We are exactly halfway through the month of October as I type the blog this morning - before long Thanksgiving and Christmas will be upon us. Several thoughts and reminders this morning:
* Wonderful Student Ministry opportunities are there for the taking if you have Jr High and Sr High students! Ben Pertl is off and running as our Director of Student Ministries - if you haven't met him yet, take time to reach out. Reveal on Sunday evenings, Breakfast Club on Friday mornings, Bible School on Sunday mornings and this week, the annual Flannel Chili Night at the Witzke's - good stuff!
* First Kids continues to offer excellent Children's Ministry programming on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings - thanks to Allison Hitchings and Cassandra Benton for ALL they do!
* Seniors ministry at FCC - Marcia Wise and Jan Dial continue to lead Young at Heart with excellence and I'm so excited to see the revival of this vital ministry - so many are taking advantage of gatherings and trips! I want to highlight the upcoming Seniors Day at Little Galilee on Wednesday October 25 - you can go for FREE if you attend w/ YAH! Cody Monkman will be driving the van that morning and we would love to have you join us. Call the office and let us know if you are planning to join us!
* Great job Melinda Heinlen and Lindsey Moody with our latest Connections event yesterday - Doughnut Sunday at FCC! So wonderful to see so many connecting! I cannot wait for our next Connections event!
* Yesterday also brought Open House opportunities for the Neighborhood Care Center (formerly the Cable Building) and the Underground (formerly the Fellowship Hall) - if you missed a chance to tour these renovated spaces, let me know and we will set up a personal tour for you! Both spaces are making a difference in our ministry to our community and to students!
* Super thankful for very hard work of Jen Causer and Mandi Ries in our office - they are doing a great job! We are always looking for office volunteers who can assist with needs like mailings, publications, telephone and others tasks. If you have even a couple hours a month, let us know - we would love to plug you in!
* Say a prayer for Samuel Green, our Minster of Worship and Spiritual Formation - he is doing a great job rolling out ROOTED (Discipleship program) to our staff and elders and is currently struggling with some potentially serious voice issues. Very thankful for Samuel and praying his voice heals soon! Thanks to Allison and Heather Moore for vocally leading worship second service yesterday!
Five reminders as I wrap up this morning:
1. Sabbath End continues to meet on Sunday evenings at 5pm - come to the sanctuary foyer for a time of worship, teaching and prayer!
2. Bible Reading - we continue to publish daily Bible readings - we are in the middle of the book of Revelation this week - and will do so for all of 2017. Take advantage of this spiritual discipline: Daily time in God's Word!
3. Stewardship - our general fund giving continues to struggle - will you help us remain faithful to the Lord and our church financially in what Paul calls the "grace of giving?"
4. Prayer - please pray for several in our church who are hospitalizes or facing surgery in the days ahead: Abner Griffin (surgery on the 27th), Louise Moore (surgery on the 23rd), Ruth Harvey, Dick Tuggle, Velma Kennedy and Dixie Montgomery.
5. Words - our sermon yesterday was about our words - OUR word - verbal, written and shared. How will you use YOUR words this week? Let's use them for the glory of God and to uplift and encourage others in the name of Jesus!
Have a great week!
This week we launched a brand new sermon study at FCC entitled FCC's Big 3 - three sin struggles we self-identified as a congregation last February during our Spiritual Formation survey. Three big struggles: PRIDE, GOSSIP and ANGER. Three sins that keep us from being ALL we are called to be as follower of Jesus. Three sins that might not seem quite as extreme as some - they even be referred to at times as "lesser" sins. Of course, there is no such thing - sin is sin, and anything that hold us back in our walk with Jesus isn't good - it isn't acceptable - and it can cause spiritual destruction and even spiritual death in our lives.
This week, we looked at PRIDE - several "pictures" from the Bible of PRIDE bringing trouble - from the Fall in Genesis 3 to the fall of a great king (Uzziah) in 2 Chronicles 26 to Jesus' parable in Luke 18 about the Pharisee and the Tax Collector and finally, Jesus warning Peter in Mark 14 of his impending denial during the terrible of events of passion week. Each of these pictures should remind us how problematic PRIDE can be - if Adam and Eve and Uzziah and even Peter were brought down by PRIDE, we certainly can be as well.
So whats the answer? One word - Humility! "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." (James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5) The challenge is really easy to type - and really difficult to live out: More of Jesus - Less of Me. More "Attitude like that of Christ Jesus" - Less of Self. How can you model HUMILITY in Jesus this week?
* This Sunday we tackle GOSSIP - if you have any testimonies or perspectives on the problem/sin of Gossip, I would love to hear them!
* THIS Tuesday at 6am - RELOAD for Men in the Family Life Center
* THIS Sunday October 15 - DOUGHNUT SUNDAY from 9-10:30am in the Family Life Center, our latest and greatest connections event - also, tours of the Care Center (formerly the Cable Building) and the Underground (formerly the Fellowship Hall) will be offered.
