Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

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September Letter from the Pastor

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Dear Welsh Faith Family,

God is working in our midst and He is answering our prayers! Let me show you what I mean by detailing just a few of the prayers God has been answering for our faith family:

As of August 9th, I have officially been your pastor for two years. After being called by God to move here in May of 2009, I began to pray for our Welsh Baptist faith family in many ways and about many things. God gave me a vision for where our faith family needed to grow and move in order to become the faithful, missional community we are called to be for God’s glory and Jesus’ fame. It wasn’t long after arriving in Frostburg that I began to see God working in our midst to accomplish His vision of enlarging His kingdom and changing His church, our church.

As I began to regularly meet with the leaders of our faith family, we began to pray that God would change our hearts and lives to reflect the compassion that Jesus had for His disciples and His covenant people, the Israelites. We began to ask God to open doors to new ministry opportunities where we could engage people outside of our walls with our time, talents, money, and most importantly…with our lives.

Almost immediately, God opened a door for us to get involved in the disaster relief effort in Haiti after their devastating earthquake in January 2010. God has continued to direct us to stay involved in Haiti in the development of local communities in Port-au-Prince and eventually with Alex’s House, a local Christian orphanage that just came to be after the earthquake.

What a blessing Haiti has been for our faith family! The opportunities we have had to serve the lost and broken people and children of Haiti have changed not only the Haitian people, but they have changed our own people who have committed to seeing the gospel spread throughout this island nation. I want to thank those who have contributed financially, those who have contributed their prayers, and those who have contributed their time and energy to go to Haiti. You have been a part of God answering our prayers!

Our leadership did not stop praying for ministry opportunities when God placed Haiti on our hearts. We knew we needed to have an international mission presence, but that we could not stop there. We continued to ask God to open up a local ministry opportunity for our faith family here in our own back yard. At times, we would see a glimmer of hope when an opportunity would present itself, but time and time again, each opportunity seemed to vanish as quickly as it had appeared. We did not lose heart. As you recall a few months ago, we began praying that God would send us the broken and hurting of our community so that we might show them the love and mercy of Jesus. And He has done just that!

It wasn’t until just over a month ago that God revealed His plan for our involvement in a local ministry to the broken and hurting of our area. God brought a young couple to our faith family who have a connection to a temporary halfway house that provides lodging, addictions substance abuse assessment and evaluation, as well as therapy for people trying to escape the strong grip that drugs and/or alcohol have on their lives. God has given us an opportunity to supply needed items to these people who are trying to get back on their feet with almost no one there to help them. Even more than the monetary things we can do for them, we are also able to spend time with them and encourage them with the gospel of Jesus Christ which is the only true means to finding freedom. What a ministry! What a blessing for us to be able to love on and encourage these folks with the mercy and compassion of Jesus!

Lastly, ever since Carol and I sensed God’s strong call for us to come and join our Welsh faith family, we have also been praying that God would allow us to participate in His bringing people to faith, and then baptizing and discipling those new believers to help them become missionaries in our community and around the world.

God first began to answer our prayers by growing our presence on the campus of Frostburg State University where we regularly worship with over 30 students every Thursday night during the school year. We have seen these students sharing the gospel with their friends. We’ve seen these students begin to meet daily for at least an hour to pray for the world and our church. We’ve seen these students grow in their faith and begin to be missionaries on campus, in our community, back home during the summer and during holidays, and even around the world when God gives them opportunities.

God has also begun to answer our prayers in a new way for us here at Welsh. Next Sunday, September 4th, we will be celebrating the spiritual births of several people within our faith family. For the first time in several years, we will be baptizing new believers during our Sunday morning worship gathering. What an exciting time!

We are seeing only the beginning tastes of a revival God is starting in our midst! I pray you will do your part in our responsibility to this community, to our faith family, and mostly to our God. Will you join us in celebrating new life in Christ through Baptism on September 4th? Will you covenant to pray for these new believers? I know you will.

Will you also begin to do whatever it takes to seek out opportunities to minster to those around you in your daily lives at home, at work, and wherever you go? Our church is more than a club for Christians. We are a missional body of servants who long for God to be glorified, Jesus to be made famous, and people’s lives to be changed by the powerful gospel of Jesus Christ! Let’s start doing what we were made to do! Let’s pray for God to open our eyes to what He is doing in our midst and let’s jump into the work He is doing with both feet and see how God spends our lives for His glory!

Your fellow worker in the faith,
Pastor Thomas

June Newsletter Article from the Pastor

Monday, May 30th, 2011

the MISSION

June Letter from the Pastor

For the last 22 months, our faith family has been endeavoring to restructure and realign ourselves with the mission of Jesus. Our orders are to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you” (The Great Commission).

