A Letter to the Congregation

March 1, 2016

 

Dear Central Church Family,

As a church, we are experiencing an exciting season in which God is calling us to pursue fresh ministry opportunities. For example, this past Sunday, we heard about a new ministry to a transitional home in our neighborhood that houses women coming out of prison or addiction. Through this relationship, we have established a clothes closet and a Bible study led by members of Central. This is just one example of numerous opportunities stirring at Central, opportunities in which we see God as work among us in new ways as He calls us to be a faithful presence in our community.

Through these stirrings, God has been working in my own heart. I have recently been reflecting on a common pattern in Scripture: When God calls His servants to ministry, He always calls them out of comfortable, predictable places, leading His servants to places where their resources aren’t enough. He calls Israel out of Egypt and into the desert; Jesus calls Peter out of the boat and onto the water; Jesus calls His disciples to go and preach the kingdom, bringing no money or extra clothes, but trusting in God to meet all their needs.

Along with this, I’ve been reflecting on another Biblical pattern: When God leads His servants to places of dependence, He instructs them to ask boldly: To ask for His provision, to ask for His power, and to ask for His Spirit to do what only He can do. God takes us to places where we are dependent, where we lack the power and resources to do the work, and in those places He calls us to ask. And God delights in our asking, because it demonstrates our recognition of our need and our desire to see His glory.

Through these reflections, I have come to a conclusion: I have not been asking enough. I have not been bold in asking God to do His work. I have not had the faith that asks to see God’s glory. In light of this, I have purposed to ask God boldly, fervently, and humbly that He would do a powerful work among us at Central.

But for what, in particular, am I asking God? First and foremost, I am asking God for people. As a church, we are in the people business. Our purpose is simple: we are here to see people who are far from God come close to Him. This purpose must drive everything we do as a church. I am praying that God would give us people who need to hear and respond to the life-changing message of the Gospel, that we would see a great harvest of people giving their lives to Christ years to come. In addition, I have purposed to ask God to give us people who are hurting and need to be healed by the life-giving grace that God gives to all who are thirsty. Do we desire to see God do a mighty work among us? If so, we must be fully convinced that we cannot do it, and be bold and fervent in asking God to do what we cannot. I invite you to join me in asking God to give us people that we might see His glory at Central.

Second, I am asking God to supply our every need. This exciting time of new ministry opportunities is, as the Biblical pattern I described would indicate, also a time in which we are being moved out of comfortable, predictable places. Over the past couple of years, we have made significant financial investments in our church: We have engaged in needed repairs to our building, we have raised over $50,000 for our lobby renovation project, which will soon be in full swing, and we have invested in staff members who can serve our church and our community. It is my conviction that if we don’t make these investments now, we will not be positioned as a church for the next season of ministry as our neighborhood changes and new people move into the area who need to come to know Christ and grow in their faith in Him.

However, these investments are bringing us to a place of new dependence on God’s provision. I have said to the congregation that I believe these next couple of years will be challenging financially. The investments we have needed to make have moved us beyond what we can accomplish through our own resources. I don’t believe that the decisions we have made have been unwise, but they are stretching us. It has been nearly two years since we have had to make a push to shore up the general fund, but we need to do so now. As we enter March, we are currently $54,000 behind in our general fund. For us to move forward with all God is calling us to do, and meet all our current financial obligations, we need to make up that gap. Therefore, I am asking you to join me in boldly asking God to supply all our needs. And as you ask this of God, I ask that you would also ask Him how you might be involved in helping close the gap. I am asking that you would prayerfully consider:

  1. A one-time special offering to help close the gap. I know that many of you give regularly, and for that I am grateful. But ask God if He might be calling you to a special one-time gift to help close the gap in our general fund.

  1. An increase to your regular giving. Others of you may need to re-evaluate your giving. Is it time to increase your regular gift? Has it been a while since you have evaluated your gift to Central? Is this how God is calling you to participate in His work at Central?

  1. A new commitment to give regularly. Others of you may not be currently giving to Central, or may have fallen behind in your giving. I would encourage you to prayerfully ask God how much He would have you give on a regular basis as part of your discipleship and dependence on Him.

The opportunities for us at Central are great. But so are the challenges. I believe God has called us to this place of both opportunity and challenge, that He might do a mighty work among us. I want to ask you to join me in boldly asking God to give us people who would come to faith in Christ and experience His healing, and also that He would meet all our needs. And as He moves among us, we will be sure to give Him all the glory!

Blessings,

 

Pastor Joel

 

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Address: 420 N Roy St, St Paul, MN 55104

Phone: (651) 646-2751

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