God has done Marvelous Things for us, with us and hopefully through us in this past year of 2016. In addition to events we have held in the past such as campaigns, special days or VBS, there have also been new opportunities as well as the expansion of existing ones. For example, Recovery through Christ continues to expand offering healing in 6 congregations in Tennessee. Presently it is in 3 states and expands to two more in 2017. The material is currently being translated in French and Spanish as well as a major workshop being planned for Faulkner Lectureships.
“One Word” is another work reaching across the kingdom in 2017. A generous gift from Mrs. Ann Craddock funded this work which consists of a daily devotional book and study guide called One Word. It will allow the opportunity to study a word together each week from the Holy Word of God.
In April Family Day took on a new look as families were encouraged to spend Sunday afternoon together with the Lord’s family. There were a dozen activities to choose from ranging from the Zoo to a Sounds game to a tour of Nashville with Tony. It was such a good day.
Mission Day closed Sunday evening with a brief report of each mission work. The insight and efficiency of this update was well received.
In May, Graduation Recognition Day honored an all-time high of 36 seniors. The Youth Summer Camp and Fall Retreat both broke records. We had 191 campers plus 82 staff and 130 students attended our Fall ’16 retreat. While he was only supposed to be here for two years, it was bittersweet to see Jody Marble leave us to begin his first full-time youth ministry position at the Bartlett Woods church of Christ in Memphis, TN. Thanks be to God, Jody, his new bride Katie, and the youth ministry at Bartlett Woods are all thriving.
Austen Oakley came on board as our Youth Minister in Residence. In June, Lauren Moss began as our Children’s Class Program Director. The ability, spirituality and wisdom of these two have been a rich blessing and have made an immediate impact.
We have greatly missed John Michael Kennedy as he resigned from Involvement Minister, but are thankful for his continual labor in the kingdom here at MJ. We also appreciate his Kona Ice treats!
Perhaps the biggest week MJ congregation has ever experienced was the 125 Year Anniversary and Homecoming. There were 12 events of the week including appreciation dinners, a Wednesday night Thanksgiving Worship service, a church picnic, a reunion singing, a youth group reunion, worship including preaching by men who grew up at MJ and a homecoming program which highlighted our past, present and future. In September, our own Wayne Miller did a great job preaching at our Grandparents day.
As we close out the year we consider the state of the congregation. Numbers do not reveal hearts, but they do give us a measurable evaluation. On the slide below you will see average numbers for 2016. We are richly blessed with a little growth in most areas. My small concern is the slight fall in two categories. One might say, only two? But these two areas often reveal much about the spirituality of a congregation; Sunday night attendance and responses (including baptisms). My cry is not “the building is on fire” but my transparent plea is, lets never stop growing spiritually. Let’s put the Lord first in our life and let’s share Him with others. Let’s come each time the doors are open to the place of worship with a “voice of thanksgiving and tell of all His wondrous works” as we studied a few weeks ago in Psalm 26. Let’s invite people to join us in Bible study and worship. Let’s speak a good word for the Lord. Let’s truly care about our souls as well as others.
Pray! Pray about our spiritual growth in 2017. There are big decisions to make. There are souls moving into our area every day. The mission field is expanding in our community daily. Let’s partner with God; “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Eph. 3:20-21).
I look forward to studying one word with you each week from The Word in 2017!
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you” (Phil. 1:3).