SPBC had a surprise celebration for our family’s 10th anniversary with me as their pastor. They started with a surprise kazoo announcement and presentation slideshow – you sorta had to be there. Some past church members sent in a video thanks from their family, which was special. They also had a presentation with a certificate of recognition from our state convention (BCMD), along with a personal gift from the church. They prayed over our family and following the worship service had a catered dinner. And they had a photobooth with fun props and special frames labeled for the anniversary occasion. I believe there were over 200 pictures and probably half were my children 😊. In all, it was a blessing for the church family to show love in these unique ways. I was too emotional and surprised to say much that day, but after a few days of reflection here are some thoughts for my church family.
- We are thankful to spend 10 years in one place. I started pastoral ministry around 1997, and this tenure at Severna Park has been the most precious and longest of previous ministries I have served. The average tenure for many pastors ranges 3-6 years. My aim at Severna Park has not just been to preach at a church but to pastor a community to the glory of God. Our family knows our neighbors, we volunteer and serve in the community, and we love and give generously to our church family. In all, I am thankful for our church’s persistence to encourage me become a better person and its patience to allow me to become a better pastor.
- We are humbled by the people from past and present to share in the highs and lows of their life. I have officiated about 20 funerals, about half that in weddings, and countless hospital and home visits. I have tried to be present in care for people’s weakest moments, and to be present in some form to celebrate blessings and milestones for each family.We have seen ~180+ members/attenders come and go for a variety of reasons; overwhelming majority has been relocation due to career or life circumstances. While this presents challenges for our ministry, it’s also humbling to imagine the locations of influence we have had and will continue having – from Hawaii to Japan, from Texas to SC and to Maine, and many more places to come.
In all, ministry is always about the people and I’m not the most important. God has assembled a team of laborers and members to SPBC and it’s a joy to be a member in the church family. We love SPBC and are thankful to be loved by SPBC.
- We are hopeful. Brother Bill’s word “We don’t want to think in ten years but in multiples of tens.” That word encourages me/us for our pastoral service. It encourages us to continue dreaming and laboring for the ministry goals for spiritual fruit to come. The last two years have brought greater clarity to me for the emphasis for how we will grow godly generations at SPBC. I believe we have a lot of work ahead of us and it will not be easy to revitalize our church for growth with the seven specific aims I have been sharing with the church. Yet, I am truly hopeful that if we are able to accomplish each of these then God will be honored and our church on the right path for reaching its community.
In all, I am not a predictor of the future, but I do hope to spend many more years at SPBC. It has been a joy to serve the people and raise a family in Severna Park. Thank you for celebrating 10 years of our ministry together at SPBC.
I am committed to continue preaching expository sermons from the Bible. I wholeheartedly believe our world needs Scriptural truth not soap box presentations of a man. By God’s grace, over the next ten years we will likely have preached messages from every single book of the Bible and greatly enhanced spiritual growth through preaching and worship by the word of God.
God desires for Christians and the church to be a house of prayer. We are exploring multiple ways to increase the prayer temperature at SPBC. Two starting points is providing opportunity to pray with other believers each Sunday 9am and the last Sunday of each month at 6pm. We are encouraging each of our Bible Groups to dedicate an additional time of prayer once a quarter or so, outside of the Sunday AM gathering.
3) Leadership Development.
The role of pastors is to equip the saints for the work of ministry and building up of the body. We will be presenting multiple ways to continue developing leadership in our church. One way is by proposing a leadership structure transition toward a plurality of elders (pastors) with servant ministry deacons. Our aim in structure is being a Jesus-ruled, congregational-accountable, deacon-served ministry, and elder-led church. We will have presentations with multiple groups about this transition in 2020. Additionally, we are prayerfully discerning God’s timing for how we could add to our pastoral staff. Last, we are committed to raising leaders by making disciples of Jesus.
