Pastor’s Annual Report 2017
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39, NRSV
The grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. I have no doubts that we have been brought together for the purpose of telling the story of God’s love to this neighborhood, as a church, for the glory of our God and King. Having only been the pastor in charge for four months, I am not sure of what the future holds for us, but all signs point toward our being used by God as a beacon of hope for the desperate and a channel of living water for the spiritually thirsty among us.
Back in October, I preached a sermon that outlined all that had happened in our church in my first ninety-nine days with you. Having admitted that we do not currently have a preschool committee, I described the current situation in which our church is building a wonderful relationship with our preschool, its teachers, and its families. Likewise, I had to admit that we still did not have a worship committee, but I showed that we are creating a new blueprint for what it means to be in worship together and expressed a need for a comprehensive worship design team that considers our congregation’s spiritual needs. That newly created committee is set to have its first meeting on November 21, 2017.
I think we in the United Methodist Church are the first to claim that attendance numbers are not that important in a local church that is vibrant and is meeting the needs of its community. I do not disagree with that point, but I want to encourage us to see that each person who attends our worship services is a person who Christ wants to have a relationship with, a life that can be transformed after the image of God, and a heart that can be warmed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Each person who attends is a person whose life can be changed by God.
To that end, for me, an important sign of the vibrancy of a local church is found in the trajectory of its attendance numbers and its growth. If things are going well, and if we are truly meeting the needs of people who live near us, then we should grow. If we are not growing, we absolutely need to reevaluate the way we are doing things. But right now our church is growing.
Our church has not been without its struggles. We had been declining in worship attendance for some time. We averaged forty-five people in worship for the year in 2016. During the first half of 2017, we averaged thirty-eight in worship. This pattern was worrying indeed. However, in the months of July through October, we have averaged fifty-five in worship attendance. And, in October, even during our stewardship campaign, we still had an average of sixty. I share these numbers just to show that we are growing and that we should see it as a sign of increasing vitality in our ministries.
Our small-group Bible study has always had an incredible level of involvement, often drawing more than twelve people per week. This fall, we added a theological study, called Confirmation 201, that met at Pizzeria Luigi on El Cajon Boulevard, that sought to introduce parishioners and guests to foundational Christian teaching so as to be equipped in ministry and leadership in the church. It was equally as successful as our standard Bible study, also drawing at least twelve people per week. Moreover, this study provided a way for our church to quietly witness to our energy and spirit in our neighborhood.
In the coming year, we will continue to build on our successes. We will continue to hold our Thursday Bible study and will add Discipleship 101: What is the Bible and How Do I Teach It?; Discipleship 201: Church Leadership Development and Training; and Discipleship 301: Entrepreneurial Ministry Planting.
When I learned that I had been appointed to Trinity, I, of course, began praying for the people of this church. I also began praying for the people of our neighborhood who were not here yet. That has to be our focus in 2018. We must seek the people in 92104 who are desperate to be shown the love of God.
I’m proud to see all that we have been able to accomplish together in such a short time. I am proud to be able to experience Christ’s love in you. But most of all, in this moment, I am proud to be called your pastor.
May the Lord bless and keep you always.