Sunday, June 22, 2008

Matt's Messages - "10 Things I'm Hoping for in the Next 10 Years"

“10 Things I’m Hoping For in the Next 10 Years”
June 22, 2008

Today is our 3rd and last message in our special sermon series celebrating 10 years of ministry partnership between me and you. We’ve called the series, “10 Things.”

The first message was “10 Things I’ve Learned in the First 10 Years.”
The second message was “10 Things I’ve Been Teaching in the First 10 Years.”

And now this week, “10 Things I’m Hoping For in the Next 10 Years.”

We’ve spent two weeks looking backwards on 10 years of ministry together.

Today, I’d like for us to spend some time looking forward to the future.

Now, I don’t have a crystal ball. I may not be here 10 years from now. I may not be here 10 minutes from now.

James says, “You don’t even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that’” (James 4:14-15).

So, these 10 things are not prophetic pronouncements about what I know will happen in the next 10 years. As Walter Kaiser is famous for saying, “I am not a prophet nor the son of prophet, and I work for a non-profit organization!”

But these are 10 Things that I am hoping for. That I’m dreaming of. That if the Lord gives us 10 more years here as your pastor, I’m praying that God will do these 10 things in and through us together.

Let’s read 2 Timothy 4:1-8 and then I’ll give you this week’s 10 Things. Paul is giving his final instructions to Pastor Timothy.

[scripture reading, prayer]

Last week, I held up the worship bulletin from June 14, 1998–my first official Sunday as your Pastor.

And I thought this week, what if I could hold up the bulletin today from June 17th, 2018? 2018. That sounds like a long way away, but it’s just 10 years!

What might the bulletin say for Sunday June 17th, 2018? That will be not only my 20th anniversary as your Pastor (Lord-willing), it will also be Heather and my 24th wedding anniversary, that weekend.

There would probably be an announcement about that. “Praise the Lord for Pastor Matt and Heather’s 24th Wedding Anniversary.”

What else might the bulletin say?

The sermon title might be, “20 Things I’ve Learned in the First 20 Years.”

That would be a long one! You think I preach long now!

What else might it say?

Well, as I thought about that, I started dreaming about the next 10 years, and what I would love to see happen. And I began to list things I’m hoping for. Here’s #1.


I’m not planning a major overhaul of our ministry direction and focus in the next 10 years. I think that we, as a church, have the set the right general course, and we just need to keep steering towards it.

I think that we continue to try to glorify God by bringing people into a love relationship with Jesus Christ through worship, instruction, fellowship, evangelism, and service.

I think that we continue to strive to be a gospel-centered church.

I see myself still defining my pastoral role as “Preaching the Word, Equipping the Saints, and Shepherding the Flock.”

Doing more of the same.

I hope to stay a “broken record” preaching the good news, the evangel, the gospel of Jesus Christ and with it the whole counsel of God, the Bible.

As Paul told Timothy in verse 2, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season (when things are going well, the ups) and out of season (when things are not going well, the downs); correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.”

That’s what I’m hoping for: More of the Same.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t want anything to change. But the central most important things–I’m hoping won’t change at all.


I’m looking forward to watching my family grow up.

In 2018, Robin will be turning 18 in July. Andrew will be turning 17 in December. Peter will be turning 15. And Isaac 14.

I can’t wait to see what God is going to do with each of their lives.

And I’m looking forward to seeing Heather blossom even more as a godly mother, and as the kids get older seeing her more free to do more effective ministry with other wives and mothers and their children.

I look forward to seeing the other kids in our church grow up. I think Donovan was just 4 years old when I came. He was like Isaac’s age. He’ll be a young man of 24 in 2018.

I had the privilege of dedicating a number of the little children here today. I can’t wait to see what you grow up to be.

I expect to lose even more hair and see a lot of what’s left turn grey.

And I hope that as I get older I get wiser.

Proverbs 9:9 says, “Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.”

I hope that’s me. A wise and righteous man growing wiser still.

I hope that I grow in my ability to skillfully apply the Scriptures to my life and other people’s lives. To be a sought after counselor because I know God’s wisdom.

To be a life coach for others. To mentor. To pray more intelligently and scripturally for others. To have more wisdom for leading our church.

Frankly, I often don’t know what to do.

