The Mississippi Baptist Foundation  |  est. 1943  |  Psalm 24:1
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     About 35 years ago (1985), Michael J. Fox starred in the hit movie “Back to the Future.” The movie’s popularity prompted film makers to release “Back to the Future II” and “III.” As I recall, the basic story line of the first movie involved a contemporary family, their teenaged son and an eccentric scientist/inventor. This inventor had developed a machine that could return a person back to some historical setting or reveal to him yet-to-be-experienced events that would definitely occur in the future. The movie contained moments of laughter and thrills, some unique experiences, people with varying personalities, and ultimately a positive outcome.          
     Reflection on the movie brings to mind several truths that may find expression in and through your church. First, your church has a history. Whether the church of which you are a part is a few years or many decades old, your church has a history. Quite often folks refer to the years of a church’s existence and ministry as its heritage. Everyone who is a member of your church is part of this heritage. While I recognize that members of the church may have different tenures in terms of the length of their membership, everyone is part of the church’s heritage. Every person is valuable to God and necessary for the work that He wants accomplished through the local expressions of His church.
     Second, every church is comprised of many different personalities. We need to be reminded that God situates people, their abilities, and their personalities together according to His design and desire. Writing to the church at Corinth, the apostle Paul declared “But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be” (1 Corinthians 12:18).    
     Third, the membership of your church has experienced laughter, thrills, and excitement throughout the church’s history. Many of these special periods occurred when people, under God’s leadership, accepted new challenges for growth, engaged in new ministries for service, and reached out to the community and county in which your church is located with missions and ministry efforts that focused on the future.
     I think you would agree that no one knows what the future holds for any of us individually. I’m pretty confident that you do not know what the future holds for your church collectively. I am certain, however, that the future will come. In fact, the future arrives at our doorstep on a daily basis. Furthermore, I am convinced that God desires you and your church to be postured to embrace the future. That future (yours individually and your congregation’s collectively) may come in many different forms. The future and the opportunities that arrive with the future may come with an influx of people to your community as a result of a new industry or another reason. The future might be aimed at children and young people. Or, the future might emphasize single adults. The future could have a desire to involve senior adults in a special ministry while at the same time giving young adult families a measure of attention.    
     Unlike the movie mentioned earlier, no one lives in the future. Nonetheless, you can focus on the future while living in the present. May I encourage you to pray for the future of your church and the role that God has given/will give you in the life and mission of your church. Dream creatively, live abundantly, love unconditionally, witness incessantly, and focus futuristically as you and your church expect great things from God while attempting great things for God. Be encouraged by the promises found in scripture such as “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

     C.S. Lewis asserted “Things are far better ahead than any we leave behind.” So…begin planning for the future right now. Commit yourself not only to daily Bible reading but also to corporate Bible study and worship every Sunday. Pray for the leadership of your church and for the Lord’s guidance in their lives and decision-making. Unless and until you and your church FOCUS on the FATHER you will not be able to FOCUS on the FUTURE. Yet, when you love the Lord completely (Matt. 22:37), seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33), and walk worthy of the calling you have received (Eph. 4:1), you will be well-postured to embrace the future and everything that God has in store for you and your church.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for giving me a hope and a future through Jesus. May I be a good steward of each and every opportunity afforded to me to represent you in this world and to tell others about you. May I help lead the churches that I serve to embrace the future in a positive and significant manner as we focus upon you. All the while, may I encourage others in your name. Amen.