December 20, 2012
Dear Church Family,
As we near the end of this year, I invite you to reflect with me for just few moments on what the Lord has done in our midst during these last months. I’ve been thinking about our beginning days of ministry together in the last week or so and just wanted to share my reflections with you. Diane and I are very grateful that you have opened your hearts to us and made us feel very welcome as new members of the church family. There is no question in our minds that God has led us here and that we are doing what we have been called and prepared to do.
Every week I ask the staff what they see God doing and if they sense God leading in any particular direction. Here are some of the things that I have seen in the last several months:
· I hear folks talking about “Living the Father’s Grand Story” and I am grateful for open hearts responding to God’s word through the book of Ephesians.
· Our attendance continues to grow. Through the fall our worship service attendance has averaged around 230 with some guests visiting virtually every week. Last week, over 260 worshippers joined us. I’m grateful, too, for a visitation team that faithfully follows up and the positive reactions they have been receiving.
· The Karen congregation continues to grow and we are enriched by our interaction with them. I look forward to a growing relationship with them. I’m especially grateful for Knute Reierson’s ministry in helping them and serving as a catalyst for ministry with the Karen.
· I’m grateful for faithful musicians and tech personnel who serve and cheerfully grow and adapt to a changing music and worship landscape.
· The children’s Christmas program highlighted the faithfulness of our teachers and the substance of what the children are receiving in our programs. I’m thankful for such godly servants.
· Our volunteer youth staff continues to pour their lives into our young people and the ministry is doing well. They have multiple special events they’ve attended together and have a number planned for the beginning of 2013. Their weekly ministry continues to thrive and grow as well. I believe God is certainly working in this ministry. I’m grateful for a faith-oriented congregation that approved the funds to hire a full-time youth pastor in 2013.
· My mission trip to Kenya, though unfortunately timed, was enthusiastically supported. Many folks have asked me what more can we do to help them in their ministry.
· An increasingly positive and productive dialogue with Aberdeen Christian School has encouraged me.
· The fall women’s Bible Study with Beth Moore’s series on James was powerful and life-changing. I’m grateful to Colleen Jark for her vision and gifts in leading this dynamic ministry.
· I launched a men’s leadership study meeting at two different times during the week. I am very encouraged by the level of transparent and deep dialogue that we have experienced in this ministry. I believe God is cultivating men who will be genuinely spiritual leaders for the work He has called us to do.
There are, of course, many other things that God is doing among us. I observe God working in individuals’ lives, transforming them and encouraging them in their daily walk. That is what being the church is all about. Being a disciple and making disciples of Christ. I am humbled to be a part of God’s work here at First Baptist.
As we look into 2013, I am looking forward to what God will do in us. In January, I will begin a new preaching series on the Lord’s Prayer. In the last several weeks, I’ve become increasingly convinced that we can and need to develop our prayer life together. If we are God’s enterprise – and we are (Ephesians 2:10) – prayer should be at the center of our life together. I am also excited about the search for a full-time youth pastor. Shortly after the beginning of the year, we will form a search committee and begin this important process together. Pray with me that we will discern God’s right person for the ministry.
I know that God has a very exciting year for us in 2013. Diane and I look forward to finally getting settled into a house and into the community. As we move forward in the new year, let us continue to “walk worthy of the calling with which we have been called” as people who have been invited into “the Father’s Grand Story.” In Spiritual Leadership, the book we have been exploring in the men’s study, godly leadership is defined as “moving people onto God’s agenda.” That is my desire for us in 2013. Each person, each voice, and every life is important in the Body of Christ. Praying, listening, and working together, I am confident that the seeds that have been planted in these last months of 2012 will germinate and grow into ministry that will change lives for the glory of the Lord. May God grant us eyes to see, ears to hear, and a willing heart to obey where He will lead us in the year to come.
Gratefully with you, in Christ,