We have seen people in our church family go through incredible trials, victories and deepening faith in Jesus.
It has been a true to joy to serve as your pastor throughout 2015! 2015 also marks my 18th year of service at City Church. How time flies! This past year has been one of God’s presence, goodness, refining and celebration. We have seen people in our church family go through incredible trials, victories and deepening faith in Jesus. In way of looking back over this past year, I feel it is key for me to keep the City Church family informed concerning the stated areas of focus for this past year. They were Women’s Ministry, Media and Technology, Congregational Care and Greater Local Outreach. Here is an update on what was accomplished in those areas in 2015.
There is now a very committed leadership team of women in place and ministry to City Church women has already begun with social gatherings, Bible studies and another beach retreat planned in the spring.
Technology / Media Ministry
We now have a skilled individual, Ryan Law, who is overseeing this area of City Church. Ryan has a growing team of skilled people who are making this effort more effective. We now have a new and more useful website, a growing number of testimonial videos and live image magnification on Sunday mornings.
Stephens Ministry has now begun: this is a ministry that provides training for individuals who feel called to walking with others through difficult season in life. City Church now has a Stephen’s Ministry lead team that is in place and is currently recruiting more people to be trained to serve others. We also now have a marriage mentoring ministry that is gathering married couples who are being trained to serve our engaged couples.
Greater Local Outreach:
This year we have become the host site for Charlottesville’s Habitat for Humanity, where they host community conversations for individuals and families who will become neighbors as home in their neighborhood are completed. We have begun a growing partnership with Loaves and Fishes a local food pantry reaching 1,500 families per month. We have also continued our involvement with PACEM, a local night homelessness support ministry offering food and shelter throughout the colder months of the winter. We have also served more closely with Advancing Native Missions which is a local organization that provides opportunities for church members to support missionaries around the world through mission projects, work-days and more.
In short, 2015 was a year when we accomplished this list of efforts that Christ had placed on our hearts. These and everything else we do as a church family, is ultimately all about seeing lives transformed through the love of Jesus Christ. If every story of Christ’s working through our church family were to be printed in this report, this letter would go on “forever”. Suffice it to say, 2015 has been an amazing year for our church family!
May God’s blessing remain on us as we move into 2016!
Activively pursuing Christ. We are committed as a church family to be fully devoted followers of Jesus. Our passion is to see Christ expressed in every area of our daily lives.
Actively engaging in spiritual relationships. We are committed to live lives of authentic relationship for the purpose of creative a Christ-like community for those God brings into our lives.
We are called to be a people who live our lives with a spirit of generosity. The calling to generosity affects how we utilize our time, finances, and relationships.
In Matthew 4:19 Jesus said to Peter and his brother Simon, “Come, follow me.” So begins the incredible story of Jesus building His church! The call, to “follow me”, or in other words “follow Jesus”, has been the primary purpose of Christ’s Church ever since!
With this realization in our hearts, the primary mission of City Church is stated the following way: “Calling people to follow Jesus.” Once this call to “follow Jesus” has been heeded, the very next biblical step is to “serve others”.
As the lead pastor of City Church, I cannot think of a better unifying focus for our church family than “calling people to follow Jesus and serve others.”
With “Calling People to Follow Jesus and Serve Others” guiding us, there are several clear emphases for City Church God has placed on my heart for 2016.
First, we will all understand how each one of us takes part in “calling people to follow Jesus.” As you are aware, this happens almost every Sunday morning as we meet for worship. We make the call for people to choose to follow Jesus. Yet, “calling people to follow Jesus” also happens outside of Sunday mornings as each of us prayerfully tell our own faith stories to the people God brings into our everyday lives. “Serving Others” happens when each of us at City Church prayerfully look at our own resources and God-given strengths and then strategically determine how we will practically direct these strengths and resources toward others. 2016 is to be a year of our church family carrying the mission of “calling people to follow Jesus and serve others” into our everyday lives.
2016 is the year when we will prayerfully figure out “what is next” for our permanent church home. God has blessed us with an amazing interim facility at the Performing Arts Center, and the leadership of City Church clearly senses 2016 is the year to prayerfully discern where our church will find a permanent home. This is going to require all of our church family to be seeking God for his provision and direction! How exciting this will be as God reveals His plan for our church.
With the call towards a permanent home in our near future we will also be bringing a clear focus on what the Bible says about financial stewardship. Real Devotion to Jesus brings us to the place where every area of our lives is devoted to him, including our financial resources. Throughout 2016 we will explore this area of devotion together.
I sense a growing burden from God that City Church is to figure out how we can be of greater support for singles, young marrieds and marriages in general. Please pray with us as we are seeking people to help lead efforts that will support these critical areas of need!
I know God has great things in store for us in 2016 as we stay focused on these 4 areas of emphasis! These 4 emphases will strengthen our church from within, will dramatically increase our local community impact and will lay a solid foundation for the future of our church!
City Church gives 10% of the tithes and offerings each year toward missions, benevolence, and outreach.
City Church remains debt free at this time. There is a core understanding that the church desires to be debt free.
We now have a new and more useful website, a growing number of testimonial videos and live image magnification on Sunday mornings.
We now have a marriage mentoring ministry that is gathering married couples who are being trained to serve our engaged couples.
The ministry has expanded to include over 65 volunteers who serve generously.
9 Life Groups formed, making the transition from one of our short-term “Sermon Discussion” series, to part of our ongoing small group ministry.
City Church remains to help resource over 9 outreach partners.
71% of regularly attending families in Kidspace served in some ministry capacity at City Church
We were excited to initiate the Shoulder to Shoulder groups to help support men in their lives.
City Church is blessed to have so many faithfully support and contribute to City Church. This generosity provides the resources necessary to offer Sunday services, small group relational environments and provide many other opportunities for individuals and families to experience and share the love of Jesus. The faithful support of so many is making a huge impact in our community. Thank you so much for your generosity to City Church throughout 2015!
The Worship Arts Department at City Church is vibrant and growing, filled with individuals who are passionate about seeing the name of Jesus lifted up in our city and in our church. From the implementation of IMAG (short for “image magnification”, the cameras in the service that broadcast onto the screens/online what’s happening on stage) to recording our own worship single with a music video, from including many new and vital members to our team to equipping one another through prayer and discipleship, the scope of capability and ministry happening in the Worship Arts Department is massive and dynamic.
A few highlights of our year:
Looking forward to 2016, we are excited steward the individuals that God has placed at City Church with gifts, talents, and a passion for worship and creative art. Our goals for this year are: to incorporate more forms of art in worship; to continue to write, record, and release original music that tells of what God is doing in our church and in our community; to expand our team with more passionate individuals willing to serve generously; and to pour into one another as we each grow in our understanding of who Jesus is and who He is calling us to be.
As a pastor, I am privileged to hear and experience the stories and impact that spiritual community provides. Belonging to a group is a transformative experience for many. One of our small group leaders recently shared with me how he has been investing in several men outside of their regular small group meetings. It was very powerful to listen to him share how much those relationships were producing mutual spiritual growth as relationships deepen.
This is how the Christian life is designed to function. Our individual stories reveal how God is involved through the mountaintops, the valleys, and the so-called “normal” seasons of our lives. When we connect with others we are reminded that we are not alone, and we are forever changed by that knowledge.
In 2015, we introduced many people to small groups through our short-term, sermon-based groups. Through two rotations, 20 short-term groups provided a way for over 200 individuals to participate in our “Sermon Discussion” small groups. These series provide individuals a way to connect with others and engage in a small group experience that is meaningful. They have also proved to be an effective way that God is using to launch new groups into our ongoing small group ministry.
Other growth points within small group ministry this past year included:
I have clear vision for the potential impact that small groups will have in the lives of the people that call – and will call – City Church, their church.
