This is my report, as presented, during the first business meeting of RBC since February 2020. JWF
When we say that 2020 was a very difficult way to do church, we are saying that 2020 was a very difficult way to do church. Small or large, it has been a wild ride for every church which has attempted to continue and serve in a difficult time of a world-wide pandemic. So many things changed in the flash of a moment. For the pastor, this pastor, it has been one of the hardest and most difficult times of my almost 40 years of ministry.
To make the decisions I had to make, I leaned heavily on the deacons and other leaders in our church. Joel Glover, M.P. Heath, Robert Smith, Randy Wilson, John Kelly Johnson, and I had many discussions, meetings and spent a great deal of time in prayer. To make the decisions we made were most difficult. Our hearts were heavy during this time because we all experienced hard times in the lives of our family and friends, yet we attempted to do what was best for all and stand in the gap for our church family.
I am also grateful to the assistance to our Security Team and Terry Wilson as they stepped in at various times to aid us in the decision process and implementation of various plans for regathering during the 13 months of our displacement.
To dismiss services and sending everyone home was difficult for not only us, but for churches around the nation and the world. We were concerned not only about the present, but the future. How would this move, this decision, affect our spiritual, emotional, financial, and physical well-being? These were the things which were great burdens to bear.
Additionally, we were left with the burden of carrying on some form of ministry to the congregation. For us that was an easy transition. We had already gone to streaming our morning services online and was already gaining a live following. This did not change but only advanced to greater numbers which caused us to sit back and say, “Thank you Lord.”
We were able to continue morning services online and live, with the help of Anletta and Hunter Carlisle, Tina and Savannah Fuller, and Debbie Mullins. As a Worship Team during the displacement, these individuals worked tirelessly beside me to make the streaming possible each Sunday morning for almost 11 months. They did so to honor God and aid the church family.
I was also able to share in evening services, Wednesday night prayer time, and for a brief time a Saturday morning Bible Study. Though these were pre-recorded virtual gatherings, many were blessed by these times.
During this time, I adopted an additional concept to the church purpose and what we are about.
- As a church our purpose statement is simply, Families Founded in Faith.
- During these past months I have shared with you that to cause this to be a reality we must Exalt the Savior, Equip the Saints, and Evangelize the Sinner. This I believe is the mission of this church.
- This mission statement needed the measurable values of Connection, Conversation, and Communication:
- Connection-as a church family we will connect with individuals who are both believers and non-believers.
- Conversation-the object of connection will be to have meaningful conversation developing a relationship in which we gain the opportunity to minister to our connection in such a way as to demonstrate that we are willing to be the “hands and feet of Jesus” in their lives.
- Communication-Through the connection, which results in a conversation we then earn the right to communicate with our new relationship the message of Christ and how He desires to have a personal relationship with them. This brings the Holy Spirit to begin the process of making them a disciple learning what it means to follow Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
These are things I have learned in the midst of the time when we were displaced and what I sense God leading us to do in this time of regathering and moving forward in a new time. This new time of ministry will look different, it will be much more difficult, it will cause us to struggle at times, it might be a time of great persecution, but in the end, we desire God receive the glory and honor and for non-believers to come to know the Saving grace of Jesus Christ.
Let me give you the highlights of the last several months of difficult ministry:
March 15, 2020: Baptism; HIS Place Men shared testimonies; Dismissed for two weeks
June 7, 2020: Tried Drive-In services until July 5
September 7-11, 2020: Virtual Senior Adult Revival
October 1, 2020: Virtual Homecoming
November 8, 2020: Began regathering in Family Life Center Until December 6
March 7, 2021: Began in-person Worship Celebration in Sanctuary
June 6, 2021: Moved back to 11 AM Worship Celebration to allow for 10 AM Sunday School; Also added back 6 PM Evening Worship
June 9, 2021: Began in-person Prayer and Inspiration in the Family Life Center at 6 PM
July 18, 2021: Resumed Choir practice at 5 PM
During this time: we received new individuals into the fellowship through membership and baptism, we began an opportunity for online giving, and we heard from individuals who were blessed or needing assistance in their spiritual life.
It was also during this time we installed the Blessing Box on the sidewalk, outside the Senior Center. This is stocked with non-perishable food items. Individuals are afforded the opportunity to contribute to the box and to take needed items from the box without contact with other individuals. I am thankful for those members of the church, as well as other churches, and the community who have placed items in the box. I am thankful we have been able to bless individuals through the box. This is a ministry of this church, and we should thank God for it!
Therefore, I say to God be the Glory!
As we see some of the “old” things returning, we are looking at new things and new ways to share the old, old story of Jesus Christ.
- We are still examining the return of children on Sunday night for Bible Study.
- We are putting together a return of the Students and this will be an alternative time from the traditional form of the past.
- We are planning-and this is in the conceptional stage-a block party to reach families.
- We are planning to begin the Community Meals within the next two months.
Our pressing issue is a need for Sunday School teachers for Children. At this time all children are gathering in one class. We have an enrollment of 8 and it should be 26. This is the most important class, because we have parents and adults to reach through these children. The need for prayer is great. The need for someone to step up and be counted to assist is great.
With that in mind, in August we will conduct a Sunday School emphasis leading into September (12). We will begin August 15 our campaign “I Love Bible Study.”
- Postcards will be mailed each week to remind everyone on our mailing list of ongoing Sunday School.
- There will be post on Facebook each day.
- The website will have information: Connect, Converse, Communicate
- Each class will be asked to assemble a Prospect List with addresses and postcards will be mailed to each family on the list.
- Each week during the campaign: We will enroll new members; Keep count of contacts made by class members; Total attendance in each class.
It is my aim to boost Sunday School during these 5 Sundays of the “I Love Bible Study” campaign, to create a desire to study the Word of God with likeminded individuals and discover prospects for the church.
I desire to conclude this report by saying, Thank you for allowing me to serve you! Though these have been difficult days, we have endured some difficult conversations, and we have had to adjust it has been rewarding and refreshing as we have seen God’s hand on us. He is working in us, church, and we must stay focused on Him!
Pastor Jeff Fuller