*This afternoon, at our annual SVCC family meeting, I briefly reflected on 2018. Below are the thoughts I shared in the form of a letter.
My Dearest Shades Valley,
Something happened in my heart during 2018. I don’t know quite how to describe it, but I’m going to try anyway. For the first time in my adult life, I feel like an adult. I have long felt like a kid pretending to be grownup, just faking it and hoping nobody notices. See, I have no clue how to be a husband, a father or a pastor, but something changed last year. I still don’t think I have a clue what I’m doing, but I no longer feel like a fake. I feel real. I feel at home in my skin. I feel completely… me.
In Scripture, the number seven occurs frequently and is symbolic for completion. Now, I’m not big into numerology, nor am I trying to be superstitious, but 2018 was my seventh year at Shades… and I feel completely at home as your pastor. In 2018, our final child was born, causing our family to now number seven… and I feel completelyat home as a father and husband. I could be wrong, but I believe I have felt this “completely at home” vibe reverberate throughout our body this past year.
In the last seven years, we have experienced a lot of growth as a body. There has been growth in our membership, our ministries, our staff and more. Such growth has brought much joy, but it has been accompanied by growing pains. Yet, such aches don’t last forever, and like any kid after a growth spurt, the awkwardness of our new size has begun to wear off, and we again feel at home in our skin. 2018 felt that way in this body we call SVCC… like we are completely at home as one body of believers no matter if we have been here twenty-five years or two months. We all really belong to this body. We are all really at home in the skin of this place. We feel completely… Shades.
Let me mention just a few of the ways I believe I’ve seen this body be completely Shades in 2018… and this is not to brag on us, but to boast in Christ! He is the head of this body, and he empowers all that we do so that he gets the glory!
So… in 2018, we, the body of Shades Valley Community Church, became completely at home with our artistic side. Not only did our artists put on another amazing event called “The Realm Revealed,” but an EP of original songs was birthed out of this community and there are more on the way. Speaking of births, this community has been completely at home embracing baby after baby. In 2018, the Lord allowed us to witness spiritual births and baptisms as well as many physical births. Further, coming alongside the Doroughs and the Ballards during their adoption processes filled the heart of this place with more joy than we’ve been able to handle!
Last year also saw us completely at home in our role of training future ministers of the Gospel. We ordained Brad as our Discipleship Pastor and have officially called John-Mark as our Worship and Community Pastor. Both of these men came into these roles through Shades investing in them, training them and loving them. We also hired John Kegley as a Pastoral Assistant last year as a spiritual investment is his calling and future. Beyond official staff, in 2018 we commissioned out over thirty college students to various places across this country and around the globe. We also saw the Lord raise up and send out the Gilmores, the Littons, the Belknaps, James Spencer, Patrick Smith and many others to serve in various callings. We have become completely at home with the Lord calling and commissioning people from our body. It is just part of who we are, and it is an amazing evidence of God’s grace on this place.
In 2018, the Lord also worked in several incredible and unexpected ways in our midst. Out of seemingly nowhere, the kitchen fundraising was brought to completion in an instant. In a matter of weeks, our children’s ministry was completely revamped. And, in December, the Lord poured out a generous spirit in our body, and the largest giving month in our history helped us make budget!
There are so many more things I could talk about. So many more ways Shades continues to be completely Shades. Things like loving on each other through times of sicknesses, sorrow and death. Things like celebrating marriages, births and countless other joys. Things like growing together in Catechesis classes, community groups and our continued partnerships with Green Springs, 100 fold and our mission efforts in Haiti and South Asia. There are endless things I could talk about if I had the time, but undergirding them all is one body… Shades Valley Community Church… empowered by one Spirit, through one Savior, for the glory of the one triune God! Undergirding all of this is each one of you who really belong to this body… who are really at home in the skin of this place… because of Christ, you all are completely Shades.
So…in 2019, let’s keep being completely Shades completely for the glory of Jesus! Let us go into the world in peace, having courage, holding on to what is good, honoring all men, strengthening the faint-hearted, supporting the weak, helping the suffering and sharing the Gospel. Let’s love and serve the Lord in the power of the Holy Spirit, knowing that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is with us all until we stand before Him at last truly, completely at home.
I love you all,