21 Goals to Set For Yourself to Make 2021 Your Best Year Ever

Guest Blogger – Erin Gobler

If you read this blog regularly, you know how much I love talking about goal setting.

I spent years setting new year’s resolutions for myself, only to forget about them by February. And honestly, this is how so many people approach goal-setting!

When it comes to setting goals for the year, setting the RIGHT goals is half the battle.

In this post, I’m sharing 21 goals to set for yourself this year that can seriously make 2021 your best year ever!

 

21 Goals to Set For Yourself to Make 2021 Your Best Year Ever

Learn a New Skill

One of my favourite things about blogging is that I have learned SO many new skills that I absolutely did not set out to learn.

It’s really helped me to learn how much I love learning new skills and has pushed me to branch out and try learning new skills that are completely separate from my business as well.

There are SO many resources online to help you branch out and try something new.

 

Create a Monthly Budget

 I feel like money-related goals are some of the most common people set for themselves every year, so I definitely had to include some on this list!

If you don’t currently have a budget, that is honestly the first goal from this list that I would tackle.

Money is one of the single biggest stressors for people (especially millennials), and it’s one of the biggest points of conflict in marriages and relationships. So it definitely seems that getting your money under control should be pretty high on the priority list!

I went years of my adult life without creating a monthly budget. Looking back, it’s still crazy to me that I really didn’t know where my money was going every month.

Creating a monthly budget allowed me to get my money under control in a way I honestly couldn’t even have imagined.

 

Read 12 Books

I love to read so much, whether it’s fiction, poetry, or personal development books. But sometimes I just get out of the habit of it and realize I’ve gone months without reading!

I’ve started setting a yearly reading goal for myself and using Goodreads to track how many books I’ve read. This has really helped to motivate me to keep reading.

You can definitely set a goal of reading more than 12 books. I just think that 12 is a good starting point for people who don’t read super often because that gives you an entire month to finish each book.

 

Start a Side Hustle

I’m a huge proponent of having a side hustle. I started this blog back in 2014. At the time it was only meant to be a hobby, but it has definitely turned into a side hustle!

Looking back, I’m so grateful I started the blog when I did! Not only has it allowed me to earn extra money alongside my full-time job, but it has also paved the way for a lot of personal and professional development.

There are SO many options for different side hustles you can start. I recently wrote a blog post where I shared 35+ legit ways you can start making extra money.

If you’re ready to start your side hustle, make sure to check out my in-depth guide on how to start a side hustle!

 

Create a Morning Routine (And Actually Stick To It!)

I’m going to be honest, mornings have been one of my biggest struggles for…basically my entire life. I’ve never been a morning person. But I really took the whole “not a morning person” thing to a whole new level.

But once I graduated from college and started my career, I had to get up early for work every morning. And I needed to actually be awake and functional rather than being a zombie for the first two hours!

Creating a morning routine seriously made ALL the difference for me. I learned to create a routine that actually helps me to wake up and enjoy the morning rather than being miserable and frantically running out the door late every day.

Make sure to check out my guide on creating your own healthy morning routine!

 

Eliminate a Bad Habit

I think it’s safe to say we all have a bad habit or two that we’d like to kick, whether it be excessive drinking, smoking, or chronic lateness.

Let’s be real, this is a lot easier than it sounds. And most of us have probably tried and given up more than a few times. But don’t give up!

Here are some steps that just might help you finally break that bad habit this year.

 

Start a Gratitude Journal

 At some point a couple of years ago it was like a switch was flipped and everyone was talking about gratitude journals. And I promptly ignored that advice and went on with business as usual.

Then last year I was struggling with some pretty severe anxiety and was looking for solutions, and once again the idea of a gratitude journal kept popping up. So I finally broke down.

It turns out everyone was right. It’s amazing how when I’m having a bad day, something as simple as writing down things I’m grateful for can completely turn around my mood.

You can do this first thing in the morning, right before bed, or any time you’re having a rough day and need something to help turn your mindset around.

 

Spend Less Time Online

I have a full-time job where I’m on a computer most of the day, and then I go home and run an online business. So it’s safe to say I’m spending a LOT of my time online. And running a blog means spending a lot of time on social media.

One of my goals for 2021 is definitely to spend less time online. Quite often I don’t have a choice. But in the moments where I’m not working and have the opportunity to spend time with loved ones, I want to make a genuine effort to focus on those around me and get outside more rather than have my phone in front of my face all the time.

 

Eat Healthier

Eating healthier is without a doubt one of the most common goals people set for themselves each year. I’m right there with you! My eating habits are significantly better than they used to be, but they aren’t perfect (and I don’t expect them to ever be perfect).

