Happy New Year Life Community,
2017 has come and gone. We now look forward to all the blessings that 2018 will bring. We seek God’s direction and guidance over the lives of our families and the course of our church. This Sunday night, January 7th, 6:30, will help explain the path that (we feel) God has for us. The service will take place at 6:30 and all are invited.
The enclosed letter is a detailed report about the direction of LCC, from myself, pastor Jason, the Deacons, and the Vision Team. It includes, who we are, where we have been, and where we are going. The intention of the letter is to help set the spiritual tone for where we are going. I understand that it is lengthy, but our story is ever growing. Please take time this week to read through the letter to make sure you are ready for the Night of Vision.
The letter includes.
• Our theme verse for 2018- Luke 12:48.
• The LCC history of “mission and vision.
• The opportunities ahead and God’s calling.
• The commitments necessary to move forward.
Thank you for taking time to read the enclosed report. I pray that our church will be united and hopeful as we move forward into 2018. At this point, it is important to remember the words of William Carey, the father of modern-day missions and missionary to India in the 1800s. Carey is famous for saying,
“Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.”
. Pastor Kenny
“…From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be expected.”
Luke 12:48 CSB
The most recent research within our denomination estimates 900 Southern Baptist Churches are annually closing their doors. In addition to such alarming stats, it is also estimated that only 15% of existing churches are healthy, growing, and multiplying (research gathered from the North American Mission Board). Unfortunately, these traits are not shared just amongst Southern Baptist; all denominations are reporting similar stats and also a drastic decrease in baptisms and giving. Couple this with a massive secularization of our culture and the estimated 269 million (out of the 316 million American citizens) that do not know Christ as Lord; one may conclude that our country is without hope.
It is within these conditions that God can manifest himself. The gospel has always spread in times of persecution and hopelessness. God will receive the glory that is due him, and nothing will stop that. Church planting and the revitalization of dying churches combats these sad stats. Men of God are answering the call to plant new churches and to commit to the hard work of walking dying churches through the necessary changes to reach the culture.
A vision born
Life Community Church answered this call a little over five years ago. LCC was commissioned by the Kentucky Baptist Convention (and sponsored by Buck Creek Baptist Church) to be a new church that would faithfully preach the Bible, engage in frontline evangelism, and be willing to take the risk and do things differently for the cause of Christ. The prayer would be that LCC would not be bogged down by the many things that rob focus from the glory of God. Fore example, some churches focus on minor issues like dress, coffee in the worship service, specific music styles, outdated and ineffective techniques, and meaningless traditions. These issues focus on the minor instead of the major. They even have the potential of robbing a church from gospel effectiveness. LCC desired to be a church that would focus on the major (such as the Gospel) and steer away from these minor issues.
To avoid focusing on the minor and missing the major, a clear mission and vision was needed for LCC. The vision was simple: Become a great church that is committed to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. LCC would attempt to structure everything around the big five; worship, ministry, evangelism, fellowship, and discipleship (these are the majors!). Likewise, our mission would be spelled out in three words; connecting, caring, and changing.
The mission of LCC compels us to move forward in a dark world. We will become a great church committed to the Great Commandment and Great Commission by connecting to Jesus in worship and growing as disciples. We will become a great church by caring for people through ministry and fellowship. We will become a great church by changing the world through evangelism (missions). This vision and mission call us to engage the lost and dying world around us, with new methods and techniques, but always being committed to scripture and the glory of God.
A vision refined
God showed his sovereignty over our church in May of 2016. As we were meeting in the Owensboro Community college, faithfully committed to the mission and vision, we attempted to move into an older daycare for an expanded ministry center space. God used this event to chart our course into his glory. An unexpected fire would be the catalyst that introduced us to Hall Street Baptist Church. Through a series of “Divine Guidance,” Hall Street Baptist felt led by the Lord to conclude their ministry and gift us their facilities on the corner of Breckenridge and Parrish. God had prepared that corner for Life Community Church.
