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Report of the Session

FIRST EVANGELICAL CHURCH
SEMI-ANNUAL CONGREGATIONAL MEETING
Report of the Session
November 21, 2017

This report is being written the day before Easter. At the Good Friday service Cole simply, but profoundly suggested, if Resurrection Sunday’s greeting is, “Christ is Risen! Christ is risen, indeed!” then Good Friday’s salutation could be, “Christ is crucified! Christ is crucified, indeed!” Amen!

The pursuit of our 1000 Day Vision and Critical Initiatives is gaining momentum. First Evan has stated and agreed that God has called us to make the Gospel explicit. We do this, surprisingly to some who think we need to hide our faith a little to be more relevant, by making the Crucifixion and the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior explicit. Put those two events within the context of 

  • Worshipping richly
  • Becoming thoroughly equipped
  • Embracing hospitality
  • Intentionally mixing our generations
  • Engaging our neighbors. 

We cannot hide the light of Christ’s work under a basket from our neighbors, who often are self-defining and “self-authorizing”[1] themselves into more and more darkness. Within these 1000 days may God make us less self-justifying and more broken-hearted for a broken world. And may we, more, and more, explicitly express the Gospel contained in the Crucifixion and the Resurrection by any means possible and at least through these five initiatives.

            By now you should have discussed the initiatives in Sunday school classes. Hopefully, your leaders have helped define how every individual and class fits into the 1000 day initiatives. Hopefully, you have been through a S.H.A.P.E workshop to better learn how and where you fit into the work of God at First Evan. Perhaps you have seen new faces in the college leadership. Perhaps you have seen new faces in the choir. Perhaps you have seen new faces in other places of service.  Some of these sightings are a direct result of the S.H.A.P.E. class helping people understand their gifts, emboldening them to listen to the Spirit, and step into their place of service within the Body of Christ.

            Are you more engaged in making the Gospel explicit at First Evan than you were last November? We hope so. Class leaders are reporting an excitement and movement in people’s hearts. If you are not more involved, please call your class leaders, staff members, or any elder of deacon. We will get you involved.

            Perhaps you have heard us say that the attendance at First Evan’s worship services has been eroding, on average, about 40–50 people per year for the last several years. We have attributed this to the cultural reality of busy people of all ages who see less need for community attending Sunday services less regularly, normal attrition, and not-so-normal attrition (people leaving for some good or not-so-good cause). We are pleased to report that average attendance has been trending higher for the last two months by about 40 people. (I am seeing new people, and trying to meet them when I can, and seeing some people more regularly.)

            Hopefully, by the congregational meeting your Sunday school leadership will have also shared with you that our current financial situation is a “glass almost full.” Your gifts in December nearly caught us up to the giving budget, but we continue to run about 8% behind on giving. We are managing expenses well, but are still projected to end the fiscal year in June with a deficit. We, truthfully, are financially healthy enough by God’s grace, your generous gifts, and active stewardship to absorb a deficit this year. But, we ought to know that is not healthy stewardship. Our expenses are running as expected based on a full staff and a full program. We believe we are, under the Lord’s direction, staffed rightly with the right programs, so we are asking God to provide through your stewardship.

We are, therefore, asking all attenders and members:

  • To remember to give to First Evan. We probably don’t remind you to give as often as all the other ministries you support.
  • To add to your giving, preferably on a weekly or monthly basis.
  • To begin giving. Perhaps you have never experienced the grace of giving.

To this end, you are encouraged to consider again one of the points Cole made as he preached through 2 Corinthians:

Biblically considered, giving is a response to God’s grace lavished upon us. Paul calls it an “act of grace” a few times in 2 Corinthians 8:9. Giving is a way we preach the gospel (make explicit) of a Savior who though rich became poor for our sakes.

Thank you for your consideration on all these matters. Please attend the congregational meeting on May 21 to learn more.

 

Respectfully Submitted,

Mark S. Gosney
Chairman of the Session

 


 


[1] Timothy Keller, Preaching: Communicating Faith in an Age of Skepticism (New York: Penguin, 2015), p. 146.