2020 is a year that many will want to forget… but I believe that perspective may change over time. As 2020 comes to a close, here are 10 lessons and blessings from pastoring OPBC that I believe I may not have experienced or learned in any other year… at least not as quickly or to this extent.
10. BLESSING: NEW PEOPLE/ NEW MEMBERS! The Lord has been gracious to add new members and new attendees to our number in 2020. And so many have jumped in to serve! I’m excited to see how God continues to grow His church in 2021.
9. LESSON: NO AMOUNT OF PLANNING AND STRATEGY CAN REPLACE PRAYER AND RELIANCE ON GOD AND HIS WORD. The fact is… I’m a good planner and strategist… to my own detriment. And 2020 has taught me once again that my strengths are no replacement for God’s plans and strengths.
8. BLESSING: GIVING! The people of OPBC have given generously through the uncertain months of this pandemic. OPBC’s general fund is up 20 percent over budget (and spending is way less than that!). We surpassed our Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon Christmas Offerings… and the giving continued. To our Building Fund, Youth Fund, Missions Fund, Benevolence Fund… what a year of giving!
7. LESSON: STOP WORRYING ABOUT JESUS’S CHURCH! He loves His Church more than I ever could and has promised that the gates of hell will not prevail. And I have come to remember and believe that this pandemic will not only make us STRONGER, but that this pandemic will be for the BEST for OPBC as Jesus glorifies Himself through it.
6. BLESSING: PATIENCE AND TRUST: I can’t thank the church enough for the trust placed in the leadership of OPBC or for your patience with us as we worked to lead in a prayerful, measured way.
5. LESSON: 2021 MAY NOT BE ANY BETTER… IT MAY BE WORSE! But the job of a pastor has always been to prepare followers of Christ to suffer well… to take up our cross… to suffer with Christ… and to endure. And we WILL endure!
4. BLESSING: OPBC LOVES EACH OTHER AND OUR COMMUNITY! From praying for one another, to celebrating with one another, to crying with one another, to making thousands of masks, to setting up tents, to welcoming visitors… OPBC is a people of love!
3. LESSON: WE NEED TO MEET TOGETHER! The Church is meant to gather! We can “do” church in a variety of ways… and we have during this pandemic… but the Church is a gathered people who are then commissioned to scatter with the Gospel we celebrate. I have come to love and cherish our gatherings even more… inside or outside!
2. BLESSING: TECHNOLOGY… Any war or pandemic in history that has caused this much disturbance to the operation of the church did not have the blessing of technology to keep us connected. From cell phones, text messages, emails to connecting with missionaries and praying… to Zoom calls and Online Bible Studies and online LIVE worship services… technology has served the mission of Jesus’ Church well. Yes, technology is a double-edged sword, but has served us well in 2020.
- LESSON: JESUS IS LORD… no matter who thinks they run things on Earth! And that is an ETERNAL truth… not one that changes with the years.