Pastors BLOG
February 7, 2017, 12:00 AM

2017 Pastors Report: Loving God, Loving Each Other and Loving the People of Our World


Listed Ministry Vision Goals for 2017:

 

1. Grow Sunday Morning Worship Attendance Average to over 90.

 

2. Grow Sunday School, Sunday Night Worship and Wednesday Night Attendance to over 50.

 

3. Grow Church Membership to over 50.

 

4. Creatively and intentionally “Go” to where people are and meet needs in our community.

 

5. More men and women investing in our kids.

 

6. Grow a budget to expand our Youth Ministry and to Compensate a Youth Pastor.

 

7. Growing hunger in people for reading and studying God’s Word and applying it’s truths in everyday life.

 

8. Continue to provide the School of Ministry and seek out opportunities to provide internships and other training programs to develop leaders.

 

9. To see everyone in our church engage in being mentored and in mentoring someone else.

 

10. Greater emphasis on the dependence and pursuit of the presence of God through the proclamation of God’s Word, Prayer and Worship.

 

2017 Pastor’s Report:

“Loving God, Loving Each Other and Loving the People of Our World”

from our Annual Business Meeting held on January 29, 2017 at 5 PM

What an incredible year of change 2016 was.  Honestly, we as new pastors expected that there would be some changes, but we had no idea how ready our church people were to not only accept change, but to embrace it.  Our church members have really set the tone and we, as the new leaders have reaped the benefits of your flexibility and desire to move forward toward the call of God for us to be a Church that is “Loving God, Loving Each Other and Loving the People of Our World”.  In this report our goal is to revisit some of the significant things that have moved us in 2016 toward that mission, vision and purpose that our Lord Jesus Christ has called us too.

We will begin our examination of our year by evaluating the most obvious measures of a Church organization.  We will look at the numbers?  We will look at how we have improved facilities, growth of our fellowship and the progression of our finances. Secondly, we will look at how we are doing in the areas of “Loving Each Other” through Discipleship, “Loving the People of Our World” through Outreach and “Loving God” through our Worship.

 

Facilities

IMPROVED FACILITIES

To appeal to visitors and to maintain and make our facilities function better we set out in this past year to execute some significant projects.  We were able to accomplish a lot together and were able to do so in an economical way.

In the first months of this new year we began a stage renovation project which cost us under $1,000.00 and involved the talents and hard work of Junior Carroll, Tammy Culwell, Tim Culwell, Charles Ellis, Jeanie Ellis, Kendal Foster, Carl Friedel, Hannah Friedel, Sarah Friedel, Timothy Friedel, Kiersten Gardner, Kissa Gardner, Matt Gardner, Madison Gardner, Jerry Hawkins, Marianne Hawkins, Mike Lanier, Becky Weatherford and Jason Weatherford. 

During that same period efforts were made throughout our facilities to redecorate, clean and repurpose classrooms, greeting spaces, offices, etc.  Small touches around the facilities included: new privacy fence around our air conditioning units facing the Church parking lot, park benches and potted plants outside by our entryway, a nice wooden frame for the plaque outside commemorating the opening of our Fairview Rd. campus in 1991, redecorating the walls of the lobby and bathrooms, new signage, murals painted in classroom 4 in our main building and in the Children’s Church Room in the Gym for our kids. We also reopened our Family Life Center with its gym and its classrooms for the primary purpose of our kids and youth meeting needs.  These efforts culminated on Good Friday, where people of our congregation placed prayers and prophetic proclamations for our church inside the hollowed-out space of our new sanctuary cross, which was then hung as a cap of completion and unveiled on Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016. 

Helen Allen, Shonda Brown, Junior Carroll, Alex Cooper, Danny Cooper, Jennifer Cooper, Paige Cooper, Betty Files, Kendal Foster, Caleb Friedel, Carl Friedel, Hannah Friedel, Joshua Friedel, Sarah Friedel, Timothy Friedel, Kiersten Gardner, Kissa Gardner, Maddison Gardner, Matt Gardner, Rita Goebel, Jerry Hawkins, Marianne Hawkins, Claudia Hoffman, Brenda Howard, Freida Kelly, Mike Lanier, Eunice Lolmaugh, Greg Lolmaugh, Nelda Mungle, Ali Nortier, Connie Watson, Becky Weatherford, Jason Weatherford, Scout Weatherford and Sophie Weatherford contributed to multiple work and clean-up days leading up to Easter and because of all of you our facilities and grounds looked amazing and inviting for that Sunday. 

Other projects that followed include: the redecorating of our Youth Room stage walls and benches by Jason and Becky Weatherford.  We were also able to lengthen the life and improve the look of our aging parking lot by having it patched, resealed and restriped.  In the fall, we also updated our sound board for the sanctuary, which has improved our sound quality and capabilities greatly.

