Off to a new start – again!

August is always a wonderful time of year.  The air is almost electric with the smell of new school supplies and the eager anticipation of young people who are headed back to school.  We feel it here at church, too.  New Sunday School classes are taking flight.  AWANA is gearing up for a new beginning.  People are back from vacations and we have many new visitors every single Sunday.

It really is an exciting time of the year.  It is time to take stock of where we have been and time to recast the vision for where we are going.  To do that, it is beneficial to once again look closely at our Growing in Grace vision statement.  As I considered this statement this week, I was presented with a profound opportunity to offer thanks and praise unto our God.  By His grace, we have accomplished so many of our goals.  We have continued to develop ministries for our young people that are family integrated.  We have deepened our ethic of biblical membership.  We have completed the updates to our By-Laws and now have a biblical model of Baptist policy.  And providentially, we have even updated the flooring and paint in our kitchen and fellowship hall as a result of the flooding in May.  God is so good and so sovereign that He even uses our difficulties to help us fulfill our vision!

So what are we looking at for the 2009-2010 church year?  There are three particular things on my heart for us as a congregation; things that the staff and pastors will be giving ample planning and consideration to in the coming weeks.

First is PRAYER.  Preaching through the Lord’s prayer again has been an incredibly blessed experience.  It has reminded me again that even as a pastor, I need to continue to challenge myself to be a true prayer warrior.  Our second goal under the “Spiritual Growth” section of our vision statement is to “Develop a congregational culture of intentional prayer.”  This Fall, I want to bring us back to the importance of prayer.  We will be reenlisting people to be involved in our Intercessory Prayer Room Ministry.  We will be considering how to give prayer a more central role in our services and meetings. We will also be considering how to give special emphasis to family prayer.

Second is EVANGELISM.  Every single one of us has been commissioned by Christ to be an ambassador of the gospel.  Currently, our principle outlet for evangelistic involvement is our GRACE outreach ministry.  We want to continue to support this ministry, but I really want us to go beyond it.  This year, we will begin considering how to teach and encourage more relational, hospitality, and event evangelism as a congregation.  We all have different spiritual gifts, and we would all do well to consider how we can use our gifts, talents, and even our homes to reach people with the gospel.

Third is MISSIONS.  This has been an ongoing priority for us here at Morningview.  Led by the excellent leadership of our Missions and Ministry Team, we have taken very significant steps in defining our vision in this area with our “Mission Action Plan.”  Even now, we are discussing the formalization of missions partnerships that will help us focus on specific people groups and goals for the next five to ten years.

Worthy of specific mention is our developing partnership in Ecuador.  We have the opportunity to continue a legacy begun by one of our senior adult members, Dottie Gilbert.  Right now, the political climate has shifted dramatically and the Baptist pastors in Ecuador need theological education if they want to continue ministering the truth in that nation.  We have an exciting opportunity to help build and staff a Baptist Seminary there in Patate, Ecuador.  Construction has already begun, and they need $24,000 to finish the first level of the teaching facilities and start classes in January of 2010.  To completely finish the building, a total of $89,000 is needed.

This Sunday, our Missions and Ministry Team will be meeting to consider this incredible opportunity, and I believe a formal commitment to this work will be presented to us within a few weeks.  Please join me in praying specifically for this effort and overall for God’s leadership in all aspects of our ministry.  We have a great year ahead of us and much that we must continue to do.  I love you all dearly!