Dear Fellowship Family,
You will find this year’s annual Stewardship Plan letter to be quite different. And, why not—it’s 2020! I simply want to focus on three words that characterize where my heart is as we end the crucible that 2020 has been for us as individuals, as a church, and as a nation: gratitude, hope, joy.
Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”
Luke 17:17, 18
To be a leper was to suffer in every form—spiritually, socially, emotionally, mentally. You were treated like the walking plague, which in some sense, you were. Jesus healed ten lepers. But only one returned to express his gratitude. The grateful one was a Samaritan, the least likely person to approach a Jewish rabbi.
This year has been a crucible for all of us. We have been pressed on all sides while feeling torn between sides. Yet, our God is faithful. He is present. He is powerful. He provides. And, by the miracle of His grace, our church is growing stronger in our mission and vision. While our growing stronger may be hard to see—with the limited capacity of our worship services, the difficulty of gathering into our groups, and how we may feel disconnected from what used to be our Fellowship Church experience. However, with all sincerity, I can tell you that I have seen and continue to see more expressions of God’s faithful presence, power, and provision in this season than I have in years.
For that reason, I want to pause to write, “Thank you, Jesus. It’s only by Your grace.” Would you please take a moment to express your gratitude for His faithfulness in 2020? Amid the political stress, the pandemic stress, and the stresses of multiple uncertainties, please choose to be “the one” who comes back and says, “Thank you, Jesus.” And, as a member of Fellowship Church, please take a moment to move your focus away from the severe limitations of 2020 on our church experience to express gratefulness to Him for strengthening our disciple-making core and for providing for our financial needs in the midst of the crucible.
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
“We are replanting Fellowship Middlebrook.” We are reimagining the fulfillment of our SURGE vision for 2021 and beyond. Our leadership is seeking to be Spirit-led in fulfilling our never-changing mission in an ever-changing world. But our hope is not in what we are doing. Our hope is in what He is doing among us. In 2009 we entered our Season to Engage with the hope, “To reach a world not yet seen, we must become a church not yet imagined.” After a decade of preparation and laying a foundation, we are entering into the fulfillment of that vision. With the five-year SURGE vision as our blueprint, we have restructured our staff, increased the shepherding impact of our elders on our pastoral staff, and begun leading toward a more mature expression of our definitive calling to be a gospel-formed multiplying disciple-making movement.
Our replanting leadership team is leading us toward being one, across all generations and ministries, to live the Gospel together and to move the Gospel into the world. I know that many obstacles lie ahead in our path. Those challenges will, however, only serve to demonstrate the power of God to accomplish His purposes through His people. I implore you, do not miss your opportunity to participate with great hope springing forth from Fellowship Middlebrook.
Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning...
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing.
Psalm 30:5, 11
We’ve seen a lot of mourning in 2020. Sadly, the depth of the pain of this season may linger into 2021. As we experience the mourning of the night, we are confident in the joy of the morning that is available to us.
As Christ’s followers, our joy arises from our Savior, not our circumstances. Whether better days lie just ahead or far into the future, true joy is accessible as we connect our hearts to His. Would you covenant with me to keep your heart connected to the Father’s joy? To His deep love for you? To His redeeming work in you? To His spiritual calling for you in the world? Nine lepers settled for being healed of leprosy—but only one found the true joy that Jesus was offering. He was healed in his body and soul by connecting his heart to the Savior.
A PEOPLE OF GRATITUDE, HOPE, & JOY
One of the most powerful ways we say “Thank you” is through generosity. One of the most tangible ways we express hope is through generosity. One of the most immediate ways we access the joy of the Father’s heart is through generosity. So, please join me in exploring together not just our 2021 Stewardship Plan, but the journey of gratitude, hope, and joy that lies ahead as we generously offer ourselves to Him and one another on this journey as a church.
On behalf of our elders and staff, I want to say, “We love you, and we can’t wait to see what resurrected life will bring forth from this crucible.”
Entrusted by Grace,