Rather than push yourself to cut entire food groups or go on really restrictive diets, aim for slow progress and a better diet.

If you love bread and pasta and decide you’re cutting out carbs completely, how long will that really be feasible? What if instead you trade the white bread and pasta for whole grain, and swap in veggie pasta a couple of times per week? That’s not a huge change, but it would still make a difference.

Rather than preventing myself from eating foods I love, I shoot to eat clean 75% of the time, and then I feel better about eating whatever I want the rest of the time!

 

Create a Fitness Routine

Fitness is another goal to set that seems to be pretty universal. And for some people, the idea of creating a fitness routine seems SO daunting.

Here’s the thing though, your fitness routine can look literally however you want it to look.

If you don’t like running, don’t run. In fact, skip the cardio altogether it that’s not what floats your boat.

My favourite exercises are the ones that don’t feel like exercise at all! Brandon and I love biking around the city when the weather is warm. We love checking out bars and restaurants in town, so we just started biking there instead of driving.

I also love hiking, which definitely feels more like a hobby than a workout!

There are also SO many workouts like yoga, pilates, barre, etc. that are a great workout, but low impact.

Finally, your fitness routine can just consist of walking! When the weather is nice, I throw on a podcast and take the dog for an hour long walk. I get my body moving, I get to listen to a favourite podcast, and I feel amazing when I’m done.

 

Travel to a New Place

I love to travel, and I definitely don’t get to do enough of it. In 2019 my husband and I were able to take a vacation to a place we had never been before. Then, in 2020, we traveled the country in our RV. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2021!

If travel is in your budget for this year, I absolutely recommend making it a personal goal for yourself. And rather than visiting the same destinations you’ve visited before, branch out and explore a new place!

There are honestly so many amazing places and things to see, and none of us will be able to see them all.

But whatever your interests when it comes to travel, whether it be hiking, history, or laying on a beach, you can always find a new destination to visit.

 

Declutter Your Home

 Thanks to Marie Kondo and her new Netflix series, it seems like everyone is jumping on the KonMari bandwagon and making it a personal goal to declutter their homes this year.

I’m right there with you, and I’ve been on the declutter train for several years now.

In 2017, I got divorced and moved from a three-bedroom house to a studio apartment. That meant I had to get rid of almost everything I owned.

I thought it would be the most difficult thing ever, but it turned out to be amazing! I was honestly surprised by how much stuff I had that I didn’t need, or even really want.

Since then I’ve continued to keep an eye on how much stuff I accumulate and regularly donate clothing and household items I find I’m not using.

If you’re ready to declutter your home, try asking yourself these questions.

 

Create a Minimalist Wardrobe

While we’re on the subject of decluttering, let’s talk about clothes. You guys, I used to have SO many clothes. Clothes I hadn’t worn in years, and yet still couldn’t bring myself to get rid of.

When I finally decided to really force myself to narrow down my wardrobe, I realized I was wearing the same few pieces and the same few colours over and over again.

I’ve created a minimalist wardrobe for myself by limiting the colours in my wardrobe (95% of my clothes are black, white and gray) and limiting the style of clothes. I’ve really narrowed down what my personal style is, and I really don’t feel the need to experiment with anything outside of that!

Now, a minimalist wardrobe definitely won’t work for some people. If clothes and fashion are your passion, you’re not going to be excited about this. But if fashion isn’t a priority for you, I really recommend challenging yourself to create a minimalist wardrobe this year.

 

Meditate Every Day

I was definitely skeptical a few years ago when I saw SO many people recommending meditation for productivity and personal development.

And even after trying it the first few times, I was still skeptical. But once I really gave it a chance, it totally won me over.

I’ve suffered from my fair share of stress and anxiety, and meditation has helped me reduce these a lot.

I’ve also noticed that it has helped me improve my focus, which has been amazing. I have WAY to much going on in my life to not be focused.

For anyone struggling with anxiety, I think daily meditation should absolutely be on your list of goals to set for yourself this year.

 

Journal Every Day

I’ve been journaling on and off for pretty much my entire life. I hadn’t journaled for years but picked it back up again in an effort to control my anxiety.

Journaling has really helped me to reduce my stress and anxiety, and just learn to better control my emotions.

When I sit down to journal, I focus on identifying the negative emotions I’m feeling and trying to get to the root cause. I also focus on affirmations I know to be true in order to negate the worried thoughts I’m feeling.

If journaling is a goal for your this year but the idea seems daunting to you, I recommend picking up the Five Minute Journal. As the name suggests, it’s literally five minutes in the morning and five minutes in the evening. And even in that short amount of time, I think you’ll see a difference!

 

Drink More Water

It turns out that about 75% of us are living our lives chronically dehydrated. And I know without a doubt that I used to be one of those people.

