2014 Pastoral Report

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:

  1. Everyone is called to make disciples. (Matthew 28:19-20)
  2. We must love God’s forgiveness if we are going to tell others about it. (Psalm 51:1, 13)
  3. The natural state of the gospel is not static, but fruit-filled and increasing. (Colossians 1:6)
  4. God will make disciples of Christ through our faithful, prayer-filled efforts. (Acts 11:21)
  5. Making disciples includes teaching new disciples to follow Jesus’ commands. (Matthew 28:19-20)
  6. Love for our church family is the primary way for us to show we are Jesus’ disciples. (John 13:35)
  7. Our love for one another is a window for all to see God’s love. (1 John 4:12)
  8. Unity in purpose, direction, and relationships is necessary for love. (Philippians 2:1-11)
  9. We are called to love the lost by pleading with them to be reconciled to God. (2 Timothy 2:10)
  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?

  1. Pray that God would move in our church, through our people, so that many come to Christ.
  2. Pray for God’s protection of me, my family, our deacons, and our deacons’ families.
  3. Passionately pursue love with one another at all costs. Do not let divisions happen.
  4. Look for opportunities in your life to make disciples of Christ.
  5. When you find opportunities, faithfully pursue the salvation of the lost.
  6. Participate in our small group ministry as an opportunity to love one another.
  7. 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

Building Update Proposal

DSC_6225

BUILDING UPDATE PROPOSAL

In 1964, a small church plant in Norwalk built a building in which to hold church services. The first worship service in that new building had about 50 in attendance. Fifty years later, First Baptist Church of Norwalk has been through many ups and downs, but we continue to meet faithfully in the same building, with about 50 in attendance each Sunday.

While we praise God for helping our church to remain faithful to him in Norwalk, our church family also has a sense that God is calling us into greater service for him in the coming 50 years. With that in mind, on the 50 year anniversary of our building, Pastor Trey and the deacons would like to propose a building update plan that we believe will serve as a rebirth to our ministry and a launching pad for effective ministry for the next 50 years.

Pastor Trey and the deacons have labored and prayed over this renovation proposal. Each of us spent hours gathering proposals, researching renovations, and thinking about this proposal on our own time. We have spent three meetings discussing every aspect of this proposal in depth. We added some items to the proposal and left some off that we did not think were helpful at this time. Every element of this proposal has been labored over and prayed over. We believe that we have found the most cost-efficient ways to accomplish our goals. After we are able to finish these projects, we believe that our large-scale building updates will be finished and we will be able to focus on ministry to one another and our community.

OBJECTIVES

We believe this building update plan will …

… Create a more visitor-friendly church building. While our church people are very friendly to visitors, our building is not. The following updates will assist create a more visitor-friendly building.

… Develop a flexible and usable building. Our current building is somewhat rigid and inflexible for our ministries. These building updates will give us greater flexibility in a very cost-efficient way.

… Address building maintenance issues. Buildings wear down over time. This proposal includes general maintenance and upkeep to help update our building.

OVERVIEW

WHAT ARE WE DOING?

  • Purchase a backlit awning for entrance door
  • Purchase a sticker decal for entrance door with church information
  • Re-carpet the entire upstairs and both stairwells
  • Replace pews with padded chairs
  • Paint auditorium walls, baseboards, and window trim
  • Replace vents in auditorium
  • New sound system computer
  • Remove organ, steps on stage, pulpit, and communion table
  • Replace, touch up, or finish downstairs doors
  • Wall-in auditorium stage door
  • Purchase cover for back of piano in auditorium
  • New projector screen for auditorium
  • Decorations

Estimated total cost for the Project – $25,923.07.

RENOVATIONS

VISITOR-FRIENDLY UPDATES

Awning – $2065.35 – backlit awning over parking lot entrance door

Awning will measure 6′ wide by 32” high by 36” deep and light up our parking lot entrance door. The material will match our brick building and will have our church logo and writing that says “WELCOME” on it. This awning will let everyone know what our primary entrance to the church is.

