By now most people have heard the tragic story of Josh Brent, lineman for the Dallas Cowboys, who has been arrested for manslaughter after after an intoxicated Brent crashed his car killing his best friend, Jerry Brown. The two had played college football together and were now both playing for the Cowboys. Brent has said that Brown was the best friend he ever had. He now will live the rest of his life knowing that his actions led to the death of his friend. Besides that, he is facing likely jail time and possibly the loss of his football career. Even though he survived the accident, his life will never again be the same all because of his choice to drink and drive.
As free people we have the ability to make a wide range of choices, but the one choice we cannot make is to avoid the consequences of the ones we do make. We need to remember that every choice we make carries with it certain consequences. Sometimes, we get lucky and avoid the worst consequences that could happen, but sometimes we don't. According to reports Brent had been arrested before for DUI. On that occasion he avoided the worst of the possible consequences. This time he didn't, and the lives of two families will never again be the same.
Our churches are continually challenged with various choices to make. We can choose to focus our primary attention outwardly to those folks who do not know Christ or we can focus inwardly on our own needs. We can choose to be a loving, forgiving church that extends grace to hurting people who have made mistakes or we can choose to be legalistic Pharisees. Our churches can choose to work cooperatively with other churches or we can choose to be separated from other churches to avoid the chance of contamination. We could fill a book with all the choices available to churches, and we can argue which choices are best for churches to make, but there is one thing certain: the choices we make will result in consequences for our churches for years to come.
Your church is what it is today because of choices it made five years ago, ten years ago, and twenty years ago. Often, when I share this statement in a workshop someone will want to argue and insist that they are in a church that wants to grow but can't. I'm sorry, but at some point in the life of that church a decision was made that resulted in the lack of growth they are experiencing today. I'm sure nobody made a motion that their church should stop growing, but some decision that church made has limited its ability to grow, and until that decision is reversed that church will not grow.
The same thing is true for the future of your church. Your church will be what it is five years from now, ten years from now, and twenty years from now because of the decisions you make today. Your choices today will determine what your church will be in the future.
Let me ask an important question. Where do you believe God wants your church to be 5-10 years from now? This is another way of asking what do you believe God's vision is for your church. As your congregation begins to visualize what your church should look like 5-10 years out you then need to begin asking the question, "What do we have to do now to help us achieve that?" The choices you make today will largely determine whether or not you see that vision fulfilled.