by Kristen Dabbs, Resonate Director of House Church

If I’m honest, I kind of dread the winter time. Shorter days, less sun, lots of grey slush, and I am irrevocably cold. But the thing I look forward to the most about winter is the fresh start that a new year brings.

While our culture is so wrapped up in New Year's Resolutions, fitness goals, diet plans, and “New Year New Me”, we are invited into a different narrative. As followers of Jesus we also get to view this new season as an opportunity to embrace newness, just through a biblical lense.

As the Director of House Church, I get to see Resonate through a very broad and varying scope. If you don’t already know, Village is the heartbeat that has brought life, connection, and transformation to our church throughout our 11 years of existence. As I give my hours, days, weeks, and years to the development of this vehicle we call Village (or House Church), I have a few encouragements for you as an individual and for your House Church family as we start a new year.

But before we look ahead, I want to invite us to be people who remember. Remembrance and reflection are woven all throughout the scriptures. Remembering what God has done allows us to propel forward in faith and hope, knowing God has a track record of goodness to us. The

Psalms are packed with prose of deep reflection and self evaluation. If we are not people who remember, we miss out on chances to celebrate and hold more tightly onto God’s faithfulness. Similarly, if we are not able to see the past clearly and gain understanding on why and how it unfolded the way it did, we are greatly impaired in our ability to grow.

So before we dream about 2019, my invitation here is remember what happened in 2018. Personally - list all the things God has done in your life this last year. Reflect on lessons learned, mistakes made, and greatest growth areas. Collectively - sit with your Village family and share memories and celebrate all God has done in your midst in 2018. Talk with your Village about what you wish had gone differently. Confess to one another your personal shortcomings that contributed to group struggles. Discuss ways God has grown and strengthened you as a family on mission.

Remembering and dreaming are two of my favorite verbs. Now that you’ve remembered, let’s get to dreaming and doing, specifically in the context of community and Village. Here are three opportunities that you can leverage as we kick off the new year.

New Family

A new year means a fresh start to either reset unhealth in your relationships, or find community if that is absent in your life.

If you do not have brothers and sisters in Christ in your daily life, take action to change that in 2019. Pray that God would give you the gift of Christian community. Initiate conversations. Text a friend and ask how you can be a better brother/sister to them. Find a Village to call home. I promise it will forever change your life for the better.

If your Village has unhealthy dynamics (let’s be honest, every family has dysfunction), now is your chance to tackle it. Call out the gossip. Confront that person. Ask for forgiveness and give forgiveness. Don’t settle for shallowness. Build trust. Whatever needs to happen, start 2019 on a strong note.

New Friends

Everyone is looking for a fresh start on January 1st. More than ever, people are open to new friends, new activities, and new ideas. There always seems to be an increase in people giving church a try in January, and even giving Jesus a chance.

Community is a gift from God to be enjoyed, but we are also called to look beyond our four walls. Invite your village to make new friends at the start of this year, and share the gift that you have in each other. Pray that God would provide those new friendships, especially with people outside of the church. If you are scared to make new friends, January is the safest month to do so.

If you feel content with the friends you already have, ask God to help you put the relational needs of someone you haven’t met yet above your own desire for comfort. That is how Jesus lived, and it is how we are called to live.

New Impact

Life can feel long and drug out, but the Bible tells us it is just a vapor that quickly disappears. Don’t squander each precious year going through the motions and letting the current of life lead you. Seek a life of impact and meaning. Decide what matters most, do it, and do it well.

Is your village making an impact? Or is it just being impacted by the ways of the world? If you are seeing impact and influence, continue walking down that road! If not, dream about what that could look like. Either way - prayer is the greater work. Pray that God would use you to do something that will matter beyond 2019, and even beyond your lifetime.

I personally plan to lean into each of these things as I start of 2019 and am excited to press forward alongside you all.

If you are a Village leader, I challenge you to lead out in these conversations. If you are in a Village, I challenge you to initiate this in your Village family. And if you are not in a Village, I invite you to give it a try in 2019! Exploring God is better in community.