What will Liberty Church look like in years to come? What would you want it to look like? What dreams, hopes, expectations do you have? What has God placed on your heart? What prayers do you pray for your own life, your family and friends?
Now, I admit that over this last year with our lives in varying degrees of lockdown, our minds often overcome with a fog of uncertainty and confusion, and the challenges of having to adapt our way of living and working, that it can be difficult to think beyond the present; to plan for the future. Yet, we know that God has a future for us as individuals, families, and as a Church together.
Over this last season we have been considering these questions, conscious that we do not just want to fall into that future, but to be a people who listen to God, following the prompts of his Spirit, and seeking a Christ-centred vision for Liberty Church. To this end we have been forming a vision document that sets direction and culture for the Church in the coming years, inviting input from many leaders, reviewing and refining the vision that will help us make good decisions as we move out of lockdown and into the next few years.
At our communications meeting last week I took a few moments to read out the final section of this vision, which invites us to imagine what Liberty looks like at the end of 2025. For those who missed this, and indeed for all of us, to allow us to imagine, to dream and to pray, here is what I read out. I invite you to read it as if you are there, right in the middle of it, asking God to reveal his heart and will to you.
We also invite your feedback on what you read as we continue to refine our thoughts and plans for the future. May you be blessed as you read and imagine.
As our 250 seat auditorium starts to fill up for our weekly worship gatherings we see our friends and family, the ones we have prayed for, invested in, witnessed to over the years, coming together, joining us to worship God with new found faith in Jesus Christ.
There is the excited sound of children and families, mixing with the older generations; people talking and laughing, hugging and praying. Around the room there are those who have known the pain of debt, poverty, fear, despair and loneliness lifted from their shoulders. There is a sense of freedom and hope. Some are joining us for the first time, unsure of what to expect and yet drawn in by the warm welcome, by the sense of expectation, and even by the smell of good coffee. The worship band prepares to lead us in our own songs of worship, songs which prophetically speak into our situation with praise, adoration, declaration and surrender. There is an air of anticipation as we gather. What does God have for us this morning? What does he want to teach us, to show us? What stories will we hear; healing, answered prayer, presence through pain, provision, Spirit prompted encounters? What will the Spirit of God do in us and through as we gather? The baptism pool is in regular use, as new believers invite their friends and family to hear and see their unfolding stories of grace, freedom and salvation.
During the week the sounds of life, laughter and learning, praying and playing, hope and healing fill Liberty Centre. Our kitchen forms a hub of hospitality, providing food and friendship to many who are on the journey towards life and freedom. Our team of staff and volunteers gather in the offices to plan, to pray, seeking God together for the next step in the Liberty journey. Stories are told, victory is celebrated and challenges worked through together.
Families are flourishing with new-found faith and friendship; marriages are being rescued and restored; children are experiencing the joy of following Jesus, young people are growing in faith and supporting each other through the pressures of life. Friendships are being formed across the generations, from the youngest to the oldest.
Out in our community, in homes and schools, workplaces, gyms and neighbourhoods, the Liberty family is serving and witnessing to those around them. The Spirit of God is prompting conversations and encounters. Seeds of faith are being planted as we bravely and sometimes falteringly speak of Jesus Christ and what he is doing in our lives. The kingdom of God, which we have prayed for over many years, is coming in the lives of those we know and love.
With Christ-centred compassion our ministries continue to change destinies, one life, one family at a time; standing up for those who have no voice, bringing hope to the ones who are broken and desperate, loving the lost and the lonely, welcoming the forgotten and the despised.
Through the week Life Groups meet in homes, coffee shops, in Liberty Centre and even online to talk of the ups and downs of life, to share the joys and the struggles, to pray, to learn and to be there for each other. Around tables people share meals and with them their lives with increasing openness and honesty. Friendships are formed and lives are transformed.
Beyond our own community, our wider partnership with churches and missions is helping to bring the hope of the gospel to many more around the world. Our partnership extends beyond financial and prayer support, to sharing our lives, our gifts and time, as people are responding to the call on their lives to actively engage in God’s mission to the world.
In all this we continue to give thanks to our God who continues to protect, to provide and to build his church. As in the earliest days of the Church we are seeing more evidence of the presence and power of God as his Spirit moves in us and through us, and we are seeing more people added into the Liberty family as lives are transformed through the Good News of Jesus Christ.