Reflections and Glimpses

Reflections and Glimpses

Text: Matthew 25:14-30

Over the past couple of weeks or so, I’ve found myself having to describe what I’d be doing during this hour on this day and attempting to avoid specific words like “sermon” or “preaching.”  I’ve mentioned to Melissa at times that some ideas for my… and even this week, the school administrator at Olde Providence asked me what I was going to do during the afternoon after I substitute taught in the morning and I said that I would be working on my sharing during the worship service to which she then asked, “Oh, what are you going to be preaching on.”  I quickly corrected her and used the phrase that Robert coined during our Finance Committee meetings of an “Extended sharing time.”  If you’re interested in a sermon or someone to preach to you, I ’ve heard there are some in my family that have been more comfortable with doing this than I am.  But he’s not here.

What I do want to talk about during my extended sharing time now is to offer up to you my observations of how God has led our church year and what I think I see where God is leading us next year.  This is the perfect time to look both directions as we enter into Stewardship Season.  If we really believe God is in control of our church and our lives (AND WE SHOULD), we should be asking ourselves “Where has God brought us and what have we learned this year and where do we think God wants us to go in 2020.”

The Finance Committee is responsible for the budget and our Stewardship process so, this year, I asked members of the Session, the Deacons, and our church staff to answer two questions for their ministry and ministry teams:

  1. For your areas of ministry, what would you say were the highlights and lessons learned?
  2. What are your goals for next year?

There may be some of you who like me, enjoy watching the shows that occur during the last week of each year as networks run programs that show events of the year, well-known people who have died, good things and not so good things that occurred.  I always think about how much happens during a year, some of which I had forgotten that they occurred that year.  I thought about this when asking the first question to the Elders, Deacons, etc. and I wondered why we don’t do this every year as a church family.  I think you will find it interesting to see all that God has led us through and propose that we do this each year.  Let me take you back through 2019 for Good Shepherd and I’ll let you know in advance, there will be opportunities for audience participation.

In January, Robert preached a series of sermons entitled “Here I am” which highlighted people in the Bible who were used by God, not because they believed themselves to be qualified, but because they were obedient and made themselves available to God for His use.  We all were challenged to make take a look at ourselves to see how we individually be available for God to use us.

Also, in January, at the end of the month during our annual congregational meeting, I shared the approved budget with you that showed we expected our income to be less than our expenses by $40,000.  That was a scary time for me to stare at that number not knowing how we were going to address it.  At that time, my questions to God were mostly “What’s going on? Or What do you want us to do?” both questions containing a fair amount of frustration.  Looking back, I think God was using the confluence of these two things to get our attention as a church family and to get us moving forward into 2019 in very different ways than we had done before.  Maybe we had gotten in a groove that felt comfortable and took the minimum amount of effort and resources.  Maybe God saw a need we had in our blind spot and only when we moved in a different direction would we see it.

We took the “Here I am” idea up a level to be at our church.  In February, we had our “Here We Are” lunch to seek God’s guidance for the next steps.  We had 50 people stay after worship for lunch and to work in groups to answer 4 questions:

  1. If an organization down the street was offering an event, what would it have to be to get you interested in going?
  2. What are some needs we could address in our neighboring communities? From Rea to Hwy 51? From Rea to Carmel?
  3. Are there services or events we could invite our neighbors to come to that could generate income for the church?
  4. What events would excite you enough to invite your neighbors?

The output of this meeting led to the 4 major events we had this year.  Hold that thought for a minute.

In February, we had our 1st Valentine’s dinner and the event drew not only members but was an easy way to invite our friends.  I believe Kim Kinken’s calling is not in the medical field but in event planning.  It was a great time!

In April for Easter, the MEN!’s group cooked a full breakfast for all who attended the Sunrise Service.  That was a first and to my knowledge, there were no ill effects from the food preparation.

In May, Shannon Klar spoke at the Women’s Tea about her journey and challenges including how they were blessed with Ciara.

The Primetimers (with their travel agent Jane Chiseck) have so far racked up thousands of frequent flyer points traveling the world to eat various types of food like Chinese, Irish, Hawaiian, and as recently as last night German!  And all without leaving the state.

If you haven’t found the monthly Game Group, you should.  It started out as a group that likes to play games who bring snacks.  More accurately, it is a group that likes to eat and if the food coma’s don’t kick in, a game or two will break out.

Bonclarken again was a great weekend with 35 people attending our annual event. It was a time to learn and to build relationships.  If you haven’t gone, you should come next year.  You won’t regret it.

When I looked at all these events, I found the common thread – it is “If you cook it or serve it , they will come.”

I think we do a good job planning times we can be together.

“Children are special to us at Good Shepherd…”  You can probably finish that line we hear every week in worship.  So what’s happened in this ministry:

  • Children’s Ministry
    • Backyard Kids Club
    • School’s Out Kids Club
    • Family Kids Club
    • New Worship Bags
    • Bookshelf for Preschool
  • Youth Ministry
    • Spring Retreat
    • Confirmation – Sarah and Lucas
    • MS Mission Trip to West Virginia
    • HS Mission Trip to Jamaica
    • Mission Sunday

Show of hands… how many youth and children we’ve care for this year.

Did you know: over 110 different youth and children were cared for through our ministries this year.

How about groups outside of our church – what are we doing for them?

