What a year to remember God’s faithfulness to us! In January of 2014, you voted unanimously to make me your next pastor, and I have loved every moment since then. I’ve loved serving by preaching, discipling, leading, counseling, meeting, and encouraging you!
Throughout the last year, we have worked through several books of the Bible and many topical studies. Over the first month, we learned about our ministry of reconciling others to God through Christ from 2 Corinthians 5. Later, we studied the story of Jonah together and not only saw our sins, but we also saw God’s faithfulness and graciousness to people like Jonah, and me, and you! We also dove into the book of 1 John, working through deceptively simple statements that were filled with profound truth. I hope you enjoyed seeing God’s love, forgiveness, and light from that book. I also hope you learn about persevering in your faith and deepening your relationships with one another. We also covered important topics such as the formation of gospel-centered relationships, the humility of Jesus at Christmas, the greatness of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, and the amazing hope that we have because of his resurrection.
In the month of October, we invited special speakers to minister to us. These speakers included missionaries we support, church planters, and evangelists from the Des Moines area. We called this “Month on Mission,” and we focused our attention on the mission that God has for us. We heard several different methods of evangelism, but one common theme continued to emerge; God rewards the prayers and the faithfulness of his people. During this month we devoted extra time to fasting and prayer on Wednesdays. Each of us was challenged to pursue consistent evangelism efforts and prayers with our neighbors, friends, family, and co-workers. Our desire, from Colossians 1:6, is to see the gospel “bearing fruit and increasing” in our church.
We also saw many changes to our ministry in 2014. We moved our service times around as a way to better reach our community. We previously met at 9AM for worship and 10:30AM for Sunday School, and we now meet at 10AM for worship and 6PM for Sunday School. These adjustments were made with the understanding that we would reevaluate the ministry times in 2015 and, remaining flexible, continue to try to find the best time for our church and our community.
We also started our small group ministry and named it “Link Groups” because of its focus on linking us to one another and linking others into our church family. These small groups have been a fantastic way for our church family to pray for and encourage one another in a more personal setting. They meet on Wednesday nights to discuss Sunday’s sermon and pray with one another.
2014 will also be remembered as a year of significant renovations to our building. We replaced old carpet, removed pews, moved the sound system (and learned that Pastor Trey should not touch the sound equipment), installed an awning over the parking lot door, installed a decal on the door for our service times, purchased comfortable chairs, painted the auditorium and welcome area, painted all of the trim, and much more. We are still working to finish up some small projects, but renovations have made our facility more flexible, useable, and welcoming!
God has been faithful to work through us in our ministries. We have seen people receive Jesus’ salvation for the first time, renew their commitment to Jesus and his salvation, grow in their passion for Jesus Christ, and take drastic steps of obedience to Christ through our ministries and our people. This is not to pat us on the back! We are not faithful enough or powerful enough to accomplish any of that, but we do have a God who works through imperfect people like you and me. It is good to know that God can and will use us to accomplish his plans on earth!
Of course, there are a million other things that happened this year, but these were the big memories. My first year as your pastor has been very sweet. I love our church family.
Our focus for 2015 and our new vision statement for the church is “Glorifying God by Making Disciples in a Loving Church.” It is quite simple, but not easy to accomplish. Our purpose on earth is to glorify God because he alone is worthy of our devotion, love, and honor. God calls us to do that by making disciples in a loving church. Here are ten things to remember about our vision:
- Everyone is called to make disciples. (Matthew 28:19-20)
- We must love God’s forgiveness if we are going to tell others about it. (Psalm 51:1, 13)
- The natural state of the gospel is not static, but fruit-filled and increasing. (Colossians 1:6)
- God will make disciples of Christ through our faithful, prayer-filled efforts. (Acts 11:21)
- Making disciples includes teaching new disciples to follow Jesus’ commands. (Matthew 28:19-20)
- Love for our church family is the primary way for us to show we are Jesus’ disciples. (John 13:35)
- Our love for one another is a window for all to see God’s love. (1 John 4:12)
- Unity in purpose, direction, and relationships is necessary for love. (Philippians 2:1-11)
- We are called to love the lost by pleading with them to be reconciled to God. (2 Timothy 2:10)
- Acts of kindness for the lost enhance the message of God’s kindness to them. (1 Corinthians 10:24, James 2:8)
Let’s embrace this vision and pursue God’s glory in our church as we love one another and make disciples. Would you consider making a few commitments to see that happen?
- Pray that God would move in our church, through our people, so that many come to Christ.
- Pray for God’s protection of me, my family, our deacons, and our deacons’ families.
- Passionately pursue love with one another at all costs. Do not let divisions happen.
- Look for opportunities in your life to make disciples of Christ.
- When you find opportunities, faithfully pursue the salvation of the lost.
- Participate in our small group ministry as an opportunity to love one another.
- Take initiative to minister and serve in our church.
“In order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:11