The backbone of our church has always been our “group life.” Encouraging people to move from rows to circles to learn and grow in biblical truth is a high value for us. We are also exploring ways how to increase biblical learning and transformational teaching. In 2020, we will switch curriculum to Gospel Foundations (GoFo). GoFo is a one-year curriculum through the entire bible that communicates the gospel story-line for mission centered application. If you like your teacher/group, you can keep them (political humor intended!). Yet, we will also create a few opportunities along the year for intergenerational learning. I’m pumped about this switch for 2020, and we’ll be discussing curriculum alternatives for beyond next year.
This past year we also started “2Gather Groups,” where each family gathers with at least two other families in homes around food and conversation. These groups have facilitated many members getting to know others in deeper connection and support. We look forward continuing 2Gather Groups and considering ways for them to become more effective in fostering unity and mission in our church.
5) Local Outreach.
As a small church, we do a lot. Over the years our church has sent and supported teams to Moldova, Scotland, Haiti, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Appalachia areas in USA, and probably a few other places, not to mention our financial support of the SBC Cooperative Program with BCMD, NAMB, and IMB respectively. While partnering with other churches to spread the gospel around the world honors God, we must also take seriously what it means to be on mission in our own zip code. Therefore, in 2020 we are reallocating some resources and will be emphasizing mission opportunities in SP on behalf of SPBC. Specifically, we are hoping to coordinate a focused 2-5 day mission experience in our community for you and your family. We hope this becomes an annual experience that becomes contagious in our community and mobilizes our church body throughout the year. We truly need your hands and feet, and look forward to how God will transform our church with this focus.
Our local ministry outreach through TL/AHG has been an increasingly open door. If not already, please consider ways to volunteer and serve in our children’s ministry.
God has blessed SPBC with a beautiful spot at 506 Benfield Rd. We have ~9 acres of property with a debt-free building and wide-open field. Like any building that is several decades old, there is continual maintenance upkeep and considerations for renovation. Many homeowners either dismiss house projects entirely due to lacking funds or lacking sweat ethic – or maybe both, haha. While SPBC has done a really good job of maintenance, I believe we also need to consider renovations. Below are a few ideas to consider that will help the aesthetic and opportunity to attract people in our community.
Electronic media in classrooms. We are working to equip multiple classrooms with smart televisions for educational use. Further, we should consider how to employ video technology for a live feed in the Fellowship Hall to accommodate the variety of persons who may need ground level access into the building.
Transition from pews to chairs. While pews are a traditional mainstay, they are not attractive to a new generation. Further, some of our pews are showing wear and tear. Transitioning to chairs can not only help the appearance inside a main room of the church but can provide multi-functionality for the room for special events.
The cost for this is perhaps already partially provided… discuss with finance.
Parking lot repaving and regrading water-accumulating areas. We need to strategize funding and finalize decisions for this project that has been discussed for over ten years.
Field walking track. We want to continue providing green space for sports and recreation, and perhaps even future planning of expansion. Yet, creating a walking track with organic material is fairly non-invasive but could provide an invitation on our campus to an active walking community. Additionally, we should fill all holes in the field for a flat and safe surface for children while playing sports.
Playground area and equipment needs better upkeep and update. Recent insurance funds after storm-damage was received to replace items but have gone unused. We should consider purchasing new playground equipment to serve families with children and additionally have at least one equipment piece that could serve families with special needs children.
Open field space could be updated with purchased items for volleyball court and three-hole disc golf course. Other smaller portions of the field could be considered used for agricultural garden and/or other ideas with specific plans of oversight. Additionally, we should consider removal of the old and rusty backstop.
The wooded area of our property must be upkept for falling trees, especially those close to the adjacent neighbors. Additionally, we could cleanup and update the prayer garden with better open seating and mobility.
Last, we should consider researching architectural and financial options for a large muti-purpose expansion. Currently, we are not in immediate need of expansion, but information gathering can be helpful for future planning.
In 2020, our church will celebrate 60 years of gospel ministry and God’s faithfulness. We do not want to be like OT children who neglected remembering and calling upon the Lord. We will have multiple opportunities of recognizing our 60th anniversary, and specifically with weekend event activities May 1-3; please mark your calendar now to join us.
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21