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