How about that Global Impact Celebration?!
We have been truly blessed to rub shoulders, share meals, and live in community with our local and international mission partners. It has been an extraordinary five days in the life of our church.
Before I say anything else about our time together I want to thank God for sending the Holy Spirit to move among us and within us. I think everyone who attended can attest to that. Then, I want to give a big shout out to Pat LaMountain, Chris Thomas, and Ian Stake (and the rest of our church staff) for undertaking a huge task of organizing, coordinating, and bringing our GIC to life. Everyone who attended was awestruck by the beauty of the Family Life Center, the smoothness of our schedule, and the Spirit filled moments that occurred throughout the conference. While the movement of the Holy Spirit is sometimes inscrutable (John 3:8), this team created moments throughout the week where we welcomed the Spirit as a church and as individuals. And the Holy Spirit showed up!
At the end of our GIC, we were bowled over by the news that our congregation made faith promises of over $94,000.00 for our church’s mission work. Since then that number has been growing and I think we will blow past $100,000.00 very soon. What a miracle! Just remember: two months ago we were facing the possibility of deep cuts in our operating budget. As a certain Toyota dealer loves to say, “Jacksonville, this is HUGE!”
In 2017, our outreach budget (nestled in our general operating budget) was a $6,000.00 line item. We eliminated that from the budget, in hopes that the GIC would substantially increase this. But who could have foreseen that it would increase 16-fold?
While this has many implications for the ministry of our church, here is my big takeaway: We are going to be a very strong missional church. Over its lifetime, Southside has developed several core ministry practices and competencies that form our congregational identity: children’s ministry, youth ministry, and worship arts. Our discipleship ministry is one of the finest in Florida Annual Conference. Now add to that Missions! This is a turning point in the history of our congregation.
One of the reasons we can be sure of this is because of so many people who – at the close of our Sunday evening Life Commitment Service – who came down to the altar to make a personal commitment to the mission work of our church. It was very moving. We have included that same Life Commitment card in your bulletin today. If you would like to make a commitment to missions, please fill it out and place it on the altar at the close of the service. Our GO Teams will be in touch with you about how and where God is calling you to serve.
As we move forward into the year, expect to see and hear more great news from the mission field. Know that God is at work among us in a new and powerful way. And give thanks for all that has already been done among us.
-- Pastor Bruce