From your pastor… When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, for they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore, ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’ Matthew 9: 36-38, NRSV
This July begins my tenth year of ministry here as pastor of Algiers UMC. It has been a wonderful journey. I am so thankful that I was sent here to be a shepherd to this flock. As pastors, we all have our strengths and weaknesses. That is also true of congregations. We are taught as leaders that we need to minister from and focus on our strengths. A healthy congregation does that, instead of focusing on the weakest points and the problems.
Reflecting on my journey with this church, I want to pause and celebrate some of our strengths. Our hospitality of welcoming newcomers is fantastic! The informality that we share in worship helps people to feel at home when they walk in. Our coffee bar is also a big part of that feeling at home. The donuts can’t hurt, either! Some congregations create a battle between long-term members and newcomers, but I see that in this church, all are welcome. Our church council invites new people to join on a consistent basis. That is something to celebrate!
Last year, on some report, I counted 19 outreach ministries. And that may not have been all of them. For a congregation this size, that is fantastic! Our congregation reflects the population of our community. We are growing again! And the good news is that there is plenty of room for more! One of our challenges is to keep growing and welcoming new people.
One idea is to invite your new neighbors. Houses are being sold and bought at a rapid pace in Algiers. When you see someone move in, go and introduce yourself and welcome them to our community. Invite them to church. We do not want to be pushy, but to give a warm invitation. Studies show that most people go to a new church because a layperson invited them to attend. The invitations that we give at the annual Porch Sale and the Fall Give-Away have yielded results over the years.
Vacation Bible School is always so special. We have excellent leaders and awesome volunteers to assist. The community is invited, and now that we have a great website and social media communications, our message goes out to more people than ever before! The Mother’s Day Out program is a great blessing to the children who come and to their parents. We have a quality program.
All of these many ministries take a lot of people working together collaboratively. So many hours are spent behind the scene to get everything done. Working together is another valuable element to our success. We are so grateful to God for all of the laborers that God sends out into our Algiers / Westbank harvest. Let us continue to faithfully serve the Lord as one body, united by the love that Christ gives for all.
Well done, Algiers UMC!
Thanks be to God!