The fantastic sacrifice of Hall Street Baptist Church would ensure that ministry would continue on this street corner for many years to come. In many ways, revitalization and church planting met each other on this street corner. The death of a church in a neighborhood is good for no one, and more importantly, God is not glorified by that. The fantastic sacrifice of Hall Street, which looks so similar to Jesus, would bring God glory and would provide Life Community a home.
The mission and vision of LCC are not changing but is becoming refined. LCC was gifted more than a facility; it was gifted a community that we must love and engage; a community that needs LCC and a community that LCC needed. The vision is refined; we will become a great church committed to the Great Commandment and Great Commission that connects, cares, and changes on the corner of Parrish and Breckenridge.
A vision challenged
There is much to celebrate. The gift of a building is rare and miraculous. We praise God for it. But this does not mean that the gift came without challenges, especially to the mission and vision. I (Pastor Kenny) have always said that nothing will take our focus off of God more than brick and mortar. Historically, the Jews themselves would struggle with the temple having a greater focus than the God of the temple. The last year has brought many challenges in regard to the facility.
Going from mobile to a permanent location brings challenges. Challenges such as the ongoing maintenance of a very old facility, communication, figuring out space, worry of funds, and temptations to focus on the facility instead of the mission. It is at this point that we must take great caution in remembering that the facility was part of God’s plan, but the facility is not God.
The facility was given to be to used as a tool to connect, care, and change on the corner of Parrish and Breckenridge. It is a vehicle for the ministry and the message, but it is not God. Likewise, we cannot fall into the trap of letting a building define us. Instead, we are to define it. It will be very easy for a new fresh church to begin to act like a dying and irrelevant church if we focus on the minor instead of the major. Never forget, the building belongs to God, he can give, and he can take it away.
The vision is also challenged through major mechanical repairs. Some issues included; the parking lot, electrical work, the replacing of three large air conditioning units, and a declining boiler. I must commend our trustees for their faithful and time-consuming work with these issues. Dealing with the repairs is no small task! The trustees spent several hours figuring out these problems and sacrificed a lot of time. We are grateful for their servant’s hearts.
The trustees are also working hard to make sure that the boiler is in good working condition. Before moving into the facility the church voted and authorized an emergency fund of $20,000 (which the trustees could access). The trustees have had to utilize this fund for a down payment of a new boiler. The risk of not replacing the boiler in the dead of winter was too high, and the trustees had to count the cost. At a future date, the church will have vote to authorize the payment for the rest of boiler.
The above items are all issues that we had to overcome in the first year of inheriting this building. The details mentioned above are also items that one cannot see with the naked eye. Since the air conditioners and electrical work are hidden, it is easy to forget that we have replaced them. The first year has been an adventure of making sure the facility is working properly to fulfill the vision and mission of our church. Again, I praise God for the church’s trust in our leadership during these times of change.
The vision continues
Even though the building has brought many challenges (such as repair and how to use the facility itself), LCC has shown great faithfulness to God. The vision is not on the back burner. Instead, the facility is being used as a tool for ministry. The vision continues.
During this year LCC called their first full-time minister (in addition to the Senior Pastor). LCC believed that investing in children and youth was a top priority and they proved it! Bringing on the associate pastor was obviously a significant increase in the budget but a necessary one. LCC is blessed with our associate pastor of students.
LCC engages the community. Many doors have been knocked on, people have been invited to worship. Block parties and events are showing the community that we love them. Even a car show with an evangelistic theme was held in our parking lot! The LCC food pantry feeds many people in and around the church. In addition to all of this, there is no sign of slowing down when it comes to loving our neighborhood.
