Dear Members and Friends of Prairie Flower Baptist Church,
I don’t know about you, but 2017 seemed to come at me fast and furious and leave just as quickly as it came. Where did the time go? It truly seems that time gets faster and faster the older I get. I know that many of you feel the same way, but how wonderful it is to know the Creator of time and rest in His sovereign control over all things.
As I reflect on this past year, I can’t help but smile at all the good things that God has done in and through our church. Indeed, the grace of God is so evident in the life of our church. From our beginnings as Richmond Baptist Church in Richmond, IA to our present-day situation as Prairie Flower Baptist Church here in Washington, IA, our God has been faithful – faithful to us for 163 years! Below is my Lead Pastor’s Report of God’s work and faithfulness in our midst.
Joy and Discernable Growth…
For the bulk of this past year, the preaching (and Growth Group sessions) revolved around the topic of “the church” in a mega-series I entitled, “We R The Church.” Indeed, we are the church, we don’t own the church. The church is our identity, not our possession. Only Jesus owns and possesses the church! As we walked through this series, we discovered that what a church believes, it loves, what it loves, it trusts, what it trusts, it commits to, what it commits to, it gives to, what it gives to, it prays for, what it prays for, we tell others about, and all of this leads to the successful accomplishment of our mission and vision as the church out here on the prairie.
Yes, we are the church, and Jesus is our Senior Pastor, and we are just faithfully following Him. As we do, we experience joy and measurable, discernable growth. Below are some of the fruits we experienced (by God’s grace) this past year:
- Salvations – 7
- Baptisms – 2
- Members – 9
This is what it’s all about, namely, people getting saved, baptized, and added to the church. Let’s continue to pray for more growth in the brand-new year in front of us. Indeed, such growth is inherent in our mission and vision “to be a strong church that makes disciples for the glory of God.” May we continue to see new and better disciples becoming a part of God’s great work here in southeast Iowa.
Speaking of numbers and growth, it is fascinating to notice the numerical growth of our membership at PFBC during my time here as Lead Pastor. Since starting in November of 2013 (about four years ago), we have gone from an official membership of 93 to 121. This is not monumental growth, but it is healthy growth, and for that we give to God great praise!
Another area of discernable growth is seen in the spiritual maturity of our church body. So many of you have stepped up to the plate and are giving and serving in so many areas. For those of you who serve, volunteer, and lead on a weekly basis, thank you! The work of the ministry could not be done without you. I praise God for you and pray that you continue to serve the Lord and our people well.
A Cause For Pause…
Before rushing into the rest of my report, I do believe there is a cause for pause as we reflect upon the lives we lost in 2017. Yes, this past year with all of it’s beauty and growth was also a time of great sadness and loss for some of the families here at Prairie Flower. This past year, the following individuals were promoted to Heaven: Evelyn Brown, Diana Fordham, Joe Goodlander, Verla Lewis, and Adele McPike. These folks are dearly loved and missed. Please keep the families of these precious individuals in your thoughts and prayers.
Categories of Productive Ministry…
As it relates to my work as a Minister of the Gospel, I continue to stay productive in the following categories:
- Lead Pastor – Before any other ministry, my primary commitment is towards my family and this local church. Thus, I tenaciously guard my family time and passionately serve the people of Prairie Flower Baptist Church. My work this past year included: preaching, teaching, and counseling on a weekly basis. Another unique aspect of my work this past year included mentoring and shepherding our first Pastoral Intern, Lance Lewis! What a blessing it was to pour into the next generation of pastor-teachers. Indeed, I’m looking forward to our new Intern, Michael Yates, who is coming this summer.
- Council of 10 Representative – I continue to have the incredible privilege of serving alongside our Iowa Association of Regular Baptist Church’s State Representative, Tim Capon, and nine other leaders in our state association. My work as part of the Council includes advising Tim Capon on matters that affect our association as well as working as the Retreat Liaison, coordinating for Men’s Retreat and Women’s Conference that take place at Iowa Regular Baptist Camp in the late summer and early fall.
- Camp Board Member – Speaking of the Camp, I continue to serve as one of the Camp’s Board Members, and will continue to serve (Lord willing) through 2020. My primary role on the board is to advise the Camp Board Director, Phil Betz, on matters of programming, especially regarding youth and family camps that take place in the summer. Indeed, I also have the privilege of serving as the Family Camp 4 Program Chairman during one of the weeks in the summer.
- EIBCC Member – The EIBCC stands for the Eastern Iowa Biblical Counseling Coalition. I’m one of the members of this amazing coalition of pastors and lay leaders who have a heart to shepherd the people of God by means of effective biblical counseling. I meet once a month with this coalition (made up of various evangelical denominations) for the purposes of fellowship and sharpening my ministry skills, specifically in the area of biblical counseling.
- Kiwanis Member – In order to effectively plug myself into our community for impact and outreach, I joined this community service group in April of 2016. Not only do I get to partner with other community leaders to do projects that will benefit the children in our community, but I also have the incredible privilege of pouring into my fellow Kiwanians in terms of sharing the Gospel! Yes, every once in a while, I get to formally and informally present the hope that I have in Jesus Christ. Please pray for fruit as I continue to share Christ with this group.
- Special Speaker – As time and opportunity allows, I continue to do speaking engagements at nursing homes in our community, my alma mater (Faith Baptist Bible College), different camps (IRBC and Camp Fairwood in Wisconsin), and community events (such as the Veteran’s Day Dinner hosted by the American Legion this past November). All of these speaking engagements are an extension of the overall ministry here at Prairie Flower Baptist Church, and I count it a privilege to take our ministry beyond the borders of our church and community.
Looking to the Future…
As we embark upon another year, here are my goals and aspirations for us as a church family:
- Embrace the Concept of True Rest – For the bulk of this brand-new year, we will be in a mega-series entitled, “Rest Despite Noise.” In this series, we will discover how to experience true rest in Christ despite the noise of our overly busy and frantic culture. I truly believe that we, as individuals and as a church family, are overwhelmed, overstimulated, and overstretched in a variety of ways. We need to learn how to better prioritize, say “no” at times, and experience true rest even in the midst of our very chaotic culture. My prayer is that we would learn and grow in this area of true rest.
- Enable a Better Model of Ministry – Thus far, the Leadership Team of Prairie Flower Baptist Church has revised our Articles of Faith and the Biblical Principles of Church Membership. We have taken several years with both of these projects. Now, we must get to work on revising and editing our Church’s Constitution. Why? Answer: For more and better ministry. Stated another way, our current constitution prevents us from doing effective ministry in our church and community. We need to revise this document to enable a better model of ministry.
- Engage Our Community With the Gospel – I’m plugged into Kiwanis for the express purpose of sharing the Gospel. Pastor Jon is plugged into the Mid-Prairie school system as a basketball coach for the express purpose of sharing the Gospel. How are you plugged into your community? How are you reaching out to people with the hope of the Gospel? My hope and prayer, as we move into 2018, is that we would be a missional church, engaging our community (individually) with the message of the Gospel!
Fellow church members and friends, as we exit 2017 and enter 2018, here is my constant prayer for you: “May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:11-12). Indeed, this is my hope and prayer for you all.
Lead Pastor, PFBC