We are committed and expectant to see continued ministry growth manifest in 2016 and beyond:
I believe that we have only just begun to reach our potential as one of the foundational ministries of City Church, and the leadership team and I are excited to see how God uses this ministry in 2016 and beyond. No one should have to go through life alone, so I invite you to partner with us and discern God’s leading to participate in or lead a small group this year!
You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind. –Luke 10.27 (NLT)
The leadership at City Church is committed to helping us experience loving God in the way described in Luke. With a solid repository of print and visual media available in our library and the pool of passionate and talented teachers, City Church was able to offer the following seminars and workshops in 2015 and early 2016:
We look forward to offering more seminars, classes, and special events through our Foundations programs in the coming days.
It is no surprising revelation that we are a people beset with the many and various kinds of challenges that life offers up. The scriptures offer important truths about God’s loving and caring character and how His people may be responsive to one another.
In my role as Pastor of Congregational Care, I’ve encountered many opportunities to minister to individuals in need of compassionate care and support. This role has positioned me to establish supportive programs such as Marriage Mentors, Visitation Team, GriefShare, and Stephen Ministries where trained, compassionate, and caring individuals can walk alongside others who are living with challenges or persons who simply wish to be mentored toward increasing spiritual and relational maturity. These are ways that our people may experience the fulfillment of St. Paul’s admonish to “bear one another’s burdens…” (Galatians 6.2).
Here are some highlights of 2015:
I look forward to seeing our upcoming initiatives in congregational care take root and grow so that City Church can begin to be increasingly fruitful as a community of healing and wholeness.
What an amazing year REACH had in 2015! From Planet Wisdom, an All-Nighter, Breakout, Blast, and our Nicaragua mission trip, it has been a year to remember. For me, one of the highlights of this past year was our first ‘Fall Retreat’ to Watermarks Camp. It was a weekend meant to unify our youth ministry by going deeper in our friendships and seeking the Lord in new and creative ways. I was astounded to see how hungry our teenagers were for the presence of God as we experienced some of the most powerful times of worship together.
Currently, REACH serves approximately 70-80 teenagers a week with our amazing adult leadership and there are at least 2-3 new visitors a week. This past year has been one of discovery and growth as we have identified a new purpose and vision for this ministry. It is our desire to create life-long followers of Christ through encouraging our students to:
In 2016, Reach is looking to challenge our teenagers to go even deeper in relationship with the Lord as we walk through a year of purpose stemming out from our vision. So far, we have seen our students gravitate to our vision with enthusiasm. Every week, we are seeing them be excited about their youth ministry as we see our small groups become closer.
Our goal is for this to continue and that our small groups will begin to meet regularly outside of Sunday morning services. We will be seeking parents to open their homes so that these small groups can begin meeting together during the week for Bible study, prayer, and outreach to their friends who are in need of hearing the great Gospel of Jesus.
If you are interested in leading in Reach and having an impact on this generation, please prayerfully consider being involved with Reach. Adult leadership is currently needed for our small groups: middle school girls (2 leaders), middle school guys (2 leaders), high school guys (1 leader) and high school girls (1 leader).
I would like to take a moment to say thank you to all of our parents who support Reach and who allow us to partner with them as they disciple their teenagers. Also, I would like to say thank you to all of our committed adult leaders who week after week prayerfully encourage, lead, and love our students. Without all of you Reach would not be possible. Thank You!
Kidspace provides a safe environment where children have a great time while learning about Jesus and growing in faith. It is a great mission and large undertaking for City Church to pour into our children the love of Christ each week, but the reward is great!
In 2015, there were some key transitions in leadership. We were very blessed to have Tania Eastman serve as the 1st-5th small group coordinator for many years. Kristen Schlegel, who has also served for numerous years, transitioned from nursery coordinator to an overall Kidspace support role on Sunday mornings. In order to continue serving the children of City Church to such a high level, Lisa Choi and Devann McCurry are now serving in as the Nursery Coordinators. They each serve twice a month. Anna Brown is serving at the 1st-5th grade small group coordinator. The transition has gone wonderfully and these three ladies are doing a fantastic job and have been a wonderful addition to our current team.
The entire culture of Kidspace has a wonderful attitude and desire to serve our children. Our volunteers are the backbone of this ministry and the leadership team tries very hard to support each and every one of the 80 individuals who serve on our Kidspace team. One way we broadened our connections within Kidspace in 2015 is something called, “Volunteer Spotlight”. This has been a fun way to highlight two volunteers a month. Each volunteer shares some of their favorite things, things that are special about them etc… Not only is it fun to learn about others, it has been a great way to connect with those who serve in this ministry.
Overview of 2015 Highlights
In 2016, Kidspace will continually look for ways to make each Sunday a special ministry experience for each family and child. A primary focus will be recruiting. We do ask that all regularly attending families serve within City Church in some capacity, in order to support an overall healthy serving paradigm.
In addition, Kidspace will be looking to implement a new check-in software program for families to use as they check their children into Kidspace. The current system, although workable, is deficient in a larger framework of functionality that would be desired. Kidspace will also look to provide 3 fun outings (like the fun-day in January) for children outside of the regular weekly Sunday morning experience.
It is a privilege and quite a responsibility for the Kidspace team to assist parents in developing the faith of our children at City Church. Please pray with me that our kids and their friends will grow in their love for Jesus.
The LORD is close to all who call on Him,
Yes, to all who call on Him in truth – Psalm 145:18 (NIV)
Andrew Murray, in his book called “Humility” wrote this: “We must begin to believe that God, in the mystery of prayer, has entrusted us with a force that can move the Heavenly world, and can bring its power down to earth.”
I am so very pleased with the direction that our Prayer ministry is headed. Individuals who are extraordinarily committed to prayer, praying, and ministering to others populate our Prayer Team. The team affirmed Tina Webb to function as the “tip of the spear” for the team as they all move forward in establishing a healthy culture of prayer at City Church.
We are thankful for how the team has been intentionally called forward on Sunday mornings to minister. As a result, many, many individuals have experienced the touch of God.
Here’s what we may look forward to this year: Partnering with Calie and her team at monthly SEEK gatherings; courses on prayer offered through our Foundations program; expanding the reach of prayer ministry through recruitment and training of new prayer partners; and resourcing this team to strengthen relationships and vision.
Finally, we are delighted to continue our partnership with The Business of Prayer led by Joan Hutter and members of the praying community who represent various other churches and ministries in Charlottesville/Albemarle County. City Church has supported and hosted conferences, prayer events, like the “Week of Prayer,” as well as training seminars on how to pray and minister with effectiveness.
The Guest Services ministry has a wide reach from greeting people at the doors, to our Café, handing out materials, ushering, our Security Team, or staffing the Guest Welcome Center.
Each week, it takes 18-20 volunteers to staff the various Guest Services positions. An additional 3-5 people serve each week on our Security Team ministry.
One way you can measure a ministry volunteer’s commitment is their willingness to help out when needed. I am watching this happen each week. Not only do the scheduled volunteers fulfill their ministry assignments when scheduled, it is common for five to ten people to either stop by the information center or check in with Diane Ewing, our Guest Services Coordinator, to offer additional help as needed. We are thankful for the heart of those serving in the varied roles within the Guest Services teams.
In 2016, we have several strategic ministry areas identified for increased ministry and support to our congregants:
Our passion is to help people transition from everyday life and support them as they enter our spiritually rich environment. We do this weekly by giving a welcoming smile, greeting, supporting guests as needed, creating safe ministry environments, and assisting them so that they feel comfortable and are prepared to have a meaningful spiritual experience that may change a life forever.
The Mobile Ministry that serves City Church is essential to the ministry that occurs each week to our church family. Unseen and often unknown to many that attend our church, this ministry creates the environments each Sunday for children and adults to gather together as a church family to worship and share fellowship.
Recently, a family met me in the foyer and asked if I needed help that week for tear down. It was Super Bowl Sunday and they had already served our children during services. Yet, when I admitted we were short-handed that day, they immediately replied, “We’ll take care of it!”
Their story is one among many others that illustrates the commitment to serve, positive attitude, and work ethic of this team that truly reflects the Scripture, “Whatever you do, do it with all your heart, because it is the Lord Jesus Christ that you are serving.”
I have so much admiration for those who faithfully serve in the varied ministry environments within our Set Up and Tear Down teams each week.
This past year brought several exciting developments and strength to our Mobile Ministry team:
We are earnestly praying that God would strengthen the Mobile Ministry in 2016, and the leadership of this team is passionately committed to fulfilling their part of making that a reality:
The best support we can offer the Mobile Ministry team this year is one that we cannot do alone: more people! Many of our volunteers serve three or more times a month, so having more people getting involved would make a huge difference. I want to encourage you not to wait, or expect someone else to do this. “Many hands make for a light load.” I encourage you to join with us and be one of those hands that make it possible to have church each week and share the love of Christ.
It is hard to believe we are heading into our third year at the Performing Arts Center! As a church family, we have come a long way in ministering within a public school. The next step in our church family is approaching and many opportunities are ahead, but getting there is a journey. I only have positive things to say about those who help to make that journey possible through their faithful service in this ministry week to week. To them I say thank-you for serving and for the opportunity of leading this ministry.
“My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Col. 2:2-3
2015 has seen an uptick in movement toward a regrouping of our Women’s Ministries thanks to capable and passionate leadership on the part of the recently formed Women’s Leadership Team. Below are some of the highlights of the past year:
We are excited about what 2016 holds for the women of City Church as the Women’s Leadership team works to create opportunities to realize the features enumerated in the passage quoted above.
This past year marked our second year of increased growth and ministry to the men at City Church. As a pastor, seeing men respond to the challenge to go deeper with God has had a significant impact on me personally.
Building on the foundation that “Catalyst” was providing for our men, we have been able to host seven Men’s Breakfasts last year. These have been meaningful not only for the impact of the speakers that have challenged our men, but as a first opportunity for many new men to connect with other men beyond the Sunday services. We also offered two short-term growth opportunities that focused on a relevant topic and the challenges that are common to men pursuing a relationship with Christ. This year, one of these groups decided to become an ongoing small group and I regularly hear positive stories. S2S (Shoulder to Shoulder) groups offer an environment for men to pursue spiritual growth in a smaller group setting of 2-3 men.
Through events like the scheduled Men’s breakfasts, Catalyst, S2S groups, and other ministry opportunities, men are connecting with other men previously outside of their circle of friends, and the relationships that have formed through that process are invaluable and inspiring.
This year has been full of exciting ministry opportunities in men’s ministry:
In 2016, we are praying that God will continue to deepen the ministry impact to City Church men and to our community and beyond and prayerfully anticipate:
There is a cohesion and positive power when men are challenged and respond to spiritual causes. We know that the family is one of those significant causes, and Men’s Ministry is poised not only to make a significant impact in our families and our church, but to also have greater ministry in our community.
If you are a new or newer man attending City Church or if you have not yet connected with Men’s Ministry, I invite you to take that step at the next opportunity.
City Church is committed to serving Charlottesville and its surrounding counties in the name of Christ. Whether acting on our own initiative or partnering with local agencies, City Church is always looking for ways to live out the great commandment:
“Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Serving C’ville is a service group at City Church that connects its members with opportunities to serve so we can show our faith through our deeds (to paraphrase James 2:14-19). In addition to PACEM and the HAVEN listed below, the group searches for new avenues for City Church members and attendees to serve those in need.
