Every summer there is a team of staff and leaders at White Oak who gather to talk about the coming year. Specifically, we pray, study, and plan for the coming year’s theme and sermon series. We call this our Teaching Team Retreat. Though not all members of the team serve in the role of preacher or teacher in our Sunday morning worship services, we invite a variety of voices and experiences to help us discern what God is up to at White Oak through our preaching.
In recent years, I’ve felt the need to help focus our church family with a theme that leads us closer to God’s heart and focuses us on an objective to accomplish God’s mission throughout the year. First, this helped us to focus our sermon series on Scripture and topics that will help our church family align to the mission. Second, this helps us to consider events, programs, and other tools that will equip and deploy Jesus-followers for the mission.
In 2021 we spent the year embracing White Oak’s revised mission statement. Our mission is…
Connecting people to full life in Jesus. In John 10:10 Jesus says that he came to give us life to the full! We want everyone in Cincinnati to know the life that only Jesus offers. Our picture of what that looks like is our vision for our city. That… Everyone is on the path to full life by discovering their identity in Jesus, being equipped to love, and deployed on mission.
For 2022 our team focused and planned on the theme of God’s sovereignty. We said that what God says is best, and true, and right. Despite a culture that challenges us to create our own version of the truth, God’s power, presence, lordship, and love drives us back into his arms. He is trustworthy and faithful in all areas of our lives if we put our trust in him.
In 2023 we formed our thinking about the theme of One Another. We realized that after the COVID-19 season that many churches turned inward to focus on re-gathering and re-establishing rhythms we had lost. We needed to regain our mission of connecting people to full life in Jesus! We took this concept of “one another” and we turned it into a verb. What does it look like for White Oak Christian Church and each of us individually to one another well? We intentionally chose initiatives that would help activate our church to get off the couch and out of the building and take Jesus to others.
Once again, this team gathered just this past week. We prayed, fasted, studied, and planned for what we feel God is saying to us for 2024. I am so excited for where God is taking White Oak! You should have seen the space where we were meeting! The table (and the entire room) was littered with Bibles, laptops, notes, markers and giant Post-It Note paper. The tabletop also housed lots of snacks and copious amounts of good coffee. We spent two full days sharing, debating, searching Scripture, and developing an overarching theme for White Oak for the coming year. We shared our hearts about culture, our church, and what it looks like to follow Jesus in a hurting world. We developed sermon series ideas that will help our church family focus on our mission in new and very exciting ways in 2024. We put together ideas for tools and events that will teach, inspire, and equip us with God’s truth and the work he has for us to accomplish.
I share this with you because I want you to know that our leaders at White Oak are walking this faith journey with you. We are asking God to shake us with his power to do things in and through us that only he can do. We are asking him to keep us close to his Word and that by doing so, we may take deeper steps of trust. This is where we want to help lead our church family to go, as well.
We have much to do still in 2023! The year isn’t close to being over. We have a Savior who left heaven and, as his last teaching on this earth, he stooped down and washed his disciples’ feet. He told them specifically that he did that so that we, too, would serve one another. In order to accomplish the mission Jesus has given us, we must trust him to work in and through us to one another well! How can you turn your attention and generosity toward serving, loving, and blessing others in this next season? Let’s go!
One Another with you,
Campus Pastor - Ross Campus
White Oak Christian Church