Here are the facts as I see them. In my opinion, as lead pastor, we’ve been crazy obedient to our Master, Jesus Christ. We’ve taken all kinds of risks as a congregation and I think that God is glorified because of it. I’m amazed at how much work God has done. The facts are these:
- Fact 1: We have become a multi-ethnic church. We now have 25% minority membership, predominately but not limited to, Asian members. We also have Iraqis, Sudanese, Liberians and Congolese in attendance. Are we excited about this? You bet. Our neighborhood has changed. On one end of our neighborhood we have Thai Village. On the other end we have Zion. We also have the new Vietnamese cultural center in the Triangle on Douglas. This all makes sense and I believe it is all by God’s design.
- Fact 2: We’re ready to call a pastor to minister to all of us, but especially to our Burmese members. They are, after all, the fastest growing segment of our congregation. Worshipping over 100 per Sunday and contributing regularly to our common good, the Burmese membership is an amazing blessing. A pastor who speaks Burmese, Mizo (our particular dialect at the 1:00 service), and English, will solidify us as a congregation and allow us to make a major advance in unifying the congregation. Imagine what it will be like to have someone on staff who can help us integrate the entire congregation together!
- Fact 3: Our African immigrant membership continues to grow. We are growing in Liberian and Sudanese members. What is remarkable about these members is that when I ask them, “Why did you come to Zion?,” they all answer the same way: “God said to come here.” So we continue to believe that God is up to something and knows what he’s doing, even if we don’t fully understand it yet. In the meantime, Pastor Gakunze’s church and ours have begun to worship together at the 10:30 service monthly. Gakunzi preached on Palm Sunday and was a big hit. I think God is up something with this and look forward to what he has in store.
- Fact 4: Our Wednesday nights are off the charts. Last count, we were up to 150 kids from the apartment complexes which complements our current program of 30 Zion kids well. We’re serving over 200 meals each Wednesday night. Praise God! The week before Easter we were able to do a Gospel presentation for the kids that really hit home. I used kids to act out the crucifixion, and as I was about to drive home the nail into Dede’s hands, an enormous number of children stormed the stage to see. It was a very moving experience for many of our volunteers. I imagine that next year at this time we’ll be having baptisms for some of these kids. And I’m grateful to our Master for being able to be a part of what he’s doing here at Zion. Two weeks ago we started a new joint opening with our regular WOW program. Pastor Brent and a bunch of middle and high school students lead it. It is amazing and the kids are responding beautifully.
- Fact 5: Two weeks ago we launched a new concept: seminars for the church and the neighborhood. Our first one was on how to parent your child in the digital age. We had an expert from Houston come in and explain to people what was appropriate and inappropriate in terms of your child’s use of technology and why. What do you do with Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace? We invited the church and sent out over 1700 direct mail invitations. We had 40 people attend and we learned a lot. We’ll do it again.
- Fact 6: We’re back in the baby business! I hadn’t seen babies for a while and thought that was odd. We had two new borns in church on Sunday and found out we have 2 more on the way in the next few weeks. Wow.
- Fact 7: The volunteers are starting to arrive from beyond Zion. I’m amazed at offers to help from outside the congregation. Tutoring, clothes closet help, organizational help, and even some money are coming in. I think it’s a trend and I’m grateful. If we are to be a successful bridge to our neighborhood and the suburbs, we should expect to see it. It’s coming. Let me convey this story to you: Last Wednesday night I was concerned because we didn’t have enough money in the kitchen account for more groceries. Our exit offering from the weekend after Easter was a flop (duh, so was attendance!). I was after the Lord, chastising him for his lack of provision, when a volunteer from Waukee came in and said her neighbor heard what we were doing and gave us a check for $500! God provides.
- Fact 8: Have you noticed how our own middle school and high school students are responding to the new ministries we’re doing? They’ve jumped in with both feet. Ask Brent. The response is overwhelming. I think this is proof that helping others will leads to spiritual growth. It isn’t just the content of what we teach that is important, it’s providing the opportunity to put what we teach into practice.
Thanks for reading. Be encouraged. God bless. PJ