Friday, January 25, 2013

My Annual Pastoral Report for Lanse Free Church

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: 2012

Dear Church Family,

I love being your pastor! So many times this year I was struck by the thought of what a joy it is to serve you in preaching, equipping, and shepherding. Thank you for the privilege of pastoring this flock this last year. Thank you for praying for me and my family, for generously supporting us financially, and for encouraging us in our shared ministry.

This year, we celebrated our 120th birthday as a church! In February, we enjoyed birthday cake together and looked back over twelve decades of God’s faithfulness to us–four buildings, two languages, over twenty pastors, and countless lives touched by the ministry of LEFC.

Just because we’re old, doesn’t mean that we’ve slowed down! 2012 was a year full of rich ministry to people. As a church family, we worked together to reach out to our community and world, to make disciples for the Lord Jesus Christ, to worship Him in spirit and in truth, and to care for one another in love.


Our church family is growing. The average attendance at worship on Sundays in 2012 was 145 people. That is a 4.3% increase over the previous year (with Resurrection Sunday being the biggest - 230 people), but the last two months of 2012 saw an even more dramatic increase (November - 171, December - 161). We need to work hard at making the new folks feel welcome and enfold them into our family.

Our membership is growing, too.  Ten people joined our membership in 2012: Tim & Kelly Beck, Cody & Holly Crumrine, Roper & Lita Houston, Curtis & Stephanie Quick, Velma Francisko, and Andy Dobash. Welcome!

The over-arching theme in 2012 was “Tell Your Story.”  We had several men and women share their personal testimonies in church including Lucinda Socoski who was baptized on Resurrection Sunday.  We invited the community to hear the Moody Men’s Collegiate Choir. We held our first ever “Good News Cruise” and had a fabulous turnout among the community.  And, a true highlight, we sent six of our own people to Serbia on a missions trip. It is so encouraging to pastor a church that wants to reach beyond our four walls with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Pastoral Ministry

I get to minister in three main areas: preaching, equipping, and shepherding.

Preach the Word

In 2012, we finished our series on the book of Acts entitled “From Jerusalem to Pennsylvania,” and then dove into the often depressing but always relevant book of Judges in “The Downward Spiral.” We ended the year by beginning John’s first epistle, “Essential Christianity” which we are still in today.

I also preached at Miracle Mountain Ranch for their Winter Youth Conference, to the residents at Windy Hill Nursing Home, and three times to our sister church, Core Community Church in Shelby, Ohio, as they are without a pastor right now.

When I was out of the pulpit, we were well served by Matt Cox, Tim McGill, Jeff Powell, Phil Alessi, Zeke Magill, and Spencer Folmar.

Equip the Saints

Each year, I get to enjoy working alongside our ministry teams. Please take some time to read the other reports in this volume. They give a snapshot picture of a very full year of effective ministry. Note especially new ministry coordinators reporting in:  Cody Crumrine with the youth and Tim Beck in men’s ministry. It’s great to see our ministry team growing.

I continued to be active in the EFCA in 2012. Nationally, I served as the book review coordinator for EFCA Today. In our district, I lead our Constitutions and Credentials Board and a new regional pastors group for Central Pennsylvania. I also began writing book reviews for the Biblical Counseling Coalition.

Shepherd the Flock

My favorite part of pastoring is relating to people.  I get to visit, counsel, and pray with you! It’s exciting to have a front row seat to watch people grow and change because of the work of the Holy Spirit in their life.

It was my sad privilege to preside over six funerals in 2012: Andy Dobash, Sr., Gerald Gulich, Gilbert Shimmel, Wally Kerlin, Orvis Gulich, and Ann Kyler.

I am thankful for the opportunity to be in your lives.

Personal Highlights and Thanks

This was a particularly big year for me. In March, I successfully defended my 300 page doctoral project. In May, I graduated with my Doctor of Ministry degree from Westminster Theological Seminary. (Thanks for the big and funny surprise party!) In December, I entered into an agreement with CLC Publications to publish Resisting Gossip to the world.

I am so thankful for all of your strong support in these endeavors.  Special thanks go to the Elder Board (Bob Gisewhite, John Forcey, George Leathers, Blair Murray, and Keith Folmar, chairman) for their wisdom and aid.

I am also thankful for our dedicated support staff–for Cindy Green cheerfully keeping our building clean, for Holly Crumrine and her ministry of details (including a total revamp of, and for Marilynn Kristofits who started her ministry of administration this Summer and is doing a great job of keeping us all connected.

My thanks also must be expressed to the Pastoral Prayer Team (and everyone else who prays for us). Twice in 2012, Heather got very sick and lost her voice for multiple months.  We could not have had the year we had without your prayers. Thank you!

Vision for 2013

“Expand” is the word for 2013.

- As a church, we have expanded our missionary force by taking on three new missionary units.

- We will expand our district involvement by hosting the Allegheny District Conference in April.

- We are remodeling the conference room into a family/handicap restroom for expanded accessibility.

- We are expanding the arsenal of scripture in our hearts through the “Hide the Word” campaign on Sunday mornings.

- Each of our many ministries will be praying about how the Lord might expand their effectiveness in worship, instruction, fellowship, evangelism, and service.

- As the Lord blesses, we will continue and expand in our focus on bringing people into a love relationship with Jesus Christ.

Onward and Upward!

In His Grip,
Pastor Matt