eNews – January 16, 2019
Dear FPC family and friends,
For my first enews I wanted to send you what will be in this year’s annual report which we will be going over at our congregational meeting on January 27. You will find it below.
What is the most important thing upon which a pastor ought to reflect in his yearly report? Proverbs 29:18 comes to mind as the author states: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” I can’t find a Scripture that talks about a church that has too many visions! I find that in this church we have a lot of ideas and many of them are coming to fruition and producing a tremendous amount of fruit.
There is some genuine excitement around our children’s and young couple’s ministry which is seeing a boom in growth. The epitome of that growth was at the family Christmas Eve service which was the most chaotic by far of any that I have seen. That’s what we shoot for around here, chaos that may not be organized, but at least is somewhat controlled. The vision our session had to hire a children’s director proved to be empowering and the church is not perishing, but is alive and well as a result.
I have discovered over my 25 years of ministry that if my vision is all that is being proposed within the life of the church, it is very, very short lived. The vision of individuals within the congregation to start a food bank, to create a space where people can have coffee and hang out and talk, to have a yearly Bluegrass event to packed houses, to open the church for an open house, and the list continues, is what sticks. What all of these events in the life of the church have in common is that someone in our church had the vision and pursued it.
Life is found in the context of a vision being put forward and embraced by leadership and the congregation. But the vision remains strong only when there are individuals within the church who are willing to champion it and move it forward. That individual cannot be the pastor. My experience is that the visions put forward by the pastor will die over a period of time unless someone within the church catches the same vision and becomes wedded to it.
We find ourselves in a time in the life of the church where this year will be pivotal. We have grown over 5% in attendance this past year which is significant in a culture and denomination where 98% of the churches are losing members and seeing significant decline in attendance. We are the 2%! We are meeting our expenditures and able to give beyond what we have budgeted for mission. This year alone, catch this now, we were able to give $106,000 to mission from our yearly budget, which was $30,000 over what we had budgeted. That is impressive, but wait, there is more! If you include our youth mission trip to Italy and our special offerings like blanket Sunday, Joy Offering and all the others we were able to give just a smidge under $200,000. Catch your breath, because that is really, really impressive.
I’m not sure we have had a year like this in a long time. Our focus on mission was also seen in our minute for mission which we had periodically this past year. From all of this you can see that our Mission and Finance Committee has been very busy in casting a vision and making sure that it breathes life into our congregation. They have done a lot, and I know that they have big plans for this year as well.
So, as you are patting yourself on the back, remember not to get complacent. God does not call us to merely be involved financially in the lives of those who are in need, but spiritually and physically. Our food bank is a good example. With the rest of our growth has come a growth in the clients of our food bank. In the President’s yearly report she mentioned that our distribution rate has doubled since last year. Again, I have found in my experience that when a ministry like that starts to take off it can impact the whole church in providing a vision for reaching out to the community in ways that we never envisioned. Look forward to that in 2019!
Your servant in Christ,
HAPPENING AT FPC…
Tuesday women’s bible study: will begin again on Jan 22 at 9:00am and 7:00pm. We will be studying What Love Is, a study of 1,2,3 John by Kelly Minter. Please join us!
Young Couples Sunday School Class: We are starting up a new curriculum this Sunday. Tim and Kathy Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage will be handed out and discussed over the next 12 weeks. Come and join us!