Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pastor Knecht's Annual Letter to Holy Cross

Pastor’s Annual Report to the Congregation 2010

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw-- the work of each builder will become visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done... Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3:11-16 NRSV)

There is no better time to be the church than today. There has never been a greater need for people to come and know Jesus Christ than now. There has never been a more important time to teach people who would like a closer walk with the Lord how to call on His name, listen to His Word, and be His hands than this very moment. There is only one reason to be the church and that is to learn how to live with God every minute of every day. My wish for Holy Cross this coming year is simple; I hope that we will walk with God.

I am ever hopeful that we will be able to heed Jesus’ voice to follow because I have seen the fruit of those who are working to build on the foundation laid by Christ at Holy Cross. I have seen those working to call our congregation to prayer. I have seen others give of their limited time and resources make sure that knowledge of God is passed on to the next generation through our Christian Nursery School and Children’s ministries. I have seen our small groups work to help our church know that we must live out our faith in between the Sundays if we are to be counted among Jesus’ faithful disciples. I have seen a dedication and passion for worship among our four worship teams and our worship arts volunteers. I have seen faithful groundwork being done by our ushers, counters, trustees, and property volunteers to help make sure that we are good stewards of our resources so we can continue with the mission to bear Christ to our community. We are currently planning to restart our youth ministries as soon as we can so that our teenagers will both have the opportunity to learn about Jesus in a deeper way and also witness to us what God is doing in their lives. I pray that as God continues to build us up we will be able to follow faithfully in new areas of mission.

As we work together to build on Christ’s foundation we will face some challenges. Our ongoing financial struggles are still with us. Our leaders have diligently prayed and discerned how best to live within our means and have helped us to reduce our operating expenses as much as possible. We will need to continue to address these issues for the foreseeable future; we must follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance to find ways for us to continually fund our mission and ministry. I would ask you to be in prayer in how you can help us respond to this challenge.

Our second challenge will be learning to live according to God’s expectations rather than our own. The world attempts to measure success by accessing various statistics. When they are on the rise, the world tells us that we can puff out our chests and justify ourselves in the illusion of our own achievements. However, God does not demand success, but asks for faith. We are called to follow in faith and trust that the results are in God’s hands. This means that we must live in hope. Living in hope is a good thing because it means that we are waiting for and relying upon God.

This past year our communication team gathered to work on how best to communicate the vision and mission of Holy Cross to those our neighborhood. This led the group to discern not only strategies, logos, and colors but to prayerfully examine who we are at this time and come up with a way to talk about it so our community can understand. The tagline that they came up with is simple yet profound. Holy Cross is “living hope in the light of Christ”. We are living hope in that we are by our actions demonstrating that our hope is Jesus Christ. Therefore, we call each other to prayer and worship, we teach the faith, support each other and serve our neighbors in need because we have hope in Christ. We do this in the light of Christ as we realize that Jesus is the only way that we can go forward. This light is both joyful and illuminating. The hope we have in Christ allows us to examine ourselves for who we really are and also understand the truth of what Jesus has done for us in the cross so we can have faith and be joyful in all circumstances.

In order to continue to foster our future growth we have begun a process to access the overall health of our church. Some of you will have already taken a church health survey. The natural church development survey monitors the quality of church life in eight areas demonstrated to be vital for a church to grow. The eight areas are empowering leadership, gift-based ministry, passionate spirituality, effective structures, inspiring worship, holistic small groups, need-orientated evangelism, and loving relationships. The process would then be to focus some of our effort to address the area in which we need the most work. Often congregations are not able to grow because there is some issue of which it is not aware. Our goal is to have the courage to address any issue that stands in the way of our being a community that spreads God’s Word faithfully. After we receive our results there will be an effort to involve the entire congregation to work together to help address the area where God is calling us to work toward.

I am confident that God is calling us to a particular mission in this place and time. I am also sure that we are being tested in the fire of adversity, however I know that if we are in prayer God will continue to lead us through any dark valley. He has brought us so far already; I have no rational reason to doubt his continued presence and help. In conclusion, I ask you to be in prayer for our church and each other. I ask you to remember the blessings that God the Father has so richly showered upon us. I also ask you to pray that God see us through any adversity we might face. May our Lord Jesus be with you.

Submitted to you faithfully in Jesus Christ,

Pastor Knecht