Stand Tall in the Faith!
Good morning everyone!
This year’s annual stewardship drive theme is “Stand Tall in the Faith!” How did we arrive at this theme you might ask?
Well about a month ago, as I listened to the sermon one Sunday morning, a light bulb went on in my head. For several weeks before this I was trying to think of what kind of a theme we should have for our annual stewardship drive. The Gospel lesson that Sunday was from Mark, Chapter 9, vs. 30-37. It was about the story of Jesus predicting his death for the first time to his disciples. In this story, Jesus tells his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me.”
“Wow” – I said to myself - “that is exactly what we have done as a congregation in the past couple of years. After losing so many key members and losing our beloved Pastor and now we are missing Pastor Vicki’s leadership. I’m sure a lot of us have concerns of how we keep going forward, but yet you know what, we are still here a year later, and in my opinion we are doing pretty good for what we have been through. We are doing okay because a lot of you have stepped up to the plate and carried us through. A year ago, Al Janicek told us that with the members we lost in 2017, we would have to pledge more this year to make up the difference. Well you know what, we made up that difference, and Al has told me that we are very current on our pledge commitments this year, which hasn’t’ always been the case at this time of year in the past. Also, we must remember that stewardship is not just financial, but is about committing our time and talents to this church. I have seen much improvement in this area as well this year, with some new faces becoming more involved. We have had people involved with the steering committee, and the call committee, and let’s not forget the forums we have had, and the many great ideas that have been brought to the table by many of you! On behalf of the church council, I want to say thank you – to all of you. We have accomplished a lot together in the last year. Yes, this past year I believe that we really did put our selfish ambitions to the side, picked up our cross, and went forward as a congregation, and now we must stand tall in our faith in the coming year.
As I talked to my fellow stewardship committee members at our meeting about my thoughts after that sermon, and after some discussion, we arrived at the theme of standing tall based on the Bible verse of 1 Corinthians 15:16. Which is, “listen, stay alert, and stand tall in the faith!” You know, as I think about it, that theme is what has kept this congregation going over all the years at Bethesda Lutheran Church’s existence. We have faced many adversities over the years, and we have always stood tall in our faith, and after what we have been through the last couple of years, us members of the Stewardship committee believe that we need to remind ourselves of this once again as we go forward into 2019.
As we move forward in the upcoming year, what are the challenges we face?
We must stand tall in our faith of calling a new pastor. All we can do is pray for our call committee and our synod leaders to find someone for us soon. We must listen and stay alert to the possible candidates.
WE must stand tall in our faith of increasing our financial giving so we can make sure we can afford a new pastor and continue to have the financial resources to grow our ministry here at Bethesda. The slightest increase by all of our giving units will together make a big difference.
We must stand tall in our faith by getting more people involved through giving of their time and talents. We need to encourage each other to do more.
We must stand tall in our faith by getting more involved with the community. We need to take our ideas from our forums and try to reach out to our community. Remember what Pastor Vicki asked us? What is Bethesda known for in our community?
We must stand tall in our faith by addressing our church membership. Our average church attendance is around maybe 60-65/week, but we have I believe around 300+ members on the books. This is an issue that we really need to address in the upcoming year. Pastor Bob came through loud and clear at a council meeting back in July of 2017 about reaching out to our members that we rarely see, and he and I both agree that there is lots of room for improvement in this area. There is a lot of growth for our church out there just in our own membership. We need to reach out to these people somehow. We need ideas from everyone here, of how to address this issue.
In closing, yes, Bethesda, I believe we are going to be okay, because we are going to listen to each other, stay alert to the possibilities that come our way and stand tall together in our faith in the coming year. We are going to do this out of that one word that means more than anything in this world. That word is love! True love for our God, true love for our Church, true love for each other. We can do this, Bethesda! In 2019, let’s “Stand Tall and Give God our All!”
Thanks for your time, and may God bless each and every one of you.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Janssen
“Temple Talk” on Stewardship
October 14, 2018