Dear friends,

February 16 is sort of a big deal for Messiah. This is the second of five blogs to mark this date. The blogs are entitled, “Looking Back and Praying Forward.”

I have never been to my high school reunion. There is nothing wrong about going to high school reunions. It is just something I have no interest in. Needless to say, but if I have no interest in going to my high school reunion, I have even less desire to go to your high school reunion – nothing personal!

I mention this because it is a temptation for some churches to keep talking about the past. But to do this is to treat the church as if it is a high school reunion. This, often subtle and unconscious, mindset kills evangelism and healthy church development. After all, who wants to go to someone else’s high school reunion?

But while churches can talk too much about their past, it is also the case that they can talk too little about their past. After all, part of the reason why things are the ways they are in a church is the result of how the church dealt with their challenges and opportunities in history. No church changes everyone in it overnight; if it did, it would really mean the old church died and a completely new one was started. So, while every church loses and gains members over time, the history of decisions made by the church shapes how the church is today. It is valid and necessary that as new people come to a church, they are helped to understand how the church is and why the church is the way it is. Not so nothing changes, but so they can enter in and help their new church home deal with new challenges and opportunities.

One great analogy about how to balance past, present and future in the local church comes from John Maxwell. He compared the church to being in a car driving down the road. As he put it, to drive well we need a big windshield and a small rear-view mirror. He warned against churches that had it reversed – a huge rear-view mirror and a tiny windshield.

I do not know how well we do with all of this at Messiah. Please pray for me. Please pray for us. Pray we will be a church “on the move” with a large, clear windshield and a small rear-view mirror. Please pray we look through the windshield to where God is calling us to go, but that we also check our rear-view mirror for what’s behind. Please pray we have the right habits about how often to look where. Finally, pray we look at Canada like missionaries, not like chaplains. Pray we look like Christ’s labourers, working in His field, to bring in His harvest, bringing Him glory.