The year of 2017 is now passed. Another busy year full of work, memories and challenges. It is easy to evaluate this past year by listing programs and church activities like Sunday School, MOPS, men’s discipleship, women’s Bible study, Passover meal, Mission Fest, Gumbo Gopher 5k, Christmas program and Christmas caroling, to name just some. These activities have gone well and have been a joy to be a part of or hear about. However, the ultimate purpose of the church is not the number or quality of the activities they do. How do we evaluate this past year as a church then? It should be evaluated based on God being glorified and people growing as disciples of Christ.
So, how has Lowry Pilgrim Community Church done this year to glorify God? This can be hard to put into a number. Instead, let me ask and answer a few more specific questions. Have we sought God as a church this year? We have done well to study the Bible as a church in Sunday School, Bible studies, discipleship and sermons. I know many of you study your Bible daily to grow personally or together as a family. We have done more prayer in adult Sunday School and I led a weekly prayer time at the Good Samaritan Home for a while. Prayer is also done during the Worship Service and in other smaller groups. We could do better in the area of corporate prayer and some people in personal prayer. There are some that pray often and with hearts of love for God and others.
To also help us answer if we have glorified God is to ask: Have we obeyed God as a church? I have been pleased with how the church has grown in the area of seeking God’s Word and the Lord to know God’s will and then obey it. One of the biggest issues this year was God leading our family to another ministry and another pastor and his family to Lowry. A lot of prayer, consideration and work has been involved but through it all, the focus has seemed to be on following God’s plan. We have all sinned individually in many ways this year that was not in obedience to the Lord. However there is forgiveness in Christ and I have seen a real desire to confess sin and seek restoration with others more than any other year of ministry. There might be no greater joy than to see forgiveness at work both in our relationships with each other but also the forgiveness God gives to all those who repent before Him. There is not a sin, hurt or broken relationship that is beyond the power of Jesus to heal when we turn in repentance.
We also should ask whether we have glorified God by our worship. Have we worshipped God by giving all our hearts in honor to Him? I’m sure we haven’t done this completely. But, I do think we are worshipping God in a number of ways that does bring Him glory. We are singing praises to God, even the young children. We are a church with many serving God in a variety of ways. People give faithfully to the church and beyond to God’s work. While we can increase our worship and dedication to the Lord, I am pleased to see many people honoring the Lord in ways that show a heart for God.
The other thing to be evaluated is whether people are growing as disciples of Christ. This is not something you can see easily at a distance. You have to know people well to see how God is working. I have been tremendously blessed to get to know you all at Lowry Pilgrim Community Church. I have seen at least a glimpse of each of your hearts and have seen you serving God in a number of different ways. Some I have gotten to know very personally. We have shared struggles and had heart to heart conversations that are both draining and refreshing at the same time. Growth in many of your lives has been visible this year as you faced various trials or just sought the Lord more than you have before. I’ve seen acts of obedience and service that I really respect. Even those who haven’t seemed to grow as I have hoped and prayed for, I know and am confident that God is at work in all that are His. He also works in all those who have yet to come to faith.
We are full of emotions as we come to the end of our time in Lowry. We are excited to see how God has worked in leading us forward but we have heavy hearts to leave our church family and friends here. There have been times we have struggled in ministry or in living here, but overall we will always look at this time as a sweet time of fellowship with this wonderful church family. God has been working in Lowry long before we came and we are confident He will continue to work long after to accomplish His purposes, especially through all His faithful saints. Being in a small church has some wonderful advantages. You have shown patience for a young pastor that still has a lot to learn. We have been able to grow and have freedom here to seek God’s direction. We also have been able to get to know each one of you well. You each have a special place in our hearts and will never be forgotten.
1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 “We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (ESV)
A fellow servant of Christ,