Scott's Thoughts: Sun, Jan 14, 2023

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(Apologies for links that make getting back to this ST post a slightly frustrating process. We’re annoyed, too. We try to avoid that, but it’s beyond our control.)

2023 Annual Report and 2024 Budget

A Mélange of Motley Miscellany

Thoughts I’ve Had and Am Still Having

Why I Start Every Sermon with “Open Your Bibles”
2023 Annual Report and 2024 Budget
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Not a whole lot to say here other than, “Hey, check out the 2023 Annual Report, which is super cool and worth an extended time of digesting how God working through the faithfulness of our people and thanking Him for continuing to extend the grace of blessing our efforts together!” And while I’m tempted to sorta just say, “Oh yeah, the 2024 Budget’s a thing, too. You can read it,” it’s actually really cool to see how a budget can be based on Kingdom vision. It’s down 4.3% from 2023, to make sure we are staying in secure financial territory as much as possible. Make sure to read the “Notes” at the bottom for some helpful info and a smidge of explanation of major changes made. You can pick up both today at any campus. We’ll keep ‘em around for a couple/few more weeks, but you can always find them at fccgreene.org/2023annualreport or fccgreene.org/2024budget.

Speaking of the 2024 Budget, at the beginning of June, David Bowlin goes from part-time Young Adults Director to full-time salaried Director of Young Adults & Next Steps, which is right down David’s disciplemaking alley. We are hoping and praying that pouring more staff resources (than Bob has margin to give, frankly) into Next Steps can help us not only get more (especially new) people involved and engaged but it will help us further develop a disciplemaking culture of facilitating personal connection to the body. (And yes, Bob’s (very) cool with it.) Will share more info soon…
A Mélange of Motley Miscellany
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Don’t mistake my dorky titles for unimportant info because there’s some big stuff here and the silliness is a front for my seriousness.

  • Catalyst Mobile Trailer “Soft Launches!” – Bigtime special thanks to Nilla Kemmann for her hard work in putting together and managing literally hundreds of details over the course of many months to get us to this point! (And, oh yeah, Nathan Dickerson, too.) ;o) Last week we did a few couple-hour “soft launches” at weekday evening FCC ministries to get employees trained, learn how to best utilize the trailer, etc. The design of the trailer is such that we can do both drive-thru and walk-up type settings, but you’ll probably start to notice us doing drive-thru this Tue, Jan 16, in the morning. We’ll be at Sleep Solutions, across from Sonic on the South side of 11E, just East of the hospital formerly known as Laughlin. This week will consist of more such public “soft launches” to get ready for a mega super big grand opening extravaganza next week (Mon, Jan 22, prob?!) Order ahead at catalystmobile.org.
  • Annual Spiritual Health Survey & Membership Renewal – Friendly reminder that January is the month for surveys and renewals. (Oops, I haven’t done mine yet. Sheesh.) For more info and help, see this previous post. Wanted to mention that we are in the process of changing our administrative software to one that will be much better at helping us utilize the spiritual health survey data, (which, yes, remains anonymous except for Elders & Staff, (I think? Might be just Elders & Pastors?) … Anyway, it will help us facilitate reminders of your survey responses as your ongoing “7 Habits Growth Plan”.
  • 2023 Giving Statements & Elders Letter – This week you can expect these in the mail. Consider yourself informed.
  • Watermark Leaders Conference – For years our Paid Staff have taken a huge crew of some 30+ with us to a leadership conference in Dallas we love attending. (Watermark is the church that created and resources our re:gen and Marriage ministries.) But, alas, we are needing to save that money this year, so are taking only Paid Staff this year. Sorry to disappoint a good 18-20 or so of our key leaders and volunteers. (But that’s about normal for me at any given moment, so…)
  • Noah Nasekos Appy Trail Outreach – Our own Noah Nasekos (nuh SEE kōs) leaves for his journey soon. Be praying for safety and opportunities for gospel convos. If you wanna know more or donate, as he still needs a few thousand dollars for supplies, food, bear spray, etc., check out this previous post.
  • 7 Days of Prayer – Residents did a great job leading us this week as we learned about and prayed through our Team Code (fccgreene.org/teamcode). Had really good and consistent participation. The nights I was there really psyched me up. I think this is a really good practice for us as a church, to reset our hearts and minds at the beginning of every year to be about Kingdom business. May the Lord answer the prayers and bless the pray-ers for the sake of communicating His goodness and glory!
  • Upcoming Sermon Plans – Need to iron out a few more details, but here’s the gist of plans as of now:
    • New City Catechism (part 1 of 3) ends Sun, Jan 28.
    • Resume “Exodus: Freed to Worship & Serve” in Exodus 19 on Sun, Feb 4. That will take us up to Easter, at least. Then we’ll finish a few more in Exodus during April.
    • During the Summer, 4 weeks on each, “Biblical Manhood” & “Biblical Womanhood” (not official titles.)
    • Start the book of Hebrews in the Fall.
    • We’ll cover the rest of NCC as we can, in small spurts of series between other larger series, ‘till we get done, someday.
  • Kids Pine Cove City Coming Back Summer 2024, Mon-Fri, Jul 22-26! – Think camp, but daytime only, in the city, and at church, and with super-well-trained college students and young adults who are fired up to teach kids about how God created and loves them. It’s high energy and done with excellence! PCC is a major Kids Min event and outreach we’ve done twice before with great success! We are shooting for 130 kids (I think? Off the top of my head.) and wanna help fund as many beyond our own kids in the community, to teach them the love of Jesus and to help let Greene County families know we are for them and have a loving church family ready to help them grow. It’s not cheap, (though it’s totally worth it), so we need the congregation’s help above and beyond our normal giving to help make it happen. Please pray with us for PCC to help us reach kids and families in our community. More info quite soon…
Thoughts I’m Still Having
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While I was looking for some info, I happened upon some old Scott’s Thoughts posts from a few years ago that I thought I’d perhaps reword a smidge and share. Voila…