Door Decal – $99.13 – sticker decal with church information on parking lot entrance door

We will have Allegra Marketing design a sharp decal sticker for our parking lot entrance door. This sticker will include church contact information, service times, and our church logo. This will not only be a great form of communication for those who might stop by the church, but it will also dress our building up and let everyone know what our primary entrance to the church is.

AUDITORIUM

The majority of our updates will be in the auditorium. We believe the renovations to the auditorium will accomplish all three of our objectives.

Carpet – $14,982.51 – Carpet stairwells and all of upstairs

The carpet upstairs and in the stairwell is old, worn, and frayed, particularly in the auditorium. The carpet that we have settled on is a gray carpet tile for the upstairs and a matching gray carpet for the stairwells and stage. Many business buildings and churches are using carpet tiles instead of regular carpeting. Most that we have talked to have been thrilled with the performance of the carpet tile. The carpet tile gives us flexibility in the future, because if a carpet tile is stained, it can be easily replaced.

We considered other options for carpeting, such as regular and high-end carpeting, but the carpeting expert with Flooring America said that these tiles would wear as well as a high-end carpet.

Auditorium Seating – $3738.90 plus cost of dumpster – remove pews and purchase 110 chairs

The chairs that we are planning to purchase will have 4’’ padding (like floating on a cloud) and will match the rest of our auditorium. They also have hymnal racks underneath. The shipping for these chairs is free!

Purchasing chairs for the auditorium has been discussed before, but we feel like this is the appropriate time to do it. Our pews are old and worn down. The upholstery is snagged, dusty, and faded. The woodwork is faded and scratched. We could go through the process of getting them repaired, but the cost would probably be more than the purchase of chairs. We think it would be best to rent a dumpster, have a work day to remove the pews, cut the pews up, and throw them away.

Putting chairs in the auditorium will sharpen up our auditorium. We plan to do nine rows of six chairs on each side, which will give us a larger wall aisle and create a more open feel in the auditorium. The total seating in the auditorium will be 108 chairs. At this time, since we do not have a great place to store more chairs, we decided that it would be better not to get extras. If we needed more chairs, we already have over 30 other padded chairs that could be borrowed from other rooms in the church and set up in the auditorium.

Replacing the pews with chairs also gives our building much more flexibility. Today many churches are building rooms that are multifunctional and extremely flexible for their church ministries. We believe that it is a good use of God’s resources to invest the money in chairs, because, with chairs, our auditorium becomes a room that can be used for many different activities and ministries. We could host dinners, the teens could have activities (carefully), and other ministries could meet in the auditorium. For less than four thousand dollars, we essentially build an addition to our building that will give us great opportunities for ministry.

Paint – $1850 – Hire a professional painter to paint the auditorium walls, baseboards, and window trim

A fresh coat of paint on the walls will do a lot to dress up our building. The woodwork on the windows and the baseboard trim is scuffed and faded. Rather than replacing all the trim and windows, we decided to make do and paint them white. This white contrast will make our auditorium sharp. While it is possible to do the painting ourselves, we think that hiring a professional is the right way to go for several reasons.

First, this gives us flexibility in the timing of the job. If we had volunteers do it, they would need to work quickly after the old carpet is removed and before the new carpet gets installed. The coordination of getting all of these projects done in one week is probably unrealistic, and we would rather not have the auditorium in disarray over multiple weeks. The professional painter actually preferred that we got the new carpet down and the pews removed before he painted.

Second, it puts stress on volunteers who would paint for us. We could open this up to everyone to help paint, but the quality of the painting might not be universal, because some of us (Pastor Trey included!!!) are not as good with a brush as others.

Third, the price we were quoted was spectacular. The man we would like to hire is a retired professional painter who still does some jobs on the side. He is a Christian man who said something like, “I’ll give you a good price. I don’t need to be making money off the church.”

Replace Auditorium Vents – $172.24 – replace all baseboard and cold air return vents in auditorium

Since we are repainting and re-carpeting, we should also replace the vents to match the white baseboard trim.

