It sure was wonderful to worship with you last Sunday! There was a great spirit on our campus as we re-opened our church doors, and I hope you were as encouraged that morning as I was. As we are all learning in 2021, each of us can experience a “fresh start” every day, and I believe our church family experienced one last weekend. I’m grateful that we are now able to press on in the mission and ministry that God has called us to, and I’m excited for this week as we likewise look forward to a fresh start in our Midweek programming.
I believe we have much to celebrate in this new year. One thing I am celebrating this week is our church’s steadfast commitment in the area of stewardship. In a year filled with turmoil, our church family remained resilient and faithful through its giving. Through your generosity, God provided all that we needed to continue, and in many cases even expand, the ministries of ABC. I’m thrilled that we made the 2020 budget as we received over $4.1 million in general contributions. I’m also thankful that our church gave above and beyond to missions, as we exceeded our Lottie Moon goal by collecting over $64,000. Additionally, we were able to put a considerable dent into our debt in 2020. We were able to pay off an additional $642k above our debt service payments because of your faithful designated gifts. What an amazing testimony of God’s grace, that even in a year filled with countless challenges, our church cheerfully and faithfully gave over $4.9 million for kingdom work! I want you to know that your generosity makes a difference. Anytime you see a new visitor, a new member, or a testimony through believer’s baptism, you were part of that story through your faithful tithes and offerings. Because of that, we should all celebrate the 20 people that joined our church in December, including the 8 who were baptized last month. Likewise, we should all celebrate the ministry that is happening right now in 2021.
It was encouraging that even after a 3-week hiatus from gathering in-person, we added 6 new members into the family last Sunday. Additionally, we saw God move mightily in several of our ministry areas. The 11:11 service was up 44% from where it was on that same date last year, pre-pandemic. The student ministry also had a big weekend as they too welcomed more students than they had last year at this time. Our teenagers were thrilled to learn about the new ABC Students brand, see some of the new technology, and experience a few of the exciting upgrades to our youth rooms. Our children’s ministry also had a successful morning as they kicked off their new worship program, “Elevate.” The children had a blast as they learned about Christ through a dynamic program featuring videos, skits, music, and of course God’s Word. I was humbled to see over 20 teenagers step up to help lead those children through our Elevate team. It is a beautiful sight to watch young people grow a hunger to serve and disciple others in our church. I’m also looking forward to this Sunday as our Women’s Ministry will host a new ministry event, “The Collective.” I hope all of our ladies plan to attend this special evening of worship, and I encourage each of you to even invite a friend.
God is moving in our church, and we should all pause to give thanks. I believe He is blessing us as we collectively seek Him through our faith and obedience. Jesus reminds us, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt 6:33). As we continue to faithfully seek Christ and give towards His mission, I have no doubt that He will continue to build up His church for His glory. May we all pursue Him today, because if we do, I believe the best is yet to come.