Summary: Just a message about some things God has been doing amongst us lately.
A Note of Encouragement
September 13, 2009
This week’s message is going to be a departure from the plan I had for today.
I had told Lowell that the plan was to discuss Jesus’ trial before Pilate, only briefly discussing how Judas reacts to Jesus’ condemnation by committing suicide.
But as I was working on the message, I felt that there was more I needed to think through regarding Judas, and that that section of Scripture had more to offer than I had previously thought.
So today, and next week, we’re going to look at a couple different things, and we’ll pick up in Matthew 27 in two weeks.
For our guests, I just want to let you know that this isn’t our normal procedure during the message, and most of this will be geared to our folks.
But I’d invite you to rejoice with us as we go through these things, and invite you to pray for us as well.
You’ll notice that the title of the message is “A Note of Encouragement,” and that’s because I felt it would be good if you were to hear about some of the things I believe God is doing in the midst of our church, so you can be encouraged.
I also want to pass on a challenge or two, but I want to spend the majority of my time telling you some of the things that are on my heart.
The board gets to hear some of this stuff each month when I make my reports, but I think it’s good for you as well.
Unlike most messages, this one won’t center around a passage of Scripture, but I do want to mention one here in the beginning.
Hebrews 10: 25 –
25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
I want to visit about five areas of growth that we are experiencing here at AWC.
My hope is that as you hear what is encouraging me, you will be encouraged as well, and it will give us even more incentive to keep it as we get ever closer to the day of Jesus’ return.
So let’s take a look at these, shall we?
The first area I want to mention is growth in…
1. Unsolicited monetary help.
I’m not talking about tithes and offerings, here.
I’m talking about people giving to specific ministries of the church.
People from this church have come to me and asked how they could help, over and above their tithe.
They’ve seen a need in someone in the Church and wanted to help.
Or they felt God telling them to give specifically toward one of our ministries here at the church.
You have no idea how awesome that is for a pastor to see. It’s a tremendous blessing.
By the way, just in the last two months we’ve received two large gifts from people who aren’t part of our church.
One of these was specifically to help us finish up the parking lot.
Those two gifts equal almost 10% of what we’re trusting God for for our general fund.
And another person within the church has given money to help with the educational ministries of the church.
I’d say God’s being generous to us, through His people – both here at AWC and outside AWC.
I mention the money first because I want to get it out of the way.
The income in encouraging, but to me, it’s not the most encouraging thing that’s been going on, and I don’t want to focus on it any more than possible, so I want to move on to another area of growth here, and that is…
2. Growth in attendance numbers.
We are up over last year, and right now we’re on track to have some of the best numbers we’ve seen in over a decade.
That’s saying something considering that we closed our last church year in April with a 19% increase in attendance.
And we’re looking to beat that this year, just given what we’ve seen so far in these first four months of the church year.
It’s not just in the worship service, either. It’s also in Sunday School, and that is very encouraging to me, especially since it reflects our adult Sunday School as well.
There are some who say that a church shouldn’t focus on numbers, and that looking to increase the bodies in the seats is not the correct priority.
They feel that they should focus solely on those who are already there, making sure all their needs are met, and if anybody happens to come through the doors and they want to be with them, that’s fine. But let’s not waste time talking about “church growth.”