I’ve had a lot of health-related annoyances in my life. Not to the point where something has been seriously wrong, but just enough so that I’ve always felt…well, just not great.

Once I started making a really solid effort to drink more water, I noticed a big difference. I aim to drink 100 ounces per day, and I track it religiously throughout the day.

I use the Fitbit app to track my water intake, but there are also apps like Plant Nanny that are specifically designed for tracking water.

 

Set a Bedtime For Yourself

I will be the first to admit that I do NOT get enough sleep. There are some nights where my schedule prevents me from getting to bed as early as I would like. There’s unfortunately not much I can do about that.

However, I also find myself staying up WAY too late on the nights that I could be going to bed earlier.

One of my personal goals for 2021 is to get more sleep, which means setting a bedtime for myself and actually sticking to it!

One creative way I’ve heard of accomplishing this is by using a bedtime alarm. I would set mine for about an hour before I actually want to go to sleep. That way I have time to prepare my lunch for the next day, get the coffee maker reader, wash my face, brush my teeth, and spend some time reading in bed.

In case you can’t tell, I like to have as much prepped the night before as possible because I won’t be happy having to do it the next morning!

 

Build an Emergency Fund

 You guys already know you need to have an emergency fund. But since I’m guessing a lot of you either don’t have one or aren’t putting money in regularly, I’m adding this as a goal to set for yourself this year!

Statistics show that most Americans have less than $1,000 dollars in savings, and nearly half have less than $400. Those numbers are pretty alarming, considering something as simple as unexpected car repairs could easily take out your entire savings account.

I struggled for a long time to build my emergency fund. Finally, I decided that rather than save whatever money I had left at the end of the month, I would pay myself first.

On the first day of every month, an automatic transfer takes money out of my checking account and puts it into my emergency fund.

If you’ve struggled to save, trying paying yourself first and really prioritizing your emergency fund.

Related Article: 25 Creative Ways to Save Money

 

Reconnect With Old Friends

I’m pretty lucky in that I have had the same close group of friends since I was about 16. We were a close-knit group in high school. And then many of us ended up going to the same colleges, so it was easy for us all to stay in touch and we got together pretty regularly.

After college, as I’m sure happens to a lot of friend groups, we all moved away and started our careers, and definitely didn’t spend as much time together.

Over the past year or so we’ve really made an effort to see each other more often. We’re lucky to all live in the same state where the travel isn’t too difficult. We’ve been able to make it a pretty regular thing.

I’m so glad we all reconnected! If you have a close friend or group of friends that you’ve drifted apart from or haven’t seen in a while, reach out and try to reconnect. You’ll be so glad you did!

 

Revisit Your Career Goals

When was the last time you took some time to really reevaluate your career goals?

I’m a big proponent of five-year goals for things like career and finances. But let’s be real, five years is a long time. And things can definitely change. My career goals have absolutely changed in the six years since I graduated from college!

Make it a goal for this year to spend some time thinking about your career. Consider your short-term and long-term career goals. Think about the company you work for and whether you see a future there.

In some cases, your career goals may have changed so much that you have transitioned (or want to transition) to a totally different industry.

 

Make Time for Self Care

Self-care is so important, and most of us are NOT making enough time for it!

Self-care isn’t just about pampering yourself. It’s about making time for sleep, mental health, and physical health.

Not only is self-care essential for your mental and physical health, but it’s also amazing for boosting your productivity!

If it isn’t on your list of goals to set for this year, it totally should be!

 

Final Thoughts

Goal-setting can be super overwhelming for some people. Setting the right goals is half the battle!

There’s still plenty of time to reach your goals and make 2021 an amazing year. When you’re thinking of what goals to set for yourself, make sure to include a few from this list to make your year awesome!

 

 

A New Year – A New Church?

At the end of the first week of 2021 I am thinking of all the new things we will be facing in the next 12 months. Things can change so quickly. I mean, who would have thought that we would be living through a worldwide pandemic in 2020? And, who could imagine how the pandemic would change our daily lives? And, did anyone think that we would still be living within the confines of the pandemic almost 12 months later?

2020 was not an easy year. 2021 has started with major restrictions because of the pandemic. And now we have been hearing of new strains of Covid that spread more rapidly and are moving from country to country around the world. We are living in uncertain times.

