Resolution: A firm decision to do or not to do something. The quality of being determined or resolute. 

Resolute: Admirably purposeful, determined, and unwavering.[1]

I am a fan of New Year’s resolutions. I have been making and breaking them for decades. And I suspect, so have you. The fact that we usually make and quickly break our New Year’s resolutions is not an indictment of resolution-making per se; rather, it is generally an indictment against the resolution makers.

The problem with me and my resolution making is that I frequently have made resolutions that, if I am to be perfectly honest with myself, I had no actual intention of keeping. I knew when I made the resolution that I was going to fail to make the necessary changes in my life to change my behaviors enough to actively pursue keeping that resolution. So, as I write this, I don’t exercise, pray, eat healthily, connect with neighbors, rest and restore (Sabbath?), or share my faith enough. How about you?

In this first article of 2024, I want to suggest a New Year’s resolution for pastors, board members, and other church leaders that is worth making – and keeping – for the sake of the churches we lead. It’s not only something to talk about, but also very much something essential to do. Let me explain.

For over ten years, now, I have served as the director of church health for EFCA West. There are many different things that I do that fit within my responsibility to strengthen EFCA church’s leadership communities. One that is difficult and far too often necessary is to come alongside the leaders of dying or dead churches to help reverse their decline and so they once again, or, perhaps, for the first time, become a vibrant, healthy church.

Several things make this difficult for me. It saddens me greatly that churches find themselves in this position. It is difficult for a church that has become small and missionally impotent to be restored to health. It is difficult for a congregation that has morphed over time into one that no longer has any children or families with children to attract other families with children to come and meet Jesus. And a church filled with people that have lost their zeal to share the gospel actively and intentionally with their friends and neighbors seldom comes back to life. It is usually a long and torturous journey to the church’s death and dissolution, with misery all along the way.

You see, the dying and dead churches I work with never set out to become that. They drifted. And one of the first things they drifted from was being excited about being a people that were intentional about living out the Great Commission and Greatest Commandment in their world. It just happened. And over time they became a church that is friendly, lives in community, sings together favorite songs in worship, and, generally, gathers to do church together with one another rather than to seek to make disciples of the people they know who are not already there. They become inwardly focused rather than outwardly focused. They seek their own wants and needs (I’ve found it is mostly their wants that are pursued) rather than the salvation and spiritual awakening of the people they already know who need to know Jesus. 

So, what is the resolution worth making and worth keeping? It is simply this:

In 2024 and beyond, we will lead ourselves, our church, and our people to be growing disciples of Jesus Christ for their lifetime and to intentionally live out the Great Commission and Greatest Commandment.

This is not an easy resolution to keep because, as with most other resolutions, we are not resolute about keeping them. Figuring out whether the church we are responsible for and accountable to God to lead is a Great Commission/Greatest Commandment church is surely something for church leaders to talk about. Frequently. Here are some ideas to get that conversation going.

Have an introspective conversation with yourself and with your team about this question:

Is this church intentional about the Great Commission and Greatest Commandment?

  • What evidence is there to support our conclusions?
  • Are we seeing people come to faith and our church?
  • Are new believers being baptized?
  • Is our Bible teaching creating hearers of the word or doers only?

If your answers to these four questions are no, none, no, no, and doers or we are not sure, you already know what needs to be done. Resolve before God, together, to work throughout 2024 (and beyond) to change your answers to the affirmative.

If your answers to the four questions were affirmations, praise God. Consider resolving before God to guard your mission and keep the church’s focus and behaviors on those things that God created and called us to do.

My prayer for us is that God grants His grace and favor to Evangelical Free Churches to empower us to truly be about His business in 2024 and until Jesus comes again in glory.

Let us know if we can help and how your conversation goes. Contact Bob Osborne by e-mail at

This is one of a series of articles intended to facilitate and guide church leaders’ conversations about significant issues that often are not talked about among pastors, boards, and church leadership teams. Visit the EFCA West website to see prior Something to Talk About articles.

[1] Webster’s New World Dictionary and Thesaurus