(The following is an excerpt from the Minute for Discipleship message given by Felton Godwin in church on Sunday, Sept. 19th)
I have been in this church for 40 years. And when I came here 40 years ago, there were two things that were here then that are still here today. Do you know what those two things were? One was a warm and friendly congregation. And you know, that’s still the case today. After people visit here, they know that this is the church for them, as I knew it was for me. The other thing that was here 40 years ago was Sandy Beam, our Music Director! We certainly have a lot of be thankful for as a congregation to have been touched by the gifts of Sandy every Sunday, and we look forward to celebrating his 44 years of service as he retires this December.
Do you know who was not here when I came to this church? Our preacher, Steve Lindsley, was not here. In fact, he wasn’t even born! He’s been with us for almost eight years, and he has become one of the most cherished Presbyterian ministers not only in our presbytery but in our state. Our church is growing, not only because it is warm and friendly, not only because of Sandy, but because of the leadership and preaching Steve provides.
Shasta Bode-Brown, our Director of Christian Education, wasn’t here then but is here now. When you look at what’s going on in this church with the Beacons, you recognize all the things that Shasta has done. Some folks told me just the other day that one of the main reasons they are in this church is because of our youth ministry. Every Sunday we get “two for the price of one” – because her childrens’ messages touch us as much as Steve’s sermons do.
40 years ago there were some other things that were not here today. We had two high-quality adult womens class and one mens Bible class that averaged 45-60 men every Sunday morning. What’s happened since then? The mens class has disbanded, as has one of the womens classes. Why? Well, a lot of them had the audacity to die! And when you look at the demographics of our church, we’ve had a blessing and a curse. We’ve had the benefit of older members – a solid base – whose financial giving was so strong that we didn’t have to worry about the church budget all that much. In essence, we got spoiled – we got used to solving our financial problems by “passing the hat” to meet our needs. And we don’t have that luxury anymore.
So now, it’s up to us – each one of us – to keep all the wonderful things going on in this church. We are dealing now with the nuts and bolts of a Fall Discipleship campaign. What happens with this church – what it does in the future – will be not up to a lot of older “patriarch” members carrying the load for the rest of us. It will be up to you and me. Last year, under the leadership of Lee Daniels, our church rose to the occasion and met our budgeted goals. It is our time to do that once again.
We could sit back and say, “you know, it’s tough economic times, we can’t meet the budget.” Times are hard for sure, but I believe God is calling us to respond. We have so much to be thankful for in this church, and we have the opportunity to reach out and help our community through this church. Years ago I was working on Fall Discipleship and we decided to start listing all that this church does to help people in our community and around the world. You know, we lost count! We learned that when we give to the church, we can do so much more than what we are able to do by ourselves.
My final thought to you is this – as you and your family make your regarding the Fall Discipleship season, let your prayer initially be to thank God for all the things you have been blessed with. Do as we did and list all the things you’ve been blessed with, and you will be amazed! And then give to God’s church out of that feeling of abundance, doing what’s best not only for this church but for this community. God is and has been at work in our congregation, and we have many, many reasons to feel thankful and blessed. Thank you.
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