This Sunday will be a very busy — and important — Sunday in the life of our church. First, we’re going to welcome 47 young confirmands as our newest members of FUMCFW in our Service of Confirmation.
Then, it will be a bittersweet “so long” to our beloved “Mister Mark” Burrows as we share our last Sunday with him as our Director of Children’s ministries and honor his many years of dedicated service and commitment to the ministries of this church. From Director of Youth Choir to Director of Music to Director of Children’s Ministries, what a great impact Mark has made on entire generations of young people and adults in these past 24 and a half years! As you may remember, Mark will be leaving us January 31 to pursue an amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as music editor for Heritage Music Press. Or, as one of our young children wisely put it, “Now all the children get to have Mister Mark.”
Finally, this Sunday marks the official kick-off of our Next90 Capital Campaign — and the sermon series, Catch the Vision: Our Next 90, and the sermon, “How Little? . . . or What More?”
If you’ve been in our recent visioning events or picked up any of the printed information around the church since Christmas Eve, you know that this campaign, now in two phases, will support the visionary priorities that came out of our Focus First leadership summit.
Phase I will solve some of our immediate challenges and set us up perfectly for Phase II, which will then complete the vision with a fellowship rotunda and new multipurpose worship and event space and more. The Phase I capital campaign, which will run from this Sunday through February 23, is already well on its way, with $5 million in cash toward our $15 million goal. Now it’s our turn — and we all get to be part of this exciting vision for our church’s future.
I’m really excited to tell you that we’re moving into this campaign from a position of strength. Attendance last year was up 10 percent over 2018, and we’re up already this year with a 14 percent increase on the first Sunday in January and 18 percent increase the second Sunday of January over those same Sundays last year.
Giving is up, too. As you may know, because we pulled together as a community of faith during the whole last quarter of 2019 with some additional giving above and beyond our stewardship commitments, we Finished Strong and fully funded our 2019 budget. That hasn’t happened in several years!
And perhaps most encouraging of all, as we’re confirming these young people in our worship service this Sunday we’re also celebrating our thriving children’s and youth programs, where we see the present and the future of our church every single day!
In the light of all this celebration during our service of worship this week, we will also be examining how Jesus always challenged his disciples to this kind of maximum living: to love more, to serve more, to care more, to forgive more, to pray more, to learn more, to trust more, to express more gratitude — and to give more.
In this section of the Sermon on the Mount we find in Matthew 5:38-48, Jesus challenges his disciples always to do more than the minimum that is expected — and that is also his challenge to us. And, within this challenge to the disciples is also a challenge to consider how we approach discipleship, how we approach our faith, what we consider to be our “default” setting.
After all, who would you rather hire — someone who approaches a job asking, “How little can I do and still get paid?” or someone who approaches a job with engagement, interest, and enthusiasm, always asking, “What more can I do? What more needs to be done?
I look forward to being with you this Sunday in the Sanctuary where we will share three big experiences — and kick off our Next90 Capital Campaign by asking ourselves, “What more can I do?” and “What is my default?
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster