As I contemplate all that has happened in 2018, I find that there is so much to celebrate, rejoice, and give thanks for!  While change can often seem slow and so incremental to us, God is so good and faithful to walk us through His plan in His perfect timing!

This year, the Praise Team was able to welcome one new member, Greg Crawford, who has blessed us with his many vocal and instrumental abilities!

Serve Team has seen several exciting changes in 2018.  The first was to begin working on adding a security component to our serve team where specific members have been tasked with being aware of and responding to immediate issues of safety in our building. 

Serve Team has also folded Coffee & Conversation into its list of responsibilities.  In December, a sign-up sheet was posted up on the bulletin board for people who wish to provide snacks in the January-March quarter (the availability of this sign-up sheet was also announced in the worship services).  In March we will post a sign-up sheet for April-June.  In June there will be a sign-up sheet for the July-September quarter.  Finally, in September there will be a sign-up sheet for October-December.

When someone signs up to provide snacks for Coffee & Conversation, they will receive a reminder email the Wednesday before they serve and either a text or a phone call the Friday before they serve with information about who they are serving with.

On weeks where two people are signed up to provide snacks, Coffee and Conversation will run as it always has.  On weeks where only one person is signed up for Coffee and Conversation, a serve team member from first service will help them plate their goodies (along with some goodies provided by the church) at approximately 8:50 a.m. and a second service serve team member will help them move the goodies out to the table and then clean up afterwards.  On weeks where no one has signed up for Coffee and Conversation, the serve team will handle the whole process.

We are also excited to welcome Nina Nenahlo as our new head of the Serve Team Department!  While I will still ultimately be responsible for the overall direction of the team, Nina will handle the day-to-day training and implementation of the team!  I am looking forward to working closely with her and to see how God will bless and grow this ministry under her guidance! 

Finally, our Serve Team has taken some hits this year in the number of adults who have had to step away from this ministry.  If you love serving others and find joy in the behind-the-scenes details of making an empty building into a place that is warm and welcoming and love the idea of having the opportunity to welcome searching people into our building to experience God’s love, would you prayerfully consider how God might be calling you to participate in this vital ministry?

I continue to be blown away by our Small Groups program!  It is overwhelming to watch first-hand the personal growth that God is cultivating in individuals within the groups, hear about answers to prayer, and hear stories of how people were blessed by the content and other people in the groups over and over and over again!  Praise God!!

In the spring of 2018, First Baptist had 66 people in five groups. In the summer we had 18 people in two groups.  In the fall, we had 61 people in six groups and were able to introduce a new group especially for our 10-13 year old kids who are too old for Children’s Church but not quite old enough for our Youth Group program. 

Some of the projects that the groups participated in were church work parties and clean-ups, visiting shut-ins, decorating the church, providing a meal for TAFY, hosting a “Mommy and Me Pampering and Tea” event for young, at risk mothers in our community, hosting a cleaning supply drive for DSHS, hosting a Foster Parent Appreciation Dinner, picking up trash at a local park, gathering together to turn old plastic shopping bags into sleeping mats for homeless people, assisting to make hanging flower baskets for a TAFY fundraiser, hosting a children’s book drive for First Steps, hosting a suitcase drive for DSHS, and several others.

Pie with the Pastor continues to be a successful and exciting event where new guests can learn more about our church and find out how to get plugged in at First Baptist.  We hosted 23 new people over three events this past year!

Volunteer Summit has been an excellent tool for training and encouraging our volunteers, communicating vision and changes in ministry, on-ramping new volunteers, and giving our volunteers the opportunity to communicate problems.  Often, accomplishing these things on Sunday mornings alone are just not possible.  Having teams get together two to three times a year for these special events goes a long way to maintain momentum, quality, and continuity across our ministries, as well as stimulate growth!  Thank you so much to those who are giving these trainings priority in your schedules!  You are truly the back-bone of your ministries! 

It was a bit of a light year out at Camp David Jr this past Memorial Day weekend with only 53 campers for our annual Family Camp event.  Despite being small, it was still an intimate and wonderful time with a core group of campers!  Our speaker was our very own Hillary Gentile who taught on prayer. 

On August 19th, our church hosted our Celebrate Life Sunday event (with 130 people in attendance).  Following our worship service we had a free lunch (put on by Outreach), games for children, a bounce house, and a dunk tank.  Habitat for Humanity, an organization that comes along underprivileged members of our community and helps make home ownership more accessible, came and shared about all their organization is doing.  We were able to donate $2,000 to Habitat through this event! 

One of the things that I very much appreciate about serving in our congregation is the high priority placed on training.  This year I was able to attend the Northwest Ministry Conference with Tim Hughes, Hillary Gentile, Kim Ciaciuch, and David Parkhurst in March of 2018, a Fresh Expressions Pastor’s Conference with Tim and a fellow Mission Northwest pastor in March 2018, and finally the Leadership Tune-up at Rosspoint with Tim, Macy Marquez, David Parkhurst, Hillary Gentile, and Nina Nenahlo in September of 2018.  Fresh ideas, inspiration, motivation, and time to dream with other leaders about where God may be leading us as a church is so key to keeping the church moving forward and preventing burn out.  Thank you for not only offering these opportunities to us as leaders, but encouraging them!

Something that has been crucial to my own personal journey in 2018 has been realizing a distinct call to ministry within my role at First Baptist and really wrestling with the theology on women in leadership.  From this I have more fully begun to embrace and step into the role of an associate pastor over the course of the year.  Thank you so much to those who have been walking in prayer with me in this, to those who have raised questions and asked for clarification over the theology, as well as to those who have been encouraging, offered feedback, and spurred growth within me.  You all have blessed my spirit beyond what you can imagine!

I also cannot thank the volunteers across all the teams that I work with enough!  Your passion and dedication to your Lord, your church, and your ministry are such a blessing!  Thank you for participating in the body of Christ, for being the hands, feet, eyes, shoulders, etc that God has called you to be!  I pray that “...the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit.  All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better”! (Colossians 1:10)

May God bless you and build you up in His Spirit!

Lynn Crawford