God’s people have often lived in uncertain times where the familiar was gone and their way of life was changing. In one such time God spoke through the prophet Isaiah (43:19) and said,

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. (NLT)

Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands. (MSG)

I am doing something brand new, something unheard of. Even now it sprouts and grows and matures. Don’t you perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and open up flowing streams in the desert. (TPT)

I believe that God is taking this opportunity to bring massive changes to His Church. And, let’s admit it, the Church needs to change. A church built upon programs and personality is no longer working. If, in fact, it ever did work. A church that is simply a powerless sub-culture of the prevailing culture is not the church. God created the Church to be a counter-culture and to powerfully impact the culture like leaven in the loaf. So, in a season when we have been forced to “do Church” differently I believe God is bringing massive change to His Church if (and that is a big if) we will listen for His voice and watch for what He has already begun to do.

As The Message Version states… “Be alert, be present…” We need to be aware that change is already happening even if we don’t fully understand what is happening and how it is happening. And we need to be living in the present with an eye to the future and not living in the past, anchored to traditions.

As The Passion Translation states… “something brand new, something unheard of…” What God is doing right now – here and now – in His Church is something brand new. It is not an old idea recycled. It is not the same old, same old. It is something we have not heard of in the past. Something new (to us), better, exciting, challenging, dynamic, powerful, and of God.

And the question is valid: “Don’t you see it?” “Don’t you perceive it?” And the answer is ‘no’ if you are wanting the status quo. If you are safe, comfortable, and secure and want it to remain that way then you will not perceive it. You will not see it. But others who are dissatisfied with what is; those who have a holy discontent on the inside; those who ask “Is this all there is? Will perceive it and eventually see it. Because, as an older version states, “Behold” It’s here. It’s now. It’s real. Just let go of what you know as Church and grab hold of what Jesus is now doing. He is doing a new thing and many (including this author) have been speaking and writing about it for over a decade. But, it is happening now – in the midst of a continuing pandemic when so many things have changed … the Church is changing. Behold! Don’t miss it.

God is making a way where there is no way. He is showing us the way in the midst of a spiritually desolate time. A time when the Church has been wandering around in the wilderness having lost her way over the past hundred or so years.  Especially over the past 12 months. And many in the Church today will miss what He is planning and already doing because they are not looking for change, a challenge. They are comfortable and apparently feel secure in what is and don’t want to stretch for what could be.

But for those who are hungry and who are willing to step out in faith risking the familiar and the comfortable…. “Behold!  I am doing something brand new and totally different. Grab hold of it as it is a new and better way. My way. And you will be refreshed and will be refreshing like a stream or a river in the desert place.”

I for one am very excited. It is a tremendous time to be alive and a believer.

2021 – Living What You Believe – Part Three

We are looking at how we, as believers, can determine if we are living with integrity in 2021. In the past two days we have examined four elements of our life that need to be regularly examined and front and center in daily life if we are going to live life in a manner that lines up with what we believe as Christians. It would be good for you to examine your own lifestyle to see if your priorities are set within biblical parameters; to see if your focus is truly on the Kingdom. Remember, Jesus did say, “Seek first the Kingdom…”

1> Practice what you believe (Leaders: Practice what you preach)

2> Intimacy with Jesus is foundational and a serious priority

3> Love for the lost is essential

4> Passionate prayer unleashes power

Continuing on…

5> Biblical conviction keeps our vision clear

One of the quickest ways for a believer to see their integrity wane is to begin compromising their biblical beliefs. When a disciple of Jesus no longer holds to the Scriptures as the absolute truth of God’s Kingdom vision dies.

Nonbelievers will often disagree with Biblical Christians, but most will maintain a level of respect if we hold our convictions with grace-filled confidence. When born again believers are quick to apologize for the Bible, sand off the sharp edges of our doctrine, and adjust the teaching of the Word of God to accommodate the ever-changing norms of our culture, our integrity goes out the window. 

Jesus was clear that following Him would not be easy. If our goal is to fit in, get along and seem normal in this world, we are walking the wrong path. Integrity in the life of a believer means knowing, loving, and following the teachings of the Bible, even when it is awkward or downright painful.

6> Invite accountability and seek wise mentors

We all have blind spots. It is easy to deceive ourselves and get off track. When we have godly, strong, honest people in our lives who speak the truth (even when it hurts), we have a much greater chance of maintaining a life of integrity. 

Every believer should have a mentor and every believer should be mentoring or discipling a younger believer. In other words, every Timothy needs a Paul and every Paul needs a Timothy. Since just after I was born again and baptized in the Holy Spirit I was blessed with a powerful man of God as my mentor. He lived in the state of New York and I lived in Central Canada but we stayed in touch. This was pre-internet and email but he wrote letters almost on a weekly basis (remember snail mail?). And, during each calendar year he spent two different two week periods of time in my city during which we spent time together daily. This went on for 30 years. When he died I felt like an orphan. I immediately went searching for another man of integrity and experience who might be willing to mentor me and speak into my life. I found him and he is still speaking into both my personal life and my ministry.

