Fiscal Year Final and April 2021
At the business meeting last week I shared the numbers through March. Here is the updated version with April included. You faithfully gave this year! Even though many of you we have not seen all fiscal year long, and yet you faithfully gave.
Part of the reading plan at the end of April was Hebrews 11 containing the familiar verse "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Then the author goes on with many statements that start with "By faith..." followed by numerous examples where we see people in the Bible stepping out in faith. That is true of all of you this year with so much uncertainty, unrest and difficulty this year you gave 'by faith'.
Thank you for providing what was needed this fiscal year. Now as we enter into a new fiscal year we humbly ask that you continue listening to God and give by faith. Following the above passage we find in Hebrews 12 "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." Let's enter into Fiscal year 2021-22 with faith in Jesus who brings us endurance as we reflect on all He did for us.
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GPS Summer Ministry
GPS: Gather, Pray, Serve. As Pastor Andrew has mentioned the last two Sundays, this is our desire for moving forward as a church body. We want to do this in a few ways.
Gather- we want to gather in a combined 9:30 am outdoor service on the Family Fellowship Sundays this summer. Another way to gather is 100 Meals in 100 Days. We want everyone to be a part of gathering in smaller groups- one on one, families, couples- for a meal (snacks, dessert, or coffee counts too!). We hope to have everyone involved to make 100 Meals in 100 Days happen in our congregation.
Pray- we want everyone to participate in praying for our church and surrounding community. Our newsletter will keep you informed of prayer events in addition to the weekly prayer meeting. We hope that you will join in one of these opportunities at least once this Summer.
Serve-we will continue to use our newsletter to let you know weekly of opportunities to serve our congregation and greater community in both ongoing ways or one-time serves, so be watching for areas that God might be asking you to serve!
Ministry Update From Mark Hoffman
Hello, my name is Mark Hoffman. You see me leading worship in our Sunday morning services just about every week here at MCF, and it is a blessing to be able to do so. As Director of Worship Ministries, I’ve been asked by Pastor Andrew to give you all a worship ministry update for the past year.
Has much changed over the past year? Yes! Global pandemics have a way of disrupting things, and it was just over one year ago now that we all found ourselves trying to figure out how we do church during a lockdown, and for us, first and foremost this meant live streaming our worship services.
At the very beginning, Andrew streamed the entire service from his house as the main hub, and we incorporated other pre-recorded elements.There were weeks when the Bees led worship from their home live; weeks when Jim Herold recorded the worship songs, and several weeks when my daughter Sarah & I also pre-recorded worship from home. At least for me, there was a learning process here in lighting the room, positioning a phone to record the video, figuring out how to mic the piano and vocals, and finally editing together the audio and video. I have to give credit to Sarah, we always did everything in one take, except ONE TIME I lost my place and forgot the words and we had to restart. (I’m still a little mad about that!!)
Back at that time Andrew and I already had our Good Friday and Easter services all planned and ready to go, so we had to adapt the best we could, making a quick pivot to turn our Good Friday service into a self-directed service at home, and then Easter was another live stream from the Bee home with pre-recorded worship.
In May, some of the lockdown restrictions were relaxed so that we started being able to gather in groups of 10. This meant that we could bring in a small worship team and tech team and do the live stream from the church sanctuary with no in-person attendance. We began to use a new live stream system called Switcher Studio which allows us to use iPhones as our live cameras and produce a live stream with multiple camera angles. Special thanks goes to Andrew for all the work he put into figuring out all the technical aspects of how to do our live streams from the very beginning to what we have now. I’m so grateful for his knowledge and willingness to make things like that happen.
About this time we also began to use Faithlife as a tool to keep us connected and informed as a church. As it relates to worship, we’ve used Faithlife for posting my weekly Preparing for Worship blog, for maintaining an up-to-date page on our church website related to our Sunday services, creating digital bulletins, gathering info from digital connection cards, in addition to many other ways the church staff uses Faithlife for communication and connection. Faithlife isn’t a perfect digital tool, but it has several good features that we’re trying to leverage right now.
The plan for moving into the summer of 2020 was to begin having outdoor services once a month so that we could actually begin to gather people for worship again. We did have one outdoor service the first Sunday of June, but then as guidelines changed yet again, we made preparations to have in-person worship in the sanctuary for the first time in months. This meant as a staff figuring out capacity and distancing, setting up an RSVP system, working on COVID guidelines and much, much more. It also meant expanding to 2 worship services, one at 9:30am
and one at 11:00am, in order to accommodate as many people as we could while following our COVID guidelines.
This has pretty much been our standard up until now, 2 in-person services, while live streaming the 9:30am service. There have been bumps along the way, of course, like the COVID outbreak we had back in November that affected so many of us, along with the multiple times our staff and volunteers have had to navigate COVID exposure, possible exposure, getting tested, and on and on. This past year has not been easy. We now have 2 services plus the added element of live-streaming, and yet for a variety of reasons (some related to COVID and some not) our worship and tech teams have a total of about a dozen less volunteers than we did pre-pandemic. If you have a musical or singing gift and you’re interested in serving on the worship team, please feel free to talk to me. We especially have needs on our Tech team right now. We can train you. For the most part, if you know how to use a computer or a smartphone, you can learn how to serve on our Tech team by either running our slide presentations, or helping to produce the livestream, or being at the soundboard mixing audio. If you have questions and want to learn more, I strongly encourage you to come to our Tech Team “Open House” on Sunday, May 16th at 1:00pm. You can see what the Tech Team does, get hands on with the gear we use, and ask all your questions about these important behind the scenes serving opportunities.
