Pastoral Report 2017

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March 21, 2017

In the opening chapters of the Book of Revelation, John is told to record messages for 7 particular churches in Asia Minor. With few exceptions, the rhythm of these letters is very similar. They always open with a revelation about Christ, followed by a brief celebration of positive aspects of the church. This would be followed by an expression of concern or rebuke, as well as a prescription for change. Each letter would always close with a promise for the future and a call for those with ears to hear the message.

            While I am not John, and I am certainly not recording inspired Scripture as he was, I believe there is an important pattern to follow in communicating to churches. Max Depree, a well-known American businessman and writer on leadership put it this way, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.” That means celebrating what is going well, but also speaking candidly about concerns.

            The past year, has certainly seen its share of joyful occasions. It was truly a joy to celebrate together at the ordination service for myself, and it was a true joy to hear my Great-Uncle Ross Laidlaw speak at that service. We were also privileged again this year with a baptismal service, as Denyse Leeson, followed the Lord in obedience and was baptized. We had the privilege of hosting Ed and Theresa Sealy again this year, and God used them to minister both here as well as in the Saugeen, with at least 2 indicating that they had trusted Christ during the meetings in the Saugeen. Praise the Lord! We were also blessed to have Hisham Morgan with us to share his testimony and more of the evangelistic work he is engaged in to Arabic speaking people in Montreal. We have certainly enjoyed a blessed year, and have much to be thankful for.

            I want you to understand, that even as I now express some concerns that I have for our church, I do not want to suggest in any way that these concerns take away from the truly joyous occasions we have experienced. We have undoubtedly been blessed, and we need to rejoice in that and praise God for what we have seen Him do here in Markdale Baptist Church over the past year. With that said, I really do feel burdened to share with you some concerns God has been laying on my heart for quite some time now. These burdens are specifically about the future of our church. I have shared these concerns with the deacon’s and we have even started to work towards addressing some of these things, but I do feel that you as a church body need to have these concerns communicated to you as well.

            As I look at our church, especially through the lens of Scripture, I am concerned about a number of areas. I am concerned for the future leadership of our church. As time passes by, we each inevitably grow older, and that means at some point in time we will need to pass the torch to the next generation of church members. However, we currently do not have many potential future leaders to pass the torch to.

Another area of concern, is that we are not engaging in the very mission for which God established this church here in Markdale, namely to reach Markdale with the good news of saving faith in Jesus Christ. The disciples were commissioned to go into all the world, beginning in their home base of Jerusalem, then Samaria, then the uttermost parts of the earth. We have an excellent missions program that is involved in supporting and praying for missionaries in Canada and around the world. We need to improve however, our efforts to reach our “Jerusalem” here in Markdale.

 Now as I share these concerns with you, I want you to understand that, I am not interested in finger pointing or assigning blame. Instead, my hope is that as we identify and clarify the concern, we can finally, Lord willing begin to work towards the answers.

            As I already mentioned, that is something that we as a Board have already begun to work towards, and we have had several good discussions about ways we can engage better with our community. The outcome so far from that, has been our participation in helping to sponsor the construction of the new basketball court by the library. We also will be helping to sponsor the free public skating at the arena next winter. We are hopeful that this coming fall, the local Santa Claus parade will use our church parking lot as the staging area for the parade. Along with these ideas we have others that we are still working on.  In addition, we are working towards establishing a clear description of our values, mission and vision for the near future.

            While the leadership team is working on these things, we must have your help if we are to successfully address these concerns and move forward into the future that God has for us collectively as a church.

First we need you to pray. No amount of strategizing, planning or defining of values will help us, if we are not imploring God to work in us and through us as a church. We need you to pray, pray and then pray some more. Pray for the leadership as they meet. Pray for open doors to share the gospel with friends, neighbours and others. Pray especially that our hearts will be open to the growth and change that God wants us to embrace. Rick Warren points out to us that growth is difficult because, “There is no growth without change, no change without loss and no loss without pain. And that means grief."  It is only by God’s enabling power that we will be able to change as we need to.

Secondly, we need you to help us as a leadership team. We need you to bring us your outreach ideas, we will need your participation in some discussion times we foresee being a part of the process of defining our values, and we will need you to help by being involved in the various outreach endeavours we pursue. This is not a burden that only a few can shoulder, but instead we must all put our shoulder to the wheel and lend whatever strength we can to help our church move forward.

My prayer is simply this. That next year when we meet together for our Annual Meeting, we will be able to rejoice, that eternal souls are being won to Christ, that disciples are growing in the Lord, and that we are being faithful to the Great Commission we have been called to.

 

 

By God’s grace and for His glory alone,

Pastor Bruce Laidlaw

 

            

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