Monday, December 10, 2018

From the VCC Newsletter on 12/10: Reaching the Unreached

A people group is considered unreached when less than 2% of a population has been evangelized.  In the Matthew 24:14 we read, And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. I have often noted that the word we translate as nations in English is actually the Greek word ethnos, from which we derive our English word, ethnic or ethnicity but the old translation of nations still persists giving us sometimes the wrong impression about global missions.

Consider that there are only 195 nations in the world but there are 6,500 people groups (ethnos) in the world of which 2,500 of those ethnos have no church –Nor is there any work being to establish one. When I worked in northern Mexico we had 13 of these unreached people groups who did not speak Spanish and did not have any church that spoke their language. Working in Juarez Mexico it was ironic to me that on one of the mountains in the city of Juarez were the words: La biblia es la verde., Leela. (the Bible is the truth. Read it.) Sadly, on that mountain top lived a group of Tarahumara indians that did not read or speak Spanish. Every year Christians passed these folks on their way to paint a sign in Spanish, but did not learn to speak the language of the people living under the words. Mexico is considered a Christian nation, but the Tarahumara people are unreached (less than 2% Christian, with no viable church).  Although we made considerable effort on the mountain we were unable to any significant inroads in that community, but I have not forgotten the people. This is why it is important for us to pray differently, for the sake of the mission, to reach every ethnos with the gospel of Jesus Christ, not just every nation.
After a great deal of prayer I feel the Lord has put it on my heart for us to change our nation of the month prayer format to praying for unreached people groups by the nations where they reside. Specifically, that we pray for those people groups to be reached and to have a church of their own. I hope you will join me as we focus our global mission attention in both prayer and giving to focus our attention on the unreached people groups. Our goal being to send missionaries to begin a church for every unreached people group, so that the gospel of the Kingdom would be proclaimed to every ethnos under heaven and hasten the return of our Lord Jesus Christ to rule and reign over the new heavens and new earth.

I hope you are as excited as I am to see what God is going to do in reaching these ethnos through our prayers and missions.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

From the VCC Newsletter on 12/3: Christmas Giving

Our church mission statement is a simple one: Love God, Love People, and Pass It On. Yet fulfilling that mission is no small task. Everyday we are faced with decisions about how we treat people, how we interact with God and men, and how we steward our resources (time, money, relationships, and stuff). As we move from Thanksgiving to Christmas, most of us are busy shopping and focusing on showing our loved ones how much they mean to us, as well we should. I don’t want to discourage the spirit of generosity. Instead I would like to add-on and ask you to pray about the very mission of Christmas. Jesus came into our world in the most disarming way, as a helpless baby, for one of the most demanding missions ever: to save the world. No pressure! In doing so he left the comfort of heaven to walk among a people who would later curse and crucify him. The very spirit of Christmas is one of making ourselves available and vulnerable to those who need the good news desperately but are not grateful we came. They don’t see our gospel as good news, and often reject us just because of who we are. To that world God gave his Son, and to that world God has called us to minister in the most inconvenient ways, sometimes to an ungrateful, disrespectful, and ever-suspicious world. One that is divided politically, racially, and theologically. To that same kind of world we have been called to continue the mission.

Over the last year we have been through numerous transitions, including a big change in staff. Meanwhile we have expanded our ministry and made several improvements to make our building more functional. We made numerous improvements to the community center (far exceeding the special donations given for that building) and expanded our community outreach . Currently we are wrapping up the new lobby entrance and ramping-up for the Christmas season and all of its related outreaches. Each step we have walked by faith, being diligent to manage every dime. As we look toward to the New Year, we are full of vision and we have some exciting plans. But as you can imagine, just like all of you, we have increased expenses at the end of the year, and in the new year. However, unlike retail, there is no Black Friday to help us; in fact, it is easy for expenses to exceed income during this time of year. So I am asking you to consider your giving in this season of generosity to include the mission and vision of VCC. Thank you for all of your support and confidence in the ministry of VCC. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Monday, November 26, 2018

From the VCC Newsletter on 11/26: A Year of Transition

Last November the Lord gave me the word “transition” for 2018. It was hard for me to grasp at that moment. My family and I had suffered a huge loss in the death of Joel, and the thought of more transition was ominous. As I prayed about that word over the next few days I sensed God’s peace. I felt like God was moving pieces into position for our church for 2019 and for the next season of our church’s growth. Within days of that revelation, a number of 2018 changes came into view, and ultimately happened in early 2018 with Kerryann McFarlane and April Gordon both stepping down. April has continued to play on the worship team, and we are grateful to have the Gordon family remain a part of the congregation. At around the same time David Ebbecke joined our staff as the Connections Pastor, and Linda Dix moved to Adult Education as our Adult Christian Education (Grow) Pastor. Then in May our search for a Youth Pastor and a Worship Leader ended with the good news of Bobby Hardwick joining our staff, although he could not join us until July. Also during the summer we had some members move away, and those goodbyes were difficult. I thought surely everything was settled, but then the Lord spoke to me again, reminding me that 2018 wasn’t over, and neither was the transition. Soon after Dr. Skip Lewis joined our team to develop our Congregational Care Ministry, and we were glad that he did.

So after all of those transitions, I will tell you about two more transitions. In October David Ebbecke decided the Connections role was not the role for him, and he officially resigned at the end of October. He has continued to teach the D.E.S.I.G.N. course and work in hospitality, for which we are very grateful. Also Linda Dix felt it was time for her to permanently retire this time, as of Thanksgiving. When Linda and her husband, Larry, moved here in August of 2013, she came out of retirement to join our staff. We are very grateful for her service. Although she will no longer be in the office as one of our pastors, she will continue to be our LifeGroup Coordinator.

It is my hope this tremendous season of change is now stabilized, and that we are well positioned for our next chapter. Please be sure to thank David and Linda for their service, and please continue to pray for the staff as we reorganize our responsibilities and roles for 2019.

The Lord gave me two words for this next year. The first is “growth,” which will be on the same level that “transition” was in 2018. The second word is “refinement.” As we head into 2019 I will be sharing more about what I think the Lord is doing in the way of refinement across four areas of our church: signage, sound, systems, and simplification.