Throughout my ministry I have always mentored (discipled) younger believers and those with a similar call of God on their life as exists on my life. Some of these young men have even travelled overseas with me over the past 20 years. 

In a world where integrity can seem old-fashioned and believers live life on the surface – often an inch deep and a mile wide – Christians are wise to look closely at their heart and lifestyle. Anything and everything we can do that leads to greater integrity will forward the work of the Gospel and bring honour to our Saviour. 

2021 – Living What You Believe – Part Two

Let’s continue with our look at living a life of integrity in 2021 as believers and followers of Jesus Christ. We saw last time:

1> Practice what you believe (Leaders: Practice what you preach)

2> Intimacy with Jesus is foundational and a serious priority

Too many leaders and followers in the church have become religious hypocrites. They go through the motions, doing only what is required of them by their local assembly – the bare essentials. They know the right words. But they have forsaken their first love (Revelation 2:4). Leaders can teach about Jesus but spend little time at His feet. And, people can call themselves believers and also spend little to no time with Him and yet claim to follow Him. We can tell others to follow Jesus while we wander away from Him.

For Christians, modelling integrity means we hunger to be in the presence of our Saviour. We long to become more like Jesus and live in ways that grow our faith. Every believer should pause and do a heart check: Am I really following Jesus and becoming more like Him – enjoying time in His presence and experiencing His peace – or am I simply doing my thing and covering a non-biblical lifestyle with a thin outer coating of “Christian”? 

If you are a church leader and on staff with a church or ministry you should also do a heart check: Have I become a church staff professional doing my job with no passion behind my ministry?

Everyone should ask themselves: Am I propelled into each day with a love for Jesus that guides and moves me?

When we love Jesus and it shows, people are drawn to Him. To live with integrity we need intimacy with the Lord on a daily basis.

3> Love the lost is essential

Jesus was a friend of sinners (Matthew 11:19). The religious leaders in His day were upset that sinners liked Jesus and He seemed to like them. Church leaders and believers in Jesus (disciples of Jesus) who avoid nonbelievers and spend all of their time with church folks can’t fulfill Jesus’ call to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19).  

Living with integrity calls us to live like Jesus, and sometimes that will mean making new friends and spending less time at church or fellowshipping with other believers. Christians understandably tend to gather with others who believe the same way that they do. However, we can then become narrow in our focus and neglect those who do not yet know Jesus as Lord and Saviour. And, we can also end up with a “we” and “they” mentality. This is simply not healthy. We need to find a place where we can hang out with nonbelievers and frequent it often so as to stay in touch with the real world out there and build relationships with those who live without hope. A gym, the baseball diamond, a hockey rink, a weekly card game…

4> Passionate prayer unleashes power

Systems, programs, and tricks of the trade will never bring lost sheep home to the Good Shepherd. The best worship services with the finest music and the most articulate gospel presentation are powerless if the Spirit of God is not present and at work. Only when God moves will people surrender their hearts to Jesus.

This is true as well in the life of a believer. If we are not praying passionately for the lost then we will not influence or impact the lost. We can befriend them without prayer but we cannot see them come into the Kingdom if our prayer is weak and inconsistent. And, if we simply neglect praying for those we know who are lost. Working to influence and win the lost without praying for the lost from a heart for the lost sucks and seriously lacks integrity. 

True power resides in the prayers of believers and the prayers of the corporate church when we weep for the lost and seek God’s face on behalf of those who are in spiritual darkness. We need to ask God for His heart for the lost. That prayer, when answered, will transform your life and witness and help you to live a life of integrity.

Prayer and the power of God are central to living lives that bear witness to the nonbeliever. And, as we live with a heart for the lost then we will obey Jesus and live with biblical integrity. 

2021 – Living What You Believe – Part One

As we enter the first full week of the New Year 2021 my thoughts turn to behaviour and lifestyle. 

As a leader I realize that I can’t lead what I don’t live. In other words, my actions can speak louder than my words and nullify what I am saying. As a leader I can’t ask my people to do what I am not willing to first do myself. 

As believers we should take the start of a new year to examine what is it we believe as Christ-followers and then see if how we live lines up with what we say we hold to be the truth. Again, often the way we live, the way we speak, and the way we behave can speak louder than what we say we believe deep in our hearts. One contradicting the other. Our talk and our walk must line up. What we believe on the inside must effect and even transform how we live on the outside – in our family, at work, in the community, and even in the church fellowship itself. 

This is a question of integrity. Living what we say that we believe. Leading in a way that shows what we truly believe. 

We are flawed, weak and broken people being put back together by the grace of Jesus. That is all our God has to work with. Even the apostle Paul, after being transformed by the grace of Jesus, was still in awe that God would use “the worst of sinners to accomplish heavenly purposes” (1 Timothy 1:15).

