I consider it a privilege to pray for you and the efforts of our church. So, let me share some of the wonderful things God is doing. Think of it as a "State of the Church" address. Here is a summary of our last elder meeting from my point of view:
Staff Changes and Additions
We continue to pray about and work on our Executive Pastor search. One of our elders posted the opportunity online and we have already received multiple résumés. The search and interview team are already looking into the possible candidates. We will keep you posted as we reach new steps in the process, but please continue to pray. God is the One we are relying on to guide us through this process.
Pastor Dave, who will forever be an honored, godly example for me, has officially retired. He still volunteers as much as he is able, and he still preaches at Hillsboro while they search for a pastor. His character and life have been a blessing and challenge. I would not be here, and I would not be as supported here, if not for Dave and the elders. He has set a standard that humbles me often. As I'm sure many of you know, you have had an exceptional pastor for 30 years. I have known many, many pastors in my ministry and seminary experience. Dave Reimer sticks out.
We are sad that Edith Buller-Breer, our office assistant and trusted friend, is finishing her service at Grace. However, we are happy for her and the new season that God is beginning in her life. I can't tell you how many times I have walked out of my office and looked for Edith so I could gain her insight on something. She will be missed.
Juli, our GraceKids Director, has advanced to full-time! She is an incredible leader for GraceKids. God has given her a great work here, and I am glad that she continues to lovingly serve our children's ministry. Loren, our Student Pastor, has been training a volunteer intern, Austin Lakey.
We have added two new members to our team: Nathan Ehresman, our Creative Arts Director, and Kathy Meacham, our temporary Front Desk Receptionist. Nathan loves creatively communicating God's truth and our ministries, and we love him! He's already added so much to our team. Kathy has a warm personality and kind spirit. She is a wonderful addition to the office.
I am so glad that we are an elder led church. Mark Olsen will serve another year as Chair, Marc Friesen as Vice-Chair, and Mike Barter will serve as Secretary. David Hall and David Landis have just joined our elder team. And Kyle and Loren are officially elders now. Maybe you could do me a favor by calling them, "Elder Kyle" and "Elder Loren" the next time you see them. PLEASE! (lol)
New Ministry Opportunity
One of the elders has requested permission to lead a new ministry at Grace. Its purpose will most likely be to meet the physical needs of our members. We are only in the infant stage, so we are excited to see how this takes shape. But I hope you will be praying for our elders that serve us voluntarily. They work hard to minister to you. I thank God for all of them!
Security and Safety
Another topic of discussion has been security and emergency planning. I recently attended an ALICE training and it was eye-opening. We already have emergency plans for fire and tornado (and they are posted). Recently, we developed a volunteer team to research the best safety plans and options for our building security. Although I have never experienced a sense of fear at Grace, I am glad that we are creating plans and taking appropriate steps. Our people, not just our building, are our priority. May God continue to bless us and protect us as He has!
We are evaluating our communication at Grace: communication to you and our guests and communication between the elders and the staff or councils. I've heard it said, "the biggest mistake in communication is the assumption that it has taken place." Communicating well cultivates unity and clarity. This will help create disciples and send out our people each week with a clear understanding of what God is doing in and through our church family.
Caring for Inactive Members
We are developing new procedures to oversee inactive members and those who are not attending. Pastor Steve is taking the lead in this initiative, and I appreciate the gentleness and shepherd's heart he gives.
Bolivia Church Plant
Can you believe we collected almost $24,000 to support a new church plant in Bolivia?! I know that brings joy to our Father's heart. We are not just hoarding the gospel and our resources, we are joyfully giving to God's Kingdom and mission! The team from our church that visited Bolivia had so much to say when they got back, and we will share their highlights with you soon.
Lastly, we have a new resident church planter, Matt Shepherd. He and his wife, Emily, moved here from California with their three beautiful children. He is not on our payroll in any way, but he does receive help from us indirectly through Synergy Kansas, which was previously established by Grace and our three church plants. I get to meet with him each week until his residency ends in April. God has called him to Kansas to train under former Grace staffer, Jay Nickless, as a church planter.
Matt is developing a TAP (Target Analysis Process) team, which consists of 8-12 people working together over a period of 12 weeks who help explore potential target communities and help the planter discern where the Holy Spirit is leading them to plant a church. If all goes as planned, he will be planting a church somewhere in Kansas by the end of the year. If God wills it, we and the other Synergy Kansas churches (Grace Community Church - Newton; Grace Community Fellowship - Hillsboro; Grace Crossing - Moundridge; and New Anthem - Park City) will be a part of that Kingdom-building celebration.
That wasn't much...lol. Our elders meet every third Thursday of the month and I hope to update you after each meeting. At the end of the day, I always ask God, "Is this what YOU want? Lead us as the Head of your church. Are these the right efforts and priorities?" I am thankful that He generously gives wisdom to those who ask in faith. Would you pray that with me?
I can't wait to see you Sunday as we continue to look at God's design for marriage. I love you and pray for you often.