Wednesday, January 31, 2007

2006 Annual Report

If 2006 was a year of preparation, 2007 will be a year of action. Good Shepherd saw many changes 2006. We bought new chairs to make our worship less uncomfortably carcinogenic, we’ve launched the ChristCare Series small group ministry, and most importantly, we’ve welcomed the Moores into our church family as Cathy accepted the position as our Director of Youth and Family Ministry.

So, positive changes are happening all around us. Good Shepherd is a forward looking congregation for the future that places love for God and neighbour at the heart of its faith life. Creative Fingers, the Bridge Club, the youth activities and every other Good Shepherd ministry is built around this fundamental truth: that we can’t be effective followers of Jesus without each other.

So, if there is one word to encapsulate my ministry priorities for 2007 it is this: relationships. I believe that God is asking us to building stronger, deeper relationships with each other, with the community, and with God.

The ChristCare Series – Circles of Care with Christ at the Centre

I see our emerging ChristCare Small Group Ministry being part of Good Shepherd’s relationship building. ChristCare Groups, along with every other group in our congregation helps us focus on the mission that Jesus gave us, and helps us toward new beginnings for each other, ourselves, and our community.

I am constantly amazed by how neatly the four pillars of ChristCare; Community and Care, Prayer and Worship, Biblical Equipping, and Missional Service, fit who we are and who we feel God is calling us to be.

Our mission statement reads:

Rooted in the Gospel, our caring community

celebrates God’s grace

emphasizes worship and prayer

nurtures faith through the Word and the Sacraments

equips for service, and

witnesses to the world in Jesus’ name.

So, Good Shepherd’s mission statement begins by saying: “Rooted in the Gospel, our caring community….” We at Good Shepherd understand ourselves, first as a gospel-centred caring community, so all ministry flows from the care that we have for God, each other and the wider community.

Director of Youth and Family Ministry

I have watched with awe as Cathy established herself and her ministry so strongly within our congregation. Cathy has brought energy and spiritual vitality to our youth and family ministries, which then spills over to the whole congregation. Her ideas, enthusiasm, and faithfulness have been a tremendous blessing to me and to our church family.

As Cathy makes clear in her report, ministry to our youth and family is a priority for Good Shepherd. So, it is our job to help Cathy in her mandate to:

To raise children who are followers of Jesus, and will continue in faithful discipleship throughout their lives – and beyond.

To build relationships between all generations of our church family, through mentoring, inter-generational events, and other events that bring people of all ages together to share their lives as grow in faith.

To offer families tools they can use to develop faith with their children and parents, making the home the primary place of Christian growth.

Building Relationship – Building the Future

Over the next few months you’ll be hearing about plans to install an elevator in our building. Such a project will be a major cost initiative. What are the benefits?

An elevator will enhance our building’s resale value in the event that we move to another location, whenever that may be. But I see an elevator as a part of our mandate to build relationships with each as many people are finding it increasingly difficult to navigate the stairs to coffee fellowship time, or to any of the intergenerational events that our church hosts. If we are called to be a welcoming, caring community, then this is a strong step to making our building help us carry out that mission.

However, our new building plans have slowed to a crawl. I think this is because we haven’t yet discerned what our new building is supposed to be or do, other than solve our existing physical plant problems. Also, I feel that we are afraid to compromise our existing ministries to people if we place all our energies and resources into a new facility.

I think this is as wise fear. It shows that our ministry priorities are to people rather than to a building. I encourage you to keep the future of our congregation in your prayers, as we discern the path God is calling us to take.

Mexico Trip – Exploring Justice, Building Relationships

Going to Mexico was probably the highlight of 2006. Not because it was wonderfully rewarding to experience a different culture, but because I was so proud of our young people as they grew through their time down south.

The group of young people had a vision of what life could be, a vision they learned from hearing hope-full stories of people they encountered. The businesses that were born from the theological reflection of a Base Christian Community, the deep spirituality of the indigenous community of Amatlan, the artisans who demanded just prices for their work, even the Center for Global Education itself, were signs that hope is alive in Mexico.

If there was one thing that I learned in Mexico is that the Spirit is still moving among God’s people; people who might have given up long ago if it weren’t for God’s encouragement. In them and in the young people of Good Shepherd I find renewed hope to proclaim good news.

So, for us, I think God is asking us to walk, two by two, with people who struggle – and we all struggle – so we all walk together so that – together - we can live our salvation and proclaim the nearness of God.

Conclusion – Growing in Discipleship Together

ChristCare, the Director of Youth and Family Ministry, an elevator, and every other ministry of our church is, to me, pieces to a puzzle that God is putting in front of us. It’s as if God wants us to put all the pieces together before we have a vision of where God wants us to go. To say it another way: we won’t know where we’re going until we get there.

As the people of God wandered through the desert for 40 years waiting for God to show them the Promised Land, I think that God is dropping us hints as to a future that we can’t quite yet see. And it won’t be until we piece together all the parts of the puzzle that we’ll see the vision that God has for us.

Together, with God, we are building this congregation of the future during a time of great and rapid change. It demands that we ask ourselves at every turn – why do we do things the way we do? Is that the best way or just “the way we’ve always done it”? What is God asking from us today?

Many more people are joining us; let’s welcome them, and be smart about how we make way for them. We are stewards of the mysteries of God. Jesus’ message of new life and salvation is not ours to own, it is only ours to care for and to share with others, for the time that we are here.

So, keep praying for discernment. Keep looking for new opportunities for yourself and for our church. Keep listening for God’s still, small voice.

God is calling us to new and exciting ministries that will help us grow as faithful followers of Jesus. We have been given a mission to build stronger and deeper relationships with God, with each other, and with the community.

Let’s do it well, together.

In Service to Christ’s Church,

Rev. Kevin Powell, Pastor

Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd

January 11, 2007


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