This past Sunday was Vision Sunday. We started by hearing a sermon where we heard the call of God to go Deeper. In the midst of all the forces in our culture, as well as, the things coming at us through the pandemic, we need to go even deeper into who God is, who we are and what that means for our lives. Then in our family meeting we discussed specific details about how we are seeking to put God’s vision for our church into action in 2021. Our mission remains the same. We exist to make, mature, and multiply disciples of Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, for the glory of God. Disciples are those who Love Christ, Love Each Other and (in our context) Love Our City. These things are unchanging, but we want to be consistently innovating in how we pursue them. Here’s how we are planning on pursuing this vision in 2021. You can watch the video of our Family Meeting here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cy_Q_LIdDB8
- After we finish our Luke series we are going to have a few short series addressing some of the threats that we see coming at us. First up is going to be a series called “Why Church?” Our understanding of church is really being stretched right now and so we want to be grounded in who we are together. We also are going to use this series to give new people an opportunity to engage in our membership process, so that they can become fully integrated into the life of Christ Church.
- We are going to be creating a digital resource available on our website of several short videos that we hope will provide timely answers from God’s timeless word to some of the questions that our culture is asking right now. Such as,
- How can God allow so much suffering?
- Isn’t the Bible just a bunch of myths?
- What does God have to do with Gender and Sexuality?
- Hasn’t science disproved God?
- As we have returned to having in person services, God is really moving in stirring spiritual gifting amongst those gathered and giving us opportunities experience the blessing of personal times of ministry. If you feel like God is putting something on your heart to encourage our church, then please reach out to me during the week or come up to me (or whoever the host pastor is for that morning) and share your word with us during our time of singing. We’d love to be able to pray with you and discern how we should respond to the word you feel that God has given you.
- We are hoping to have in person children’s ministry for our youngest children ages 0-4 starting sometime around Easter.
- Huge shout out to Pastor Matt for working so hard to revamp our ventilation system where we now have 100% fresh air exchange. 5 months of no COVID spread at our in person Sunday Service, shows that this system is really working. Thanks Pastor Matt!
Love each other
- In Genesis 2:14 God tells us that it is not good for us to be alone. We are seeing the truth of this born out as emotional, spiritual, and mental health is being incredibly challenged for those who are not connected regularly to church community. Therefore, a major goal for us this year is to have every member connect to one of our groups. Whether your preference is to be in person or online, to meet weekly or bi-weekly, to focus on studying the Bible, or to focus on fellowship, we have a group for you. We have created on central place where you can find out everything going on in the life of Christ Church. We call it the Hub. https://christchurchsouthphilly.org/card/. Use it. Get connected. You need this!
- The most effective way to help people get connected to one of our groups is through a personal invite. So, for those who are in person at our Sunday Service, this is a reminder to invite someone out to one of the groups you attend. Let’s remember that we are all on the “greeting team” and should show up on Sunday, not only eager to receive from the Lord, but eager to pursue being used by the Lord to touch someone else’s life.
- Last year we established a COVID-19 relief fund to help those who have been negatively impacted by COVID. This year we are keeping that fund, but broadening it to include Benevolence in general as we seek to meet financially needs in both our church and community. We want to be known as a church that there is to help people in need! You can give directly to this fund https://christchurchsouthphilly.org/give/ and choosing “Benevolence” from the drop down menu.
Love our City
- Our food distribution will continue as we give out over 250 boxes of groceries on a weekly basis. If you are interested in volunteering please reach out to Pastor Matt at [email protected]
- Our community tutoring will continue and we hope to take some form of it into the Fall as we continue to grow in our strategic partnerships with our local schools.
- Our addictions ministry, Transformation to Recovery (https://www.transformationtorecovery.org/), continues to thrive and we are hoping to get even more people involved this year. If you are interested in helping us bring the light of the gospel into the darkness of addictions, please reach out to our Deacon of Addictions Ministry- John Carlson, at [email protected]
- We love seeing the initiative and creativity that our members show in serving our neighborhood in a variety of ways. One example of this is how Jeremy Julien faithfully cleaning our local park every week. We want to join him in this as a church and expand out to several other parks, for a Spring Cleanup sometime in March. Stay tuned!
