Pastor’s Report, 2014 – Looking Back and Looking Ahead

NWEFC Pastor’s Report, 2014

(Feb. 25, 2015 AGM)

Grace and Peace to You from the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Wow, yet another year has passed.  We’re another year older, and hopefully another year wiser – but at least we can be sure that we’re another year closer to seeing our Lord!

In the meantime, we’re called to Follow Jesus – His most basic command to those who believe His message to “repent and believe.”  Following Jesus involves His basic commands of Loving God, Loving One Another, and Making Disciples.  We’ve expressed this as Walk In His Way, Unite in His Truth, Share His Life.

How have we done?  Are we a church whose priorities are what Christ would want?  Does our Walk reflect a love for God above all else?  Is our Unity an amazing testimony of God’s presence with us?  Do we joyfully and generously Share with the world the great hope and love we’ve been given?

After pastoring with you for almost three years, I feel that I’ve seen enough to know that God has been good to us – we have much to be thankful for.  But I also feel that I know enough to declare that we’ve got some work to do, by God’s grace.  I strongly believe that it is time for us to take some courageous steps toward living out the mission to which God has called us.  But, first, I’d like to take a moment to remember what God has done in 2014:

In our church family, we enjoyed some special celebrations: In February, both Anne & Bill’s wedding and our International Celebration (potluck & flags) were highlights.  In the spring, we enjoyed special celebrations of Palm Sunday, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and our 15th anniversary of Japanese worship at NWEFC.  Jun & Lydia were married, Glen was returned to us, and a handful of ESL students put their faith in Jesus Christ!  In the fall, we celebrated one year of Korean worship, welcomed some new attenders, and began a partnership with International Student Ministries.  The year was topped off with wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas banquets, and the baptisms of Tesfaye and Joanne!

We also took some new, positive steps in our church ministries: establishing a Junior Church teacher rotation, a stronger team of worship leaders, and welcoming new members to our Elder and Deacon boards.  We also held adult Sunday school classes, started new Life Groups, had a Christmas choir, and brought back Freedom Session for a second year.  We also re-focused our picnic towards outreach, and strengthened our ESL ministry.  And, what made all of this worth it was seeing new believers join the family!

I should also note, though it’s easy to forget, that God has provided for us materially as well.  The sale of the old house funded a major repair of the heater in 2013, and much more was accomplished in 2014 – another new heater, a new roof, a new children’s room, and general updates to the foyer and fellowship hall.  A few general congregational work-bees also made a huge difference.  All this has enabled us to continue our own ministries while sharing our building with two rental churches, AA, and even the city of New Westminster’s political candidates.  Generous financial donations also provided towards a new projector, heater, and computer.

Personally, this has been an eventful and rewarding year.  I enjoyed the opportunity to share at our district conference about God’s work here, and also attended my first national conference for the EFCC.  I have enjoyed learning while preaching, and growing while enjoying fellowship with you.  As Emily and I continue to put down roots in New Westminster, we are finding more ways to connect with our community – at preschool & strata council, at parks & cafes, and in the couples’ group in our home.  Now, with a third child coming, we hope and pray for God to provide the right new home in the right location, to enable our continued service in this community.

Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” – Psalm 116:7

God has been good.  But He has also called us to be faithful and fruitful with what we’ve been given.  We are stewards of the time, resources, and opportunities that He has entrusted to us, to use for His purposes.

So, where do we go from here?  I believe that this church is a different church than the one I entered 3 years ago.  It is more healthy, more united, and more hopeful.  We are a diverse family, called to multiply.  I’m grateful for God’s healing work here, as well as the partnership of our leaders and interns over these years.

But, as we look ahead, we face the same challenge that Christ’s Church has faced since its birth, 2000 years ago: we must reach the next generation, or we will eventually die.  In some cases, we must let go of our former ways, and embrace a hope in God’s promise to do something new – to send “streams in the desert” (Isaiah 43:18-19).  We must be ready to employ “new wineskins” of ministry to accommodate the “new wine” of Christ’s fresh work (Matthew 9:16-17).  We must follow Paul’s example of willingness to change:

I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” – 1 Corinthians 9:22-23

What does this look like? Let’s begin with prayer.  Let’s begin a journey of earnestly seeking God’s will, expecting Him to speak, remaining open to anything.  Let’s discover who we are together, and develop a vision to live out our God-given mission.

  • Tim Stewart, NWEFC Pastor, Feb. 11, 2015

Share His Life

Following Jesus: Share His Life

Jesus’ Work:

body

Our Image:

  • Body: As people who are saved and sent to do His work, we are all uniquely gifted for service, like parts of a body (Romans 12:1-81 Corinthians 12:12-311 Peter 4:10-11). Jesus said that it was good for Him to leave earth, so that He could send the Holy Spirit to work in and through us, accomplishing even greater things (John 14:12-1416:7).

