(this is kinda an “in-house” post for folks that are a part of our church community, but I don’t have another good place to publish it at the moment) – see What’s Next for GCRC for the first post in this series. 

One of my tasks as a pastor is to help our church discover some goals to focus on. It’s easy for a community of believers to get stuck in the rut of routine and not do a lot, or to get distracted by the impossible job of making everyone happy and try to do everything unsuccessfully.
My project has been to spend a year listening to as many members as possible and come up with things we need to focus on in the next few years. I’ve been able to meet with most of you and from hundreds of conversations and stories I’ve summarized areas that you all are passionate about and gifted to accomplish – 1) Raising Godly Kids, 2) Living Life Together, 3) Growing.

Our first Elders discussion was about Raising Godly Kids. Our church was established 80 years ago by a group of young immigrants who hoped for a place to support each other and to raise kids well. Most of you told lots of stories about working hard at raising Godly kids – the radical and brave start of a Christian School in an age where starting a Christian school was new and edgy. You told me stories about our first non-pastor staff member, brought on about 70 years ago, as a Catechism teacher because we wanted to teach the gospel to kids. Most of you have stories about raising kids here. Some of you tell stories that are amazing and I still look at my notes with wonder at how God blessed this place. Some of you tell stories looking back with disappointment, as many of you lament kids leaving, the school closing and children baring the consequences of a challenging chapter in our church’s history. But all of you care about our church’s mission to raise children.

Our elders are discussing and will continue to discuss how we can best accomplish this. Many of you will tell me that we’re already doing better than we have in recent years.
We want to serve and love our community through events like our Easter Eggstravaganza, where nearly 400 kids and their parents came through, had a great day and heard the good news of Jesus’ resurrection. We’re planning another VBS Kids Camp, where children from all over come to learn more about how to live in God’s light. Our preschool is a really important part of this. Many of you have invested in the School for years, laying bricks, eating a lot of fish, giving generously in our church budget and contributing through special offerings to make the Preschool better and more affordable for young families. Three years ago, the preschool was using a small part of our church basement, now it’s running out of space in the school. Thank you for loving kids as much as you do.
We also need to serve and love our kids who are part of this Church. In our tradition, infant Baptism is an extension of the covenant given by God to Abraham. We believe that our kids are really God’s kids. And so we promise to do our best to give them God’s word. This is something we need to focus on. Last Summer, Sharon Vogel started Wigglin’ Worship, a program to provide age-appropriate Bible teaching the preschool(ish) aged kids during our Sunday Service. It’s accomplishing that mission. Kids who wouldn’t understand a sermon, come home talking about the Bible. If we really believe that our kids are God’s kids, we need to do our best to give God’s kids God’s Word in a way they can understand.
We also want to serve and love parents. Our church is a wealth of experience. (I tried to calculate the number of collective parting years we had between all of us… I gave up.) As a church we have a goldmine’s worth of ways to help coach parents and families through their challenges.

Raising Godly Kids – Kids who love others and have character. You’ve convinced me that we should focus on this in the years ahead of us. I’m convinced that we’re well equipped to do it, and that God will bless our efforts and investments if only we will follow where he leads.

Pastor Sam