(Note: Not to be overly precise, but the reason I put “as an organization” in the above paragraph, is that I always think it’s good to remember that our church, in the biblical sense, is a group of people. However, when I talk about what “our church” did this year, I cannot report on everything that happened in all of the lives of the hundreds of people who are a part of Good News Church. So, this report is simply a report on things related to the non-profit organization that I am so happy to be a part of, and not an exhaustive report of everything that happened in our “church” this year.)
STUFF WE LEARNED AS A CONGREGATION: We started the year out with a series on the vision of our church called, Focused and a series on how to handle the resources that God gives us in Stewardship and Generosity. The books of the Bible that we learned verse-by-verse were 1 Timothy& 2 Timothy and the first quarter of the book of Mark. The plan is to continue Mark (on and off) throughout 2019. We also did two series directly on the gospel called, The Most Important Things That Ever Happened and Simple Sermons on the Gospel. We finished the year with a quick tour of Bethlehem in the Old and New Testaments, in conjunction with the Christmas season.
HIRING A CHILDREN’S MINISTRY DIRECTOR: This year was the first year that Latara Arthur was an employee of Good News Church. We hired her in January of 2018, and what a treat it has been to have her on staff! She is well-liked (for good reason) and has done a great job improving both KidZone and our Youth Bible Study.
OUR FIRST PASTOR SABBATICAL: From mid-May to mid-July, the Villella Family took a sabbatical after about seven years of ministry here at Good News Church. It was a great time. Additionally, it was a good experiment. We learned that Good News can survive even when some of the leadership is gone for an extended period of time. That is a good sign.
MINISTRIES WE SUPPORTED: Good News Church gives away 11% of all donations to help support other ministries who practice missions and mercy. (Missions is our word for ministries that spread the gospel, and mercy is our word for ministries that help the poor.) This past year we were able to give monthly support to Interfaith, Share the Love, Wear Gloves, Child Evangelism Fellowship, Unlimited Discipleship, Tampa Muslim Outreach, Reformed University Fellowship, Barnabas Aid, Acts 29, and Compassion International, as well as several one or two-time gifts to other ministries.
SHARE THE LOVE: This was the sixth summer that we have been the sponsor church for Share the Love Ocala (formerly Royal Family Kids of Marion County). This was their eighth summer of elementary-age camp, and their second summer of middle school high school camp. This is a great ministry to be involved in.
COMMUNITY GROUPS: In 2018 there were a dozen community groups sponsored by Good News Church, and five additional study groups. These groups are the life-blood of our church in the sense that we believe church can become a religious show if the people within in it do not meet together for the purposes of ministering to one another and spurring each other on to love and good deeds.
TRAINING FOR STAFF AND ELDERS: Over the past year, both the elders and the staff read books together as a part of staff and elder training. The Elders read and discussed Sticky Teams and What Is a Healthy Church?. The staff discussed content found in Sticky Teams, Seven Practices of Effective Ministry, When Helping Hurts, and Real-Life Discipleship. These discussions have been a valuable tool for helping us all get on and stay on the same page, as well as evaluating how we do ministry at Good News Church.
Looking forward to 2019!