On Friday, January 23rd, Resurrection held our annual all church celebration. During that time Adam shared a bit about where we were both in terms of worship attendance and financial health. I found the following tidbits to be particularly interesting:
- Average worship attendance in 2007 was roughly 6,800 adults
- Average worship attendance in 2008 was roughly 7,400 adults
- Average worship attendance for the first three weeks of 2009 was more than 10,000 adults
- 72.2% of Resurrection’s giving units pledged for 2009 (this # was 59% three years ago)
- 700 new giving units pledged for the first time in 2009
- However, the average pledge for 2009 decreased by 10%.
- In 2009 we will operate with essentially a flat budget
- Many of the other largest United Methodist Churches in the country have cut budget and staffing by 5-12%
Overall it was an exciting evening as we celebrated the growth (both numerically and in stewardship) and dreamed of ways that 2009 could be an even more exciting year in ministry.
Are there numbers from 2008 and 2009 to celebrate in your ministry setting?
Last Friday at our all church celebration, Adam shared Resurrection’s strategic objectives for the coming year with our congregation. They are as follows:
- Expand the Church’s Ministries of Support, Healing and Hope
- Equip and Encourage Members to Pursue a Deepening Christian Spirituality
- Intentionaly Welcome, Include and Involve Young Adults in the Life of the Church
- Launch New Faith Communities to Reach New People
- Transform Neighborhoods Surrounding Urban Schools
- Raise Up a New Generation of Pastoral Leaders for the United Methodist Church
I am excited to be a part of this team working to accomplish so many great things in the coming year. Which of these speaks the most to you? If you could only pick one, what would it be and why?
Last Friday Resurrection had our annual all church celebration (Charge Conference) and it was very well attended (more than 1,400 registered). We celebrated the ministry that had been done in 2008 and looked forward to 2009. As we looked to 2009 Adam talked us through our Strategic Objectives. The first of which is to, “Expand the Church’s Ministries of Support, Healing, and Hope.”
Tuesday the congregational care team spent a day away on a retreat and spent the afternoon discussing what will be two of our primary areas of emphasis in 2009; ways in which we’ll work to further accomplish this objective.
First of all, we’re going to be expanding the ways in which we provide ministry to people and families who are struggling financially, dealing with the loss of a job, or generally hurting in these tough economic times.
Secondly, we’re going to be vastly increasing the grief offerings at the church. We’ll be looking to provide more classes to aid people in the grieving process as well as creating a system by which we can continue to be in ministry to and with people after they have gone through one of those classes.
I continue to be very excited to be a part of this team and look forward to the things in store for 2009.
As you think about the coming year, specifically in relationship to the two areas listed above, what might be the most helpful kinds of things for us to offer?
Yesterday the congregational care team from Resurrection got together for a day of retreat. During the morning we had one of our Congregational Care Ministers (and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist) lead us through the book Difficult Conversations by a host of folks from Harvard. Apparently it’s taught as a semester long course there, but I felt like we had a nice two hour introduction to the material.
I had read the book in preparation for our time together and I really appreciated it. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to better understand how to navigate tough conversations and to deal with conflict in relationships.
Sunday morning as I drove in to Ottawa I saw a sign that said, “Welcome to Ottawa: We’re Building an Inclusive Community.” I was most impressed by the sign, but it wasn’t long before I was shaking my head in shame as I passed a house with a confederate flag flying out front…
Lest I not seem too judgmental of Ottawa, as I was parking the car at the grocery store in Olathe that same afternoon I saw a pick up truck with a confederate flag license plate. These two sightings in the same day rasie a few questions for me:
- Didn’t the Confederacy lose?
- What does this flag symbolize to the people who fly it?
- Do they not know that KS is and always has been a free state?
- What do others think of when they see the confederate flag? What does it symbolize to them?
I had the privilege of preaching yesterday at Trinity United Methodist Church in Ottawa, the church where my mom serves. The congregation was wonderful and it was a joy to be with them in worship! My mom has been serving at Trinity since July 1st, of 2008 and she is doing an incredible job there. She is a wonderful preacher, a great leader, and someone who really loves people. I heard over and over again from the congregation how much they appreciate her and her ministry.
I too appreciate my mom and her ministry a great deal. She is the kind of thinker and lover of people that make great pastors and I have no doubt she’ll continue to be a blessing to many in all of her years in ministry.
I’m guest preaching tomorrow at Ottawa Trinity, the congregation my mom serves. We began seminary together (her at St. Paul School of Theology in KC and I at Garrett-Evangelical in Chicago) at the same time. We also began serving our current churches at the same time. It is a blessing to serve in ministry with her.
Earlier this week momma wrote a bit about me as an introduction to the coming weekend. She’s too kind.
Celebrate Recovery is an exciting ministry that just kicked off last night at Resurrection. An incredible team of people have been working hard for more than six months to put together all of the details for this program that can help address hurts, habits, and hang-ups.
Celebrate Recovery is a faith-based 12 step program that is being implemented in churches around the country. Follow the above link and watch the brief video – it is a powerful invitation. Please feel free to share it with anyone who you think might find it helpful.
I am excited about tomorrow night’s all church dinner and celebration. We’ll begin the night with a chili cook-off (our senior pastor and our two top executives are battling it out) and then we’ll celebrate the ministry of 2008 as we look forward to 2009. I know that we are currently in the midst of tough economic times, but there are great things happening here at the church nonetheless.
I understand that as of today there are more than 1,400 people registered to come. This is more than twice as many usually attend. It should be an exciting night and I’m looking forward to gathering, celebrating, eating, and dreaming. Will I see you there?
During the last week I’ve had the privilege of walking alongside a family in one of the darkest times of their lives. On Tuesday, January 13th their 13 year old son took his own life. This Tuesday, we held a funeral for him here in our main Sanctuary. There were roughly 650 people in attendance; his soccer team was there in their uniforms as was his scout troop. Walking with this family and providing strength has been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in ministry, but it has also been one of the most rewarding.
Below are a few of the words that I shared at the funeral on Tuesday. I have also found the American Association of Suicidology to have some helpful information.
God’s ability and work to bring new life is something I want to particularly emphasize this evening for any of you who have ever considered doing something like Jacob did. If you have ever thought about taking your own life, if you have ever felt that the darkness was just so dense and that there was no way you would ever emerge from within it, know that God seeks to bring new life. Know that God created you, that God loves you unconditionally, and that God is at work to bring about healing and wholeness for you. Suicide is never the best option. All of you who are present this evening know that now in ways that you maybe couldn’t have understood it a week ago. Suicide devastates those that are left behind. Suicide takes away the most precious gift that God has given to us, the gift of life. As I spoke with the family this week they reflected on Jacob’s life and said, “If he had known how much this was going to hurt us and all of his friends he never would have done it.”
Again, suicide is never a good option, there is always hope, God is always working to bring about healing. If you have ever or if you ever find yourself thinking about taking your own life, talk to someone in your family, call someone here at this church or at your church, reach out to someone at work, know that there are people who care deeply about you and will do whatever they can to help you experience God’s love and move from a place of darkness to the promise of the third day.