Today is the last day of 2013, and a new year is soon to dawn. In fact, I have a friend who lives in New Zealand, and at this moment she is already several hours into 2014! The future is always very nearly upon us.
At this time of year, we often look back on the year that has passed, and we consider what the upcoming year may hold. I invite you to take a few moments to reflect on the life of Mt. Haley Church of God with me.
The Year in Review
In the past twelve months, we have said farewell to three members who passed away: Chuck Hyatt, Elsia Smith, and Roy Gifford. We engaged in our first church-sponsored mission trip in quite some time; in February, we combined forces with Meridian CHOG to help build a house in Guatemala City, Guatemala. We served various individuals in our community in a number of ways throughout the year, as well. We celebrated the baptisms of three young men (Jeremy Hassen, Corey Forster, and Tristan Mapes). We established a relationship with our new Living Link missionaries to Cote d’Ivoire, Bobby and Jenny Mihsill. We learned about various components of our worship experience in the “How to be a Levite” series, and we completed studies of Revelation and the “3:16s of the Bible.”
We did lots of meaningful things. But who are we? This is significant as well.
- We are a congregation with an energized leadership. The Church Council is comprised of people with fresh voices and ideas. Recently, we have begun discussing how to use the memorial funds currently maintained by the church. I am excited that our initial conversations were energized and forward-looking. We are still in the brainstorming phase, so if you have any ideas about how we might serve Christ and our community through the use of our memorial funds, please speak with me or with any Church Council member.
- We are a congregation with a thriving youth ministry. Our associate pastor for youth, Jerry Graham, has worked diligently in the past two years to build up our young people in Christ. Pastor Jerry’s goal this school year is to have thirty students involved in the youth ministry, and over twenty students attended at the Christmas party this month. I am thrilled by the growth and strength of our youth group!
- We a congregation with real “growth edges.” As strong as our youth ministry is, we have two specific needs related to that ministry. First, we need to develop a children’s ministry that will attract young families and fuel the youth group in upcoming years. Second, we need to develop a young adult ministry so our youth have somewhere to “land” once they graduate from high school. Growth among the adult age groups is a concern of mine, as well.
The Year in Preview
What will the next twelve months hold? It’s hard to say, of course. In my mind’s eye, though, I can envision these developments in the upcoming year:
- A mission trip to Guatemala. For the second year in a row, Mt. Haley is fielding a team of short-term missionaries to assist the growth of a small community in Guatemala City. This year, our team will help to complete the fourth and final floor of the Christian school in that community. This is our mission trip!
- An emphasis on Christian education. I would like to see many of our adults attend the annual “360 Christian Leadership Convention” in Lansing this spring. This wonderful opportunity is not just for up-front leaders; it is for all people interested in increasing their involvement in the life of the church. Expect to see more information in the early springtime!
- Conversations about our purpose as a church. I want to communicate with each of you directly about the mission and course of our life as a church. I am convinced that our mission must revolve around discipleship and outreach, and I am excited to learn how you see our congregation growing and serving in the future.
- A place to encounter God. My dream for Mt. Haley in 2014 is that we will expect to encounter the Lord when we gather for worship and study. My hope is that friends and relatives will meet Christ by worshiping and studying with us. My desire is that our acts of community service will help our neighbors to know that God is real and cares deeply for their well-being, both physically and spiritually. Encountering God, resulting in profound transformation: this is what I foresee in the upcoming year.
Pray with me that God will move among us and transform us in 2014!