* Wednesday October 25 - Seniors Day at Little Galilee - if you go w/ YAH, you are FREE!
* Thursday October 26 - Ladies Night Out at 6:30pm in the Family Life Center
* Discover FCC - Sunday morning November 12 at 9:30am in the Family Life Center Alcove - come learn about FCC's History, Theology and Ministries!
* Additional Food Pantry hours begin NEXT WEEK - in addition to Tuesday and Thursday from 1-3pm, the Food Pantry will now be open on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month from 4:30-6pm - this begins on October 17.
* Stewardship - thanks to Mark Behrends for sharing about the current state of finances at FCC on October 1 - please prayerfully consider what the Lord might be calling you to do in terms of financial giving.
Have a great week - see you Sunday!
It is hard to believe October has arrived! So much is happening in the life of our church - don't miss the blessings of this month and this fall! Here are multiple opportunities before us:
* Sabbath End - each Sunday evening beginning at 5pm, you have the opportunity to end your weekend with an intimate time of worship, teaching, encouragement and prayer. We meet in the foyer outside the Sanctuary and this gathering is led by non-staff members - Ken and Susan Klein, Dave and Becky Glenn and Tom and Dee Milanski and others. Why not give it a look? You will be blessed!
* Men's Ministry - Area Men's Fellowship is tomorrow night - at Saybrook - FCC van leaves at 6pm - join us! Reload for Men will meet at 6am on Tuesday mornings October 10 and October 24 - we meet for one hour to enjoy an awesome breakfast and some Biblical encouragement - join us!
* Women's Ministry - Each Tuesday morning at 10am, Ladies gather to study God's word together - all women are welcome! On Tuesday evenings at 6:30pm, a women's BSF discussion group gathers in the Family Life Center. On the 3rd Friday of each month, Women's Coffee Break meets at 10am - all women are welcome! Mom and Tots play day is the first Friday of each month at 10am. And don't forget Ladies Night Out - Thursday October 26 at 6:30pm!
* Senior's Ministry - The October Young at Heart is this Friday October 6 at 10:30am in the Family Life Center - Oktoberfest is the theme! On Friday October 20, YAH is sponsoring a trip to Bement to attend the Country Opera. And Wednesday October 25 is Senior Saints Day at Little Galilee - I'm going for the day - why not join me?
* Discover FCC - THIS Wednesday October 4 at 6pm in the Family Life Center - come learn about the History, Theology and Ministries of FCC - all are welcome! And Rotary pulled pork will be served!
* Doughnut Sunday at FCC - come to our latest and greatest fellowship event on Sunday morning October 15 from 9-10:30am in the Family Life Center! In addition, tours of the newly renovated Care Center (formerly the Cable Building) and the Underground ( formerly the Fellowship Hall) will be offered during these 90 minutes.
* Worship/Music - do you like to sing? Why not consider joining the choir - they practice on Wednesday evenings at 6:30pm. Do you like the Bells/Chimes? Why not consider joining the bell/chime choir? They practice on Monday evenings at 7pm. Are you interested in being a part of the second service worship experience in one way or another? We need folks who can sing, play, or be involved on the tech side of things - computer, sound, lights, video, etc.
Finally, this week, I want to share the following message from one of our elders, Mark Behrends - this was read during both services yesterday:
Good Morning, I would like to take a moment and update you on where we are at financially with Next Steps and with our giving in general.
Next Steps has just completed another renovation and ministry upgrade. Like past renovations this has been completed debt free through God’s provision and your faithful over and above giving. The cable building which for many years has served as our Student Ministry Center has now been transformed into a “Care Center” and now houses our food pantry and our expanded local benevolence ministry. With Cody Monkman now overseeing this important ministry we are excited to see how God will use this renovated space to minister to those in need in our community.
Student ministry is now located here in the main building. The Junior High area and Fellowship Hall have been renovated to coordinate with the previously renovated Edge space and now the whole area in the lower level is known as “The Underground” and while Ben Pertl has only been on staff for a month we are excited with the direction student ministry is taking. I would like to stress that while Fellowship Hall has now become part of “The Underground” it remains a multi-functional space and this space will continue to be used for a variety of purposes.
We would like to invite everyone to view the newly renovated spaces in two weeks on Sunday October 15th during an open house from 9 until 10:30.
