Monday, February 11, 2008

Annual Meeting & Celebration

We had our annual all-church meeting & celebration on Saturday night. The menu was great--soup, spaghetti, salad, garlic bread, and lots of desserts. The game time was fun (for example, I learned that Carissa Courtney has eaten three meats you can't buy at Meijer--venison, alligator(!) and bear I think). We also saw a slideshow that highlighted some of the great things that have happened in our church in 2007.

But the highlight of the night was being able to hear from Tom Blaylock, our denomination's Director of Church Multiplication, and Gordon Kettel, the founding pastor of Imagine This, a United Brethren church plant in Grand Ledge.

Tom relayed his own personal experience planting a church in Williamston, as well as his desire to find pastors and churches that are interested in working to plant new congregations. Our vision is one that is extremely exciting to him. He said that so many churches get locked into seeing just their own issues that they fail to see the fields that are ready for harvest all around them (Matthew 9:36-38). He also talked about the LEAD Team concept and one of the LEAD Teams that is already up and functioning.

Gordon shared about his own experience being a part of two church plants. They both took a lot of work, and one involved traveling from west of Lansing (where he lives) to the Detroit area (where the church plant was) each week. However, after stepping back for a period of rest, he felt that God was calling him to plant a church in his own area, and eventually God led him to the Grand Ledge community. Gordon also shared some of the great successes they are seeing (including whole families coming to faith in Christ), some of their key minsitries, as well as some of their challenges. It was truly an inspirational and affirming evening.

After Gordon shared, Tom called me up extemporaneously to lay hands on me and pray for me and our church. That was an extremely moving time for me personally. It's always encouraging to be endorsed and supported by someone in a leadership position.

When the evening was concluded, Gordon shared with me that he saw a lot of positive interaction as he shared his story--good eye contact, heads nodding, smiles. He said that he sensed a real enthusiasm for the vision to plant churches. I believe he's right. I sense a greater unity and support now for our misison, vision, and values than I ever have since coming here three years ago. It really is good to hear of the kingdom of God advancing and taking shape, lives being transformed and eternities changed. That's what it's all about. That's why we want to accomplish our vision--to make an impact on the 100,000 people in Jackson County with no church family.

I believe that as we stay committed to the task, dedicated to the work to which God has called us, keep building relationships and reaching out with the love of Christ to the people God has placed in our lives, we will begin to see the same fruit. God blesses and empowers those who are committed to lives of obedience to him.

Each of the elders on the ballot received the necessary 2/3 vote to serve. John Fisher and Mike DeKarske will continue to serve, and now Phil Criner will be added to the elders team as well. In addition, the proposal regarding how to amend the church structure passed unanimously. Thank you to all who participated in this great evening of celebration and thanks.

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