Ministry:

  • Mission: Jesus’ Great Commission was for His disciples to make more disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to be committed followers of Christ (Matthew 28:18-20). We are sent into the world as His witnesses and ambassadors, just as He was sent (Acts 1:82 Corinthians 5:19-20John 20:21).

Value:

  • Participation: We value the role that every member of the church has to play.  The work of the church is not about professional performance and programs, but about equipping and involving people to contribute, grow, and transform as we follow Jesus (Ephesians 4:11-162 Corinthians 3:18).

Unite in His Truth

Following Jesus: Unite in His Truth

Jesus’ Work:

  • By His Death, Jesus reconciles us in sacrificial love.  He shows us what true, unconditional love is, by laying down His life for His enemies, taking the punishment for our sins that we deserved (Romans 5:6-81 John 3:164:9-10).

Family_Portrait_

Image:

  • Family: Jesus has died to remove the sins and
    differences that once divided us as people.  We are now all united as one nation, household, and body (Ephesians 2:11-221 Corinthians 12:12-13), with one body, Spirit, Lord, faith, baptism, God and Father (Ephesians 4:4-6).

Ministry:

  • FellowshipJesus’ new command for His followers was to love one another.  This is how they’d be known as His followers (John 13:34-351 John 4:12). While many beliefs and practices in the church can vary, we abide by the motto of the Evangelical Free Church: “In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Charity, In all things, Jesus Christ.”

Value:

  • Diversity: We value the variety of gifts, personalities, cultures, and backgrounds that make up our fellowship here, as our unity is founded in Christ alone (Galatians 3:26-29).

For sermons on this topic, click here.

photo (3)

Walk in His Way

Following Jesus: Walk in His Way

Jesus’ Work:

  • By His Incarnation, Jesus reveals God’s holiness. As the image of God, He lived on earth as the perfect human and as the perfect representation of the Father (John 1:1814:9,Colossians 1:15Hebrews 1:3).

Lighthouse at Twilight

Image:

Ministry:

  • Worship & Discipleship: Jesus said that God’s greatest commands are to love Him and love our neighbor (Matthew 22:34-40). Proper worship involves a commitment of our entire lives. Jesus models this life of worship perfectly, and His first command to His disciples was to “follow Me” (Matthew 4:19).  In the early Church, believers were called “followers of the Way” (Acts 22:424:14) and encouraged to “walk as Jesus walked” (1 John 2:6).

Value:

  • Rest & Work: Jesus indicated that following Him would be restful, not burdensome (Matthew 11:28-30).  As in the creation account, fulfilling our calling to work is based on God’s finished work for us.  God’s people are called to regularly rest to remember what God has provided, through creation (Exodus 20:9-11), His ongoing help (Deuteronomy 5:12-15),  and our redemption through Christ (Hebrews 4:9-10)   As we rest in Him, we are able work for Him in our earthly vocation, recognizing our special calling and purpose to reflect and represent our Creator, making the most of every opportunity (Genesis 1:262:15Colossians 4:5-6).

For sermons on this topic, click here.

Following Jesus

Being a Christian may be the most difficult thing you could do, but it’s also very simple – it means you follow Christ.

The name “Christian” was first given to Jesus’ disciples in the city of Antioch (Acts 11:26).  Just as the term “Canadian” describes someone’s citizenship, loyalty, home, and certain a-fisherman-in-a-boat-castig-a-net-in-watercharacteristics, so “Christian” became a way to describe those who followed Jesus Christ.  They belonged to Him.  They obeyed Him.  They were becoming more and more like Him.

Jesus began his ministry calling people to “repent and believe the Gospel” (Mark 1:14-15).  Immediately afterward, his first command to His soon-to-be disciples was to “follow Me” (Mark 1:17).  He had plans for them: to make them “fishers of men,” who would make more followers of Christ.

What does following Jesus look like?

While some things never change – God’s eternal purpose to call and save us, God’s loving and holy character, and our God-given mission to Follow Jesus and make more followers (Matthew 28:19).  But how this looks in our particular time and place can depend on the people, gifts, and opportunities that God has given us.

At NWEFC, we seek to Follow Jesus in light of His words in John 14:6:

“I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

And so, we seek to Follow Jesus as we Walk in His WayUnite in His Truth, and Share His Life.

Following  Jesus is what we’re called to do as Christians.  We call this ministry “Discipleship,” and it involves everything we do,  everywhere, all the time.

Here’s a summary of what that involves (click on each green link to learn more):

Following
Jesus
Jesus’ Work Jesus Gives We Are We Do We Value
Walk in
His Way
Incarnation Reveals to us
our Purpose
A Light Worship:
Loving God
Vocation,
Integrity,
Beauty
Unite in
His Truth
Death Reconciles us
to Belong
A Family Fellowship:
Loving others
Diversity,
Intimacy,
Hospitality
Share
His Life
Resurrection Restores us
to Fruitfulness
A Body Mission:
Making disciples
Participation,
Intentionality,
Transformation