Once again the elders held their annual retreat. This was the first year that we actually went away, staying at a cabin in the middle of about 125 acres of woods.
In our four sessions we discussed "the good, the bad and the ugly" (parts of church life. The good, by the way, WAY OUTWEIGHED the bad or ugly. So that's good news!), the future in terms of space and outreach, the future in terms of leadership and vision, and finally the various areas of ministry within the church and any personal issues that we felt needed to be discussed.
In the area of outreach, we spent some time. As some of you recall from a survey taken of the congregation a few years ago, close to 95% of our church membership is involved in some aspect of service within Burning Hearts. This finding (which still holds true) dispels the notion that 20% of the people do 80% of the work, at least here at Burning Hearts. Yet even with this high of a rate of service, internally we are in real need of nursery workers, toddler time workers, and social committee members. We hope that you might consider taking on one of these areas. Most require, at most, an hour or so a month.
Looking out externally, we got excited as we began considering what more we might do to reach the people around us for Christ. With that in mind we discussed the following options...
1. ALPHA. This is a video series, aimed at those who are unfamiliar with the Christian faith, that explains to them the truths of the Bible regarding God, Christ, man, salvation, the Holy Spirit, etc. The format is an evening meeting that follows a (free) meal. At the meeting participants watch a 30 minute video presentation and then break in to small groups for discussion. We could use 2 couples to work with the Graves in seeing this happen in 2019.
2. CVCCS. This stands for Conestoga Valley Christian Community Services. Think of this as the arm of the local church, in our area, feeding the poor, clothing those in need, and helping people in very practical ways – all the while sharing the gospel of Jesus. Pastor Doug will begin mentoring an elementary age student each Tuesday afternoon come October. But there is a need for others to join pastor Doug in this practical outreach to children.
3. FINANCIAL PEACE UNIVERSITY. Following in the footsteps of Larry Burkett, Dave Ramsey teaches people how to become financially free of the burden of debt. He has an excellent film series that, when coupled with discussion, can truly help people. We believe that those outside the church need this as much as do those inside. You could help the elders by being willing to become an aid to the discussion groups. This would also be for 2019.
4. HOMES OF HOPE. There are currently two Homes of Hope in the Leola area – an arm of Love, INC that puts people who are currently homeless, but employed, into a nice home for six months. The catch is, those going into these homes are required to have financial counseling. You could become a financial counselor! It's not that hard. What an opportunity to help someone in need.
5. TEACHING ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE. There are many people in Lancaster County whose first language is not English. Some have come as refugees from very oppressive nations and now they are getting an opportunity to enjoy liberty. But they need to be able to speak, read and write the English language. Pastor Doug could use a helper or two as he considers taking this on as part of Burning Hearts' outreach to our community.
So there you have it. Come the time of our annual Congregational Business Meeting (October 28), you will have the opportunity to sign up to help in one of these areas. Something to think and pray about, right?