A lot can happen in 10 years. As I consider my own family, 10 years ago we had 3 pre-schoolers and now we have 3 teenagers! 10 years of marriage is certainly a milestone to celebrate. Interestingly, the symbol of this milestone is traditionally tin or aluminium. Doesn’t sound very romantic, right? Consider though the durability, flexibility and malleability that these metals are known for – qualities that make them valuable and versatile, and qualities that when seen in marriage would indicate the strength of that marriage too. 10 years is a big deal! This month we celebrate 10 years since our Senior Pastors Ric and Naomi Burrell were inducted into this role at Hawkesbury Church, now Strong Nation Church. And what an incredible 10 years it has been!! I have been reflecting on some of the foundational philosophies and concepts that Ps Ric and Naomi have instilled at Strong Nation Church over the past decade, and the journey that we have been on as a church. There are many things that have been achieved – I could talk all day about the great things we have “done” as a church under their leadership. But all of this flows from who we “are”. These concepts have determined our culture. Everything we do as a church is underpinned by the truth that we are part of God’s family – we are found in Him, in Jesus Christ. This is our identity. As such, “we exist to take Jesus to all people, helping them to live abundant, fruitful and everlasting lives”. This – our Church’s Vision Statement – captures our heart and our mandate. One of the first catchphrases that stuck with us 10 years ago was Ric and Naomi’s mantra: “There are no ‘have to’s’”. What they meant was that in this church, in our church family, there is no compulsion to ‘have to’ DO anything. This philosophy of “low control, but high accountability” is actually incredibly releasing, and encourages us to really hear from God for ourselves. A ‘want to’ is always preferable to a ‘have to’! When there are hearts that WANT to serve God, serve our church family and serve our community, that’s a wonderful place to be as a church. Jesus invited the disciples to “Come, follow me” – it was never ‘you must come with me’, but an invitation into a new rhythm, a new life, a missional life. This is who we are too. This is where we discover our giftings, our callings and true freedom in Him. Discipleship is really at the very core of who we are as a church – walking alongside people to help them develop the character of Jesus in their own lives. It’s not about a course you do, a booklet you read, or a set of steps you must follow in order to tick certain boxes. It’s so much more than any of this! Over the last 10 years Ric and Naomi have graciously and humbly opened their lives and their family to us as a church. They have filled their home to overflowing over and again, they have shared stories from their own journey and they have sought to reflect Jesus in what they say and in the things that they do. And then they’ve encouraged us to do the same. Steve Murrell, an American pastor and missionary in the Phillippines who has planted multiple disciple-making churches describes discipleship in his book “Wikichurch” as being the result of “the same old boring strokes”. He likens the training of a tennis player, who practices the same strokes over, and over, and over again in order to be ‘match ready’ to our journey as disciples. We practice the spiritual disciplines – prayer, reading the Word, journaling, accountability, worship – day in and day out, week in and week out, in order to strengthen our own foundations. You can’t fake being match ready. And you can’t fake being a disciple with strong foundations – the wind and the waves come and that house built on the sand will wash away every time. You see, at the risk of sounding like I’m contradicting the idea of ‘no have to’s’, the making of disciples is simply not optional (Matt 28:19-20). We are all commissioned in this great task that Jesus sets before us, with the promise of His presence with us always. We are called to make disciples above all other pursuits. All people, and all generations have been drafted in to this great and awesome task – it’s the family business! I am so thankful that our Senior Pastors have made discipleship the main thing over the last decade. Sometimes fruit takes a while, because roots take a while to go deep and wide, and sometimes pruning has to happen…And let’s face it, it’s just never going to be an overnight wonder! But that’s ok – “So let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Gal 6:9). Let’s all do a heart check this week – is it my ‘main thing’? How is the Great Commission being outworked in my own life? What is God saying to me about being part of His epic story today?