The summer holidays are over. Parents breathe a sigh of relief because the kids are back at school. Not sure whether or not the kids would have shouted “Hooray!” at the thought of going back. However, they will have been kitted out with new uniforms and new gear to begin the new school year. Some would have been excited about being in a new class with a new teacher, meeting new people and making new friends; others may simply have been overwhelmed with the scale of change. Then there are the young adults who started out at Sixth-form College or Uni – this will be a massive change for them. This time of the year is always a ‘fresh start’ for so many people. For some the environment and the place will be exactly the same but they’ll face new challenges - for others everything is new. What we can be sure of in each case is that people would have most certainly prepared themselves for their ‘fresh start’.
Does the church have opportunity to make ‘fresh starts’? Yes, just like the school kids starting back at school I believe followers of Yahshua have opportunities to make ‘fresh starts’. Every year I have the privilege of taking the whole month of August out from my regular work to pray and spend protracted time with the Father; to study and seek to discover what Yahweh would have our congregation to do or where He wants us to go in the coming year. For me it’s where vision is birthed. I return in September envisioned, revitalised and with a renewed passion to serve; I return with a purpose and sharp focus. So, September is always a ‘fresh start’ for me. However, August is the preparation for it. It’s when I do the work of looking at myself and the church and consider what we’ve been doing over the past year. Having done the self-assessment I am able to go on to seek the Father about the new phase of life and ministry that is ahead.
Over the cycle of a year there are numerous ‘fresh start’ opportunities available to believers. Leaders, in particular, should recognise these and make a habit of evaluating themselves in order to recommit to ministry and service and to find fresh focus and passion. As a leader you have to decide which ‘fresh start’ points in the year you will adopt into your lifestyle. I have four annual ‘fresh start’ points in my life, and one of the biggest is September; but there are half a dozen or more and you have to choose the ones that fit you best. Here are 5 possible ‘fresh start’ points that come around each year.
This usually happens in September and is the start of the sacred month of Tishri. It is also the Jewish civil New Year.
This is the most solemn time in the Hebrew calendar. It’s the time when every Jewish person will have examined themselves to ensure that, come Yom Kippur, they are right before the Elohim of Israel.
This time celebrates the end of the harvest and looks forward to the time when we enter the eternal kingdom of the Messiah of Israel.
For many it’s a time when their local church vision for the coming year is shared.
This is the time we celebrate the death and resurrection of our eternal Passover Lamb.
There are more ‘fresh start’ points that you can identify and use. The thing with ‘fresh starts’ is that they allow you to do some evaluation to see what needs to change in the new phase of your life. They give you the chance to be better than you were and to do better than you did previously. I recommend that every leader builds this into the routine of their lives and also encourages those they lead to make positive use of the opportunities that ‘fresh starts’ provide. One of the dangers the church faces is stagnation through worn out leaders who have lost focus. Having regular ‘fresh starts’ will help you stay fresh and motivated, and enable the church to grow.
Children and young people get themselves ready for the ‘fresh start’ they need to make at school, college or uni. Let’s take a leaf out of their book and take the necessary steps to do some personal assessment with the view to making a ‘fresh start’.
Father, as I stop to consider where I’ve been over the last period and where I am now, I ask that you will help me to see the things I need to let go of and the things that need to change in me and in the fellowship so I can refocus and have a fresh start. Help me to make ‘fresh starts’ a regular habit of my life.
1 Timothy 4:12 "Don't let anyone look down on you..."