It’s been a year, hasn’t it? Or, maybe more than a year. But, together we’ve been through one of the most challenging seasons of our lives. Pandemics, tornados inside and outside the church, a whole host of personal crises in-between. I’m grateful that we are breathing but also want to take a moment to say, “Wow, that was hard!” Here’s the great news: Ginghamsburg, we can do hard things! In fact, I realize we can do these hard things when we have a laser-sharp focus on our purpose. We are a people who love Jesus and do something about it. We have the privilege of partnering with God to witness God’s kingdom coming from heaven to earth. And though there have been days when I thought I wanted to see WAY more of God’s Kingdom than I was witnessing, I have to say, I see Jesus alive and well in you.
Did you know that in the last few months we’ve witnessed an uptick in attendance and giving across our campuses? In-person worship attendance has increased from 313 to 495 in the span of about four months. And that doesn’t include the hundreds that continue to worship online. Most encouraging though are the number of kids coming on Sunday morning, which has increased from 63 on average each Sunday in January, to 137 over the last three weekends. We are pouring into more than twice as many kids since the winter! Giving has slowly but steadily been increasing over the last eight months. The growth from about $52,000 average giving per week in the months leading up to Christmas to today’s better than $56,000 a week average in 2021 so far makes a big difference. That $4000 more per week, paired with the first and second Paycheck Protection Program loans (the first has already been forgiven) and our continued adherence to operating under the budget has put us in one of the strongest cash positions we’ve been in for years.
Did you know that nearly 1300 kids participated in this year’s Easter egg hunt at both our campuses? Did you know that our Ginghamsburg kids passed out 1000 care packages to residents and staff at local nursing homes? Did you know that our students in middle school and high school are taking turns leading worship and preaching at youth group, as well as serving within and outside the church? Last month’s New Path food drive was one of the largest collections to date. Since the start of 2021, New Creation Counseling Center has scheduled over 800 new clients, while also continuing to conduct more than 1100 counseling sessions per month. Our recovery ministry has witnessed more men getting free from sexual addiction, and new life groups are forming as a result of the Sex Talk series. Pastor Karl and our Fort family partnered with Belle Haven School to provide treats and Dayton Dragons tickets for the school’s annual basketball game between students in grades 5 and 6. Our Fort team spent time getting to know the kids! Did you know that the Ginghamsburg Christian Preschool and Childcare Center is slowly increasing the number of children enrolled and is nearing the totals it was at pre-pandemic? Plans are in place in May to reopen one of the toddler rooms that has been closed since COVID first hit over a year ago. You'll also see a few improvements in the Preschool and Childcare Center spaces in the coming months. Outside we added a shade structure and will be installing a poured-in-place rubber play surface for the youngest children to play on safely. Inside we’ve increased some technology infrastructure, updated some paint and signage and plan to replace lighting later this year. Did you know that your generosity has made all of this possible - and then some? Did you know that you love Jesus and you do something about it?
Love isn’t just the stuff that makes sense and is easy; love is our hard conversations. This week I’ve witnessed you ask anything, listen well, freely disagree and love regardless as we heard the verdict of the Derek Chauvin case. We are grateful for accountability and a breathing space for those of us who are black and brown. I praise God for the police officers who courageously spoke truth in love as witnesses in the case. You, Ginghamsburg family, are the kind of faith community that recognize there are no easy solutions or social media memes that can bring wholeness to broken systems. Even when we disagree, you don’t take your ball and go home. You lean into the conversation. We are a church that declares black lives do matter, and we are a church that prays for and champions the police officers in our lives. We’ve been able to climb out of the dualism that is so prevalent in our culture’s conversation and through the power of the Holy Spirit call people into relationship with us that don’t look like, vote like or live like you or I may look, vote or live.
We love Jesus and do something about, not because it is easy, but because it is not easy! We can do hard things, because we know that “I can do all this through Christ Jesus who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:13) God is not done with us yet. We are reimagining, innovating and stepping into a future that we don’t always see clearly, but we trust the One who does.
So, let’s commit together to our common purpose: loving Jesus and doing something about it. The rest we will figure out as we serve together, worship together, give together, gather in life groups together, care for our neighbors together, dream together and love God, self and others together. We are better together!