All to Him I owe,
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.
There are great challenges ahead in 2011.
2010 was begun in great anticipation on the heels of the best year we had experienced yet at New Hope. And yet from the very first Sunday as the sermon called on people to be willing to change... change happened.
It (the sermon) seemed to have the potential to challenge people to make some changes to adjust to where God was calling them. That was my hope. Couple of quick notes about that -After the sermon a couple called me aside and said they were leaving New Hope because we didn't have enough for their children. It was abrupt. I was gracious. But it shocked me and rippled through the church. No one saw it coming. To go from the core to the door... It hurt personally - hurt Bunny a great deal - but it happens.
The changes may come, but they might be unexpected and have unwanted effects..
And just repeat that for the second note.
And yet, all you can do is to say "God bless you, go in peace." As far as I know the move has given them the church they believed they needed. We did all we could do.
Fast forward through all the roller coaster ups and downs of the year.
At the end of the year, another core family has relocated to Texas. Job related, and probably the best move for the family as it keeps the dad home and not deploying to Afghanistan every 6 months. Another couple we loved, and children we cherished as well. They've left a hole.
Churches lose people. Stats say that the average congregation has about a 10% turnover every year and more in "high velocity" areas like military towns. This year we saw that happen plus some.
For 12 years we have grown at New Hope every year. Some years more than others, but we've always grown. Grown numerically. As we close the books today on 2010, we cannot say that any more. Stinks. We did some great things in 2010, reached out, cared for people, grew closer to God. But...
When a congregation grows like a family does, it enjoys the feeling of seeing it. Everyone wants to know that they're involved in a place God is at work, and numerical growth is easy to spot. "Nickels and noses" are definitely two indicators. But there are others.
I am praying...
I am praying that God sends people to New Hope who need a new life and a new family.
I am praying that God's people at New Hope get their second wind in 2012 and see God be glorified through New Hope.
And I'll pray that I might know the truth of that old hymn and live as one redeemed. Looking back over the year, I cannot say I did not sin. But I can say I tried every day to follow Jesus and love His church and His people. And at the end of the day, or the year..
Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain. He washed it white as snow.
May your New Year be a blessed one. Come see us at New Hope!