Sound System Computer – $1000 est. – replace the sound system computer

The computer used for the sound system is close to ten years old and runs on Windows XP, which is no longer supported by Microsoft. With our website updates, sermon recordings, and use of the projector, having a nice, dependable computer for the sound system would be a huge help. We would then put the old computer downstairs in the copy room to be used by Sunday School teachers as needed.

Remove Organ, Steps on Stage, Pulpit, and Communion Table

While all of these items have sentimental value and some of them symbolize our church’s faithfulness to the truth, they are also worn down or completely unused. We plan to replace the pulpit with one that we already have. We will also place the keyboard and piano on stage where the steps are. This will make the seating area feel less crowded and sharpen up the front of the auditorium. For communion, we plan to use a four-foot plastic table with a nice tablecloth on it.

Stage Door – $100 est. – remove stage door, stud, drywall, texture, and paint

There are two reasons that we would like to do this: aesthetics and practicality. We think that the door on the stage is kind of an eyesore. Since we have access to the same area through a different door in the auditorium, it makes sense to remove it.

Practically speaking, we want the stage to be off-limits so as to protect the sound equipment, keyboard, and piano. This is something we cannot do with a door there. Also, the area near the baptistry steps can be used as storage as long as there is still access to the baptistry. In order to save a little bit of money, the stage door will be used to replace another worn-down door in the building.

Piano Cover – $100 est. – a cloth piano back cover

This will dress up the piano so that it looks a little nicer with the back to the congregation.

Projector Screen – $114.94 est. – a projector screen for the auditorium

We are currently projecting on a wall, which works pretty well. For a little more than hundred dollars, the picture could be significantly sharper and brighter. We plan to purchase projector screen material, cut a sheet of plywood to the size of our picture, and cover the plywood with the material. Also, our new wall color will not be white, which gives the best picture.

Decoration – $500

In the update of our building, we would also like to include this amount for new decorations.

MAINTENANCE

Doors – $200 est. – door replacement and repairs

Several of our doors are in poor shape. We plan to replace them, finish the bathroom doors, and touch up the rest of our doors. We also plan to install a door on the fellowship hall room to help with volume control for our Adult Bible Fellowship. The door will swing in such a way that it does not take up extra space and opens flush to the wall.

Miscellaneous – $1000

We built this into the proposal to help us cover the cost of extra items without needing to go back to the church. There are always extra things that come up that do not fit in any category, except miscellaneous.

TOTAL COST

The estimated total cost for this project is $25,923.07. We would like to propose rounding our estimated total cost for this project up to $26,000.00 and take that amount out of our savings account to pay for this building update proposal.

42,748.32                           current savings account balance

–              26,000.00                           amount for building update

=            16,748.32                             estimated leftover savings account balance

PROJECT TIMELINE

The first thing to set up would be the carpet. Many things on this plan can be done at any time, but the carpet is the linchpin for the painting, stage renovations, and chairs. The deacons and Pastor Trey are each assigned items on this proposal that, as soon as it is approved, they will start to work on.  We would like to be done by early July with this project, but will try to get it done sooner as we have the opportunity.

MEETING

On April 27, after the morning service at 11:30AM, we will have a Quarterly Business Meeting and Question and Answer time about this project. At any time before that, feel free to direct questions about this project to Pastor Trey or the deacons. They will be able to answer most of the questions that you might have. We will officially vote on this proposal on Sunday night, April 27 at 5:30PM. We will only vote at this time. It should only take a few moments and then we can resume our nightly ministries.

SUMMARY

This is an opportunity for our church to make a step in our rebirth process. Through these renovations, we sharpen one of the ministry tools that God gave us, our building. These updates will give us opportunities for ministry that we have not had before. They will create a more positive first impression of our building for our guests.

These updates may not be exactly what you would do, but we have to ask what God would have us to do. Please pray for wisdom and unity in our church in this decision. We hope for a 100% vote on April 27. We desire God to use our church family in a way that pleases him. These updates will give us the opportunity to be used even more for his glory and for the spreading of the gospel.

Change for the Gospel

Writting the word text on blackboardChange can be neutral. Change can be bad. Change can be good.

