It’s hard to believe Christmas Day is just a few days away and another year is on our doorstep. Looking back over this past year, I find myself thankful. Not because it’s been an easy year—it hasn’t—but because of what I see God doing in and through our church family. And when I ask others around me what they see as they look back at 2013, I discover I’m not alone in my response. For example…
• I’m thankful for the spirit of unity and community growing within our church family. Just observe the conversations taking place between services on a Sunday morning. Or, ask those who are connecting in a Life Group what they think, and you’ll know what I mean.
• I’m thankful for the maturing creativity and giftedness abounding in our church body and the blessing it is bringing to so many people here and afar. Just browse our new church website—created and managed by those in our church. Or, just ask those who attended the launch of the First B Kids worship album—created, produced, and performed by our own Children’s Ministry and Music Ministry to help kids (and their parents) hide Scripture in their hearts—and you’ll know what I mean.
• I’m thankful for the incredible gesture of generosity demonstrated by Eugene Community Church in passing their International House to the ministry of First B. Just ask those of us who watched this “legacy gesture” unfold from the beginning, and you’ll know what I mean.
• I’m thankful for those who have come to Christ and the 73 people who have been baptized so far this year, with more to come during our Christmas Eve Services. Just listen to their stories about coming to Jesus, and you’ll know what I mean.
• I’m thankful for how our church family is rallying to support our church’s mission at all levels. Just ask those who led and/or attended the Harlow Auction earlier this month—who not only attended during a snowstorm but also came in record numbers and donated a record amount of funds to help children attend Camp who couldn’t otherwise go—and you’ll know what I mean.
• I’m thankful for our growing passion to be a church of compassion. Just ask those who served in our ministry to homeless families at Camp Harlow last month or those who will serve in our Christmas ministry to those with HIV this month, and you’ll know what I mean.
• I’m thankful for our growing numbers of youth and young leaders and their hearts for Jesus. Just ask those involved in our Children’s, Mid-school, High School, or College Departments, or who have their kids there, and you’ll know what I mean.
• I’m thankful for the increasing numbers of people willing to use their gifts and talents to bless others. Just ask our Camp Harlow Staff about the impact of their volunteers, or the Children’s Ministry about their volunteers, or the First Impressions Team, or any ministry, and you’ll know what I mean.
• I’m thankful for the growing generosity of our church family in supporting our ministry budget. Just ask our staff about their thoughts of being able to serve here. Just ask them how they feel about receiving a cost of living increase (and hopefully, a restoration of their retirement fund) this fiscal year. Just ask those who lead our ministries who are passionate about using every dollar to help others live, love, and lead like Jesus, and you’ll know what I mean.
Yes, I’m thankful for a lot of things this year, including the honor of serving with a team of leaders who are passionate about and committed to seeing our community transformed by the Gospel for the glory of God. Just ask our staff, elders, ministry leaders, and you’ll know what I mean. And don’t be surprised when you hear that one of the greatest things we are most thankful for is YOU!!!