So, how do we live (and lead) with integrity when we are broken vessels?

I have been a follower of Jesus and a leader in the Church and ministry now for45 years and have some thoughts that help me to navigate this journey with Jesus that we are all on. Life as a believer can be complex, complicated, and often challenging. As I walk with Jesus year after year I have become stronger in my faith. But, I have also become more aware of my personal weaknesses. I am humbled to be called a child of God, and amazed that the Lord would use me as an instrument to expand His Kingdom and even lead His Church. There is a tremendous obligation on each of our lives to live and relate in such a way as to impact those who do not know Jesus and to share the Gospel of the Kingdom with the lost, the least, and the last. Maybe you feel the same way. To fulfill this mandate we must be people of integrity.

Here are some reflections on growing to be more like Jesus and thus living with integrity in our hearts and lives. These ideas apply to every aspect of life and ministry.

1> Practice what you believe (leader: Practice what you preach)

We believe that there is no other way into Heaven other than by being born again and receiving the gift of eternal life which by biblical definition is to have a personal and intimate love relationship with the Lord and with His heavenly Father (see John 17:3). 

We believe that the Lord has called each one of us, as believers and followers, to take this message out into our personal world – where we live and work and play. And then even to the whole world. We call this The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus came to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10) and commands us to work with him and complete this task. 

Do we live what we believe?

In my experience most church leaders do very little to reach the lost outside of the formal church services and programs. It is not a way of life for them. The same is true for those who attend church services on a regular basis and are thus “active Christians.” 

To lead and to live with integrity is to align our lifestyle with the things the Bible teaches and what Jesus expects from us as followers. Jesus said, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). He expects us to fish – to seek the lost, the least, and the last – and not to rest until every people group in every nation (including where we live) have heard the gospel of the Kingdom (Matthew 24:14). I once heard a preacher say, “If you are not fishing, you are not following. You are simply deceiving yourself that things are good between you and God.”

This will mean learning how to share our faith in a natural and organic way. We need to be praying for the lost, building deep and decent friendships with people who are far from God, and regularly having spiritual conversations with people in our lives. This alignment of words, actions, and beliefs is a powerful witness. 

A Fresh Start – A New Year

Well, I stayed up all night to welcome the new year as I wanted to make sure 2020 really did come to an end. It has been a very different year with many disappointments and challenges. And yet, it has been an exciting year as we learned to live in a new normal which is still with us.

As I think about entering 2021 I am aware that it is, in some ways, an opportunity to do things differently. It’s a brand new year and we have an opportunity to adjust and change so as to live differently and maybe even impact the lives of others among whom we live – and maybe even those in another nation.  Yes, Covid may limit us in some ways but we can still touch lives for Jesus. Nothing can nor should stop us from doing that.

However, the one thought that dominates today, on the first day of a new year, is that if we do what we have always done we will simply get what we have always gotten. Poor English but a great though nonetheless. It can’t be “business as usual.” We can’t just have the same old same old… We are living in a ‘new normal’ and things will not go back to how they were before the pandemic. The pandemic has brought many changes to the way we live and some of those changes will remain with us. For example, we will value time with family and friends more than before. We will no longer take “life” for granted. We will hopefully make the most of every day we live and see it as a gift and not a given.

The Church has also been greatly impacted during this past 10 months. And, it too has made major adjustments in how it does life. Limitations on numbers who can meet together; meetings by Zoom; using technology as never before; learning to ‘do church’ without programs and personalities. The new year will see continued change as we adjust to the new normal and learn to reach out effectively to those who do not know Jesus. Church as usual is finished. The pandemic has given those of us in leadership the opportunity to think about what we do, how we do it, and why it is done the way it is. Change is inevitable.

I believe that the pandemic has brought and will continue to bring the Church back to basics and the result will be a Church more like the New Testament Church. House churches will be the norm – and many current church buildings will be sold off or given away. Leadership will rise up from within the body and not come in from a seminary. We will see the continued rise of the fivefold ministry within the Church that Jesus is building. And, the continued rejection of the fivefold ministry from those who are content with what is and the status quo. Outreach and evangelism will become the main focus as we now realize how quickly death can happen as we have watched tens of thousands die from Covid including friends and family that we did not witness to and share with when we had the opportunity.

January 1, 2021 is a fresh start to a new year. In 2020 we saw so many things that we simply took for granted removed, torn down, altered beyond recognition. 2021 will be a year to carefully rebuild both our personal way of life, our communities, and the Church. Let’s be wise and not simply go back to business as usual. Let’s take this God-given opportunity to rebuild wisely, building on the biblical model of life lived in the presence of God so that we experience His peace and walk in His power.

