I love the book of Nehemiah.
It’s the story of what God can do when God’s people work together with a shared purpose and a common goal.

For Nehemiah and his fellow Israelites, the task before them was rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem that the Babylonian army had destroyed many years earlier. It took a great deal of faith and a tremendous amount of work, but that wall got built more quickly than anyone—except, maybe, Nehemiah—believed possible. And when it was done, all the people in the land surrounding Jerusalem were amazed, “for they perceived that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God” (Nehemiah 6:16).

Almost three years ago, our deacons adopted—and we, as a congregation, later endorsed—a strategic plan to guide the missions and ministries of Providence forward through the next eight years. The plan, called Providence Will, established five priorities for our work together as the body of Christ, gathered on Randolph Road and scattered across the Charlotte region.
I hope that, by now, these priorities are familiar to you. They are: Cultivate Generosity, Make Disciples, Engage Cotswold, Bless Charlotte, Send Apostles.

Providence Will is an ambitious plan. The deacons who crafted it intended it to be that way. I’m glad they did, because we get stronger when we are challenged. We grow when we are stretched. We become more resilient when we are pushed. Providence Will challenges, stretches, and pushes us to become more faithful followers of Jesus and more effective witnesses to God’s redeeming, life-giving love. In other words, Providence Will is intended to help us fulfill, together, our God- given mission as the church.

Now, as a Baptist church, we practice what’s called “congregational governance,” which is a fancy way of saying that we decide for ourselves how we’ll go about pursuing our shared work as God’s people in the world. Every Baptist church does things a little differently.

At Providence, we’ve chosen to trust our member-led ministry committees with a great deal of responsibility, not only for overseeing the routine activities of the church, but also for implementing our ambitious strategic plan.

Taking this responsibility seriously, then, the Coordinating Council has identified four specific goals from our Providence Will strategic plan to address in 2021:

• Taking the Master Plan generated by Tim Cool and tailoring it to address our current and future facility needs. The finished product will be a multi-phase plan that begins with existing deferred maintenance issues and moves toward renovations needed to support our Providence Will priorities. Action on this goal will be led by the Property Committee and the Grounds Committee.

• Organizing innovative efforts to engage our Cotswold neighborhood. Action on this goal will be led by the Activities Committee and will involve collaboration with the Children, Student, Music, and Senior Adult Committees.

• Creating and implementing a plan to establish Families Forward Charlotte as the primary recipient of our local missions funds. Action on this goal will be led by the Missions Committee.

• Educating church members about including Providence endowments in their estate planning, and then facilitating those commitments. Action on this goal will be led by the Stewardship Committee and the Endowment Committee.

These are ambitious goals—which makes sense, because Providence Will is an ambitious plan. I applaud the Coordinating Council for taking a deliberate, focused approach to moving us forward along the path our deacons charted in 2018. Next year will bring another set of goals, and by then, God willing, we’ll be able to look back and celebrate the good progress we made in 2021.

One of the lessons we learn from Nehemiah, though,
is that worthy endeavors are almost always community efforts. Everyone has a role to play and a contribution
to make. What will yours be? How will you help Providence bless Charlotte, cultivate generosity, engage Cotswold, make disciples, and send apostles? Maybe you’ll pray more. Maybe you’ll give more. Maybe you’ll volunteer more. However you choose to make a positive difference, now’s the time for us to arise and continue our work together, trusting that the God of heaven will give us success.

May the peace of Christ be with you!