Therefore we must pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the message declared through angels was valid, and every transgression or disobedience received a just penalty, how can we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? It was declared at first through the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard him, while God added his testimony by signs and wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, distributed according to his will. – Hebrews 2:1-4
When Annual Reports Turn into Celebrations:
Sunday, after the worship services, the members of Wake Forest Presbyterian Church met for a light lunch and the official “annual meeting.”
There are a number of procedural elements to annual meetings that need to be checked off, so we took care of those; then Rebekah introduced the substance of the gathering.
“There’s a booklet on each table,” she said (I’m paraphrasing), “containing detailed reports from all the ministry areas. The information is also available on the church website. You can read all of that at your leisure.
“But we’re not going to stand up here and read from reports. Instead, I have asked all the program staff to share stories that represent both what God has been up to at WFPC during the past year, and where we are headed as a body of believers.”
The reports are all encouraging: Membership is back over 800, participation is inspirational, discipleship initiatives and mission opportunities continue to expand, children’s ministries are growing, the campus is thick with youth, confirmation is crowded, new families continue to join the church, we are “worshipping together as a faith community, celebrating the Lord’s Supper, and sharing meals with great joy and generosity – all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people, the Lord constantly adding to our fellowship those who are being saved” (Acts 2:46-47 – author paraphrase).
STORIES: But, while reports and statistics are fine for reference, it is the stories that most effectively communicate the heart and soul of what’s going on around here. We heard real stories about real life people, men and women, children and youth, transformed by love as they experience God – right here in this dynamic, passionate, Jesus-following church.
We listened to stories from the pastors, from the director of youth ministries, from the director of children’s ministries, from the director of music ministry, and from the director of food ministries.
If there was a common theme, it was this: that we are a body of honest, faithful, grateful, redeemed, imperfect, learning, enthusiastic, stumbling disciples; that we live into our redemption, and struggle with it in such a way that we can’t help but be changed, and can’t help but share this Good News with the world around us; that we place all the challenges and opportunities inherent in being The Church into the hands of God; that we are thrilled to be the Body of Christ in this place and time; and that we continue to be not only amazed by Grace, but pulled inexorably into its orbit, tethered to Jesus.
That is exactly where the church should be focused; celebrating Jesus, grateful to God, equipped and encouraged to be instruments of Grace.
In love, and because of love – DEREK