Each year at Lancaster Baptist Church, on the first Sunday of January, we reveal to our church family a new scriptural theme for the coming year.

This theme flows out of much prayer and preparation that has taken place for six or seven months in advance of the new year. Usually by June or July, I’ve chosen the theme for the following year. In August, I share the theme with our staff. And then in January, I present the theme to our church family.

Annual church themes, however, like personal New Year’s resolutions, can easily fall by the wayside after the first few weeks of the year. My heart is that our theme would flow into every aspect of our church life for the coming twelve months. Our revival, our giving, our campus development, our conferences—all of ministry—somehow aligns with this theme.

In fact, over the years, these themes have become spiritual signposts of our church’s faith journey. Members who have been at Lancaster Baptist for a few years or more can connect their own growth to the memory of these themes.

If there is a theme that you plan to introduce to your church in January that it is drawn from a scriptural truth that God has laid on your heart, maintaining a focus on it throughout the year can be spiritually beneficial to your church family.

Here are five ideas of how you can incorporate your annual church theme into the life of your church:

  1. Through Preaching—Our theme for 2017 has been “By Grace,” taken from 2 Corinthians 9:8. Over this past year, many of our sermon series have been themed around how God’s grace works in our lives. Titles have included “Begin with Grace,” “A Gracious Steward,” “The Grace-Filled Family,” “Portraits of Grace,” and “Be Strong in Grace.” Even this month as I preached through the Christmas story for the thirty-second time in the same church, we’re looked specifically at “The Grace of Christmas” and saw how God manifested His grace through coming. Not every sermon series is based on the church theme, but it is one great way to maintain an emphasis on that theme.
  2. Through Teaching—For the first three months of each year, all of our adult Bible classes on Sundays teach through a unified curriculum, based on the new theme. This allows us to, as a church family, explore how this theme applied to our lives will impact each area of our Christian walk.
  3. Through Special Services—Usually, our annual January revival and our fall missions conference carry the same theme as our annual church theme. Spiritual Leadership Conference in June is built around the same theme as well.
  4. Through Giving—Each spring, our church family gives a special offering toward ongoing ministry through campus development. This is preceded by asking the Lord to work in our hearts through a preaching emphasis on stewardship and home fellowships for prayer. All of this is themed around the church’s annual theme.
  5. Through Outreach—Because the purpose of the local church is the Great Commission of Christ, any spiritual growth or focus in our lives is never just about us as individual Christians. It is about reaching the world—including our own community—with the gospel. We have applied each biblical theme that we have studied to the impact it has on our witness as Christians—all year long as well as during special moments of outreach for our church family.

Hopefully these thoughts are a help to you as you look toward the coming year. Listed below are the annual themes we’ve used over the past thirty-one years. Perhaps these could be a help to you as you pray for direction for your church over the coming year.


Year Theme Verse
1987 Looking Toward Heaven in ’87 Colossians 3:2
1988 Through the Gate in ’88 Luke 13:24
1989 Building a Strong Foundation I Corinthians 3:11
1990 I Love My Church Ephesians 5:25
1991 Stake Your Claim Isaiah 54:2
1992 Press toward the Mark Philippians 3:14
1993 A Heart for God Psalm 57:7
1994 In His Steps I Peter 2:21
1995 Together We Strive Philippians 1:27
1996 He Is Able Ephesians 3:20
1997 Look to Jesus Hebrews 12:1
1998 From the Heart Ephesians 6:6
1999 Let God Arise Psalm 68:1
2000 Seek the Lord Isaiah 55:6
2001 Together With God I Corinthians 3:9
2002 By Faith II Corinthians 5:7
2003 Streams in the Desert Isaiah 35:6
2004 He is Greater I John 4:4
2005 Grow in Grace II Peter 3:18
2006 All Things Through Christ Philippians 4:13
2007 For the Faith Philippians 1:27
2008 Consider Christ Hebrews 12:3
2009 Making a Difference Jude 22
2010 By His Spirit Zechariah 4:6
2011 Together We Strive Philippians 1:27
2012 Rooted in Christ Colossians 2:7
2013 Launch Out Into the Deep Luke 5:4
2014 Renew 2 Corinthians 4:16
2015 I Will Build Matthew 16:19
2016 Continue 2 Timothy 3:14
2017 By Grace 2 Corinthians 9:8

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