To change for change’s sake is neutral. For instance, changing up the setup of your living room is neither good nor bad. Change can be refreshing (more on a church changing for change’s sake later).

Changing something can be bad too. For instance, if I changed hobbies and my new hobby kept me from fulfilling my responsibilities, then that change would be bad.

Changing something can be good too. God changed us by transforming us into a new creation. The old has passed away and the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

The morality of change is determined by its purpose and effects. The changes that we are making to our ministries must be critiqued for their purpose and effects. For instance, if we simply changed to be like everyone else, or to imitate the newest church model, then our purpose is sinful. Change in that case is wrong. If we changed and it resulted in Christ’s name being dishonored, then the effect of our change is sinful.

Remaining the same can be wrong for the same reasons. If our motivation to remain static is selfish, or based on what other churches are doing, or based on what we have always done, then that motivation is incorrect. If remaining the same results in Christ’s name being dishonored, then the effect of remaining static is sinful.

While some of our changes may be flexible and require adjustments, the changes we are making to our ministry are a result of much prayer and consideration. We believe that we can best honor Christ’s name, reach out to our community, and fulfill Jesus’ call to make disciples by following through with some of these changes.

Changing our service times will make our morning worship more visitor-friendly because, frankly, on the weekends, visitors are more likely to attend at a later hour. There is nothing more or less holy about the 10 AM or 9 AM hour. We are pursuing this change because we feel like it will best help us to reach our community, make disciples, and honor Christ’s name. Having a coffee hour before the service at 9:30 AM allows us to give a warm and friendly first impression to anyone who attends.

Moving our Sunday School ministry to Sunday night is not more spiritual than having it in the morning. We do feel that our teachers will benefit from being able to focus on the morning service without the responsibility of Sunday School. We also feel that the students will benefit because they will not have to sit and be still for both the morning service and Sunday School. Another added effect is that organizing our ministries in this way gives us a separate kid’s ministry without requiring more volunteers.

It is not sinful or holy to keep the ministry times the way they have been. If we genuinely thought the current ministry times would most effectively help us to make disciples, then we would keep the ministries exactly the same. In the future, we may have to change the service times again to help us effectively make disciples.

We had originally intended to change our ministry times starting on Easter. However, we are also working on publications, visitor brochures, and a church website. We did not want to have to change those publications in a month and a half to update the new service times. It seemed natural to change the service times on Daylight Savings Time, March 12, when we all have to adjust ourselves anyway.

The other change that we are making is in our midweek ministry. Our church family will have ample opportunity to ask questions and learn about this ministry before we start it. That change should occur in early April.

The Link Group model is not new to church ministry. In-home prayer and discussion meetings are not more spiritual than Wednesday night prayer meetings. Why are we doing it?

We feel that an in-home prayer and discussion meeting will give our church the greatest opportunity to ‘link’ with each other and will give new members the greatest opportunity to ‘link’ into our church. The format will be fairly similar to a Wednesday prayer meeting, except we will be adding a sermon-based discussion and we will meet in homes. Both ministries give opportunities to share and pray for one another. However, meeting in homes in smaller groups can help our church family to be more comfortable with one another. It will also help new members become part of our church family more smoothly. We want to make disciples in a loving church. ‘Link Groups’ give us the opportunity to continue to expand our love for one another.

We never want to change for change’s sake. Our ministry is too urgent to spend time and energy changing our ministry ‘just because.’ Any change we make must have good motivations and effects. We believe that the changes we are introducing to our ministry have both.

“We make it our aim to please him.” 2 Corinthians 5:9

Service Time Change

clock-10-00THESE CHANGES START MARCH 9, 2014

Sunday Morning

  • 9:30-9:50 Coffee and Fellowship
  • 10:00-11:30 Worship Service

Sunday Evening

  • 5:30-7:00 Sunday Evening Bible Studies

Adult Bible Fellowship

  • 5:30-6:00 Coffee, Snacks, and Fellowship
  • 6:00-7:00 Bible Study

Kids

  • 5:30-5:50 Songs
  • 5:50-7:00 Sunday School

Teens

  • 5:30-5:50 Helpers for Kids Song Time
  • 5:50-7:00 Sunday School

Why?