And that’s great, in one sense. Because it keeps me dependent on the Lord for guidance and direction.

But I want more for you than muddled thinking and vague wisdom.

I’m praying that your pastor grows in wisdom as he grows older.

I feel like I’ve grown several feet in wisdom in the last decade, but I see how far that I have to go. Would you pray with me for that?

Growing Older, Getting Wiser.


I’m hoping for great evangelistic fruitfulness in our ministry together over the next 10 years.

Not that I, personally, would lead thousands to Jesus Christ, though that would be great. Do it, Lord!

But that we together would reach thousands. As we each individually share the gospel with others and see their lives transformed and then as they turn around and share the gospel with others and see their lives transformed.

It’s multiplying! It’s exponential evangelism!

We have the greatest message in the world. I’m hoping that we don’t grow ashamed of it, but share it with those who need to hear it.

And that God would use our efforts to reach countless people for Jesus Christ.

Not all of those people will go to our church. I doubt that our church will ever be a thousand people large–though stranger things have happened!

But our church can be used to do big things for the Lord.

We heard today about the Outreach Ideas Team’s idea of a Free Oil Change Outreach.

That’s one of 4 outreaches being planned right now. I think that’s awesome!

I don’t have the gift of “evangelist,” but I don’t think that Timothy did, either. In verse 5, Paul tells him to “Do the work of an evangelist.”

And that means, at least, sharing the gospel yourself and equipping others to do it, too.

I pray that we would reach hundreds, maybe thousands for Christ.

I know that we’re already part of a multiplying movement.

It’s so exciting to be a part of the church planting adventure in the Allegheny District.

We pray and give just a little bit each month, but we’re part of planting churches that will reach the lost–people that you and I could never reach on our own. That’s exciting.

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a couple hundred healthy new churches in our district in the next 10 years? God could do that.

It starts with our just sharing the gospel.

Can I do that again right here?

Jesus Christ died on the Cross to bring unrighteous people to God.

And He is calling on sinners like you and me to repent and trust in Him alone for the forgiveness of sins and the sure hope of eternal life.

If you are not yet a faith-follower of Jesus Christ, I invite you, I challenge you, to become one today. Receive Jesus Christ as your King and Rescuer. Allow Him to enter and change your life forever.

Believe in Jesus.

Be the first of the hundreds or thousands that will come to Christ in the next 10 years.

I call upon you to believe in Jesus Christ and Him alone.

And become His disciple.

That’s number four.


The Lord’s great commission calls upon us to make disciples of people from all nations. Not just to help them to pray a prayer and then go on their merry way.

It’s not enough for our church to just try to get people to give mental assent to Jesus Christ.

They need to entrust themselves and their whole lives to following Him.

Loving God and Loving Others.

I’m hoping that we have scores and scads of men, women, and children who not only claim to love Jesus but live it out as faith-FOLLOWERS of Jesus.

Christianity in the West Branch Area is a mile-wide and an inch deep.

Everybody seems to think they are a Christian. But we need Real Christians to really live it out day by day.

I’m hoping that in the next 10 years our church is full of Real Christ-Followers.

Who ask the Lord, “What do you want me to do?” And then do it!

Who not only say they believe the Bible, but who take it as their marching orders!

Who go against the flow of the culture and live distinct lives.

Who live for Christ!

The culture is probably not going to get a lot better in the next 10 years.

Paul says in verse 3. “[T]he time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”

Look at California.

Homosexual “marriage” is now legal. Homeschooling is not! And Hollywood rules!

What will keep the culture from continuing to going down hill?

Maybe the Lord will be gracious and grant us a national awakening.

But even if He does not, I pray that we as a church would follow Jesus–no matter what.

Recently, in Canada, a pastor wrote a letter to the editor opposing homosexuality and its political agenda. The pastor was fined $5,000, ordered to apologize, and to not write or speak about homosexuality in public again.

That kind of thing might happen down here in the next 10 years.

I may have to go to prison for speaking the truth. I hope not. But it’s more important to speak the truth than to be popular.

I pray that we will stay faithful and follow Christ as His disciples.

And make disciples that make disciples for Jesus Christ.


That’s what Paul was doing with Timothy.

He as passing the baton. Two chapters early in 2 Timothy 2:2 he commands him:

“[T]he things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”

That’s leadership development. And we need it here at Lanse Free Church.