We have been given a new year, a new world in which to live, and a new opportunity to see and be a part of the Church that Jesus is building.

I am excited and expectant.

Reaching into 2021

Tomorrow is a new year – the year of the Lord 2021. And I believe it will be a year when the Church sees some major changes as the Holy Spirit moves and reveals the next steps taking us back to the biblical model of the Church and church leadership. 

Many people who have never belonged to or attended a Church will find hope and comfort in joining the community of believers. They will be looking for somewhere to belong that brings them the peace and purpose they have not found elsewhere – especially during the uncertainty of the pandemic of 2020. They will not be believers but they are searching for community and connectedness. They want to belong.

As they join in the activities of the local assembly (fondly known as the church) they will feel loved, accepted, and forgiven. This will allow them to open their hearts to actually discover what it is that those who call themselves believers actually believe. In past decades this was the opposite way around. People would discover what the church believed and then join and belong. However, now the need for community surpasses the need to know the beliefs of the group. So, they now come to belong and in the process of being accepted discover what the local church believes.

So follow the train of thought here as we enter into 2021 and the major changes the Church in general will experience. People will join to experience hope belonging before they believe. However, belonging opens the door to believing. Once they believe and are born again and their heart has been touched by the Gospel of the Kingdom they can then be expected to adjust their life style and behave as a Christian, a disciple of Jesus. Careful, I didn’t say obey the rules and regulations or come under the rituals of the Church. As they walk with the Lord they will discover what the Lord wants them to change in the way they think, live, and relate. They will change behaviour and morals and ethics. They will adjust lifestyle and behaviours. Their perspective will be a kingdom perspective and no longer a worldly perspective. This will be a slow process and a journey of adjustment. However, belong becomes believe which then becomes behave.

As their behaviour changes they will become more and more like Jesus. He will mold them and “make them” as He promises to do. Of course, this assumes they are true disciples and thus following him. The faith journey is one of walking with Jesus through daily events in life and responding to Him as He guides and directs within those events and circumstances. Thus we become more and more like Him gradually changing behaviour, words, and actions as we become more like Him.

So we belong which enables us to come to faith and believe in Jesus Christ. As we change what we believe our behaviour changes and we behave more and more like Christ and less and less like the world. As we continue to follow Jesus as His disciple and we behave in accordance with the changes He is bringing about in our lives we become like Him. Then we can be a part of what He is doing and build the Kingdom and the Church with Him. 

Simple to understand not always simple to accomplish. But this is what we are called to daily throughout 2021 – Helping others to enter into the community of faith so that they can begin the journey by belonging with our help…

      • Belong
      • Believe
      • Behave
      • Become
      • Build

 

Goals for 2021

As 2021 is just about upon us my mind turns to goals for the new year. There are two steps to this for me personally and professionally.

First off, I review my 2020 goals seeing which ones were accomplished, partially finished, or simply never touched. I revamp the ones that were not achieved if they are to be carried forward into 2021. Fine tuning them because I have moved forward in life and made substantial changes during the past 12 months. If they were not accomplished and are no longer part of where I am at and where I am heading, I simply remove them from the list of things I want to do or feel that the Lord is telling me to do. 

Then I add to the list those new goals that appear because of the circumstances I am now facing – such as Covid and being unable to travel. And, I add any new ones the Lord leads me to set for the gift of a new year of life, health, and ministry. As well, any personal goals that I would like to aim for – weight loss, learning to paddle board, trying out new campgrounds.

These are all jotted down on paper or on screen and then comes the time to arrange them and fill in the details of the goal… 

I do this by listing the general categories … 

      • Personal – weight, exercise, rest, reading…
      • Family – gatherings, birthdays, anniversaries
      • Financial – saving, investing, spending, house repairs, budget
      • Friendship – what I am looking for in a friend (another list)
      • Fun (vacation and days off)
      • Faith goals – what I am believing God for 
      • Household goals – repairs, painting, decorating
      • Ministry goals – the call and the message for the new year 2021 
      • Study and reading goals – number of books and areas to study
      • Marriage goals
      • Writing goals – blogs and books

And then filling in the goals for that area being as specific as I can. Of course, a goal can be changed, adjusted, revamped, or eliminated as the year begins and situation and circumstances dictate. These goals are simply to help me to know the direction I am aiming in each of these and other categories. Remember, if you aim at nothing you are sure to hit it. 

I schedule time in my annual calendar for a review and revamp every three months. So, the goals are solid but fluid. Change is inevitable. But the overall direction of life for the year remains the same as determined by the big picture of all the goals together. 

