About that title, I bet some of you are thinking, “yeah, that’s what you say when a ministry isn’t doing well.” But no, I mean it. It’s what God does that matters. Everything else is filler. And I’ll go beyond that. I believe that when we focus on what God is doing, we find joy and hope regardless of how the ministry is going. This Sunday, Tita, Cathy, and Tracey shared what God has been doing in their lives and in Fellowship of Believers MC and all of us found some joy and hope. Here’s a sample:
Tita: “Becoming a member of FCMC has strengthened my faith and walk with God. We experienced answered prayers, hope, changed lives, testimonies after testimonies of God’s love. I never knew the power in Jesus’ name until now.”
Tracey: “Discovering our vision for mission was really a journey – back and forth – leaning one way then another – but we kept together as a group. And it was clear that God had brought us together and was speaking to us about somehow working with children and youth and people who work with them. Everybody had these experiences with God and we tell each other when we got together. And we finally came to agreement. God is calling us to give ourselves to those who give themselves to love children and youth with the love of Jesus.”
Cathy: “I used to read the Bible and I’d make little notes here and there. But then, in Experiencing God, we were working through unit 5, learning how God speaks through scripture. I’ve been in church all my life but had never heard that explained. And then I opened my Bible and suddenly words would be popping out here and there and there. And then I turned over to our memory verse which said, “The reason you do not hear is because you do not belong.” And I thought, “That’s it!” Now I’m hearing. Now I know I belong to God! Since then, my Bible looks like a coloring book. I’m highlighting everywhere!”
What the three of them shared reminded me of why I’m in ministry. They reminded me of the things only God can do. Only God can: answer prayers, reveal the power of Jesus’ name, speak through scripture, assure us we belong to Him, bind a group in love and bring them into agreement about mission. It’s what God does that matters in ministry.
But to dispel concerns, let me share briefly, and straightforwardly, how the ministries of our church are going. Because I’m convinced that if we are doing what God called us to do as well as we can, we’ll see God do more and more.
Our strategy is three fold: we disciple leaders, connect people to missional communities, and gather for worship. We measure our success against our strategy. So let me give you a status update.
Discipling Leaders: We have ten people in discipleship huddles. Discipleship is caught as much as it is taught. Objectively, everyone in the huddle is picking up the lessons. (They are a bright group.) But subjectively – and this is so essential – those in the huddles are picking it up. The real test is multiplication – that’s when people currently in a discipleship huddle begin meeting in huddles of their own. We’re months away from that, but I feel like we’re on track.
In terms of connecting people to missional communities – we have two places to do that right now. The Fellowship of Believers MC – which is really a missional small group of 9 people, just pulled together their vision for mission. If all goes to plan, they will begin attracting people into their MC as they live into their mission. Our second group is the Cimarrone Missional Community. This is a “Missional Community Experience” designed to let people try out following Jesus in missional community. It began in February and wraps up in May. Involvement and commitment have been, overall, encouraging. We’ve had fifteen to twenty-five people whenever we’ve met. I’d say there’s a core of a ten adults and several youth who form the core. I believe most will want to continue. In the middle of May, we’ll offer those who so desire the opportunity to be a part of an on-going missional community there. I feel very positive about the way both groups are unfolding. That’s about thirty people connected to missional communities – up from a six when we started in November. We’re thankful that God has drawn people. I hope we can start a third one this summer or fall. Full disclosure: three quarters of our folks have been in ministries I led before. But I am deeply grateful for them. I meet new people all the time and what’s really cool is how members of our MCs are inviting others on their own.
Finally, we gather for worship on second Sundays to celebrate what God is doing. Our bench mark here is for 75% of the people in missional communities to attend worship. We have hit that at every worship service. And people have been coming out to worship who haven’t yet experienced missional community or a discipleship huddle. In case you are wondering, we are very okay with that – thankful even that God is bringing people!
And lastly, God is providing financially. On the FCMC board, we’re conservative with finances, for sure. We won’t spend what we don’t have. My salary is at about 50% (and growing), but it is covered by giving. But God has put an excitement and conviction in my heart. I want to do this full time. So with renewed enthusiasm, I’m inviting people into the ministry.
By the way, if you are interested in becoming a ministry partner with us, I would love to pray with you, speak with you, and share the vision for First Coast Missional Communities. It’s the sort of opportunity that doesn’t come around every day. You could be a part of what God is doing.
We believe… only God can do this.