Transcript of the Stewardship Dinner Keynote, October 15, 2017
By Megan & David Collins, Co-Pastors
A year ago we shared with you five obstacles for the church in its worship services, along with how we might address those.
The first obstacle we raised was that sometimes people come to church and feel like it doesn’t apply to their lives. To address this we first worked to create a sermon series plan that would speak to real issues all of us face.
We started the year off with the 12 Steps, and as a part of this series not only looked at how the steps apply to all of us, but heard powerful testimonies from members of the congregation, and built a relationship with Recovery House that continues to blossom.
We then moved on to a series on Baptism. We saw how this sacrament applies to us today, celebrated new baptisms together, and had the opportunity to reaffirm our baptism in worship.
After Baptism we studied the book of Philippians in depth, with instruction on how we live as Christians today, then moved on to the series Testimony. During Testimony we learned how to talk about God in our lives and begin to tell our own faith stories.
Right now we are in a series City Church to talk about what it means to be a congregation in our growing community, as Maitland grows around us. Through the sermon series this year, we have worked to connect our faith with the real lives we live Monday – Saturday.
Another way we have worked to make worship connect with our everyday is to build on the strong legacy of music in both services. Mike Goodenow has continued his excellent work with the traditional worship service at 11:00, and Matthew Astone was hired to lead the praise band at 9:30.
The second obstacle we addressed last year was the question “Where will my kids go?”
The first part of the solutions was a relocation of the nursery to make it closer to the sanctuary. Through the flexibility of our church groups, a lot of work from Jonathan McKinney and Vanessa Urban, and some heavy lifting from Boy Scout Troop 205, the church library was combined with the conference room, and the nursery moved into the main church building. Now the children have a large, safe and modern space during worship, and we have seen a significant increase in the number of infants and toddlers who come to the nursery each week.
The second part of addressing this obstacle was to expand children’s ministry on Sunday mornings. Now we have children’s programing here from 9:30 to noon each Sunday. Kids start the morning with Sunday School with Vanessa. At 11:00, our new Children’s Music Leader Kristen Van Caulil leads a children’s music class. The orf instruments and children’s chimes have been dusted off and are being put to use upstairs in this exciting new ministry. This has made it possible for parents to choose the worship style that best fits their family, or to bring their children to church for the entire morning.
The third obstacle we looked at last year was the concern that “I won’t know anyone.”
One way we have eased the anxiety of a first visit to worship on Sundays is the construction of the new Welcome Center. This beautiful new project allows for a central location for children’s sign-ins, ministry information, and our welcome team to greet visitors, without obstructing the flow of people near the front door.
Fourth we raised the obstacle “I need more information.”
With a church this busy we have a lot of information to communicate, and we needed some updating. The first update was completed this year, with the launch of the new website, www.maitlandpres.org and its integration with social media. This upcoming year we are upgrading our entire communication platform to make it more effective and accessible for the congregation.
Fifth and finally, we talked about the aging sound and visual systems, and how we can’t always see or hear in worship.
Through a generous donation, we were able to install the Hearing Induction Loop in the sanctuary, which enables our members with hearing devices to connect directly to the signal from the sound board. And because of many more church members’ great generosity, we will have an entirely new AV system in the sanctuary by Christmas. This will include a new environmental projector (that will let us highlight the architecture of the sanctuary instead of covering it with a screen), smaller side screens to make sure everyone can see, and a new sound board and speakers.
This has been a big year. We have been Investing in Worship
Our Goal for 2018: Engaging Our Community
Now it is time for us to focus on Engaging Our Community. This means engaging each other within our congregation and together engaging our city. While last year meant infrastructure improvements to make worship more accessible, this year is a shift in how we use our resources to accomplish our mission of engaging our community here in the church, and all around us.
Six Opportunities in 2018
1. New neighbors moving in around us with the completion of Maitland city.
This year we will have 200 new apartments immediately surrounding the church. There will also be new restaurants, shops, a park, and other new apartments just down the street. If you look at a map of the new city center of Maitland, we are right in the middle of it. During the sermon series City Church, we have been beginning the conversation about reaching out to our new neighbors.
2. Our buildings
We have a wonderful church facility, with over 20,000 square feet of space for ministry and programs. Over the years, the building has been continually updated and maintained and offers us a tremendous location for current ministries to grow and new outreach events to be explored.
3. The diversity of our location.
Living in Central Florida, we have people from all over the world within a short drive of the church. Our congregation has a unique opportunity to be a welcoming place for those who are trying to make this their home.
4. Our strong group of older adults who are engaged in the life of the church.
On our church rolls we have 170 members who are 75 years old and older. These members have been instrumental in building this church and leading its ministries. We want to ensure that these members continue to be active in the life of this congregation.
5. Young families and our preschool
Maitland Presbyterian Preschool was started in 1967 and currently has 76 children enrolled. Each of these children are part of a family, and their family is a part of a network of friends and relatives. They are in the building every week, and we would like them to feel like a part of this church family. We have fantastic staff in children and youth ministry, and we would love for new families to be a part of the ministries here.
6. Finally our sixth opportunity this year is simple: Be the church.
People have plenty of organizations in their lives. They have rotary clubs, neighborhood groups, and school committees. But we get to be their church.
Our Plan for 2018
These are just six of the many opportunities God can work through in the life of our congregation in 2018. Here is how we plan to meet them.
1. We seize the opportunity of new people moving in.
As we prepare to greet the new neighbors and businesses around us, we will focus our resources on hands on mission and ministry.
This starts with letting people know we are here, which means intentional marketing, community fellowship events and opportunities to join us in mission. We have been meeting with two congregation members who are experts in marketing to create an effective plan to invite people to join us, and make sure they get connected if they attend.
