A Word of Encouragement
Good morning! Today I want to start by reminding you of something you may or may not know. And it is this: As a Christian, at church, you wear two hats.
You wear your “You Hat.” Immanuel Church is for you. You show up as just you, needing Jesus, coming for you. And that is right and good! In Ephesians 4:11-12, Paul says that the Lord gave the church preachers and teachers and leaders to “equip the saints.” That’s why we are here, to equip you and your family. You are the “saints” Paul is talking about. We want to bless you and encourage you in your walk with the Lord. We are like spiritual flight attendants making sure you’ve got your bag, you’ve found your seat, you know where to go, you’re fed, and so forth. We are here to equip you. Immanuel Church is for you. And so much of what we’ll share in a minute is about that. As we plan the year, we do not sit around and think “What do typical churches do?” No, we ask, “What would be helpful?” And so much of what we do is about that because church is for you.
But as a Christian, at church, you also wear another hat.
You wear a “Staff Hat.” In that same passage I mentioned a second ago, Paul goes on to say that the Lord has given these folks to “equip the saints…for the work of ministry.” So, the church is here for you, but you are also here for others. You are “on staff” so to speak. You’re a client and a spokesman. You’re a part of who we are and where we’re going. And it’s to this second hat I want to speak for a moment.
As a staff member at Immanuel, like it or not, you are a church planter! If you’re new here, congratulations, you’re now a church planter. And, like it or not, you’re a church planter in a pandemic. And both of those, church planting and pandemic, introduce a new level of change and uncertainty and challenge. Both of those introduce unknowns. And so the question is how do you, as a staff member, navigate these unknowns.
One passage I’ve been meditating on lately helps us out I think. In fact, I’ve got it printed out so I have to keep walking by it. And it’s this: Ecclesiastes 11:6, “In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.” So, morning or night, we cast seed because who knows which seed will do well.
Let me briefly mention three things this passage teaches us, as staff members at a church planting church in a pandemic.
- We don’t know the future. That’s what is driving this verse. The unknown. We don’t know what next week will hold, or even tomorrow, or even this afternoon, much less what next year or the next five years will hold. That’s always been true, but in a pandemic, at a church plant, we are all the more aware of that unknownness.
So, what do we do? Do we throw up our hands and say, “What’s the point?” Do we get discouraged? Do we wait it out? No! We get to work! But the presence of unknowns changes the way we work… And the verse lays out this recommendation. We don’t wait and see; we work and see. Instead of hopeless inactivity…
- We invest liberally. “Withhold not your hand.” In and out of the seed bag our hands go! We’re liberally investing, investing, investing! Not because we know, but precisely because we do not know what will work.
- We invest continually. “In the morning…and at evening.” All the time. Continually. We are constantly investing. Precisely because we do not know what
Now, I think this verse has all kinds of import for your life. This is true of business. This is true of parenting. I was thinking the other day of some of the surprising things the Lord has done in my kids’ lives. We thought this thing over here was going to be it, but that thing fell through, and this other thing we had not anticipated ended up being pivotal in their life. And that’s a lot of parenting: constant, liberal investing because you never know which retreat or camp might be the awakening moment, which sport or hobby might become a passion, which conversation might be the turning point. This is why you should keep reading your bible every day, because you don’t know which day will be the day the Lord pierces you with insight.
But this verse certainly applies to your role as a staff member of a church plant…in a pandemic.
This verse tells me that we have to be willing to take risks. We have to be willing to fail. We have to be willing to try this thing and that thing. We have to be open to change. We have to be open to false starts. Why? Because this is how we grow.
So, in the face of uncertainty, in the face of uncertain times, I want to call you to bold action…precisely because we don’t know what the future holds. I talked with someone recently who commented that they thought this particular aspect of Immanuel would be like this but it had turned out like that. Ecclesiastes 11:6 says yes, that is the nature of things. As we’ve been working on this property, one question is about future building size and connected to that is the question of ratio of adults to kids for classroom space. Talk about a wild guess. Like, I know 10 years from now what the ratio of adults to kids will be at Immanuel. Like I know what the birth rate will be. Ha! And so it’s tempting to say there’s no way we can lay all this out, so maybe we should just hold. But Ecclessiastes says just the opposite: There’s no way you can know, so you better get to work and try lots of things.
So, as we wade into this new year, as we wade further into the pandemic, as we wade into property and whatever else comes with church planting, as you wade into your own personal choices, I want to call you to bold action. I want you to embrace the successes and the failures. I want you to embrace the ups and the downs. I want you to embrace the continuity and the changes. Because that’s how we grow.
And after all, there is One who knows the future, and He is on our side. So, let’s go boldly into the future!
- Call to Order.
- Recognizing the presence of a quorum.
- Adoption of previous meeting minutes (6.28.20).
Reception of New Members
We are welcoming to Immanuel in membership:
- Peter, Amy, and family.
- Zane, Jessica, and family.
We want to invite you to jump in! You know, we don’t drift towards growth. We have to be intentional about it. We have to stir ourselves up. And so, with that heart let us mention a few opportunities to jump in and challenge yourself.
- Missions Conference, February 21-28. Jeff and Julie joining us, as well as other guests.
- iKids Movie Night boxes. Kits are forthcoming. Be on the lookout.
- Wednesdays PMs resume. Join us at the Community Center at 6:30pm. We have something for all ages. Also, adult seminars are available virtually.
- Sunday Teams. If you are not serving anywhere, we invite you to consider joining one of our Sunday morning teams (Tech, Band, Setup, Security, Kids Ministry). Please indicate your interest on a Connection Card.
- Community Groups. Now is a great time to join a Community Group. Let us know if you would like to jump in.
- [Video. See above.]
- Work so far: Basic due diligence (reviewing title, surveys, neighborhood covenant, zoning, etc.), site develop (building footprint and parking lot), and conversations with regulatory boards, MPC and TTCDA.
- Budget Updates:
- Future Foundations: 85k (as of 1/31/21). THANK YOU!
- Generally (as of 12/31/20):
- General Giving is over budget ($305k/$290k, given/budget)
- General Spending: $257k/$290k
- Community Center Expenses To Date: $75k.
- THANK YOU!
- Conclusion: All lights are green so far.
- Next steps:
- March Meeting. A big update meeting in March. Date TBD.
- Pray. We’re setting aside February for prayer.
- Ask Questions. Please use this time to get all your questions answered. Talk to a staff member, elder, or land team member.
- Give. We invite you to continue to give.
- Vote. Should all the research prove positive, we would move towards a congregational vote 4/7/21. (Note: This is a Wednesday.)
- [View Q&A segment.]