In February 2017, I wrote a piece in the bulletin reflecting upon our arrival in Sydney 15 years earlier. Later that year we thanked God for 15 years together as a church. It is hard to believe that another 5 years have passed. On November 17, we celebrate our 20th anniversary. Here are some thoughts on the last twenty years and moving forward.
Onward and upward. Any pastor who says that church numbers are irrelevant is either disinterested in the Kingdom of God or lying. We should not be concerned with numbers for bragging rights, but surely, we want our church population to be heading north. Increasing numbers is not necessarily a sign of health, nevertheless, a healthy church will grow. Over the years we have grown, starting with 10 members the Lord has added to us. It has often felt like a slow uphill journey, but at least moving in the right direction. Let us continue to pray for the Lord’s increase – numerically and spiritually (numerical growth is nothing without spiritual growth). We want to be a northbound church in every way.
Disappointments and sadness. The series on 2 Corinthians is a reminder that churches fall into sin; Christian people do not always get along, they do not always believe or behave as they should. Every church will be affected and SDRBC is no exception. By God’s grace sin within our congregation has been largely constrained and only on occasions has it escalated into a ‘pastoral issue’. Nevertheless, such occasions have been the cause of much grief. It has also been disappointing to watch some of our young people drawn into the world and away from the things of God. Parents bear a great weight in this, yet we do not give up hope and continue to pray and reach out to them as we have opportunity.
Thankfulness and rejoicing. There is so much to be thankful for – we have not faced disruption or disunity; we have not had a church split. Thank God for a good measure of peace, love, and oneness. Thank God for conversions and baptisms. Thank God for our various ministries. Thank God for growth. Thank God for friendships and fellowship. Thank God for marriages and the birth of babies. Thank God for the next generation which is beginning to take more responsibility. Thank God for the provision of workers. Thank God for the buildings in which we have been able to worship. Thank God for the connections we have with other churches. Thank God for the door opened with KBCC and the possibility of future ministry together.
Hope and optimism. We are living in a day of diminishing spiritual light. We ought not to be disillusioned however but see the opportunities before us. Like Esther, we are called to serve the Lord in the time and place He has appointed us. As we sincerely, earnestly, and humbly look to Him, there is every reason to be hopeful and optimistic about the future. This is not to say that the future will be trouble free, it is to say that the Lord blesses those who walk with Him seeking to be faithful. We will not be blessed simply because in name we are protestant, reformed, evangelical, or baptistic. We will be blessed as we labour for the glory of God.
How quickly the last 20 years have gone. We thank God for those years and we trust Him moving forward. May He use us for His own glory.