- Attendance YTD has increased 11% vs. 2007 for a 2008 average of 166.
- 15 men are engaged in discipleship with either myself or one of our elders.
- 30 people participated in "Evangelism is Relationships" training with 20 agreeing to be held accountable for investing time and $ in someone in their RSI (Relational Sphere of Influence)
- We recently launched a new Connections Ministry, which will be responsible for ensuring new members/visitors get integrated into the life of our church.
- We have formed a team of highly motivated, evangelistically focused women who will be launching a MOPs ministry in the fall to reach Chillicothe moms, the only such ministry of it's kind in a 2o mile radius.
- Our annual men's salmon fishing trip to Kenosha, WI included 24 men, of which several were non-Christians, which made it not only a fun fellowship event, but also another opportunity for relational evangelism.
- Karen and the Children's Church team have nearly doubled participation in Children's Church to around 25 kids each week.
- Our Junior High group on Wednesday nights at the Cafe has grown from 4 students to 20.
On the other hand, there are some down sides to all of this, as there always are. Not everyone is happy or particularly relishes my leadership and preaching style or even likes me. Which is distressing, disappointing and at times, intensely painful. It is also proof that I am the leader of a church, a perfectly designed, God-ordained institution in which imperfect people worship God, minister to one another, and reach a lost world. I pray that I am a good leader, a patient shepherd, and an effective preacher and teacher. I pray too that God would graciously "fill in the gaps" by His Spirit when one of these areas lacks due to my imperfect humanity or my as yet unconquered sinful nature. I pray that my flock offers up similar prayers on my behalf. And most of all, I pray that God would be honored by whatever faltering, imperfect and frail use I am making of His gifts.
This thought reminds me of a line by C. S. Lewis, who compared God's work with us as being akin to a father teaching his child to walk. He said (paraphrasing from memory), "If even the will to walk is there, God is pleased even with our stumbles." I guess that's how I feel about our life and ministry. Karen and I (me most of all!) aren't perfectly obedient all the time nor are we perfectly meeting the needs of our congregation and community. But the "will to walk" is there, so I think God is blessing us to a great extent in spite of (rather than because of) the things we are doing.
In other words, God is lavishing His grace on us and we are sensing His pleasure. What could be better than that?