This is a big year for our church! We are challenging each other to BE READY. Ready for what is happening in our culture, for changes occurring in our church, for the opportunities we have in ministry, and most importantly for what God is doing in history. The clock is ticking and Jesus will return soon. He said, “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matthew 24:44, emphasis mine). We want to be found faithful and ready.
The reason I am writing a letter to the church is to share several ways we are getting ready—I know this is a long letter, and so I thank you in advance for taking the time to read it. First, the culture continues to move away from God’s teachings. The way we are getting ready is by updating our church by-laws so they clearly state what we believe and how we live out our faith when it comes to the big issues of our day. So, for the last couple of months the Elders, staff, Tim Hamilton, and Devin Castor have been meeting to redraft our church by-laws. Everyone will have a chance to read through and comment on these changes before they are voted on December 6th.
Second, there is another change that has been slowly occurring in our culture and it has nothing to do with the courts and everything to do with each of us. Our society is becoming more and more Bible illiterate. We just don’t know the Bible like our parents and grandparents did. One way we are attempting to address this change and get READY is by offering Christian Growth Classes two to three times a year on different Bible topics. The first series on Basic Doctrines begins this Sunday. This class is for everyone regardless of how many years you have followed Jesus.
Third, our church is going through a kind of cultural change of its own that requires us to BE READY. Over the years our demographics have slowly evolved and we are becoming more and more a beautiful, multi-generational congregation. While our Senior Saints community continues to flourish, our young adults and young families are growing and becoming more active. This is due in large part to David Diener’s efforts. We have already begun to respond to this change by officially expanding David’s title to Youth and Young Adult Minister since he already leads the young adults in ministry, taking them to the Passion Conference in Atlanta and helping them get connected through serving and group life.
Fourth, in conjunction with young adults, families with young children have increased to the point where we have already opened a new nursery. This again was made possible by David’s willingness to serve; he gave up his office and moved to a former back storage room. Even so, we continue to run out of space at various levels throughout the church. The way we are getting ready for the challenge is by adding a building onto the west side of the our current building focused on children and youth ministries. This addition will free up classroom, storage, and office space throughout the church. Initial plans have been drawn up and financial calculations are being worked out. We continue to share these plans with different teams and groups, collecting their feedback. We welcome your thoughts and ideas as well—both David and I have a set of drawings that you are welcome to look over. We will present all the plans and figures in an upcoming church meeting, November 15th, and then give everyone time to consider the proposal before voting on it December 6th.
Fifth, the changes in the make up of our congregation have made us realize that we are not as prepared for new people as we once thought. We are striving to BE READY by living life with Jesus in Community on Mission. A lot of what I have shared so far focuses on Jesus and our Mission to share Him with the world. However, all this must be done in a community of believers who know and love each other. The reality is, though, that because we are blessed with new visitors almost weekly, we don’t know everyone. While many of those who join us for worship love what they experience, some drift away because they just don’t feel connected. One of the ways we are getting ready for this challenge is by having ongoing all-church events. These are functions designed to foster connection, like church dinners and the rebirth of the popular Gourmet Club. Additionally, we are gathering together a focus group of those who have approached us who have a desire for the church to be the united body and one family the Bible talks about. They have a lot of great ideas to share on how to help new people get connected to the church quickly.
Sixth, we are beginning to develop a plan to add a third pastoral minister to the staff at the same time as we expand our building. The primary function and role of this new position will be discipleship with a secondary focus on involvement. This will not only get us ready in the area of Bible literacy and connection, but will help free up both David and me to expand our own ministry areas. With the addition of a new children and youth building and all the other changes that are in motion, three full-time ministers will put us in a strong position for growth and will help us be ready for what God is already actively doing in our church and in the world.
Seventh, and most importantly, we just had the first of many ongoing monthly prayer meetings. Everything that we are doing to BE READY is fruitless without God. Recently, we put a John Deere riding lawnmower on the stage to illustrate what our lives ought to be like. Too often we live like we are pushing around an old fashioned mower—you know what I am talking about? The spiral blades rapidly rotate forward as you push the mower until it comes across a clump of grass and then it jams and jerks to a halt. But we don’t have to do life that way. In Christ, we have a relationship with God and that relationship empowers us to move in His Spirit and His strength. Jesus said it best in Matthew 19:26: "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." So we are getting ready to live boldly and courageously by adding to our private prayer lives ongoing all-church prayer meetings.
Again, I know this is a lot of information, but I want to make sure everyone is aware of the ways God is at work in our church. Since I have shared so much, let me recap all the ways we are getting READY:
to BE READY...
October 18 Fall BBQ Dinner and Hayride(a great connecting opportunity—find someone you don’t know well and eat with them so you can get to know them better!)
November 1 Revised church by-laws handed out and Education Team Teacher Appreciation and Recruitment Meal(a great way to connect and get plugged into the expanding Education Team!)
November 4 Prayer Meeting(theme will be praying for all the changes in our church!)
November 15 CCC Thanksgiving Dinner(again a great connecting opportunity!) and Expansion Presentation(opportunity to see the new building plans and financial numbers; budgets will also be presented for review)
December 5 Christmas Gourmet Club(another great connecting opportunity!)
December 6 Vote on by-laws, budget, and expansion proposal
I began this letter saying this is a big year for Cadiz Christian Church. We are not just talking about getting ready, but we are also striving to BE READY. Together, with faith and a lot of prayer, we can accomplish all this and more. We are learning to live life with Jesus in Community on Mission. It is all about Jesus, living in a Christ- center community and sharing Him with others on mission.
All this to His glory!