New ministries are starting. I am thankful that American Heritage girls and Trail Life (Christian scouting programs) are now offered at Life Community. There has been an ongoing prayer ministry on Monday nights, faithfully praying over request weekly and planning the monthly church-wide prayer service (first Tuesday of every month). Don’t forget about all the many ways we have utilized the facility to build fellowship through dinners, baby showers, and allowing space for outside ministries like Sunrise Children’s Services, Habitat for Humanity, and the Owensboro Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
A vision brings hope
LCC is attempting to become a great church that is committed to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission that will connect, care, and change on the corner of Parrish and Breckenridge. We will do our part to take care of the facility that God has given us to make sure that it is working correctly as the tool for ministry that it is intended to be. We will continue to use the space for ministries and the community. But there is more to be done.
We are meeting in the gymnasium of the facility for worship. Meeting in the gym was 100% necessary for us. We needed to learn the facility, make sure that we established ourselves as a different church than Hall Street, and to keep the feel of who God has called us to be. It also proved to be vital because of the much-needed mechanical repairs in the older portion of the building. For a season, this is what we needed to do, but a new season is approaching.
For the vision to continue to mature and develop it is evident that we must utilize the facility to its highest potential. I envision our church meeting in a remodeled auditorium in the older building. The remodeling will allow for modern worship needs, such as the praise band and audiovisual needs. The auditorium also needs to look up to date and current to send a message to the community that we are indeed a “living church.” Issues such as modern paint, flooring, and staging send powerful visual messages to ourselves, the community, and guest and visitors. It teaches our children that we are a church with a vision for 2018.
Another main reason for accessing the auditorium is to make sure that the gymnasium facility becomes a community “ministry center.” The words “ministry center” mean something in regard to the history of LCC. The gym area needs to be used by our associate pastor of students for the youth and children. We would love to see that building becoming a place where the community can find oasis and hope. We would love to see that building hosting community basketball leagues and youth outreaches to our neighborhood. There is so much potential! We long for the LCC ministry center to further the vision of connecting, caring, and changing.
LCC created a “vision team” to help create the design and flow of how the church will operate when transitioning into the new facility. This vision team, though behind the scenes, has been meeting faithfully for a year. They have met with contractors, visited other churches that transformed older space, and done many walkthroughs of the buildings. This team was never intended to be a building team, but a vision team, a team that would think creatively and thoughtfully about how the space can be revitalized for the vision.
The vision team is ready to present their plans to the church. On January 7th, the night of vision, the vision team invites the entire church and all regular attendees to gather in the old auditorium to hear the fruit of their work. They have created a plan that takes the flow and design of the building into consideration while thinking about who we are as a church. Recommended changes, to further enhance the vision of the church, will be shared. Even though the auditorium was built in 1959, it must express itself as a church in 2018. LCC cannot be hindered by the many things that hinder so many declining and dying churches. The building needs to look and feel like LCC.
There will be a chance for you to write out questions for the vision team, which they will answer, and then make available to the entire church. But the Night of Vision is intended to be a worship service. It will not be a “business meeting” setting, but a worship service with prayer and singing. It will be a rallying call for us to commit to doing what God has called us to do and to reach the community.
Keep in mind that this team had an incredible task given to them. There is no way that the presented vision will make everyone happy nor will everyone agree with it. The vision team met with various other ministry teams to get a feel for what was needed and how ministry flowed. Their fruits come as a collaboration of the desires of many teams but more than that with the desire to connect, care, and change. The great commandment and great commission takes precedence over all wants. The glory of God is the goal, not our desires. The vision team is presenting a plan for the new auditorium that looks like LCC and will attempt to fulfill the vision of LCC for the glory of God.
Remember the kind of church that LCC was when you first came; the relaxed environment, the casual dress, the acceptance of all who walk through the doors, and the desire to declare the word of God in that environment. We are still that church. The proposed vision will attempt to recapture that environment (who we have always been) in a building built in 1959. The desire is not to restore Hall Street Baptist church but to be Life Community Church in that auditorium.
That building is not the “sanctuary,” because we are the sanctuary of God. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst” (I Corinthians 3:16). It is a worship center, and we are the sanctuary. Therefore, the worship center will reflect who LCC is, a church that is committed to becoming a great Commandment and great Commission church that connects, cares, and changes on the corner of Parrish and Breckenridge.