 

 

Fellowship

GROWTH OF OUR FELLOWSHIP

In 2016 we saw growth in all our Churches main weekly programs with the exception of Sunday School, which stayed essentially the same as the year previous (40).  Our overall attendance numbers in 2016 are better than the previous 4 years and match well with 2011 attendance numbers.  Our average attendance in Sunday morning worship (86) grew by fifteen people from 2015 (71) and eighteen from 2014 (69).  Our highest attended Sunday Morning Worship service was Easter, March, 27, 2016 with a record 153 people (going back to a 2014 Christmas Program attendance that was 135).  Our second highest attended Sunday Morning Service was Mother’s Day, May 8, 2016 with 114 people.  We broke the 100 mark of people in attendance on five other occasions and had 90 plus on seventeen Sundays in 2016 (compared to six occasions in 2015 and just 4 such occasions in 2014). Sunday morning being our main weekly event is perhaps the central focus of our efforts in growth.  We would like to see our numbers grow in 2017 so that we are consistently averaging over 90 people in our Sunday Morning Worship.

2016 Attendance Averages and Comparisons

Year Avgs

2016

2015

2014

Sunday School

40

40

42

AM Worship

86

71

69

PM Worship

45

36

35

Wednesday Nights

49

35

41

 

2016 Year High/Lows

Highest Attended

2nd Highest Attended

Lowest Attended

Sunday School

58 – 3/27

56 – 5/29

19 – 11/13

AM Worship

153 – 3/27

114 – 5/8

50 – 7/3

PM Worship

70 – 7/10

65 – 1/3

31 – 5/8 & 9/4

Wednesday Nights

75 – 9/28

72 – 6/22

21 – 3/20

 

100+ Attendance on a Sunday in 2016

100+ Attendance on a Sunday in 2015

2/7

103

4/5 (Easter)

114

2/21

102

5/3

100

2/28

101

8/16

103

3/27 (Easter)

153

 

 

4/17

101

 

 

5/8 (Mother’s Day)

114

 

 

8/21

107

 

 

*We Had 90+ on 17 Sundays in 2016.

*We Had 90+ on 6 Sundays in 2015.

*We Had 90+ on 4 Sundays and 100+ on 2 Sundays in 2014.

 

Our Sunday PM Worship has also grown by a margin of nine from 36 in 2015 to 45 and Wednesday Nights have grown by a significant number of fourteen from 35 in 2015 to 49 in 2016. We would like to see attendance in our Sunday School, Sunday PM Service and our Wednesday Night Services grow to consistently averaging over 50 each week.

We also saw some new events added to our calendar this year like VBS and the Harvest Carnival which were both well attended.  Vacation Bible School on July 17-20, which had the “Surf Shack” theme, was directed by Claudia Hoffman.  In the span of 4 days we had 52 kids in attendance and about 35 volunteers, adults and youth helping to serve and lead.  Our Harvest Carnival on October 30 we estimate had over 250 people in attendance and 40 plus volunteers serving people.  We are excited to build off these events to see greater outreach in the future.

In September, we hosted a New Members Luncheon, where we presented a packet of information about the history, vision, values and expectations of a member of P1AG to people.  We added 10 new members to our Church upon approval in the following Church Board meeting on October 18.  These new members are the following: Hannah Barnett, Will Barnett, Tammy Cullwell, Tim Cullwell, Kissa Gardner, Matt Gardner, Brenda Mann, Rick Mann, Hannah McCracken and Rhonda Riggins. Earlier in the year we added 4 others to our membership rolls: Helen Allen (2/9), Jerry Hawkins (2/9), Ashley Pearson (8/22) and Devin Pearson (8/22).  Our membership has grown from 32 active members in January of 2016 to 43 active members in January of 2017 and we would like to see this number continue to grow to over 50 active members in 2017.

 

Finances

PROGRESSION Of OUR FINANCES

In the summer, we had a transition in the area of our finance department.  Jeanie Ellis had been serving faithfully as the Church Treasurer since before we arrived.  Jeanie notified us that she would need to step down from serving in this capacity for health reasons officially at the end of June.  The Church Board deliberated and we decided to ask Jerry Hawkins to serve as our Treasurer and Rick Mann to serve as our Church Bookkeeper.  When these two qualified men accepted this responsibility, we formed a Finance Team which would consist of Jerry, Rick, and the both of us (Carl and Sarah) as Pastors.  Together we decided to evaluate and make necessary changes to all our financial procedures, and submitted a Financial Procedures Handbook to the Board for adoption as policy on August 9, 2016.  This has helped to create stronger accountability and a clear paper trail of all monies given and spent for accounting and auditing purposes.