We’ve got a great bunch of leaders here.

I know pastors who would envy the line-up of leaders that we have right here at LEFC.

But very few of them are young.

For example. Could I have the Leadership Board stand?

These are 7 great guys who serve with me on the Leadership Board.

Thank you, men, for serving our church and leading us.

Notice something about their ages?

A few of our elders have been on our board for 25 or more years.

Some of the men are younger than others.

But I’m still the youngest board member. I’ve been a board member here for 10 years, but I’m still the youngest man on our board.

We need “younger elders!”

We need to be raising up the next generation of men to lead our church family.

Who will be the Wally Kephart and the Blair Murray types to lead Lanse Free Church in 2018?

You might be sitting here. I want to talk to you about stepping up to leadership.

I want to develop you as disciples and as leaders.

I want to spend a great deal of my time in the next 10 years developing the next generation of leaders.

And number six goes with that.


I’m hoping that we raise up some international missionaries from the young people here in this room.

We sent off the Forceys.
Then we sent off the Weatherlys.
Then we sent off the Gibboneys from our own number.

Whose going to follow them?

I hope that we not only raise up leaders for our own church, but that we raise up leaders for God’s church elsewhere.

I’m praying for my kids that they would discern if God had an international calling on their lives. And I’m praying it for your kids, too.

One of the greatest things about having missionaries come through and visit is getting a sense of what God is going globally and how we can be a part of it.

Our church has been a great missionary supporting church. I’m praying that we would grow even more as a great missionary sending church.


I talked last week about this, so I won’t say much now. But I see the family in danger in our culture and in our community–because of not building off of God’s steadfast blueprints.

I hope that in the next 10 years, our church stands firm, built on the Rock of Christ, with families that are distinctly different from the culture. Even from the direction that many in the church are going.

I’m hoping for strong families.


This is one that I think we need to grow in a lot more.

I’ve not done a good job of leading us into this one, and I want to do better.

What I mean here is that I hope that if we closed our doors, our community would cry.

That we, as a church, would truly be “salt and light” in our community, real difference-making in our presence (Matthew 5:13-16).

So that our presence is felt.

I’m praying that we find more and more ways to serve our community and care for theirs needs, both spiritual and more tangible.

That our campus is seen as a community asset–an hope-filled place that is known for loving the community and possessing biblical wisdom for life.

We’ve experienced a taste of that from time to time. But I’m hoping that in 2018 it just seems natural.


What I mean by that is growing both numerically and in our usefulness.

Here I’m thinking of things like developing our master plan, upgrading our facilities, re-doing some of our leadership structures, hiring more staff, engaging with new technologies like the Internet, and so forth.

I would love to see our influence grow. Being a resource to other churches. Doing conferences that serve others. Training pastors.

Some day I’d like to write book that helps others.

None of that is very important, on its own. It isn’t the gospel.

But the gospel is important enough on its own for us to improve how we go about building a church on it.

Of course, that will mean undergoing change.

And change is not always fun, is it?

But this church has done a wonderful job in 116 years of navigating change.

Does anybody know how many buildings this church has had?

This is our fourth facility.

Have you ever thought that there might be a fifth?

How many languages have we worshiped in?

English is our SECOND language. Pastor Johansen preached in this church for 11 years in Sweedish. He’s the only one of this church’s pastor that has me beat for longevity.

We haven’t yet hit half of our history in English! In 2012, we will have reached the point where our ministry has been half in English and half in Swedish.

Do you think we might need to change in the future and pick up a third language? Maybe so.

Maybe we’ll need to change the name of our church. I think that we might have been called “Lanse Covenant Church” for a while back in the 60's. Maybe we need to think up a third name for our church in the next decade.

West Branch Community Church?
West Branch Bible Church?

We’ll need to change some things to meet the demands of the next 10 years.

And to expand our capacities to multiply our usefulness in our community.

But this will never change. Number 10.


I’m hoping that our ministry partnership will stay true to the Lord’s direction and desires for Lanse Free Church.

That what we want is for our Lord to be pleased.

Colossians 1: “[W]e pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. [BECAUSE OF THE GOSPEL!] For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

These 10 Things I’m Hoping FOR.

But this one thing I’m hoping IN: The Lord.