Sun, Dec 15, 2019
(Considerably Later Than Planned) Elders Update Letter Coming This Week
So… we’re a solid 2+ weeks late in getting the Quarterly(ish) Elders Letter/Update to ya, (‘Hmm… Wonder why, Scott?!’) I’m sorry–can’t keep up. … so I’m going to cover a couple time-sensitive things here in this week’s “Scott’s Thoughts”. (Since only about 7 people read “Scott’s Thoughts”, it’s not like reading the same thing in another few days in an Elders Letter is going to affect very many.)
Did you know that every Christmas and Easter we collect a special offering, usually rotating between internal and external needs? Going back at least three decades, we’ve helped fund a lot of special projects and missionary needs, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars! Pretty cool, eh?! This year, we’re dividing the offering between a couple missionaries we regularly support.
- Jim and Laurie Barnes – Missionaries in Prague, Czech Republic – Laurie is a local FCC product who, along with her husband, has spent over 20 years of faithful ministry in downtown Prague, where they are undergoing a massive expansion to add more space for their library, numerous education, Bible study, and childrens’ programs, and a coffee shop space that will help them continue to reach into the community! Keep up with them at czechbarnes.weebly.com.
- Steve and Kay Carpenter – Missionaries in Mexico City, Mexico – Since 1995 the Carpenters, who are East TN natives, have faithfully served in leadership development, church planting, theological training, and outreach to the community. They are currently in need of help in funding a couple projects for the community outreach center their church developed: roofing/upgrades to playground equipment and more office/educational space.
The Elders have just completed an extensive month-long process of developing a budget for our General Fund for 2020 that is more tied to vision than ever and that requires $1,500 more giving per week. Here are a few interesting features worthy of note.
- The 2020 Budget includes giving away almost $120,000 from our General Fund to local and global missionaries, benevolence, and outreach organizations to help fund Kingdom work?
- One major change we made with multisite, beginning with 2019, is that each Campus Pastor not only dedicates approximately 20% of his time toward leading campus-specific outreach, but that each one has a line item in the budget to help fund it?! Cool, huh?!
- Our budget helps fund weekly teaching and spiritual nurture of over 200 youth and children?! It helps pay for curriculum, supplies, crazy youth group games, trips, training/leadership development for small group leaders, etc. (It does the same for people of other ages and many adult things, too, but, who wants to hear about how their money funds things for adults?!)
- We help support the livelihoods of 13 families, which includes 29 children?! (3 of them are mine, so thanks for your financial contributions!)
Now, here’s the deal… This bold vision only moves forward as we Pursue generosity together. While we are definitely a church that teaches on this habit–in Next Steps, in a sermon every year or so, and as a weekly friendly reminder of our Give first, Save second, and Live on the rest–I’d say we intentionally try to not harp on giving and, as such, we don’t do a yearly pledge as many churches do. Instead, we pray and seek God’s leading in putting together a vision-based budget worth living for and giving to!
Christmas Candlelight Services
Friendly reminder about details for our 4 identical Christmas Candlelight services.
- We have a present for all who are present! Anyone attending one of our 4 Candlelight Services will get a pretty cool FCC-themed gift. Seriously, you will not want to miss this as it will help us get the word out bigtime that God has plans for us in 2020 to connect people to Jesus throughout all of Greene County!
- We will be offering Kids Min for preschool only, babies through pre-K. (Just to be clear, we will have no Kids Min for K-5th grade as they will be included in the service.)
- We need volunteers for every service, so we’d love for you to pick one to attend and one at which to serve, i.e., Worship & Serve!
- We have some cool stuff planned for the service, but it won’t be so significantly different than normal Sunday mornings that guests will experience something significantly different to what they’d experience on any given Sunday. I.e., we’re planning this so your friends and coworkers can get a taste of normal Sundays, but with a little more punch.
- Times and Locations
- Sun, Dec 22 – 9:20 & 10:40a – FCC Afton, at Chuckey-Doak High School ONLY (No service at our Greeneville location that Sunday!)
- Mon, Dec 23 – 6:30p – FCC Greeneville
- Tue, Dec 24 – 6:30p – FCC Greeneville
- Invite Cards – We will be handing out normal biz-card-size Invite Cards, that we use for every series, so grab a few and be praying about an opportunity to invite someone.
- fccchristmas.org Yard Signs – If you haven’t grabbed one yet, we’ve got one more week to use yard signs to invite passersby to check out fccchristmas.org, where they’ll find specifics on our series plans. Please grab one for your yard and let’s make them ubiquitous in Greene County! #forgreene
- Online Promo Videos – If you’re on FB or Insta, for this week preceding our 4 Candlelight Services, we have a specific promo video we’d like for you to like and share.
Please pray with us that God will use our plans to draw people to Himself!
Small Change in Sermon Series Rhythms
Going back to 3-4 years ago, our sermon series used to follow a more sequentially verse-by-verse/passage-by-passage pattern through a specific book of the Bible. While we always preach expositionally and verse-by-verse through a specific passage each week, the last 3-4 years have more often taken a series of passages and grouped them thematically. While we aren’t going back to 100% as it used to be, we are going back to something like 75% plus through specific books of the Bible or large sections or chapters of Scripture. Why? (1) Because I think week-to-week thematic overlap, within a series, that comes from the trajectory of Scripture itself, is better than the gathering of texts to create a theme. (2) Because I think it helps promote better Bible literacy. This is a problem that is getting worse and we should be worried(er than we are!) (3) Because I very much prefer preaching this way. It’s more who I really am. It’s how I like to study for preaching.
Change in Frequency of Scott’s Thoughts and Great Questions Answered
Not a big deal, but we’re moving to a biweekly rhythm for both “Scott’s Thoughts” and “Great Questions Answered”. So, expect one per week, but no more of this both weekly stuff. Whose dumb idea was that anyway?!
I Love This Church
I’ve been somewhat open about how egregiously behind I seem to fall in every area and category of life. Aside from all the wonderful things growth has meant for us, as a church, one thing it has also meant, for me, is feeling like I simply fail more and more people. (See “Quick Personal Note of Explanation and Apology”, for context.)
I was feeling this way earlier this week when an FCCer wrote this to me, “Hopefully this is encouraging to you. I and my family are in a way different spiritual place than we would have been had the call to FCC not been placed in our lives. … I am eternally grateful.” How cool is that?! Yes, I am encouraged, and I love this church. It’s like I say to people ALL THE TIME in our community, “You may think our growth is about lights and yard signs, but the secret is this… We are absolutely crawling with amazing people who are sold out to Jesus!”