Pastor Matt Mitchell
Year in Review: 2009
Dear Church Family,
Another year has passed! It’s not easy to believe that we’ve concluded 11½ years together in gospel ministry. What a joy it is to serve alongside you.
2009 was another good year of ministry. It had its ups and downs, but God was faithful, and we saw lots of signs of His blessing. Many new families began to attend, some became faithful. People were led to the Lord. Men, women, and children grew as disciples. We experienced God at work in our worship, instruction, fellowship, evangelism, and service. Last year, we set a goal of growing in our love for God, each other, and our community in 2009. While there is always room for improvement, I feel that we did just that.
I’m extremely thankful for the Pastoral Prayer Team which has undergirded our efforts in ministry this year. About half-way through the year, I began to write prayer updates for this team to pray specifically about things going on in my ministry week. What a difference it has made, as we’ve seen God work through these prayers!
It is a privilege to work with our church’s leaders. In 2009, we began functionalizing the new leadership structure. The new elder team (Keith Folmar, George Leathers, Blair Murray, Jeff Schiefer, Bob Gisewhite) worked hard all year long to provide oversight of all of the ministries, the staff, the finances, and especially the souls of our church. I am blessed to work closely with these men. This year, they each took responsibility for an area of ministry, and I felt some burdens lifted off of my shoulders–and the ministry improved, too! Along with that, our new Facilities Team led our church through a major facilities and equipment upgrade. I love the new ministry tools that we have in the video projector, sound system, and staff computers. It’s exciting to see what we can accomplish when we work together.
In 2009, we had to say goodbye to Holly Lockwood in our office. Her loving personality, ministry mindset, and family are very missed. However, our office didn’t suffer, as Stacey Fisch moved back from Chicago and took over without missing a beat! She’s been here 9 months already, and helps tremendously to grease the wheels of ministry. Cindy Green continues to clean up after us, and I’m thankful for our both her and Stacey and our staff teamwork.
Our attendance at worship held steady and even grew a bit in 2009. The average attendance on Sunday mornings was 131 (1 person more than last year, a 1% increase). Our highest attended service was Resurrection Sunday with 221 people, and our lowest was December 13th (the day of the ice-storm) with only 69. I think that’s the lowest I’ve ever seen, and yet we had enough members here for a quorum at our Annual Church Family Meeting! That shows the real dedication of our committed members.
We added 3 members to that committed group this year: Terry & Nancy Sheetz and Nancy Morlock. We baptized two: Tanya and Alea Harned. We also saw a number of kids born to church families: Danko, Beck, Hamilton, and Creek. We had to say goodbye to a number of folks we love, too, including Marie Wertz, Tommy Neidrick, Bob Owens, and Tom Wertz. A committed group of readers took up the Pastor’s Pancake Challenge and read the entire Bible in 2009–some for the first time ever!
Preach the Word
I love the ministry of the Word! In 2009, we had 3 major sermon series. Joshua: Possessing the Promises which took us all the way through the next major book in our long trek through the Old Testament. In God We Trust: What the Bible Says About Money which gave us a practical and systematic theology of money (hint: “Money is profoundly spiritual.”).
And we started Certain of Jesus: The Gospel of Luke which will take us well into 2010.
When I was out of the pulpit, we were ably served by guest preachers including: Roy Schwarcz, Tim McGill, Ralph Magill, Bruce Weatherly, Super Jeff Powell, Paul Durocher, and John Forcey.
Equip the Saints
It was great to see our new leadership structure in action. I enjoyed coming alongside each of our elders and seeing the ministries develop under each of them.
For example, Jeff Schiefer (Worship) helped develop our greeter program more fully and recruited Bob Lutz to coordinate it. Bob Gisewhite (Instruction) helped us to develop our men’s ministries, and oversaw a great Family Bible Week and Kids for Christ launch in the Fall. Blair Murray (Fellowship) helped us to make the important decision to de-commission the Connection Team (it wasn’t really working well and needed to end). George Leathers (Evangelism & Prayer) helped us plan and implement a successful outreach with the Durocher Family in the Fall. And Keith Folmar (Service) helped us navigate the bumps in the new structure and see us successfully perform 4 major facilities and equipment projects at virtually the same time. Teamwork!
I continue to meet regularly with all of our leaders, trying to equip them to do the work of the ministry. I still do “too much” of the ministry leadership myself, but I’m learning to delegate and build leaders.
You have graciously loaned me to other churches for equipping ministry, as well. I got to serve our Altoona EFCA Church Plant with a seminar and sermon series called, “Real Church 101.” I continued to lead the district Constitutions and Credentials Board and a Regional Pastors meeting. I attended both the District and National Leadership Conferences, and I wrote articles for EFCA Today: “Underestimated Danger,” “Groundswell" [pg.22 of the pdf], and “Love Walked Among Us.” In the Fall, I became the Book Review Coordinator for EFCA Today. I get to help the editorial team choose good books to review for the magazine. I enjoy the interdependence of our family of churches!
Shepherd the Flock
Relating to people is my favorite part of my job. I love getting to pray with you and for you, visit you in the hospital or in your home, counsel you through major decisions or problems, and be a loving support. It’s hard to keep up with everyone in our church, but I love the challenge of trying to be a shepherd in your lives.
2009 was a very good year for counseling. I found my opportunities grow to offer wisdom for people’s lives and saw some real transformation in a number of my counseling contacts. It has been incredibly helpful to take doctoral classes from the folks at the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation and Westminister Theological Seminary. In 2009, I finished the on-campus classwork for the degree. I am now in the test-taking and research phase of the program. Unbelievably useful!
Vision for 2010
As we begin a new year together, our elders have been impressed with the need for more interdependence and participation from everyone.
God has gifted everyone in the body for loving service to the body (1 Corinthians 12:12-30). No one is not-gifted! Everyone has a part to play! Everyone is important to the proper functioning of the body.
We are all different. Not everyone is an eye. Not everyone is a leader. Not everyone is a hand. We don’t all have the same gifts. But we all need each other–everyone.
We are praying and working towards a growing interdependence in our local expression of the Body of Christ–more people participating in worship (not as spectators!), more people involving themselves in instruction (teaching, not just learning!), fellowship (everyone caring for everyone, not just waiting for others to do it!), evangelism (everyone win one!), and service (each person using their gift in ministry).
We are looking forward to ministry to men, women, youth, and children, to a big Wild Game Dinner, a significant Family Bible Week, sending a group of youth the EFCA Challenge Conference, and more outreaches, prayer times, Link Groups, and classes. But our leaders can’t do it alone. We will all grow up into the “Head, that is Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” [Ephesians 4:15-16].
In His Grip,