  • The Cost of Being A Good/Godly Leader – The overwhelming majority of leadership books, talks, and trainings I’ve encountered assumes that positive and public-facing benefits should drive leadership principles. But, like following Jesus, soberly counting the cost (Luke 14:25-33) of good leadership doesn’t make for good socials reels or locker room wall platitudes because, in an actually-fallen world, it’s a harder and more costly sacrifice than most are willing to accept. This holds true for families and workplaces as much as churches. So, in the words of Georgia football coach Kirby Smart:
    • “You will have to make hard decisions that negatively affect people you care about.”
    • “You will be disliked despite your attempt do the best for the most.”
    • “You will be misunderstood and will not always have the opportunity to defend yourself.”
  • After the cross, all Christian sacrifice is merely gratitude for undeserved grace.
  • Connection is fundamental for human growth and life. Isolation breeds atrophy and death.
  • Normal means of production and patterns of life literally keep people alive.
  • The unprecedented luxury, material control, and ease of access to legal addictions by which the average American “lives” are the greatest threat to moral integrity in history. (You heard it here first, folks.)
  • In practical terms, the average person doesn’t have the time, emotional margin, theological conviction, or moral integrity to do their homework and find out for themselves whether what they read is true and squares with Scripture. That’s why most live by an emotional shorthand that is a poor substitute for truth.
  • The more consistently offended you are, the more self-righteous.
  • We will continue to develop into a church that is more centrally focused and dependent upon the all-sufficient Word of God to shepherd our people. Full stop. No more need be said. This will happen or I will quit. In the past, we’ve been too soft and haven’t demanded this for our people. So get on board with this inevitability, stop complaining about everyone else around you when you have God’s Word available to you, and get your heart and head in God’s Word you lazy secularized bum!
  • If you are not desperate to be fed by corporate worship, prayer, and study of God’s Word, it is because your mission doesn’t need it.
Why I Start Every Sermon with “Open Your Bibles”
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This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive explanation, but here are a couple reasons we begin each week’s lesson with the words “Open your Bibles.” First, it’s a statement about the Scriptures as our sufficient authority for truth and for life. Notice it’s not just a generic authority, but a sufficient authority. If we actually believe the Bible is God’s Word, is breathed out by Him, and is special revelation to us from Him, then to treat it as a nebulous theoretical authority that needn’t be actually read, understood, or applied to all of life is to frivolously misunderstand what it is and what it does. (See esp 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21; also Deuteronomy 6:1-9; 20-25; Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1; 119. For more, see “The Word Does the Work”; Brown Bags & Bibles episodes #61-62 (and even a few following these); and the following 2-minute “Monday Morning Missives”: “The Word of God as the Guide for His People,” “The Bible Claims it is God’s Very Words,” and “The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Knowledge.”) So I want “Open your Bibles” to serve as a weekly reminder that the Scriptures are our source of truth and that it has everything we need to live with integrity in a world that hates, mocks, and perverts truth at every turn. Because we live in a world of confusion, where knowledge is reduced to the whims of the therapeutic self and the meaning of words is algorithmically controlled by financial interests, identity politics, and sociocultural power, we need ongoing reminders of the objective authority of the Scriptures and to declare that we are here, week after week, as the gathered body of Christ, to be shaped by the eternal truths of God’s Word.

And second, I want everyone coming to all 6 of our worship services each week to know at the outset, and eventually to anticipate, that we are going to be learning together from God’s Word—that studying and learning from the Scriptures is what we do here! I like to think of it as a version of “Start your engines!” as a way to remind us to have our hearts and minds prepared to hear from God. And, btw, if that seems too boring or unexciting for you, then I’d like to suggest that perhaps you fundamentally misunderstand what the church is for and what God’s Word is, let alone how it works to feed the flock. So first, it’s a declaration of purpose—that studying and learning from the Scriptures is what we do here.
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