This Finance team also set out in the fall of 2016 to create a detailed working budget for the upcoming year of 2017, which we did not have in 2016.  This budget was finalized and approved in our January 17, 2017 Church Board meeting.  It is a clear document that will help us honestly track our spending and keep us focused on the mission and vision for which each item was thoughtfully and prayerfully budgeted.

In 2016 we saw a $12,000 increase in income from the previous year.  Tithes and Offerings increased by over $5,000.  Missions Giving from our people increased by over $1,400.00.  We were able to give $21,182.00 away to missions, outreach and benevolence, which is $5,000.00 more in 2016 than the year previous.  We were able to fund multiple outreaches to our community including an Easter Egg Hunt, VBS, Back to Church Sunday and the Harvest Carnival.  We were also able to add almost $14,000.00 worth of improvements to our facilities, sound equipment, office equipment and grounds.  We have successfully renegotiated our mortgage with Church Extension Plan to a lower interest rate and consequently a lower monthly payment, while also streamlining many of our other expenses.  We have been able to open in this new year a savings account where we have deposited $17,060.00 earmarked throughout 2016 for a “Contingency Fund”, of which we are continuing as a policy to automatically add $500 each month.  We are maintaining a checking account of no less than $10,000.00 and besides these items aforementioned, we saw an excess gain of $5,283.00 in the black in 2016.

 

 

Discipleship & Outreach

LOVING EACH OTHER & LOVING THE PEOPLE OF OUR WORLD

Updating Buildings, growth in attendance and finance numbers are all important and great, but the greatest measure of success for a church is in following what Jesus called us to do in the great commission; “go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19).  This is why we are here.   Jesus called us as a church to #1 “Go” and #2 “make disciples”.  

The command to “Go”, indicates intention and action on our part in “Loving the People of Our World”.  We cannot just wait for people to show up in our worship services.  God is commanding us as His Holy Spirit empowered witnesses (Acts 1:8) to, Go out…into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in…the poor, crippled, blind and lame; and then go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled.” (Luke 14:16-24).  In our sanctuary alone we have roughly 230 seats and average 86 total persons in worship in our single Sunday morning worship service each week.  As the servant said to the Master in the parable in Luke 14:22 – there is room.”  Jesus is calling us to fill the room with those who are poor, crippled, blind and lame.  Jesus reference to the highways and the hedges was understood to mean those who were despised in society.  In Paragould, Greene county and in North East Arkansas we must determine where these “poor, crippled, blind, lame and despised” people are and we must “Go” to them and invite them in, not just into our church, but into the blessing and fulfillment of a life in Christ.  The question for us is whether we will choose to be obedient to the master or not.  As your leaders, we affirm emphatically, in the words of Joshua, “…as for me (us) and my (our) house we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).  He has called us to go and so we must respond with intention and with action.

In 2016 our Church people intentionally left the comfort of our Church building/ campus to canvas nearby neighborhoods and markets on Wednesday, March 23 to pray for and invite people to our Easter Celebration; on Wednesday, July 6 and 13 to pray for and invite people to our VBS; on Wednesday, September 14 to pray for and invite people to National Back to Church Sunday; and on Saturday, October 22 the P1AG School of Ministry went to the downtown area of Paragould to pray for and invite people to our Harvest Carnival.  Each of these special occasions provided the opportunity for us to intentionally “Go” and actively minister to people and invite them to come to events at our church where our people then faithfully served those who attended.  In 2017 we need to do more.  We want to creatively and intentionally find ways that we can “Go” to where people are and meet needs in our community.  We want to move evangelism (“Going”) beyond just inviting people to events, as we see our people personally engage the people of our world, our community in tangible acts of love and service.

The calling to “make disciples” is by far the most important thing that we are to be doing.  We are responsible to raise up future generations to continue to carry on the movement called the Church and its purposes of proclaiming the Kingdom of God throughout the earth.  Our goal is to not just transfer information, but to see lives transformed and ignited for the cause of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom.  This is why we “Go” to make disciples.

Our Children’s programs, which include: Sunday School, Kid’s Church, Jr. Kid’s Church, Wednesday Night Kids Classes, and Nursery are some of the most important platforms for us to accomplish the goal of discipleship in future generations.  Our Children’s programs are going to grow as our Church grows, providing us with more opportunities to help parents lay a foundation for them to live a life with a godly worldview, one that has as its foundation a desire to “Love God, Love Each Other and to Love the People of Our World”. We have wonderfully committed people serving in these areas, but we need more men and women who would give of their time and energy to invest in our kids.  They are not just the Church of the future, they are the church of today.