Community events will provide a chance to meet our new neighbors outside of worship with events like a food truck rally in the parking lot. We want our community to be invited to join us in mission at Second Harvest or another house build here at the church. This year we will invest in these opportunities to welcome the people around us as soon as they move in.
2. We preserve and update our buildings
Every room of the church is actively used each and every week. To build on the opportunity our facility offers, we will be investing resources to keep the building in good repair and technology updated so that it can be an instrument for ministry for the future. Because this building is an asset that sets us apart in our community, and enables us to do ministry all week, we’re budgeting more money for repairs and more money for upgrades.
3. We celebrate our diversity
In November we will celebrate the one year anniversary of the Language Learning Center here at Maitland Presbyterian Church. Under the leadership of Lindsey Masterton Mahan, this grant supported program has grown to include students from Hungary, Iraq, Venezuela, China, Brazil, Japan, and many others. Not only does this class provide the language instruction essential for finding work and completing education, but it has become a family of students and volunteers. The students come to our building every Thursday evening, and some are even joining us in worship on Sunday mornings, bringing their families. One student joined the bell choir. Others send their children to youth group.
Already the class has outgrown the conference room and will move to the Family Life Center next month. The challenge this year is to ensure this grant funded program can continue into the future.
4. We support and equip our older adults
We want our older adults to remain engaged in our community. This means talking about transportation. This year we will replace the church bus with a newer vehicle to transport older adults to church ministries. We are exploring options like Lynx for bringing those who need a special vehicle because of mobility issues.
With a campus this large, we know that getting from one end to the other is quite a walk. With your support, we will get a golf cart to ease transportation from the Fellowship Hall to the gym.
Finally, to support our adults in challenges they may face, we will continue to have three pastors ministering together, by continuing to invest in Pastor Labert Altemose’s ministry of pastoral care and his leadership in Stephen Ministry and with the Deacons.
5. Resource Children and Family Ministries
We want to build on the strong family ministries in this congregation, including the connection between the church and the preschool. In addition to weekly preschool chapel, this year as a congregation we will reach out to these families by investing in our children and family ministries. The resources committed to these ministries support outreach events like family movie nights and the fall festival, the growing Sunday School program, and the new children’s music class. All of these are a connection point with the preschool and families in our community.
6. Be the church
It is more important than ever to really be the church for people. For us this means taking a whole year to focus on who Jesus is and what he taught. In worship in 2018, we will cover the entirety of the four gospels. But instead of moving through them from start to finish, we will group them around the topics and main events of Jesus’ life and teaching. We will focus on topics like integrity, forgiveness, community, money and family. We’re calling it “Everything Jesus Taught”.
This study won’t end after worship on Sunday morning. We’ll continue to write questions and studies for our small groups to use. And this year, we’re going to bring back Wednesday nights.
We’re going to have several sessions of Wednesday night classes, all scheduled together, so there’s something for everybody. Our first one will feature a parenting class, taught by Rebekah McConn from Thornwell, a deeper study on the Jesus teaching we’ll be looking at that week, offerings for children and youth, and it will all finish up in time for choir. Oh, and there will be no meal. We can eat take out together, but we don’t want it to be too complicated.
A new thing we’re going to do this year is a podcast. Every week, we are going to record a light hearted conversation about ministry, life, and everything Jesus taught.
We will continue to livestream the sermon on Sunday in case you miss worship.
All of the material will be available at the church and on a website to be created just for this year’s study, EverythingJesusTaught.com. By the end of the year we will have covered the entire life and teaching of Jesus. We want to be focused on the reason we are here together – Jesus Christ.
We have a big year ahead as we work to Engage our Community together.
We believe Maitland Presbyterian Church can do this. We believe that God is at work in more ways than we can name in the life of this congregation, and has big plans for its future. Over our first two years with you, we have seen you be the church for one another, and reach out to the community. You care for one another, reaching out when someone is hurting. You take a risk and share your story of faith.
You take time out of your schedule to serve those in need. You sing and play instruments, you knit and sew, you open the door and greet people who come through the door in the morning, you lead Sunday School, you fold newsletters, you clean the pews.
In everything you do, you show that you love this church. And we do too. That’s why we pledge our financial support every year. Will you join us in supporting Maitland Presbyterian Church?
Will you join us in Engaging Our Community?
We are inviting you to join us as we engage our community this year. We can’t do this without you. We are asking you for three things:
First, attend worship. This may seem like an obvious one, but it is so easy for us to get busy and miss the opportunity to worship together. We know many of you have times when you travel or can’t be here, and we would encourage you to catch the video of the sermon, or read the printed copy during the week to stay with us during the sermon series. But it’s not the same as being here – when we get together on Sunday mornings, we engage with each other and with God.
Second, invite someone to come with you. We love when visitors come through our doors on their own. And we will be doing everything we can this year to keep them coming back. But we also know that if someone comes with a friend they are much more likely to feel at home here. We believe that this is a dynamic and life changing place to be in worship. We would love the opportunity to share that with the people in your life.
Third, we ask you to financially support the work of the church through your pledge. We know this one is hard, because we do it too. But every dollar that goes in the offering plate on Sunday mornings, or gets automatically transferred out of your account each month, makes all of the amazing things happen here. God takes what we give and transforms it into ministry. Presbyterians are planners, and pledging helps us plan and set our budget for next year. So please, take the opportunity to make a commitment and be a part of where we are headed this year.
We can imagine that you have questions about how the plans in this packet will become a reality. Our doors are always open to you to talk more about the church and where it is going, answer any questions, and address concerns. If you have read something that you would like to talk more about, let’s find a time to get together.
So let’s partner together, engaging our community through our work and presence, and through our gifts. 2018 is going to be an amazing year here at Maitland Presbyterian Church!