Dear Members and Friends of Prairie Flower Baptist Church,
The year 2018 with all its immense blessings and burdens is now over. Indeed, this past year has been one of the most difficult, yet fruitful years of my entire ministry. So, for all that went right this past year, I give God great praise; and for all that could have been better this past year, I take full responsibility and have learned immensely through it all. In the end, I am so grateful for a grace-giving God, and for you, the generous and patient people out here on the prairie. Below is a recap of where we’ve been (by God’s grace) and where we might be going (under God’s sovereignty).
First, let’s carefully reflect on the church growth that we experienced through the joy of addition. Indeed, the numbers below reflect not us and our success, but God and His love and mercy. The fact that God has chosen us to be mere conduits of His grace is humbling and extremely encouraging. So, with that in mind, let us rejoice in each number…in each person…that took a step of faith this past year…
- Salvations – 9 (Our Highest Number of Salvations in 5 Years!)
- Baptisms – 6
- Members – 8
I know you hear me say this often, but the above numbers, and the transformed lives that each number represents, is truly what we are all about. People getting saved, baptized, and added to the church isn’t just a nicety in the church, it’s what the church is all about! Let’s celebrate the work of God in the lives that have been radically transformed by the Gospel.
Second, let’s carefully reflect on the church growth that we experienced through the pain of subtraction. Indeed, though painful to remember this aspect of the past year, it is healthy and needed. To merely bury the past or, worse, try to pretend that it never happened is unwise at best and severely detrimental at worst. So, let’s somberly remember the burdens and difficulties of this past year…
- Crisis – In March of 2018, we experienced a church crisis. Sin and selfishness ravaged our church family and left us extremely hurt and confused. This church crisis put me into a personal crisis in which I was angry and ready to simply give up. Indeed, as I have stated many times already, I did not handle this crisis with pastoral decorum, and because of that, I ended up making a bad situation worse.
- Healing – But despite the darkest of days, the light of God’s presence, power, and provision always shines through. Yes, despite the hurt and confusion, many of you committed to stay and to fight for your church family. Thank you! Indeed, as it concerns me and my family, many of you stepped out of your way to offer prayer, words of encouragement, gifts, and much needed love to us during this difficult time. Thank you! In fact, your love and generosity were most pronounced in you sending my family and I away on a month-long sabbatical during the month of June. Again, thank you! We were helped and began to heal up in a serious way as a result of that sabbatical.
- Leading – The rest of 2018 was a blur of praying, preaching, visitation, counseling, meetings, restructuring, camp ministries, state ministries, community outreach, and church discipline cases…In a word, leading. Indeed, as difficult and dark as the first half of 2018 was, the last half of 2018 has been the sweetest time of my entire ministry here at PFBC. Indeed, by God’s good grace, I have been able for the past six months to lead a church family that is healing, growing, reviving, and more united than ever.
Third and finally, let’s examine what the God of our future could hold for us as we step into 2019 and beyond…
- Question – Where do you see us in five years? In other words, where do you see us, as a church family, in 2024? Perhaps coming up with a five-year plan is a challenge for you, but this question merits some thinking. For me, I see us multiplying. Let me explain this by means of sharing with you my goals and ambitions for 2019…
- Goals – I would like to accomplish, by God’s enablement, the following: 1) Ensure a smooth transition for Pastor Jon Rocha as he steps out of full-time ministry and into business in the Quad Cities. This goal also includes successfully installing Pastor Rocha’s replacement as soon as possible. 2) Examine viable solutions to our church’s outreach and prayer ministries. These two areas are probably our church’s weakest ministries and the restructuring of these ministries is required. 3) Edit the church’s Constitution to fit with our current church culture. The editing of the church’s Constitution is logical, considering in year’s past we have edited the church’s Articles of Faith (2016) and Biblical Principles of Church Membership (2018). 4) Expand our community footprint by means of a greater social media presence and community advertising. To that end, we have already launched our church’s new Facebook Page and are already over 100 LIKES, allowing us to provide helpful, encouraging, and informative material to our own people and our wider community. In a sentence, my goal for 2019 is to begin the process of multiplying our influence and impact for the Kingdom of Heaven by means of accomplishing these four items.
- Forward – As I write this report, I am reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 3:12-14. It beautifully and poetically states what I would have you do in terms of 2018 and 2019: “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” May these verses become the tone and tenor of our lives as the church out here on the prairie.
With Much Love,
Lead Pastor, PFBC