State of the Church

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. – 2 Thessalonians 1:3

I am very thankful for you all and the love and unity we have enjoyed over this past year. God has been gracious to us and his lovingkindness was evidenced in various ways. God has give us a growing faith and a deepening love for one another.

God’s gift was shown in our partnerships with Ridgewood and Joliet Downtown. So many of us joined together in praying for and helping with JolietCares, VBS, Nitro Night, KidzFest, Racefan Rally, and Light Up the Holidays. These were truly church efforts.

God’s gift was shown in our studies of Isaiah and Acts. Much of our service was fueled by the truth that we are ordinary people serving an extraordinary God. We learned in ABFs what it meant to be Christians and Church Members which also fueled an increase in our love and unity for one another. As Community Groups kicked off again with some major changes, we saw people coming together excited to be together and learn together.

God’s gift was shown in our care for one another as this year has been a difficult one for some of us. We have faced different trials and through them God has shown us why he puts us in a church family. We have rejoiced and sorrowed with one another. We have tried to carry one another’s burdens and prayed earnestly for the burdens only God could carry.

God has clearly increased our growth in faith and our love for one another. I am so thankful for 2016 and to have spent it together with each of you.

Our theme for 2016 was Ordinary People Serving an Extraordinary God. Personally, I have learned how ordinary I am and even how ordinary you are, but how extraordinary God is and his church is. I count it a great blessing and privilege to be a part of GLC.

Our current church statistics are as follows:
54: Membership
80: Average 9:30am Sunday Attendance (last 3m)
97: Average 10:45am Sunday Attendance (last 3m)
$2807.76: Average Giving (last 3m)
$23,557.39: Balance as of 12/29/2016
$0: Debt
Ownership of building and property is debt-free

We were able to update our 1980s furnace upstairs and our 1990s furnaces downstairs with high efficiency furnaces. We replaced the faulty electric panel in the nursery with a commercial panel and moved it to the furnace room outside. We added two fused disconnects which provide safety and are up to code. We updated our church kitchen refrigerator and microwave.

God has provided for our needs financially through our generous giving. Thank you to everyone who willingly gave of their resources in 2016.

Now, I want to turn our attention to what God would have in store for us in 2017.

Our theme for 2017 is Giving God First Place.

We desire to give God first place in our gathering. Jesus is the sole authority of his people the church and he rules them by his Word. We firm his authority and preeminence in our lives as we gather on the first day of the week. In addition to this, we be participating in the Lord’s Table on the first Sunday of every month to further affirm the preeminence of Jesus. The 2017 sermon schedule affirms our commitment to the authority of Jesus by his Word.

Sermon Series:
January: How Jesus Views the Church, John 15
February: Two Ordinances: Proclaiming Our First Allegiance, various texts
March-May: First Place in the Church, 1 Corinthians 1-6
Easter Series: What Will We Do With Jesus?, Matthew 27-28
June-July: First Place in our Hands, Hearts, and Heads, Haggai
August-October: First Place in the Church, 1 Corinthians 6-10
November: God’s Playlist, Psalms 13-16
December: God Gave His Son, Matthew 1-3

Special Services:
January 15 Sanctity of Human Life Sunday
January 29 Covenant Sunday
January 30-February 5 Prayer Week
March 12 Anniversary Sunday
April 16 Easter Sunday
November 12 Orphan Sunday
December 17 Christmas Program & Brunch

We desire to give God first place in our growing. While growth in other areas of life are profitable, we affirm that spiritual growth is of surpassing value in this life and the next. The point of our Christian life is to know and enjoy God better and help others do the same. This has influenced our 2017 ABF and CG curriculum.

ABF:
Meeting With God – a five week introduction to the basic disciplines of the Christian life. Just like in many other disciplines, revisiting the basics is a necessary and vitally important practice.
Getting to Know God – a seven week study of the first 20 chapters of Exodus where we meet the true and living God who makes and keeps promises, who judges and saves and triumphs, who provides for his people and teaches them his holy ways—and that this is the God who has saved us through Jesus Christ.
Suffering – a twelve week challenge to rethink suffering in this life as a means of pleasing God through faith. This life is your only opportunity to live by faith and use the trials God brings your way to show how great he is. The goal is to create and grow faith in Him as we listen in to His promises that we as a church may suffer well to His glory.
Gospel-Shaped Worship – a seven week study that answers the question, “what does it mean to worship God?” and challenges us to worship God every day of the week with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength.
Hearing God’s Word – a six week study on how expositional preaching gives life and health to the church and reveals the character of God to those who will listen.
Systematic Theology – an eight week overview of the doctrine of the church, which covers the definition, purpose, discipline, ordinances, and leadership.

CG:
Our main curriculum will be the New City Catechism. The curriculum will include some large group videos/lectures and then breakouts into smaller groups to work through the catechism’s question and answer format.
We will have a few other short studies and take a few breaks throughout the year.
Also, if you are interested in studying a specific topic you can talk to a pastor about hosting your own in-home CG study. You would run the study from an approved curriculum for a set amount of time. A pastor can walk you through the process to help you determine everything from attendance limits to childcare.

We desire to give God first place in our giving. Everyone has something to give and everyone has limits on what they can give, whether we are referring to time, energy, gifts, or resources. We have to decide what to give, what to give it to, how much to give, and when to give it. Yet, as Christians we cannot determine this all on our own. We are merely stewards of the time, energy, gifts, and resources God has graciously bestowed on us. If our lives are truly meant to glorify God and enjoy him forever, then our giving must start with what God wants from us—what would glorify him and cause me to enjoy him? The more general the answer (give time to read the Bible, give energy to share the gospel, give gifts to accomplish the church mission, give resources to further the ministry) the more similar the application. But, as our answers get more specific we find a multitude of application as varied as snowflakes. This has led us to keep giving simple to free each person to follow God’s leading in make their own applications. We offer a variety of events to participate in. We offer a variety of ways to participate in these events. We encourage the simple financial giving to the church. We offer just a few special financial giving opportunities. Below are our events and giving opportunities.

Events:
April: Joliet Cares
July: Nitro Night
July: VBS with Ridgewood Baptist Church
August: Kidzfest
September: Racefan Rally
November: Light Up the Holidays

Giving Opportunities:
February: Dessert Auction for Youth Camp
May: Walk for Life
August: KidzFest water bottle drive
October: PRC Banquet
November: Give4Gastoni

I am so excited to serve here at GLC for another year and hope you are as well. May God continue to pour his grace upon us in 2017.

 

Bryan Heller
Pastor