While it is exciting and encouraging to talk about our new ministries and renovated spaces I also feel obligated to talk about our general fund giving. 2017 is on track to be the lowest giving year since 2005 and the second year in a row that giving is significantly lower than the approved MAP. While we realize there are many different reasons that have contributed to why giving is down the leadership believes that receiving the $2 million estate gift that went into the Next Step fund as the primary reason. We believe that the perception existed after the estate gift was received that our need was not great. Unfortunately this has never been true, none of the estate gift was spent on MAP expenses and it has all been spent on investing in the future of our church through the renovations and upgrades already completed. Currently, the Next Step fund has approximately $30K remaining in the fund which is earmarked for upgrades to mechanical systems, renovations, and capital improvement projects. All of the rest of the gift and your donations have been spent on renovation and upgrade projects already complete. As a leadership we apologize for not communicating better these past two years about our finances, but the reality is that the general fund cash reserves continue to significantly decline and this is a trend that we cannot sustain. To the extent possible we have tightened our belt and have not spent where possible so we have not drawn on our cash reserves for the full amount of the MAP giving deficit but currently our giving is $67K behind our current MAP need. The leadership is encouraging you to pray about how you may help to close this gap.
The leadership is currently working on the 2018 Ministry Action Plan and the current plan that we are reviewing contains $24,512.00 of cuts from our current 2017 MAP. We feel this is a realistic and workable plan to carry out the vision, ministries and mission of our church in the coming year. This plan contains no transfers to savings or rainy day funds. It is all spent on ministry and missions. Obviously, current giving levels will not support this Ministry Action Plan. To make this plan work giving will need to increase by $50K in 2018. $50K is a large amount to increase our giving by but with your prayerful consideration it is not insurmountable. $50K is 96 people increasing their giving by $10.00 per week.
A $50K deficit is however too much for our cash reserves to absorb. The leadership is committed to promoting giving and good stewardship of the funds provided and will reevaluate giving trends at the end of the first quarter of 2018. Budget cuts will occur at that time to meet the then current giving level. These cuts will be painful and unpopular and will most likely involve additional cuts to our monthly mission partners and to our personnel budgets. To ease the pain of the cuts to our Missions giving we will put a formula in place where if giving is over the MAP or increases after budget cuts are made then our Missions team will receive a percentage of this increase to distribute to our mission partners.
We don’t want to make this all doom and gloom and we feel that very positive things are happening for the Kingdom through the work of this church. We continue to pray that we are faithful stewards of everything that He has provided while staying true to our mission to “Love God – Build the Church – and Reach the World.” We are hoping that through this frank disclosure you will understand that the need is critical and you would earnestly consider how you could increase your financial commitment to our church. While we are always thankful for your faithful weekly giving please know that a onetime gift between now and the end of the year would also be a great blessing to help close the gap in current giving.
Thanks Mark for this update.
Have a great week - see you Sunday!
Every year, tens of thousands of folks descend on the 61727 for the annual Apple and Pork Festival – next year will be 50 years of A & P! 50 years! This year might have been the hottest ever, with temperatures in the mid-90’s both days. As a result, the crowds were as small as I can remember in my 11 years and unfortunately, many of the organizations attempting to raise money were faced with the challenge of unsold product. Bummer! With that said, I know the following:
Great job Samuel Green putting together our one service Sunday yesterday – I love when we gather together for one service! We continued our journey through the TELL ME MORE series, looking at Christians and Hypocrisy and will conclude the study next week with a look at relationships and why so many seem to fail. Then on October 8, we will begin a look at some of the concerns/struggles our church self-disclosed during our spiritual formation study last February – sins like Pride, Gossip and Anger – should be an interesting month at FCC!
Keep the following dates/activities on your calendars – much continues to happen:
Thanks to Randy Anderson for the vision of Fan the Flame – I still remember his phone call in early July 2013 (I have to admit, I thought he was crazy) pitching the concept. And five and a half weeks later, the first Fan the Flame happened in August of ’13 featuring Jason Gray, Jake Gulledge and Michael Mallick. Randy and Ann are special folks and they have “spoiled” so many of us with Fan the Flame concerts! Many of the concerts have been at Clinton FCC, but we have also seen Fan the Flame concerts at Lincoln Christian University, Little Galilee Camp and even on Mr. Lincoln’s Square in downtown Clinton. Here are most of the artists of the Fan the Flame concerts:
Have a great week – see you Sunday!
We are so excited to announce the new blog for GT!
What a great night – thanks to everyone who played a role in making Block Party III a huge hit! On Friday it looked like rain and storms might cancel our event, but we were able to move forward and it was a blast! My crowd judge (RU) estimated between 800-900 were at FCC at one time or another from 5-7pm, so let’s settle on 1000! (I am a preacher after all) In all seriousness, thanks to the FCC staff (everyone but me had specific assignments and carried them out to perfection) and former office manager Karen Rice for organizing with excellence – way to go!
Busy month ahead for us at FCC – make note of the following:
Finally this morning, my heart is heavy for the community of Mt Pulaski and especially the students and recent graduates of Mt Pulaski HS. Early Saturday morning, one of their own passed away as a result of an auto accident. Please pray for this community and especially the teens and young adults who loved Evan and are struggling with this heart breaking storm of life. “The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in the Spirit” – Psalm 34:18.
Have a great week!