Looking back at the last 12 months, I truly believe that this year will be seen as a threshold year in the life of our church. One verse has continually spoken to our church family: “For I am going to do something in your day that you would not believe, even if you were told.” (Habakkuk 1:5) We started the year being asked to move out of Enochs High School, where we had our services on Sunday morning. There was basically nothing we could afford to rent that was big enough – and I looked at over 20 locations in northeast Modesto. Sometimes a deal would look like it was close – but then fell through. This went on for 5 months. I kept holding on to God’s promise for our church – that He would lead us to find a home to worship Him and reach others with Him. He did provide, and we found Orchard Elementary. We were even in talks to rent office space – but the owners kept dragging their feet. This turned out to be a huge God thing – because we didn’t sign a lease. This allowed us to be ready to put in an offer on property.
We had a Property Search Team that had been looking for land for over a year. God provided twice the land (11 acres) we were looking for, and buildings – for the price ($1M) we were looking at for 4 acres! God had moved in the heart of the church and denomination that was selling – they wanted to sell to a church and see God’s Kingdom work continue. Even though it was just a few weeks after we had moved to Orchard, we followed the Lord’s leading and timing, and made an offer. We then had to raise $125,000 for a down payment in 3 months – plus another $25,000 for needed improvements. There were many who thought this was not possible – but God had already done so much for us this year, and our leaders moved forward in faith. God raised over $165,000 in just over 2 months, and grew people’s faith, and showed us again to follow Him no matter what.
As we end this year, God is challenging us again. Our Youth Minister Aaron has felt God call him to step down from our Youth Ministry, to allow for more time to be invested into our youth. The Leadership Council has created a ¾ time (29 hours) Youth Pastor position. The Council has formed a Hiring Team, and they will be evaluating Joe and making a recommendation to the Council. The membership of the church will have the final vote on our Youth Pastor as we follow God and continually seek to reach people with Him. This is our mission – and God has been running ahead of us this year and calling us to keep up.
Some numbers and highlights from this year:
- Evangelism – our goal has been to continue to find ways to reach out to new people. This has happened through powerful Sunday mornings with biblical and relevant sermon series. This has happened through people personally inviting others into community. This has happened through church events and good Kids, Youth, and College ministries. Most of all it has happened through God’s Holy Spirit – who is in relationship with every single person, and drawing them closer to Christ, and calling us to join in the conversation!
- Attendance: We averaged 175 people on Sunday mornings. Our Kids Ministry averaged 31 kids (Branches actually had 17 this last Sunday). Youth Ministry averaged 9 in Middle School and 10 in High School. College/Career averaged 14 for the year.
- Life Groups – we now have 9 groups up and running, with 3 new groups started this year. Life Groups are the center of our Adult Ministry – focused on studying and living out God’s Word, supporting each other in prayer, and serving together.
- Devotions – we continue to encourage people to personally read the Bible and have rhythms of prayer in their lives. Jacqui Crumrine and I also post devotional thoughts online Monday through Friday go with the daily devotions.
- We will be moving our church offices from the Bridge to the new property, meeting in the farm house (which we will remodel). Pray for this project. We are looking forward to the increased impact of having offices onsite!
What a year it has been! If I can ask for one thing – it would be to remember our first thing – NEVER STOP PRAYING. If you are reading this – take a minute to pray for our church to keep reaching people with Jesus. If you come to service, grab a prayer bracelet and pray for our church every time you see it. Pray for our sermons, events, and opportunities to share His hope. Pray for us to keep greeting every person who God sends to our church. Pray for us to never lose focus on Him and His mission. Never stop praying. May we continue to follow Him and do great things for the Kingdom as we walk with Him and experience His strength and joy. I can’t wait for next year!