I think that we can all agree that this year has gone by so fast. I cannot believe that we already find ourselves in November. This is such a heavy time of the year for many of us as the holidays approach and life inherently becomes more and more busy. I want to encourage you to take time to slow down though.
I know that in preparation for the infinite family gatherings, preparation for Christmas shopping, work getting busy, life getting busy, it is hard to sit back and take time to reflect. But I think we can all agree that the end of the year is the perfect time to reflect and remember everthing that has happened in our lives this last year. Thanksgiving is an especially great time of the year for reflection and giving thanks for the things that we have received.
One thing in my own liffe that happened this year was that I was paired with two beautiful little congregations in rural Illinois. This was a big event in my life, and one that I am incredibly thankful for. The people in these churches have loved and supported me in a way that I could have only hoped for. October was pastor appreciation month, and the people in these churches made sure that I felt appreciated. For that I want to thank you.
I fear that this year will keep trucking along, and we will be in the new year before we know it. But let's not allow 2018 to get away from us as we still have two months left. During this time of craziness and family gathering, I want to encourage you to BE PRESENT. This is something that I believe many people struggle with.
Being Present means that you haven't just shown up. You didn't just walk in the door and hide in the corner. Rather, you make your friends and family a priority. The point of family gatherings is that you make memories with the people who love you. Making memories can be quite difficult these days. I believe this is because we go from event to event so that we can successfully check things off our list. Don't let that happen this year. Put your distractions aside. Put your phone in your pocket. And engage with the people who love you.
With all of that being said, I am getting excited for the new year. (I know I just said to not let this year get away from us.) We have some very EXCITING things coming up in the life of our church. We will be hosting community events almost every month and EVERONE IS INVITED.
In somewhat the same vein as this, I want to remind everyone that Bishop Beard has extended a challenge to all churches in the IGRC. The challenge is simple in htought, but a little harder to execute. The goal for this year is that by the end of the year everyone bring at least two friends to church with them. I know that getting people to come to church with you isn't easy, but I want to encourage everyone to try their very hardest to make this a priority. Remember, this is not a challenge that is all about numbers. I couldn't care less about the specific number of people we have in church. We could have 100 people or 10 people at worship on Sunday but the number doesn't matter. What matters is that the church is actively pursuing the people in the community around us and that we are interacting with people in an intentionally impactful way that might in some way show them Jesus.