Now that we have restructured our leadership team and reorganized our church to more closely resemble the New Testament church of the Bible, it is finally time for each of us to begin carrying out the mission of Jesus here in Frostburg, the surrounding areas, and throughout the world.

Some of you have already been doing this, working as forward scouts who go out and gather information and do short-term work in the field while the rest of the church prepares to launch the larger campaign. Well, the time has come for us to suit up and begin the incursion. As we line up in formation and begin to move forward into the community, here are a few brief reminders of the only way the mission will be successful:

1. Everyone must participate. Jesus has commanded ALL of us to go and make disciples. Notice, the authoritative word in the above sentence is “commanded.” He has ordered all of us to go and make disciples and this is what we must do. In fact, whether or not we follow this order is actually a sign of whether or not we are a part of his army, the church. If we do not follow his orders, then we are not obeying our commander and we are evidently not a part of His army, the church. We might go to a church and do churchy things, but if we are not doing as our commander has ordered, then we are not his followers. It’s that simple.

2. Everyone must make disciples. I know we like to think that this is why we pay the pastor, but the truth of the matter is that Jesus has commanded ALL of us to go and make disciples. For many of us, making disciples can be as scary as getting into the water for the first time when we are learning to swim. In fact, it can be downright terrifying. The great thing is…Jesus isn’t just pushing us out of the boat into water that is over our head. He has actually given us a life-preserver and an instructor who is the Holy Spirit, and he is ALWAYS with us. We never have to worry about drowning or messing up. If we simply obey his command to make disciples, all we have to do is reach out to those around us and tell them about what Jesus has done for us. Then each week, we can simply share with them what we are learning from the Bible and what we learned on Sunday with our faith family. It really is that simple, but we ALL have to do it.

3. We must make disciples who make disciples. We’ve seen first hand what happens when people stop making disciples. The church stagnates and begins to shrink and become inwardly focused. We’ve seen it in our own church and we see it happening in the churches in our community (at least 4 churches have closed their doors for good in Allegany County this year). Someone in your life helped you come to know and trust Jesus. Then they helped you further by teaching you how to obey the commands of Jesus, especially the Great Commission (see above), and now it is your turn to do the same. The great commission starts with us going and making disciples and it ends with us teaching the new disciples to obey Jesus’ commands of going and making disciples. It is a continual, reproducible action that we must begin doing now.

We say we love God and we want to see God glorified. If this is true, then this is how we do it, and it starts right here where we live, work, and play. It starts here and it starts now. Will you join us?

Your fellow disciple-maker,
Thomas

Letter from the Pastor – April 2011

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Dear Faith Family,

As I sit in my office, preparing to leave for a leadership meeting in Port au Prince, Haiti, I cannot escape the haunting reminder that even while I am planning a long-term strategy to reach people with the gospel in Haiti, there are thousands of people in our own community of Frostburg who are hopeless apart from faith in Jesus. This is the truth we walk in and live in every day. As we go about our lives, day in and day out, we are surrounded with people who are unaware of the imminent danger which is upon them because they do not believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

As I walk the halls and pass by conversations each Sunday morning, time and time again I hear people talking about how we need to reach our own community. I hear people talking about how we need to do something to see our church grow and our attendance numbers increase.

All of these conversations are good ones, but sometimes we get to a point where talk is just cheap. The truth of the matter is, we don’t need any new ideas for how to reach our community with the gospel. We don’t need to come up with some elaborate scheme or event in order to finally draw people into our church. We’ve already been given a plan and it’s a simple one.

Colossians 3:1-4, 12-17 (ESV)
[1] If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. [2] Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. [3] For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. [4] When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

[12] Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, [13] bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. [14] And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. [15] And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. [16] Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. [17] And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

If we would simply realize that we have been purchased by God with Jesus’ blood…for our redemption and for His glory, I believe everything would begin to make sense. We can no longer allow the temporary things of this earth to distract us from seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, the eternal things. Just as Jesus’ life was only about doing the Father’s work, so are our lives to be like His.

If we would begin to live like Jesus, in His compassion and humility, caring for one another, allowing His Word to dwell in us richly, worshiping in song and thankfulness, we would begin to see people being drawn to our faith family. We don’t have to come up with big event ideas or new marketing schemes. We just need to start living like the Christ followers we say we are, always worshiping in Spirit and in Truth.

Let’s stop selfishly living for ourselves, wasting our lives on things that will not last; and let’s start pouring out our lives for the things that will last forever – God’s glory, Jesus’ fame, and the salvation of the lost and hopeless people that surround us every day. Will we begin to truly love the people around us, not just with lip-service, but with gospel deeds and gospel words of deliverance? I hope we will. Their lives depend on it.

Your fellow sower of the seed,
Thomas