I especially want to thank everyone who has been making Sunday mornings happen over the past year. To our Worship Team and Tech Team, some of you have gone above and beyond, coming to Thursday evening rehearsals and serving multiple weeks a month. You all make serving here such a blessing and I am so very thankful for each one of you. Thanks to all the folks on the cleaning team, thanks to our greeters and ushers, and to our Communion volunteers. Thanks to Pastor Andrew and our fantastic staff team of Eryn and Susan. Thanks also to all those helping now in our Sunday Children’s ministry, and thanks to Marcia Jarrett for all the fantastic Kids’ Time videos you recorded for our worship services last year.
Looking ahead, there is much more to do. There are more decisions to be made and steps to take in order to get back to “normal” Sunday worship. I look forward to getting us all back together in one room, at one time, seeing all of your faces and hearing all of your unmuffled voices praising the Lord together.
I’ve been reading a book called Corporate Worship by Matt Merker, and he writes this:
“Christians go to church because we are the church. God initiates in love to bring his people together for his good purposes. If a church never meets, it is no church at all. Meeting isn’t just something churches do. A meeting is, in part, what a church is.”
If nothing else, I hope that coming out of this pandemic we will have found a greater appreciation for the gathered church, for the special blessing of God’s presence in and among his people when we are together. In the year to come, may God continue to bring us together both physically and spiritually for his glory and for our good.
Meadows Kids - Group Update
The kids ministry team is praying James 4:8a over the kids. "Come near to God and He will come near to you."
We just finished teaching about prayer. The kids learned how to pray to God, and we are now teaching who God is through His attributes. This study will go through the summer and into the school year. We are praying that the kids grow closer to God and know who they are in Him.
The Littles (birth-age 4) will focus on one attribute a month. The Bigs (age 4-5th grade) will learn one attribute of God a month, but also learn who they are because of who God is.
Our volunteer schedule is completed only through this month, so please let myself or Eryn know if you would like to be part of this team. We have about 15 Bigs and 9 Littles that we have the pleasure of bringing Gods word to each week. Please prayerfully consider how God is calling you to serve. If you are unable to serve in the classroom, please continue praying to the hearts of the kids of MCF.
Today is garbage day at our house. Before garbage day comes, I clean out the refrigerator. I throw away perishable food that didn't get eaten. I throw away junk mail, old flowers, dead plants (yes, that happens a lot). Every week I am reminded of the "perishable-ness" of the things of this world. The need for grocery shopping, new clothes and shoes when the old have worn out, new light bulbs and batteries, etc... are constant reminders of the things of this world and our daily life that wear out.
This week in our Bible reading in 1 Peter we are constantly reminded about the imperishable hope that we have. Chapter 1 verse 6 tells us that we have "an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, " and verse 23 says that we "have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for 'All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever'. And this word is the good news that was preached to you."
What a blessing to know that we have the hope of a place where things do not wear out, our salvation is secure, and God's word, the good news "remains forever". Let's fix our eyes on Jesus, the One who has secured our future. No matter what happens here on our perishable earth and the uncertainties we experience in our daily life, we are assured that our inheritance is nothing like what have now.
"Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire."
Preparing for Worship - May 9, 2021
Jesus had just finished teaching the people with some challenging words. Then Matthew 11:25-30 tells us that Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” This week, we want to hear the call of Christ to come humbly to him, to follow him with child-like faith, and to submit to his leading. So we’ll come to Christ in our worship, singing Turn Your Eyes and You Gave Your Life, knowing that in turning to him we find rest for our souls.
This week we also want to take the opportunity to say… Happy Mother’s Day! Everyone has a mom, and we want to acknowledge and celebrate our moms today. Then, Pastor Andrew will continue our ON TARGET sermon series focusing on the shared value of Humility. This week, his message examines The Example of Christ found in Philippians 2:3-8. We’ll respond together singing in worship to our Humble King. Lastly, we’ll close our time of worship this week by praying for our Giving, and be sent out with some brief Announcements and a Benediction. As always, tell us how we can be praying for you. Send your prayer requests to: email@example.com.
Will you find a few quiet minutes to read and prayerfully reflect on the Scripture and songs above? Prepare your heart and mind to gather for worship this Sunday. You can find this week’s song playlist on Spotify and YouTube. Remember that attendance is still limited at our in-person services right now, so you must register if you’d like to attend. Everything you need to know about our Sunday worship services, including RSVP and live-stream information, can be found on our website at meadowsfamily.org/sundays.
I look forward to worshiping with you!
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BUSINESS MEETING THIS SUNDAY (For Real)
The Annual Business Meeting is this Sunday, May 2, at 12:30. Please make plans to be there as we will be introducing new prospective elders and approving the 2021-2022 budget. Here is Zoom info for those who cannot attend in person:
Join Zoom Meeting Online
Meeting ID: 746 802 2877
Join by Phone: Dial this number and follow the prompts.
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)