PACEM: People and Congregations Engaged in Ministry
PACEM is an administrative organization that coordinates local churches to provide evening shelter and food for homeless men and women around the Charlottesville community during the cold weather months. From the end of October through March, churches provide overnight shelter for the guests of PACEM for one or two weeks at a time. In 2015, City Church had the opportunity to host 2 weeks of PACEM at City Church. The host churches are rotated throughout the Charlottesville community and City Church is just one of many churches who participate.
PACEM has been a wonderful way to serve our neighbors in need. Due to your support, many meals, entertainment, activities and games were available for the guests that came each evening. City Church will continue to be involved with PACEM in 2016.
The Day Haven at First & Market is a dynamic, multi-purpose community space that features resources for the hungry, disadvantaged and homeless. It enhances our community by providing a centralized place for meeting the needs of this population. It also includes a community kitchen and serves as a day haven for the homeless.
In response to natural disasters, City Church will take up collections to support the area of need. We continue to support Hope Builders International with their foreign mission efforts of providing bibles and training to new pastors and churches in Africa through a special offering each year. We also were able to support Back to School Blast, a local outreach, to give underprivileged students in C’ville a backpack and supplies at the start of the school year.
Jack Jouett Meal Program
City Church works in conjunction with the middle school to provide weekend groceries for families in need of support. On a weekly basis throughout the school year, volunteers from City Church help distribute bags of groceries to families that pick up at City Church.
Loaves and Fishes
Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry exists to provide food assistance to families and individuals in need in Charlottesville and surrounding communities. 1 in 6 people in Charlottesville struggle with hunger. Loaves & Fishes provides groceries once per month to help low-income families stretch their food budgets further as they try to get on their feet financially. Their new facility near Albemarle High School provides them with: ample parking, an expanded waiting area, larger warehouse, more cold storage facilities, and office space. City Church has helped to purchase food for these families in need and support the campaign for their newly renovated facility through our “Big Give” project at the end of the year. In addition to financial support, City Church provided volunteers for the busy holiday season in November and December. In continuing our relationship with this needed outreach, additional serving days will be offered in 2016.
Operation Christmas Child
In November, City Church participated in filling shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child which delivers gifts and the Good News of Jesus to children in need around the world. Over 150 children smiled as they opened a shoe box made for them from someone in our church.
Advancing Native Missions (ANM) (I have a pic of the team that served if that would be helpful to use)
ANM is a US-based agency called to seek out, evaluate, and equip native (or indigenous) mission groups throughout the world in order to hasten global evangelization. As they partner with these native missionaries through advocacy, encouragement, and support, they help them to serve, love, and reach people in their surrounding regions with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, all for the glory of God. This past year, City Church not only supported ANM by giving with financial support in December, but also by having a team of 14 individuals serve several hours in their warehouse one Saturday in November. Continual day projects will be arranged in 2016 for others to be able to see this ministry first hand.
“The Big Give” and The Giving Tree
In December, City Church had a special opportunity to give financially in our December Giveaway to local and foreign ministries. For this special focus, the church was able to contribute $63,500 to support the following ministries: Loaves and Fishes, Habitat for Humanity, Advancing Native Missions: Philippines Medical Support, King’s Palace Kids’ Ministry in El Salvador, Bibles for Disciples, Teen Challenge: Beauty for Ashes (moms with additions). The annual “Giving Tree” gave over 170 Christmas gifts to local organizations (The Bridge, The Haven, Laurels Nursing Home and Teen Challenge) and local families in need this past year.
Senior Center Church Services
Each month, the senior adult group and others provide a service and ministry to Mountainside Senior Living and The Laurels of Charlottesville Senior Homes. Those attending the services are always grateful for the special attention given to them at these services!
But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Matthew 6:3
This list does not include all of the ways City Church as a church body reaches out to love our community. Many of our small groups, ministries and individuals love our community in unseen ways.
*average auditorium attendance: