Well, the water of another year has passed under the bridge as we have finished year number four in the life of Grace Covenant Church. I don't know how church years compare to dog years, or such, but this has been a pretty quick year; but time does that, as it has its own ebbs and flows like the tide. Of course, the main reason it has passed so quickly is that we have been pretty busy.
One of the good things to happen was our move to a better facility last August. We are now meeting at Midland Classical Academy, a private Christian school that has already housed two other churches. When the last church moved we jumped on the chance to meet there, and now have consistent heating and cooling and a nicer all around facility to meet in, and room for growth. We were able to also get the lease at a rate that was affordable, and are appreciative of MCA working with us as we are paying less than our predecessors.
One of the highlights again this year was the baptism of two men last fall. One was saved during our Easter service and the other had come to the conviction that his salvation had occured only a few years ago. It was a joy to baptize these men and hear their testimonies of God's faithful work in their hearts. Both are active and committed, which is a double blessing.
Our other elder, Bill Lawless, and I led a leadership development group on Saturday mornings. Our desire is for this to be the foundation of training men in our church. We limited it to the leadership team, but will open it up this next year to more of the men in our church. It is my belief that the church will go no farther than the strength of its men will carry it, and we want to train up the men in our church to be strong in the faith. In that vein, we once again took seven men to the Shepherd's conference; and each year it leaves its mark on us.
That is not to rule out the role of women in the church, nor is it to say that the women should not be strong spiritually, as well. We sent seven of our women to the True Woman conference in Dallas, and will send a group to the True Woman conference in San Antonio this year as well. It was a spiritually rich conference that has born fruit in the lives of those who went. We also had a women's mid-week bible study this year and hope that it will grow.
Additionally, we had a church wide bible study on Tuesday nights. We used the Precept curriculum and studied Covenant last fall and Exodus in the spring.
Our music/worship has been blessed of the Lord this last year. He indeed inhabits the praises of His people, and His presence during our worship time has been a joy and blessing. We have two sax playing brothers who provide the music on most Sundays as our keyboard player has had job assignments that have taken him away many Sundays. But, it is required of a steward to be faithful, and that is what our worship team has been, and God has honored that and shown us His goodness.
I am still preaching through John's gospel, and will finish up chapter fourteen this week. Not just because we are in John, but out of personal conviction, we have really focused on being more gospel centered and gospel proclaiming. We want our people to go deeper and deeper into Christ, to more fully understand and more deeply appreciate grace. But to do this you must have a grasp on the gospel, in all its fullness, in all its aspects, in all of its application; in other words, the better you grasp the gospel the richer will God's grace be to you. As such, we believe the gospel is important for the believer as well as for the unbeliever.
Speaking of the unbeliever, we pray corporately each Sunday for the lost that God has placed in our individual paths. We also have identified one thousand households in north Midland that we will target with the gospel every three to four months. We are going to start out by sending them Grace for You, an evanglestic booklet written by John MacArthur, that is the telling of the story of the prodigal son. We are going to send them something each mailing that is gospel centered and gospel proclaiming. What will God do with this? We are not sure, but we are sure that He stands over His word to perform it, that the gospel is the power of salvation, and beautiful are the feet that bring the gospel. In addtion to these, as a church we are also praying for the Hispanics in our area, as they make up close to 40% of the population.
Speaking of the gospel. My wife, Angie, has made it a focus in her teaching the children to present the gospel in as many lessons as possible. I am grateful that our children are hearing the gospel, hearing of their need for a Savior, hearing of God's great salvation in Christ. Planting gospel seeds is an important, really the most important function, of a children's ministry. We all are to receive the word implanted which is able to save our souls, so why not plant it early and often?
I gave the covenant charge in two weddings this year. It was a blessing to me to be involved in them, and to see the seriousness with which the couples took their vows. May God's protection and blessing be upon them.
Yes, we have had some numeric growth this last year, and the number of our visitors has increased; but the real story is the continued growth of the people. God's word does not return to Him void, and it is Him that is building His church. I am so blessed to be the pastor of this group of people that have committed themselves to the Lord through Grace Covenant Church; and blessed to be able to serve the Lord in this way. My prayer for myself is for my own faithfulness and obedience to Him who has given Me this sacred responsibility and trust. May He be glorified in and through this gracious work of His called Grace Covenant church.