Sunday, January 30, 2011

Annual Pastoral Report

Lanse Evangelical Free Church exists to glorify God
by bringing people into a love relationship with Jesus Christ
through worship, instruction, fellowship, evangelism, and service.

The Annual Pastoral Report
Pastor Matt Mitchell
Year in Review: 2010

Dear Church Family,

It is a joy to be your pastor.  I’m so glad to be able to say that every year now for almost 13 years and to mean it every time.

2010 was a year of full of good ministry.  Our church is brimming with vitality.  The Lord is at work in people’s lives.  A short report like this can’t begin to include all of the ministry events, moments of transformation, and significant happenings in the lives of our church family–and that’s a good thing!

Last year, we set a goal of increasing our teamwork as a church, and while there is always room for improvement, I think it’s been a good year for teamwork.  I am blessed to serve with lots of good teams here at LEFC.

Our Elder Team, chaired by George Leathers, provided leadership and oversight throughout the year.  Each Elder oversaw an area of ministry (Jeff Schiefer - Worship, Bob Giswhite - Children’s Instruction, Keith Folmar - Adult/Youth Instruction, Blair Murray - Fellowship, John Forcey - Evangelism, George Leathers - Service) and worked together as a team to make decisions all year round.  Thank you!

It’s easy to work with Stacey Fisch and Cindy Green each week.  Cindy cleans up our messes while Stacey juggles all of the details.  They make ministry at Lanse Free Church move smoothly.  Thank you!

And our various ministry teams whose reports are sprinkled throughout this document worked together this year like interrelated body parts – the way it should be (1 Corinthians 12).  Thank you!

One team that I’m particularly thankful for is the Pastoral Prayer Team.  The people in this group consistently pray for me and my family and ministry requests that I send out in regular emails.  This is the engine that drives our ministry.  Thank you!

Our attendance stayed steady with previous years.  Our average attendance was 128 (last year was 131).  The highest attended Sunday was Resurrection Sunday with 208 people worshiping with us.

We added 3 new couples to our membership in 2010: Rob and Kathy Barkman, Lonnie and Valerie Kovalick, Jim and Tammy Beveridge.  It’s great to have new people join the team!

My ministry revolves around three main pastoral functions: preaching the Word, equipping the saints, and shepherding the flock.

Preach the Word
Aside from a few holidays and special messages, the preaching ministry has been focused on one book–the Gospel of Luke.  We’ve carried through our Certain of Jesus series from 2009 and will stay in Luke until Spring this year, Lord-willing.  It has been fruitful in our lives to focus on the Lord Jesus!

I also got the opportunity to preach on prayer at the Allegheny District Conference in April.

On the Sundays when I couldn’t preach at LEFC, our pulpit was filled by godly men who love the Lord and His Word: Jim Culbertson, Chris Van Brocklin, Brent Henderson, Kim Cone, Jeff Powell, Steve Gibboney, Bruce Weatherly, Tim McGill, and Matt Cox.

Equip the Saints

I get to go to a lot of meetings.  Part of my job is working with our leaders to equip them for leading ministry.  Sometimes, I’m the leader of a particular ministry.  Over time, I am trying to work myself out of those jobs so that I can focus mainly on preaching, people, and prayer. 

One of the ways that I know that my ministry of equipping is working is when effective ministry happens when I’m not there.  This year, our family was away for most of July, and ministry continued without missing a beat–including a church family movie night showing Facing the Giants.

In addition to equipping in the local church, you generously donate my time to helping with EFCA district and national ministries, too.  In 2010, I led the District Constitutions and Credentials Board, Stay Sharp - our district theology conference, and a regional pastors’ group.  I also served as the book review coordinator for EFCA Today, our denominational magazine.

Shepherd the Flock

Direct ministry with people is my favorite part of my job.  I love being involved in your lives during the good times and even in the bad. 

In 2010, I had the honor of preaching at the funerals of Fred Lumadue, Rodney Slother, Dale Turner, and Linda Lundeen.  I was active in hospital visitation and biblical counseling.  Many of you had me into your homes.  Our church also got to celebrate two weddings this year:  Kendra & Tyler Piotrowski and Rob & Heather Bozovich. Congratulations!

A Personal Note

One amazing privilege of being your shepherd is being shepherded, at times, by you.

In 2010, Heather’s mom was diagnosed with abdominal cancer, and we walked through the valley of the shadow of death with her.  You gave us a whole month off, and we got to visit Heather’s family in Canada traveling by train.  You sustained us with prayers, hugs, cards, gifts, babysitting, help, and compassion.

And now that Linda has gone home to be with her Lord, you have continued to uphold our family in prayer.  Thank you for being such a loving church family for your pastor’s family!

Doctoral Work

Another significant thing you have been praying with me about is my doctoral work at Westminster Theological Seminary.  In 2010, I passed both of my comprehensive exams, had my applied research project proposal accepted, and started both my research and my writing on the project.

My project is all about gossip and will include a ministry book on how to resist the pull of “idle talk.”  2011 will be a year of writing for me.  This is exciting and a bit scary.  I’ve never done anything like this before, and I need your prayers.

Vision for 2011 - Living Out the Gospel

Our theme passage for this year will be Philippians 2:12-18.

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.  Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.  But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.  So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.”

Working Out Our Salvation

In 2011, we want to provide opportunities for everyone in our church to work out their salvation, growing in holiness and Christlikeness.  All of our main ministries will continue with the goal of personal transformation–growing people in their love relationships with Jesus Christ.

Standing Out

I would love to see the people of LEFC be different from the people around us.  Not “goody-two-shoes” or legalistically “good” like the Pharisees.  But genuinely content, joyful, hopeful, and loving. The world is looking for people who are attractive like that.  Let’s pray that we would stand out–not for what we don’t do, but for who we are in Christ.

Holding Out the Word of Life

We want 2011 to be a year of increased gospel outreach.  We have been brainstorming ways to do that together as a church, but the emphasis needs to always stay on each of our own personal efforts to share the good news about Jesus.

We will hold some big church events, the Men’s Wild Game Dinner, Family Bible Week, and others–maybe a Fall Concert Outreach and/or movie nights, but what is most important is that we each be ready and willing and bold to share Jesus with our friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family.

Pouring Out

Paul saw his and the Philippian church’s service as an act of worship.  In 2011, how will you pour yourself out in worshipful service to the Lord?  In what ways can you get involved in the ministry of your church?

When 2011 is over, we want “to rejoice and be glad” together in the Lord for what He has done in and through us.

In His Grip,

Pastor Matt