Our mission is lead by our pastoral team, which by the grace of God, continues to grow.
- Ian McConnell came on staff last November and on March 7th we will be installing him as an elder at Christ. If you have any encouragement for Ian, or feedback about his installation, please reach out to Pastor Jeff at [email protected]
- Due to some family dynamics caused by the pandemic, Pastor Steve is going on a temporary sabbatical from his pastoral ministry responsibilities in order to focus on the care and leadership that his family currently needs. He will continue to oversee our online platform for Christ Church Kids, but Pastor Matt will be temporarily overseeing in person children’s ministry.
- We continue to invest in raising up men for pastoral ministry who can take us forward in our mission to make, mature, multiply disciples of Jesus Christ. We have a three phase approach:
- Phase 1 Explore: Study the topic of Biblical Eldership and help men discern what it means to be a pastor and if they desire to explore that role
- Phase 2 Evaluate: Go through an internship to evaluate a man’s gifting, character, and theology
- Phase 3 Equip: Become a pastoral resident with specific pastoral responsibilities overseen by a Pastor, go through Ordination Standards, and congregational affirmation process
- Joe Catoe and Caleb McCurley have both completed Evaluate phase and the unanimous assessment of the Christ Church pastoral team is that these men should move on to the Equip Phase and become Pastoral Residents.
- We have two men entering our Evaluate Phase and becoming pastoral interns this year: Caleb Bermudez and Bill Rodebaugh. Bill is new to Christ Church, but not new to ministry. He helped Pastor Ian plant Grace City Northeast church and also went to help Pastor Ian with the transition to Covenant Community Church. He has severed as a deacon for decades, but pastoral ministry has always been something he has wondered about. He was in the process of exploring pastoral calling at Covenant Community Church and now that Covenant Community has joined with Christ Church, we are excited to be able to pick up this process with him.
We need to build out our diaconate ministry as the Lord has seemed pleased to give us an outsized influence in our city and the many demands of our various ministries are stretching our pastoral team. The role of a deacon is not to carry spiritual authority in the church, but to free up pastors from administrative responsibilities in the ministry of the church, so that the pastors can give attention to carrying their spiritual authority carefully and wisely. A deacon is someone who has both godly character qualities as listed in 1 Timothy 3:8-13 and is someone skilled in administrative leadership. In order to raise up more deacons, we will be having a 6 month deacon training cohort. While it is the elders responsibility to identify and appoint deacons, the congregation can help by nominating people they think both the character and skill qualifications. We are currently looking for deacons in the following categories:
- Children’s Ministry
- Community Outreach- Food distribution, tutoring, opportunities in neighborhood
- Facility- Point person for building maintenance
- Member Care- Coordinate meals, home repairs, various practical helps for people in need
- Hospitality- Point person for church event logistics, especially regarding food
Nominations can be sent to Pastor Jeff at [email protected]
In 2019 we left our former denomination and have loved being part of Trinity Fellowship Churches. Our pastoral team is heavily involved in the leadership of this denomination as Pastor Ian serves as the President, Matt Slingerland serves on the committee for Child Protection Policies, and Pastor Jeff serves on the committee for Church Planting and Partnerships and also chairs the National Finance Committee. This denomination is thriving and we will be getting an update soon from Pastor Ian on the many exciting things God is doing all over the country.
In our desire to plant churches we have been exploring a partnership with the Acts 29 Church Planting Network. Covenant Community Church was a part of that network and so when they joined us, Pastor Jeff went to meet with one of the Vice Presidents of Acts 29 to discuss Christ Church joining. We are excited to be part of this network for many reasons, but two primarily. One, they are world experts on church planting and their experience will help us to plant more churches through giving us a greater pipeline of church planters, tools to asses and plan for church planting, and revenue streams to fund plants. Two, they are a very diverse network and we are looking forward to how our value of diversity will continue to grow in expression in our local church through this partnership.
While our church income was down by 10% this past year, we were well prepared to weather that setback and remain financially sound. However, we are praying that God would increase our giving so that we can continue to pursue the many missional opportunities He has given us in our city. At our family meeting we went over our 2020 budget report and our 2021 anticipated budget. For anyone who would like more details, reach out to Pastor Jeff at [email protected]