  • A 10AM service is more guest-friendly than a 9AM service.
  • A coffee time in the fellowship hall will create a welcoming first impression to visitors.
  • Everyone is able to focus on the morning worship and will not be as distracted by other church responsibilities.
  • This schedule creates an opportunity for a more dynamic kids and teens ministry without requiring extra volunteer hours or a major overhaul to our ministry.
  • We can form our ministry to be welcoming to visitors more easily if our service started at 10AM.
  • Everyone can be on time more easily for a 10AM service.
  • This schedule creates an opportunity for a more in-depth adult Bible study.
  • This schedule creates extra time for fellowship, which will help to continue to foster strong relationships in our church.

This is the best way to …

  • Maximize our kid’s and teen’s ministries.
  • Develop a guest-friendly ministry.
  • Train adults through in-depth Bible studies, doctrinal studies, and topical studies.
  • Foster an environment of fellowship and family.

Link Groups

CHAIN-LINKS-2Why ‘Link’ Groups?

  • Because we need an intentional way to ‘link’ new Christians and new members to our church family.
  • Because the church needs to maintain a family connectedness through future growth.
  • Because a loving church environment is the best place for spiritual growth to happen.
  • Link Groups give us the opportunity to love and care for one another.

What?

Start midweek in-home prayer and discussion Groups instead of in-church prayer meetings

What difference will it make? What is there to gain?

People are constantly looking for a friendly environment to be a part of. Our church currently has that strength, but we want to maintain that strength. Without vigilance, strengths become weaknesses. These choices and ministries make decisive steps towards continuing to foster our friendly environment of our church.

Why Now?

We have experienced and qualified church leaders who have run small groups and several potential host families. If we are going to start a ministry to help facilitate the connecting of new members and Christians with the church family, the time to do it is not after we have new members and Christians, but before. This seems like the opportune moment to start this ministry.

How does it start?

  • Two host houses and two group leaders will be trained in the coming month(s) with Pastor Trey. We will add more Link Groups as we grow.
  • Host houses will host one Link Group each. These host houses may be eventually trained to lead a Link Group.
  • Link Leaders will lead the Link Group discussion and prayer in the host house.
  • Church members will have the opportunity to sign up a Link Group in March. Our goal is to have 90% of our church ‘linked’ into a group.
  • Discussion will be based on the previous Sunday’s sermon. Discussion will be based on the provided discussion sheet from Sunday.
  • Child-care to be arranged by Pastor Trey and host houses.
  • Our goal is to launch this ministry the week of March 30-April 5.

FAQ

Isn’t this basically small groups? Isn’t our church already a ‘small group?’

The maximum number of people in a group that most are willing to share in is about 6-12, depending on personality. While our church is small, our main gatherings, especially on Wednesday nights, is still too large for everyone to be able to share. This ministry will intentionally give new Christians and members an opportunity to become part of our family and allow everyone the opportunity to participate and grow together.

Isn’t our Wednesday night ministry fine the way it is? Yes and no. Our Wednesday ministry is unique and treasured to most who come. However, due to the lack of nursery, the larger group, and the meeting setting, the Wednesday night ministry is not as effective as it could be. In-home Link Groups will allow for children to be taken care of. A home environment also allows for people to relax and be more comfortable with each other.

Didn’t we already try something like this, and it didn’t work?

Yes, a ministry like this was tried and discontinued. Our ministry philosophy is one of simplicity, with each ministry benefiting the other ministries. Link Groups will help our primary worship service to be more effective by causing our people to interact with and apply the sermon later in the week.

In-home Bible studies always seem forced. Is this going to be forced? Everyone will need to put forth effort to benefit from this ministry, but in-home Bible studies should not be forced. Spiritual relationships will take time to form, and they will be allowed to develop at their own pace, without requiring anyone to share or participate.

Is this a trial run? No. This ministry may need some adjustments and tinkering. Due to its immense benefits to the worship service and the ability to bring new people into our church family, this ministry is important and here to stay. It may take time for everyone to adjust, but it will be a good thing.