On Wednesday evening, January 22, our church, First Central Baptist Church of Chicopee, MA, held its annual meeting. Below is the annual report I submitted to the congregation.
Welcome to the New Year! God did amazing things in and through FCBC in 2013. We look forward with great anticipation to what he is going to do in 2014. We trust him to give us boldness to share our faith, save people from their sins, and transform sinners into saints. We anticipate times of worship and praise, service and sacrifice, equipping and evangelism.
Our focus in 2013 could be summed up in the phrase “depth versus breadth.” Rather than expand our ministries, we focused on building deeply into individuals. We emphasized depth and allowed God to determine the breadth of our ministry. We cast a 2020 vision for the future—the type of church we want to become. We’re beginning to discuss how to measure our progress towards those goals. 17 couples participated in an elder/deacon leadership study. We began work on a profile for a disciple—what we want a disciple to look like when they move from elementary school to junior high, from junior high to senior high, and what a fully formed disciple looks like as an adult.
We will continue the emphasis on building deeply into people in 2014. During January – March, we will offer two parenting courses, Raise Up A Child and Raising a Modern Day Knight. In February, Carol and I will be in Tsibanobalka, Russia, helping to train Russian pastors and leaders. We are discussing launching a leadership development track in April.
2014 will be a year of change and transition. We will be moving from a deacon led church to an elder led congregation. The elders will be the shepherd leaders who lead the congregation, teach sound doctrine, guard and protect the flock, care for the people, model godly character, and serve as a team. The deacons will be the servant leaders who assist the elders in meeting the needs of the congregation.
We will transition from maintaining separate budgets for church ministry and missions to one unified budget for all our ministries. Rather than give to personal preferences and favorite people or ministries, we encourage each one to give to the ministry of the church. All aspects of our ministry—education, evangelism, missions, facilities, salaries, programs—are equally important.
Last year we adopted an overly aggressive budget and we were not able to keep up with it. This year we have taken a step backwards and have put together a balanced budget. This meant reducing expenses in all areas of ministry. Our missions budget is undergoing a two or three year process of refocusing and reprioritization. Feeling like we were spread too thin, we are beginning to reduce the number of missionaries we support so that we can partner with and invest more significantly in a smaller number.
Our 2014 budget includes a modest 3.5% increase over last year’s giving. The increase is based on two presumptions. One is that the congregation will grow in numbers and we will have more people who can give. The second assumption is that each of us will reexamine our giving habits and ask God to give us more faith so we can give more to ministry.
While First Central has a wonderful heritage, I believe our best days are still ahead of us. Please join us in Building a Community to Change the World.