Summary: This sermon is directly intended for the Wakelee congregation. Feel free to use what may be applicable to your congregation.
“State of the Church Address”
Wakelee United Methodist Church
Pastor Greg Buchner
January 25, 2004
Purpose: As 2004 begins, we need to celebrate what we’ve accomplished, admit there are challenges that we face, and decide, in light of our mission statement, our response to those challenges.
In light of the state of the union, and state of the state addresses, I thought it would be intriguing to attempt a “state of the church address.” However, there will be some differences.
1. This message has nothing to do with politics, although it may challenge your political thought.
2. I am not running for re-election, although I am in many ways a representative of this church.
3. I do not expect applause or standing ovations, but an “amen” when you feel so led will suffice.
4. And last, but not least, I don’t expect this message to last 53 minutes, (this is where one of those amen’s would fit nicely).
This morning we’re going to look at three distinct things as we prepare ourselves as a congregation for the new year…
1. What we’ve done.
2. What challenges we face.
3. Our response to those challenges in 2004.
First, what we’ve done.
I took my 2003 calendar out to try to put some sort of list together. Over the past twelve months, as a congregation we have…(in no specific order)
…invited special speakers to our worship and Sunday school experiences from around the globe.
…we’ve prayed and seen answers to our prayers.
…we’ve been there when families, inside and outside of our congregation, needed us.
…we’ve celebrated the new birth of children with those in our community
…we’ve held district and conference classes.
…we’ve found ways to raise money in fun ways and even experiments with corn beef and cabbage.
…we’ve celebrated the baptism of our children
…we’ve been represented and participated in activities in other congregations.
…we’ve met for worship over sixty times in this sanctuary.
…we’ve met with in this building and others to be in prayer for ourselves and our community.
…we’ve sent representatives to conferences to learn, grow, and report back to us.
…we’ve supported the community around us through blood drives, emergency need help, Relay for
Life, CROP Walk, parenting seminars, CPR classes and other activities.
…we’ve had special programs provided by our children to remind us of the true meaning of the Easter
and Christmas holidays.
…we put on an awesome Vacation Bible School!
…we’ve packed bags for the Cass County Fair tent ministry, for door-hangers at Easter, for food at
Thanksgiving, and food and gifts at Christmas.
…we’ve met in meetings that provided direction for our ministry.
…we’ve invited those outside our church walls to join us for times of food and fellowship.
and the list could go on and on…
In many ways, the Wakelee United Methodist Church has “let the word of Christ dwell in us so richly…that whatever we’ve done in word or deed, we’ve done in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Christ.”
In short, 2003 has been a busy year.
Second, what challenges we face.
And I expect that 2004 will be busy as well, bringing with its days opportunities and challenges that we will either respond to or neglect.
Just coming off two weeks of vacation, when we were enjoying that hot, Florida weather (ha!), my mind began to think back to 1998. As a fresh student, going into his first full-time charge, I am now able to say I may have been a little naïve.
The opportunities taken and challenges we faced together that year, and in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003 are ones that I hope have made me a better pastor as well as Wakelee being transitioned into healthier congregation. I would like to think we’re moving toward perfection, as Wesley would say, together.
But there are some things that I’m not naïve about anymore…
1. I cannot do it alone nor can anyone else.
We, as a church, need to move beyond giving particular responsibilities to certain people, and
them let them suffer as they try to live out those responsibilities. If you’re sick of the phone calls, volunteer. If you want to experience helping others, not just to look good yourself, but to “do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Christ” then look for ways to link up to the Nurturing, Reaching Out, and Witnessing of which this church is apart.
Starting this year, I’m asking that each person who claims Wakelee Church as their church to find a place to be in ministry. Following a membership class starting next month, a four-part class will be offered starting in July that will deal directly with spiritual gifts and how those gifts fit into Wakelee’s mission.