Our Youth Ministry, under the leadership of Jason and Becky Weatherford, has provided continuity for our teens in having good teaching and godly mentors to look up to.  On Sunday mornings Spencer Hoffman, teaching Youth Sunday School, partnered with the Weatherfords in providing an opportunity to teach our teens through Bible Study.  We have an incredible group of young people in our church and they have the potential to be real world changers.  In this new year we have asked Devin Pearson, who has been serving as a Pastoral Intern with us since August of 2016 and who has been helping with the youth, to step in as our Youth Pastor.  Pastor Devin shared with me (Carl) this past week that the students together with him have adopted a new Youth Group name “IMPACT”, which is an acronym for “Influencing My Peers As a Christian Teen”.  This name resonates strongly with our mission and purpose of raising up disciples who will influence their world.  I am thankful for the great foundation that we have in our Youth Ministry programs and am excited to see where this important ministry of our church is going.  We would like to see our Church finances improve in such a way that we can provide a strong budget for this ministry to teens including potentially making the Youth Pastor position one that we can financially compensate.

Adult Sunday School continues to be an important way in which we can help our people to grow in Biblical literacy.  Kendal Foster, faithfully and diligently studies every week, to present solid biblical teaching.  Jason and Becky Weatherford approached us early on in 2016 about possibly starting an adult Sunday School class for college students and those under 40.  They launched this class at Easter and it has seen good growth.  On Wednesday nights, we have an Adult Bible Study that has given us opportunity to dig deeper into the scriptures through expository and topical messages and group discussion.  We want to see our people grow in their hunger for reading and studying God’s Word and a fervor to apply it’s truths in everyday life.

As we came to be your pastors one of the things that we immediately prayed to God for was His provision in raising up and developing leaders.  We believe that a focus on Leadership Development will provide for future needs in our church staff/ leadership and will have an impact beyond our local body as we release people to God’s plans and dreams. 

To develop leadership, we have done a couple of things. First, we started in September the P1AG School of Ministry.  In our first SOM session we saw 6 students not only complete the course, but grow and engage with the things they are learning.  We are eager to continue providing this opportunity for our people to grow and to practice the Kingdom principles and disciplines that Jesus prescribed for His disciples.  Secondly, we were able to begin to provide a Pastoral Internship for Devin Pearson, who has just recently accepted the role as Youth Pastor here at P1AG.  We will continue to seek out opportunities to raise up and invest in future leaders and pastors through internships and training programs.

 

In our Church, there is a great wealth of biblical knowledge, life experience and wisdom.  This is a resource often untapped in the church.  Sharing our gifts, talents, abilities, and experiences is the greatest way that we can “Love Each Other”. Our desire is to see everyone in our church engage in both growing as a disciple under the leadership and training of more experienced and/ or mature brothers and sisters and to see them seeking opportunities to mentor those who are younger in the faith.

 

 

Worship

LOVING GOD

In 2016 we intentionally have tried to emphasize the pursuit of and dependence upon more of the presence of God in our worship services.  Worship is the foundation of everything that we do.  Moses said that without the presence of God going with and before him that he would not lead the people anywhere (Exodus 33:14-16).  Jesus taught us that we must abide in Him and apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:4-7).  The way that our relationship with God and His presence in our lives is cultivated is through our worship.  The Word of God says that the Lord inhabits our praises (Psalm 22:3) and the vision of eternal life with him as recorded by John the Revelator and the Prophets Elijah and Daniel depict a setting of continual worship where the hosts of heaven and all his creation cry out, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God almighty!”  It is our privilege to engage with heaven in worshipping our Lord here in the effort to fulfill the example proclamation prayer of Jesus; “Thy will be done, Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).  Before each of our worship services Marianne Hawkins has faithfully led prayer times of intercession and preparation with a group of prayer warriors.  Declarative prayer and prayer for healing is increasingly becoming a major component of our services. The worship team that we have at present are intent at not only leading songs with excellence, but more importantly in leading our congregation into times of worship expression that aligns our hearts with our Father’s.  It is our goal as preachers and teachers to use the pulpit to proclaim the Word of God in such a way that it transforms lives and is expressed in daily application.  We want to see a greater emphasis in 2017 on the dependence and pursuit of the presence of God through the proclamation of God’s Word, prayer and worship.

 

 

In Conclusion

2016 has been a great start toward what we believe that God is leading His church toward.  We are believing for a revival that starts with us and that is manifest in lives devoted to“Loving God, Loving Each Other and Loving the People of Our World”.  We are eager to see how God will birth new vision and dreams in our people toward that goal and mission.  We believe that the greatest days of Paragould First Assembly of God are ahead of us and we are happy that we get to be a part of it with you.

 

Loving God, Loving You and Loving the People of Our World,

 

Carl and Sarah Friedel

Pastors  

 

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