The Hope Restored
We believe through the remodeling of the worship center, and the community engagement of a ministry center will greatly enhance our message. A message that LCC is alive on the corner of Parrish and Breckenridge! LCC is here for the community and the community will know it.
For this grand vision to happen, we must express a high level of commitment. Beginning in January, a new sermon series will be taught on “commitment.” The sermon series will properly be titled “Hope Restored.” We will biblically explain our vision and mission for the new year and challenge the church to raise commitment levels.
For this “hope to be restored” we must be committed to the glory of God and our church. Hope will be restored through a high level of commitment in these areas.
Raise commitment in the area of church faithfulness- God has assembled his people in His church. You are part of a big story of what God is doing in the city of Owensboro. We humbly ask that all members of the church take their commitment to the body seriously, in attendance, service, and support. Consider the role God is calling you to. If you have not united with the church yet, I want to encourage you to prayerfully be part of this congregation and her mission and vision.
Let’s prayerfully dedicate and rededicate ourselves to the Church Covenant, which states:
I WILL PROTECT THE UNITY OF MY CHURCH
I WILL SHARE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF MY CHURCH
I WILL SERVE THE MINISTRY OF MY CHURCH
I WILL SUPPORT THE TESTIMONY OF MY CHURCH.
Raise commitment in the area of giving- Our current budget needs account for the ministries, facilities, and ministers. Currently, we have the highest budget we have ever had in our history. During December, giving was down on a weekly basis (probably due to the holidays). For the hope to be restored, there will have to be a high level of commitment in regard to giving.
We know that the subject of giving can be a sensitive and a touchy matter, but we also understand that giving is an act of worship to God. God has given us everything we need to complete the project set before us, and he loves it when we give cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:7). LCC has a history of generosity.
We also hope that you see the vision behind the project, this is not about bells and whistles or making a shrine to ourselves; this is about ministry. Getting into the worship center and paying for the boiler will require us to be faithful in our weekly tithe to the church, while also giving above and beyond in offerings. We pray that you will be committed weekly to giving to the budgeted needs and the increase of the project. More will be said about the project during the Night of the Vision, but it will require us to obtain a loan of $300,000, (which will include the cost of the worship center, bathrooms, ramps, and the remainder of the boiler).
$300,000 is relatively a low amount when it comes to remodeling. Also, consider the amount it would have cost us to build a building and buy land. We believe that we can meet our current budget needs and even a loan payment. Meeting these requirements will happen through the grace of God and committed Christians. I (Pastor Kenny) and my family believe in it, are personally invested, and we will raise our giving to help see the project come to completion.
After the “Night of Vision,” there will be a special call Family Meeting on January 21st. We will have a combined worship service that morning at 10:00 am. Please note this, the service will not be at 9 or 11, but instead, 10 am that morning. The special call family meeting will happen after the service, to approve the loan and the plan for the remodel. I know you will be prayerful about this.
Raise commitment in the area of spiritual maturity- As we press into the new year, I want to challenge you to raise your commitment to spiritual growth. We want to challenge all members to complete classes 101-401 (bi-monthly 501s), be involved in a weekly Life Group, attend the monthly prayer meeting, and to read their Bibles daily. God promises to draw close to us if we draw close to Him (James 4:8). We want to please God, not just with projects, but by drawing near to Him in communion. This is what builds a healthy church.
God is restoring hope in the lives of many. As churches are closing all across America, we are praying that God will rise up a healthy and strong church on the corner of Parrish and Breckenridge. The prayer will be that our church will continue to grow, start new Life Groups, see more saved and baptized, plant daughter churches, and change the city for the glory of God.
We are asking our church to catch the vision, pray, and raise commitment levels. We are so thankful to be part of what God is doing in this community. Even more so, we are grateful that Jesus Christ shed his blood for us. He laid down his life for His church. Now we too must lay it down for the cause of Christ.
2018 is going to be a great year
Associate Pastor of Students