Faith: A top 10 of New Year's resolutions
Pequot Lakes pastor offers a Top Ten List to consider for 2022
Back in the day when I used to stay up late and watch the David Letterman show (yes, I am dating myself!), I always enjoyed the Top Ten List he provided.
And it is with that sentiment in mind that I am offering a Top Ten New Year's Resolutions for every congregation member to consider in 2022.
- No. 10: Increase your Sunday morning attendance by 10% this year.
This is admittedly tricky due to COVID-19 concerns, because not all churches are on the same page, and that’s OK. Yet, prior to COVID-19, lots of people claimed they believed in God, and yet, the numbers on Sunday morning across all denominational lines didn’t reflect those statements.
Apparently for many, worshipping God was not a high priority in their discipleship, and that is unfortunate.
I should also mention that worship is not just showing up and sitting through roughly an hour of singing and listening quietly. Worship is taking the time for confessing the fact that we have not been the people God created us to be, that we have let God down in our actions, and more often than not, our inactions.
And then it is hearing those wonderful words of forgiveness, the assurance that the slate has been wiped clean. And now you are free to forgive others having received forgiveness as well.
Worship is giving thanks to the One who created you and sustains you. And worship is being nurtured and nourished in both Word and the Meal. Worship has been and always will be the heart and center of any Christian community.
So, make an effort to show up, either in person or online as many churches have found this wonderful evangelism tool.
- No. 9: Share some of that love, grace and forgiveness with others.
Take what you have received from God and share it with others. I can guarantee you that you will feel better and so will those you encounter each day. Love like Jesus, and that means loving God with heart, soul and mind, and one’s neighbor as oneself.
And remember, forgiveness is central to the Christian faith. That cross in your church sanctuary is a great reminder.
- No. 8: Share, share and share.
Share your time with others. Share your talents with others and share your God-given gifts with others. I might be oversimplifying it, but there are two kinds of people in the world: those who share and those who simply take.
It has been my observation that those who share are far happier and more content than those who don’t.
- No. 7: Be a good steward.
I’m not just talking about increasing your financial support for your congregation of choice. I’m talking about being a good steward of all the resources God has blessed you with in this life.
Be more intentional on how you save, spend and share and invest. Whether we like it or not, what we do with our finances tells more about what we value than anything else.
So, in 2022, be thoughtful, be responsible and be wise in your stewardship.
- No. 6: Serve.
This is similar to No. 7 in that we would all do well to seek out ways to make a difference in the lives of others. Be a mentor, teach or assist with Sunday school. Help with Sunday worship, help with fellowship.
In short - step up and lend a hand. Why? Because many hands make light work! In 2022, it would be nice to debunk the old adage that 20% of the people do 80% of the work.
- No. 5: Invite a friend to worship.
I am going to pick on my own denomination, but I suspect it could extend to others as well. I don’t recall the exact numbers, but I recall reading that Lutherans invite someone to worship once every 29 years, or something less than impressive.
When was the last time you invited a friend, neighbor, co-worker or family member to worship? How many of us have encouraged friends or relatives to check out a new restaurant, a good movie or book, and yet, we have not invited or even talked about that which we claim is so important in our lives, our relationship with Jesus Christ.
Here’s how it works - invite a friend, offer to pick them up for worship, sit with them, introduce them to others, and maybe take them out for brunch and thank them for joining you. Repeat the following week. Maybe they will offer to cover the cost of brunch!
- No. 4: Pray.
Pray in the morning. Before you dig in for a meal. Rather than making a fuss about prayer in school, pray with your kids before they head off to school. Offer a word of prayer on behalf of someone in need.
Pray for our national, state and local elected officials, even if you don’t like them. Pray that they might serve the common good and not just those who give them the most money. Join a prayer chain. Pray for our for your church’s leadership. Pray for God’s Spirit to daily guide and inspire all that they do.
Please keep your pastor in your prayers, that he or she might continue to remain faithful in their calling and vocation as a disciple and apostle to our Lord and Savior.
- No. 3: Make a commitment to grow in faith.
This could mean several things. It could mean amping up your responses to many of the previous suggestions. It could mean participating in some form of Christian education, joining a Bible study.
It could mean getting on board with a mission trip or a service project. Bottom line - step out of your comfort zone, grow, stretch, be challenged. I promise you; you won’t regret it.
- No. 2: Go back to #10. Worship.
Take time each week before gathering for worship to read the assigned readings. Sit next to someone you don’t know in worship - yes, it is OK to sit somewhere different each week. You need not return to the same stall; I mean pew each week!
Introduce yourself to someone you don’t know at worship. It might make a huge difference to that person. And remember, if the music at worship is not of your liking, get over yourself, it’s not about you!
- No. 1: Drum roll please ... Read your Bible.
You will be amazed what you will find there! Read about how God created the universe and called it good. Read about how God has made us stewards of all creation, which means we are to care for it and not exploit God’s good creation. Read about how God has used ordinary people to do extraordinary things.
Read the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and become familiar with the teaching of Jesus. Read the parables, the Beatitudes, and all those teachings where Jesus makes it very clear that we are to take care of those who are vulnerable, those on the margins, the poor, the homeless, the hungry (See Matthew 25).
And then read the Book of Acts and become familiar with the work of the Holy Spirit transforming lives and shaping the community of faith we now call the Christian church. Read about how our faith is founded on love, grace and compassion for everyone, no exceptions.
You don’t have to read it all at once. Take 15-30 minutes each day. It can be life-changing, which I might add is part of the point!
So, there you have it. Ten possible New Year’s resolutions for 2022. Have a blessed and grace-filled new year.
Stephen Blenkush is pastor at Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Pequot Lakes.