Each month a small group of our members go to work at Crisis Assistance Ministry. 
We’re support the CROP Walk, Samaritan’s purse Christmas Shoe Boxes and lead the Community Christmas Shoppe that will occur in December.

Robert mentioned last Sunday about our relationship with the Seventh Day Adventist Church.  I’ll admit that when we were first approached with their request to use our building, it was a very unfamiliar feeling to me.  Use our Sanctuary… OK, we’ve done that before.  Use our kitchen… well, that’s new.  And classrooms?  And eat in the expansion area??  On Saturday?  What is there is a mess that we would find on Sunday morning?  We didn’t know how that was going to work so we set up an agreement for a 90-day trial from June to August.  What we observed is that they treated God’s house… like we treat God’s house.  They are wonderful people and you’d never even know they were here on Sunday when we walk in the doors.  How great is that that we could use the resource that God gave us to help others (our building.)  AND they are only 1 of 16 groups that used our facilities.

We also took steps forward in the use of the Manse.  We were approached by the Richardsons and Brice is the Area Director for Young Life and Jen works for Proverbs 31 ministries.  They were looking to live in this area and this looks like a mutually beneficial arrangement as it avoids the use of our operating budget to care for the maintenance of the manse.  Good use of a talent, right?  And continued many thanks to John Wright, Chuck Jenkins, Doran Buchmann and others for their using their talents to renovate the house.  This is another example of our moving out to a different place than we had been before.

I saved the Outreach\Fundraiser Events because I think this best shows how God has pushed us out of our comfort zone to engage with our neighbors.  I stood up here just a month ago to provide a recap of the Yard Sale and in spite of my {almost} public display of emotion, I hope you heard the message that although this could have been thought of as a fundraiser, the interactions we had with many of our neighbors were of far more importance.  The Pig Pickin brought still more people onto our site who don’t worship here.  And tonight is our Family Movie Night and my hope is that we can show our neighbors the kindness that Jesus commands us to show.  The Fall JazzFest should touch others that may be totally different than any of the other Outreach Events.  We are connecting with our neighbors (and maybe just at a relationship level that) might motivate them to come see what we’re all about.  I believe it’s hard to share the gospel with someone you don’t have a relationship with so maybe that is what God is using us for right now.  I don’t think we know yet how God is working but stay tuned.

Well that was a fun walk down memory lane but what do we think God was teaching us?

  1. It’s time to get out of our comfort zone and to try new ways to interact with our nearby neighbors and others outside our church walls.  Stop being the church on the corner and start being the church in the neighborhood.
  2. This building and this property are not yours.  Take care of them but remember they are mine and for My use.
  3. Stop using your budget as the limiting factor for ministry.  Trust me and take some steps on faith and see how I can bless it.

All of those things are uncomfortable to me and almost illogical.  But that’s what I think we’re to learn.

Now let me tell you where we are financially – in your bulletin is a YTD Recap

Where is God leading us next year?

Well, starting this year, we’re changing how the Stewardship Season and the budget process works.  Before, we would ask for pledges and then determine what the budget would be.  That doesn’t really give much room to work does it?  This year, we’re taking a different approach – the Session and the Finance Committee wanted to tell you what we want to do as a church before you prayerfully consider your ministry gifts. But let me start with the goals for next year.

I mentioned the 2nd question that I asked our leaders (Goals for 2020) and I received back a variety of answer that seem to coalesce around 2 words: Grow and Care.  That’s our theme for this year’s Stewardship Season.

Here are our goals for next year in those two categories:

Grow in Christ

  1. Help individuals deepen their walk with Christ – discipleship program
  2. Engage multiple members as periodic SS teachers

Grow our church family

  1. Connect with GS Preschool families
  2. Examine expanded use of our athletic field for soccer as well as baseball
  3. Find ways to support expanding our Youth Group

Care for our members

  1. Repeat: MEN!’s events, Valentine’s Day Dinner and Bonclarken
  2. 40th Anniversary (reconstitute as “Homecoming”)
  3. Maintain connections with members via monthly Deacon contacts

Care for our community

  1. Continue leading\supporting The Community Christmas Shoppe
  2. Select and schedule an Outreach Event(s) (provides a service, may also generate funds)
  3. Expand connection with Olde Providence Elementary School (count of member volunteers)

So those are our goals for next year.

Our 2nd scripture was “Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow in every way into Christ.”  I think doing the above moves us that direction.

This is probably a good time to explain my title slide

If you were to ask me today what I think God will teach us next year, I don’t have an answer.  I think we are heading in the right direction after this year and this time next, maybe we’ll have an answer.

So how does all of this connect with Stewardship?

We have a target budget for 2020 at $320,000 – the same as this year.  That means we’ll start the year staring at another $40,000 deficit but that is where we feel God is challenging us to get to again next year.

Back in January, I committed to better visibility around our finances so I want to share some data with you.

Over the next few weeks you’ll hear from some others about what Good Shepherd means to them and what they would like our church to do or be.

I want to close my extended time in a different way than you usually see.

What makes our church what it is that we are grounded in Jesus and seek His guidance in all things AND in the people that make up our church family.

This is a slide show from Bonclarken; this is (some of) our church FAMILY.

Music

  • The Church’s One Foundation (AURELIA)
  • My Lighthouse (Rend Collective)
  • CHOIR: Lord of Peace (Martin)
  • In My Life, Lord (BE GLORIFIED)
  • Christian Hearts in Love United (AUSTRIAN HYMN)

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