For the past 2.5 years, I have been serving as a pastor of Grace Baptist Church.  I have not blogged much about my church or my role as a pastor (other than the kingly administration stuff).  It has been an incredible journey so far, and I am loving being a church that is “reformed and always reforming according to the Word of God.”

Last week, we gave an elders report to our congregation for our annual members meeting.  This report is our reflection on the past year of ministry (specifically September 2009-September 2010).  God is doing some wonderful things through our church family, and I thought I’d share nine of them in bullet form here (for a detailed summary, go here).

* We removed 120 members from our church and rebuked an elder publicly for causing a schism in our Hispanic ministry.
* Although we did not meet budget, we still were able to give $136,500 to missions over the past year, which comes to 33% of our annual income.
* Our church went to two services and has seen 26% growth, including conversions from atheists, agnostics, and adulterers.
* We made a significant structural change to allow for increased decentralization and delegation in weekly growth groups.  Growth is measured in the three areas of gospel, community, and mission.
* We have had members serving as missionaries among three unreached people groups (from South America to Central Asia to the Pacific Rim).  The Mbya of Paraguay were engaged for the first time by one of our families this past summer.
* We partnered with a pastor and church planter from Haiti who God sent to our church.  We have purchased 275,000 meals for 1,500 orphans in the 10 churches and orphanages he oversees and have planned three trips next year to train pastors, set up medical clinic, host a VBS in an orphanage, and complete several construction projects.
* Our first daughter church was launched this past month with 45 of our members being sent as part of the core group.  The church is now seeing around 75 in attendance.
* Our first church planting apprentice joined us this past month, and I am mentoring him over the next year.  He is looking to start a missional community in his community of Harlem Heights–a low-income community of predominately Hispanic and African American families.  Our hope is to invest in him and see a gospel-centered, multi-ethnic church planted among the urban poor.
* We launched a national church planting network focused on planting missionally driven, confessionally grounded, distinctively Baptist church planting churches across North America.  We are still very early in its development, but we are encouraged by the response so far and look forward to assessing our first group of planters in the spring of next year.

I don’t know if I have mentioned this or not, but we live in an area known as the foreclosure capital of the US, dubbed the “worst performing job market” out of the top 100 metropolitan centers, and a culture without roots or traditional identity.  Only 6% of the population attend a church on any given Sunday (not just evangelical).  The need is incredibly great, and our city and surrounding communities are hurting terribly.  We are grateful for what God has done over the past year, but we hope to attempt greater things for God and expect greater things from God to leverage our resources and God’s blessings for the sake of Christ’s kingdom.  I pray that by God’s grace we will be good stewards of the gospel in word and deed, committed to making disciples, planting churches, and seeing individuals, families, and communities transformed by the power of our risen Lord.