I am writing these words on the very last day of 2018. Having a few days off after Christmas has afforded me the opportunity to reflect back on all that has happened in the past year. I’m extremely thankful for my family, my church family, and the way the Lord has more than provided in this past year. He has allowed our ministry in this city to continue to grow and flourish — something we should not take for granted. While the metrics we use to measure ministry show how much God has given to us, I’m also thankful for the many stories I hear of lives being impacted.

Our last event of 2018 — the Christmas Eve candlelight services — is one such example. We had nearly 1300 participants in the three services we offered, which is the largest attendance we’ve ever had. Adding the Christmas Eve-Eve service allowed more people to worship with us. Several individuals commented to me that they had other Christmas Eve plans, and were thankful for this additional service. Beyond the numbers, I heard several comments about how much this time of worship impacted individuals and families. If you attended one of these services, you were able to experience the Christmas story being retold in a celebratory but honest way. I loved how our worship leaders concluded the story with the song, Seasons. While Christmas is a wonderful celebration, it is also a difficult time for many. This song reminds us that God is with us in the winter, in the difficult times, and that there are better days ahead. Our worship team approached the too often overly sentimental, less-than-real Christmas story in very authentic way. I’m thankful for all of the work our leaders put into the service. Moreover, we had other staff and dozens of volunteers working to make these services possible. Kayla Caffarelli, our Director of Operations, took the lead on getting the Christmas cookies, coffee, and hot chocolate in our foyer. Based on our lack of leftovers, I’d say this was a big hit. Our tech crew, ushers, greeters, security, and parking lot teams all worked hard to ensure everything ran smoothly. It was definitely a great way to end 2018.

Looking ahead, we will begin January with a mini-series on giving. I know, I know. What kind of foolish pastor starts off January with a series on giving after all the money has just been spent on Christmas stuff? You’re probably right, but it won’t be the first time I’ve tried something a little crazy, and certainly will not be the last. As you can see in this newsletter, the title of this series is, “So, The Church Just Wants Your Money.” We’ll start this series on Sunday and conclude the following Sunday, January 13. 

On Sunday, January 27, we’ll begin our winter series, “Unchained.” This study will focus on those things that trap and master us — often times without us realizing what has happened to us. All of our adults and students will focus on this topic for the winter semester. I’ve written a book for this series, and we are expecting copies to be in hand around January 10. If you are registered for a Home Team, you’ll receive a copy at no charge. If you are not registered, then you’ll have the opportunity over the next several Sundays to do so. In addition to the book and the Sunday morning sermons, you’ll also have videos to watch to help guide conversation in your gathering times. We really, really want everyone to be involved in a Home Team this semester as we focus on this topic as a church; I hope you’ll plan to be a part of this with us.

Again, thank you for your partnership in our ministry to this city. I am looking forward to all that the Lord will do in and through us in 2019!

Your Pastor,