Putting God First

Dear New Life Family,

It’s been awhile since my last pastor’s update. We have been out of town on vacation but it’s good to be back. One of the things we did while we were away was attend a conference called Inspire 2017. It was a two day gathering of pastors and ministry leaders in Detroit, Michigan where we spent time worshipping together, hearing speakers and breakout panelists and connecting with each other. Jacie and I had a special time reconnecting with Eric and Jana Schlukebir, who also attended this conference with us. The theme for Inspire was from 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3.

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

There was plenty to be inspired by. I came away from this conference with lots of hope—hope for our denomination, hope for our church and hope for myself personally. It was a truly refreshing time.

Now that I’m settling back in to work, I’m taking stock of all the ways I see God around me. Our theme right now is “Putting God First.” We are preaching through a sermon series that gets at that and Sunday I was thrilled to hear Jerry Holleman preach and make this come alive. Thank you Jerry!

I also see signs of hope in other areas. With worship, Stan has lead our praise team well, selecting songs with substance and style, incorporating scripture and confession into the service and taking a small but committed team and helping us praise our God on Sunday. Thank you Stan!

With children and youth, I see God at work in many ways. It gives me hope seeing parents excited about their children’s spiritual growth. There are pictures on the new children’s ministry Facebook page of the kiddos kneeling to pray in a circle, boys and girls engaged in our summer art camp, and if you are not aware, plans are now underway to hire a new children’s director with a new classroom for children’s ministry. With youth, I’ve seen the young people grow with Trish’s Wednesday night series this year on “Renovation of the Heart.” Our hands and feet retreat this spring was a huge success, and I am encouraged with the plans the youth leaders are laying out for this coming year.

With discipleship, I’m encouraged by our discipleship team. They are taking inventory of what is working or not working, listening to the congregation, and rolling up their sleeves to clarify a discipleship pathway for us that will help all of us grow spiritually. We had a tremendous response rate for our Reveal Survey and now the team is taking next steps following up on feedback received.

I also see God at work in our school. I’m thankful for Kimberly and our teachers and have been very impressed with the leadership of the school board. They have tackled various issues to keep our school strong and have not been afraid to take on tough challenges. I am encouraged by people’s desire for unity and alignment and continue to thank God for the ways we see our school helping our little ones experience New Life in Christ step by step. I’m praying for God to move in mighty ways in our school this year!

Finally, behind the scenes, I see God at work with our operations. Leslie and Jill have worked tirelessly providing steady and creative leadership in the area of communication. Sam and Donna and others have worked very hard meeting countless vendors and tackling one project after another with our facilities team. Randy and Jo have stabilized our financial systems so that they are the best they have ever been. There are so many more.

Praise God for each and every person worshipping God and serving using their gifts. Praise God for helping us grow. As I see God at work around me, I have hope. This in turn gives me endurance to run the race God has called me to. I hope you are inspired as well. Running the race with endurance means there will be times and places where we have to push through and give extra energy. We will get tired. We will get stuck. But God is faithful. He won’t give us more than we can handle. He isn’t finished with us yet. He wants us to thrive!

Friends, I always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in my prayers. I ask you to do the same for me. Give thanks always. Love God. Encourage one another. Have faith. Let God inspire you with hope.

Grace and peace.

In Him,

Pastor Andy

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