Every year, I visit my doctor and have a physical check-up.

I also visit the dentist to have my teeth cleaned and checked for cavities. At the beginning of the year, I meet with my accountant to assess my family's financial situation and plan a strategy for economic growth.

There is another appointment I make at the beginning of each year that is far more important than the ones previously mentioned.

This appointment is with God, and the agenda of this meeting is to assess my spiritual condition.

Each year during this "spiritual check-up," I ask him three questions to probe where I am and what he wants of me for the coming year. I encourage you to take some time this week to ask yourself these questions:

* What did God want to teach me last year?

* What does God want to grow in me this year?

* What does God want to do through me this year?

It will take some quiet time alone with God to hear the answers to these questions, but rest assured on the promise of Scripture, "if you seek him you will find him," Deuteronomy 4:29. After inquiring what the Lord wants from you, ask him to lead you to a Bible verse that can help guide you toward your spiritual goals for the coming year.

Last year, I was led to a verse in Ephesians that would help us transition as our church embarked upon our 2020 vision to start seven new worshipping communities in the next decade:

"Live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace," Ephesians 4:1-3.

As Celebration Community Church's lead pastor, I believe my primary responsibility is to be its chief encourager. With that in mind, I have chosen my Scripture verse for 2012:

"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another -- and all the more as you see the day approaching," Hebrews 10:24-25.

Some time ago I heard my friend and colleague Roger Cooper sing a song entitled, "I Don't Have to, I Get to." I just love the power of the positive attitude conveyed in those words. Think about all of the things you say that you might be tempted to start with "I have to," such as I have to go to work, I have to take the kids to school, I have to ... you get the point.

When it comes to church, my hope is you never feel like you have to go to church.

As Christ's church, we get to gather together to express our faith through worship.

As Christ's church, we get to study God's word and learn how he wants us to grow in our faith.

As Christ's church, we get to love one another, serve one another, share with one another, as well as loving, serving and sharing with those outside of our church.

In these busy, busy times we live in, as we get closer to the day when Christ will return, we will grapple with competing time priorities, spiritual struggles and even times of persecution as anti-Christian forces will grow in strength. (We can see this illustrated through much of media's negative take on Tim Tebow's demonstrative faith.)

Whatever we have going on in this coming year never should be an excuse for missing out on a gathering as Christ's church. Church is not a place we "have to" go to. Church is a place where we "get to" be with one another.

As we embark upon this year of our Lord 2012, I want to encourage you to choose a Bible verse for yourself.

I encourage you to memorize it, meditate on it and seek to live it out in practice throughout the year at whatever church you choose to belong to.

Kyle Ermoian is the senior pastor at Celebration Community Church. Statements of Faith is a series sharing lessons from local church leaders and members. To submit a column for publication, contact The Hays Daily News at (785) 628-1081.