So, much more detailed than …

    • More sleep
    • More music
    • More coffee
    • More books
    • More sunsets
    • More creating
    • More long walks
    • More laughter
    • More hugs
    • More dreaming
    • More road trips
    • More fun
    • More love

However, if this is your first time doing goals for your life and the new year this would be a good start as an outline that then needs to be filled in somewhat.

Kingdom Voices – Part Three

Most of the indigenous churches are not under any denomination. They are independent and small. Most of the pastors of those churches have only a little training or no training at all. Not even informal training. They just jump into the arena and start leading the church. So sometimes it looks a little out of control, humanly speaking. But I think the Holy Spirit is leading them. 

My observation is that God is going to use house churches, not the denominational churches. Most of the churches will be led by people — we would say lay leaders — who take the responsibility of leading these small churches. And that brings several challenges. Because what I believe is, no church is independent. I mean, one church is born out of the work of the believers from another church. I think in God’s Kingdom, every church is connected organically and spiritually. So, how do we best bring a structural expression of that association God has already created among these churches — a structure that would give them complete freedom to respond to the leading of the Holy Spirit without any control from the above? And at the same time, how do we have them come together and work together?

In Acts 20, Paul called together the elders from the city of Ephesus. There were house churches led by a team of elders, but they all came when Paul called them to come together. So though they were independent churches led by elders, Paul somehow connected them to each other — in a kind of hub. Eventually Timothy came and led that hub and gave them direction. But Paul created a kind of structure, a free structure, a hub model that took the gospel out in a concentric way. Paul got them to focus while he enabled them to develop. We can learn from this and do the same. 

Rev. Vasantharaj Albert

Vice-President of the Non-Denominational Association of Independent Churches (NAIC)

Just a thought to add to and interact with the above…

It could be that the elders were “elders of the city of Ephesus” and that they had oversight of the ‘Church in Ephesus.’ That these elders were not ‘in charge’ of individual house churches but were in oversight of all of the work of the Kingdom (and thus the church) in the city. That Ephesus was an apostolic center from which the gospel spread out into the surrounding provinces and regions. The churches were, to my understanding, led by regular believers who taught from the Scriptures and led the house church to which they belonged. The elders were in oversight of all of the house churches as ‘THE church in Ephesus’ and this eldership was most likely composed of members of the fivefold ministry – apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors (shepherds), and teachers. 

If you interpret Acts 20 as the Kingdom Voice quoted above did then each house church would be led by an “elder” which really is the old, traditional pattern we now have of the Church with each church being led by a pastor. Changing the words does not change the structure or give new life to an old wine skin. 

Each house church being led by a regular-type believer who has some leadership motivation (Romans 12:4-6) is my understanding of the biblical church. The ‘elders’ were in oversight of the Church in the city which would be comprised of hundreds if not thousands of small house church. 

This would make a lot more sense and incorporate the fivefold ministry into the life of the church (read: house churches in the city). 

Kingdom Voices – Part Two

There are folks who say, “Yeah, you know, this Kingdom stuff’s good. But when do we get people to the church?” Jesus established the church to get people to the Kingdom, not the other way around. The church is not the destination; the Kingdom is. And some folks in church as an institution struggle with this wider bandwidth of church expression because it doesn’t fit the categories that we’ve developed. We want to wrap it in biblical language and theological stuff, and we develop the classification of clergy versus laity and who can do what.

I’ll that it a step further and challenge our language. When we talk about planting a church, there’s no such thing. It’s the church, not a church. So when people tell me they feel called to plant a church, I generally say, “I doubt it,” you know, just to mess with them a little bit. Just to get their attention. Now, if you want to plant the church, I’m all over that. If you want to plant a church, that typically means you’re going out to plant a worship service. And a church grows up around it, and then you have a bunch of consumers again. 

Reggie McNeal                                                                                                                                                                    Missional Leadership Specialist, Leadership Network.

It seems to me that we are in a “Covid season” when God is shaking everything that He can shake so we will examine openly and honestly everything that we do and why we do it. Thus tossing out anything that is not biblical and definitely anything that is not encouraging effective soul winning and disciple-making.

The Scripture states: “So don’t turn a deaf ear to these gracious words … one last shaking, from top to bottom, stem to stern. The phrase ‘one last shaking” means a thorough house cleaning, getting rid of the historical and religious junk so that the unshakable essentials stand, clear and uncluttered” (Hebrews 12:25-27 The Message Version).

And, as the “Covid season” comes to an end – and it will – we will then not be able to return to what was. Church as it was will be finished. Business as usual will no longer work. And, in fact, the Church will be much smaller as God pulls together a powerful remnant and removes the goats from the sheep, cultural Christians from true believers, followers from true disciples.