Fish and loaves, First Pres style
We asked, and you answered: What are some ways you see God multiplying our ordinary efforts at First Pres? Here are some of the things we heard about.
Imagine 9 Court Square, the building we own next to The Courtyard as an incubator for new churches. Or an Arabic Christian church in Harrisonburg in the next few years. Or connecting with other ECO churches to plant new congregations.
Our newly formed church-planting team is looking at many possibilities to plant seeds for future generations of Christians in our local community and beyond.
“I can’t wait to see as the baskets of leftover loaves and fishes are counted in the Kingdom of God from all that we are doing or starting today,” said elder Jeff Stapel. “What a celebration it will be in the heavenly hosts. Can’t wait to see it!”
Serving Our Neighbors
Our missions efforts have helped support 12 local organizations that are serving as the hands and feet of Jesus in our community. That support mobilizes college ministries, high-school Gospel groups, mercy ministries, prison ministry, care for the unborn and their mothers and more.
“That’s because of the generosity of the congregation,” says Doug Gardner, who is on the local-missions committee. “It gives us the ability for us to help people in need and invite them to join us at our church. It is an outreach we are intentional about.”
Missions ministries also support 14 international mission partners, plus a partnership with a church in Jimma, Ethiopia. Much of the work we support globally is in places where proclaiming the Gospel is particularly difficult.
The Next Generation
In the face of more than a year of Covid disruptions and then searching for our next children’s director, our children’s ministry team has sacrifically served our children and families. Each Sunday, they have made sure our children have caring leaders ready to teach children more about Jesus.
And during the summer, the team put together a three-day Summer JAM Camp that brought in children and families to see how Jesus is marvelous and wonderful.
God has been good to multiply these humble efforts and keep our families growing. We look forward to greater multiplication when God brings us our next children’s & family ministries director.
Ministry to college students continues to multiply as we welcome new students into our midst. From meeting students on move-in day and Block Party in the Burg, to our weekly college brunches between the worship services, we are sharing the Gospel among and with our college-age neighbors.
We’ve also been engaged with campus-ministry groups who have used our space for meetings and worship, and with smaller groups who doing Bible study at our downtown location.
Welcoming People In
We have been making a concerted effort to make our facilities available to outside groups that contribute in some way to our mission, vision and values. That includes more than a dozen groups, including Young Life Capernaum, Our Community Place, Intervarsity, a JMU men’s lacrosse Bible study and a group that gives dance lessons.
Several group leaders have told us we are one of the few places that open our facilities to outside groups. “It seems to me this is a way to both serve the broader community and introduce folks to our church,” says Paul Seddon, our facilities manager. “You never know who may come as part of one of these functions and be looking for a home church.”
During the summer, Pastor Jon led “Understand the Times,” a special event that helped us wrestle with the difficult questions of our day in a setting, a brewery, that was inviting to our friends and neighbors. The group started with 11 people but ended with 22, and that included new people to our community of faith. “Our presence was also a witness to everyone else there,” Jon says.
As we prepare for 2023, we are eager to offer up what we can and let Jesus multiply them. While we are responsible for bringing the offering, He’s the one who can multiply them to use in whatever ways He wants to grow his people and to make disciples.
So, what will you bring in 2023?
That’s what we want you to pray about and consider as we begin to make plans for the upcoming year. Your pledges of support for the ministries at First Pres help us make wise decisions about how to best steward what God has given us.
This is an exciting time to be part of what’s happening at First Pres, and we’re eager to have you be part of it.