Craig’s Corner 2019 January

A new year coming…

It’s hard to believe it’s only been five months, well six by the time you receive this. In some ways, I feel like I’ve had the chance to get to know many of you pretty well. But I also know I still have a lot to learn. Not only about you, but about our traditions, our history, and our journey of faith as we grow together. I’m looking forward to that journey and I hope you are as well. I have so much hope for our future. In my mind’s eye, I see us growing in number, going deeper in our faith together, honoring our past, while moving forward into the future. I decided to reprint the annual report (with a few minor revisions) that I submitted at our church conference because I know many of you weren’t able to make it, but it gives a good year-end summary of what is going on. If you’d like a full copy, we can send you a PDF version so you can read all of it.

I want to say “thank you” for the way you’ve welcomed me and my family. Transitioning to serve in a new place is exciting, but is also a time of stress and hardship filled with questions and concerns. So many of you have reached out in kindness, offering to help, making us dinners, and showing hospitality to Cassie, Emma, and myself. You’ve been open to new ideas and have been so helpful in getting me acclimated to our church. I appreciate how much time and effort you’ve put in to help our family.

It’s that spirit of hospitality that I hope we will extend to those outside our walls. I believe it is so important to cultivate a culture of invitation at every church. The number one reason people come to church is because of a personal invitation. It’s so much easier to overcome the anxiety that comes with visiting “church” for the first time or coming back to church for the first time when you know someone and can sit with them through worship. They are also more likely to stay for our Fellowship Time after worship which is where we really shine. I know that each of you has that spirit of hospitality because our family has felt it. If we can work on focusing that outward, I think we’ll see more friends and family filling our worship space. I also hope to help us grow deeper in faith. When I first started going to church regularly as an adult, having a small group I could connect with outside of worship was so important. It helped me to grow deeper beyond Sunday morning and was so key to making Christ a part of my everyday life. A small group doesn’t have to be a Bible study like our Wednesday Scripture and a Snack. It could be a fellowship group like our Men’s Group. They not only have community, but also read together and learn together. Over the next year, I’m hoping we will develop a women’s fellowship like the men’s group that is focused on fellowship and faith. But my goal is for everyone to join a small group that seeks to strengthen their relationship with Christ. We already have quite a few people in a group which is such a testimony to the strength of our church.

The parsonage is coming along well. It’s slower than we hoped, but when it’s done we will be so happy to move in! It looks like we won’t have the chance to live there until mid-January (or maybe even late January, early February), but we are looking forward to it. There were problems with mold, electrical wiring, drainage, and plumbing, but it is all coming together. When it’s done it will be a fitting home, not just for our family, but for any family in the future (although I hope that won’t be a concern for a very long time).

We are approaching our 90th anniversary in 2019 and plan to celebrate it next October so I hope you will mark that down on your calendars as we begin the planning process. We are also hoping to do our first Faith and Family Trip to Disneyland in February. It will be not only a lot of fun but an opportunity to see how we can apply the radical hospitality of The Happiest Place on Earth to our own church. I’m working on an initiative that our conference has dubbed “New Places for New People” and hope to start a couple of groups that I hope will help those outside the church explore faith in a format that will appeal to them and challenge them at the same time. We will also be launching a new small group to appeal to those who are just starting to explore the depth of their own understanding of faith. It’s called Alpha Course and Cassie will be coordinating this effort along with the help of our Outreach Committee.

I am very grateful for our leadership and for everyone involved in putting together our 2018 Leadership Summit! Special thanks to our table leaders who were willing to guide our discussions throughout the day and for everyone who helped out with our food and drink! We met in October and were able to share ideas, thoughts about the future of our church, and come up with some concrete plans of action. We spent the time crafting a vision, discerning what we want to focus on as a church, talking about how to reach out to those who don’t know Christ, and looking at what things we could do to improve our church. These are the resolutions we came up with:

oVision Statement: Transforming Lives Through Christ’s Love
oAreas of Focus: Mission, Youth/Children, Discipleship, Outreach, and Worship
o10 Things We Can Do Within A Year:
Table rollers on the communion table – Done
Better lighting in the entryway
Explore getting outdoor signage
Retractable coverings for the Sanctuary windows that cause a glare on the screens
Service & clean the folding doors between the Sanctuary & Fellowship Hall
Serve refreshments BEFORE worship (as a welcome for guests) – Done
Clean the cloak room to make it useable
Come up with a storage plan for the church
Reorganize stuff up on the stage
Clean and service the gutters

We are already working on these goals and will keep you updated. At the same time we are making sure we are solid financially by updating our portfolio and organizing our accounts. Thankfully, by doing so we have found finances to help support our ongoing efforts. We are also working on making our church safer for children by having our youth and child care givers go through Safe Sanctuary training. And we are looking to update and structure our processes to keep us secure. But none of this could be done without the efforts of so many of you.

Coming to BMUC is the opportunity I feel like God had in store for me from the time I decided to go down this path to ministry. It is a church that fits my gifts and graces and is filled with loving people who are so willing to give of themselves to make our efforts together a success. Will there be bumps? Yes. Will there be setbacks? I hope not, but probably a few. Will there be mistakes? Well, since human beings are involved, I’m sure there will be. But will it be worth it? I believe so with all my heart. I know we have so much to offer God and our community. And I look forward to a new year with all of you.
Peace in Christ, Craig