also means developing a robust prayer ministry.
We will continue to highlight opportunities to connect with each other. Breaking Bread has been a fantastic tool for building relationships. It’s been so fantastic, in fact, that the other Harbor Churches have adopted it! We also want to keep up the high level of care for one another that makes Harbor Life a great place to call home. Much of this care for one another has been informal, with a few of you taking the lead in organizing the efforts. THANKS to those of you who have done this! I am so appreciative!
In the coming year, Elders and Deacons on the new Campus Leadership Team will be working on ways to support the incredible informal care network that already exists. We want to support the natural ways that people are helping each other because they are so effective. We will do this through organizing and resourcing where necessary.
We’ve been reaching out through family-friendly events, organizing garage sales, helping our neighbors, and serving our community. We’ve done this formally, and informally. It’s been amazing to watch you all GO and BE the change we hope to see God make in the world! Thank you! We will continue to do many of these things, but we will also make adjustments as we analyze what the most effective approach to outreach will be in our particular context. I’m excited about launching Kids Hope at East Elementary this year, as well as all of the other opportunities we are being given to serve that school like taking care of the community garden, reading to students, assisting with special events, continuing to provide food support through Hand 2 Hand … and the list goes on and on. God has opened up some amazing doors for friendship and partnership between Harbor Life and East Elementary!
DOING IT ALL: STRATEGICALLY COMBINING UP/IN/OUT
So, with all that’s going well, and all that we COULD be doing, what are the three big things that I will be focusing on in the coming year? Again, glad you asked. I’ll be focusing on these three things, all of which will have a balanced UP/IN/OUT focus.
- Leadership Development – To become mature, Harbor Life needs to continue to multiply strong, stable, wise, engaged leaders. This starts with Elders and Deacons, who will be newly appointed in June. I have been working on a plan to equip and empower them as together we will discern where God is calling Harbor Life in the coming years. I’m really excited about this!
- Huddles – About a year ago, we began implementing a new way of helping people to grow in their relationships with God, others, and the world. We call them “huddles”. Here’s how they work: A huddle leader invites approximately 5 friends to commit to gathering weekly where they will talk intentionally about the rhythms and patterns that made Jesus’ life so attractive. Then they will learn how to implement those patterns in their own lives. The huddle leader’s role is to support and encourage the members of the huddle to take ownership of their personal journeys of mission and discipleship, not telling them what to do, but instead helping hold them accountable for the decisions they make.
The process of getting people involved in Huddles is slow at first, because the only people who can lead a huddle are those who have already been huddled by someone. BUT, the growth is exponential, because after the first two generations of Huddles, there are multiple Huddles beginning as past participants invite their friends into new huddles to learn these same Jesus-shaped rhythms! The goal of huddle is to build a strong culture of discipleship where participants experience friendship, accountability and positive transformation. If someone asks you to join a Huddle, pray about it, and strongly consider saying “yes.” You won’t be sorry.
- Harbor Communities – Imagine 15-30 adults (plus any number of children) who have a similar missional heart meeting weekly in someone’s home to share a potluck meal, pray together and learn from and encourage one another. These types of communities are places to be known, supported and challenged to go deeper in relationship with each other and to grow as disciples of Jesus. They are also a place to belong and welcome friends who may be interested in learning about Jesus, but may not feel comfortable in a traditional Sunday morning church setting. Harbor Communities could form around supporting and serving a particular people group (i.e. adoptive parents), cause (i.e. Hand2Hand or Kids Hope) or geographical area (i.e. the neighborhood surrounding East Elementary). In this way they can provide real opportunity to live out our mission to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our community. They also provide connection by creating extended families who see each other week in, week out, care for each other in times of need, and share life together.”
This is what we hope to multiply at Harbor Life in the coming year! These Harbor Communities will be truly life (and neighborhood) transforming! Look for more information in the coming months about how you can get involved with a Harbor Community!
I hope that this brief update helps you to get a glimpse of where I think God is calling Harbor Life, and what I hope to see happen in the next year. I hope that it creates excitement in you! I hope that you will take these ideas, talk about them with your friends and family, and pray about them. Pray that God would continue to guide us. Pray that God would continue to open up new, exciting, and often surprising avenues for us to join God in what God is already doing! Ask God how he might be inviting you to get involved, too! I’m excited for this year of UP, IN, and OUT with you!
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Tanner Smith