Looking back, moving forward
At the annual meeting, and in the monthly newsletters since then, the pastors shared their vision of where we've been and where we are going.
Pastor John Lillie Update Whenever we stand at the beginning of a new year, it is easy to wonder what blessings and challenges this coming year will bring. This past year has been a year of both.
Some of the blessings include new individuals and families that have chosen to make Countryside their church home. God continues to send us people and we purpose to continue in our commitment to minister to them. This blessing brings new challenges in how best to use our personnel and facilities to meet the needs of these new ministry opportunities. Countryside is planning a ministry forum on February 2 to discuss this very matter so I hope you will come and participate in this meeting.
Another blessing is the completion of the building project, providing a much-needed large classroom, a new entrance and storage area. We began using the new classroom before construction was finished and currently have class sizes that would have been impossible without this new room. God’s timing is perfect!
Included in blessings are the record number of young people who have been married at Countryside this year. What a joy to see these young people seek God’s will together and continue in ministry here, insuring on-going outreach at Countryside. Pastor Wally and Katie are a great asset in providing much of the pre-marital counseling and performing some of the weddings.
The greatest challenge for the ministry and myself was Pastor Jack’s call to heaven. We lost a dear friend, fellow pastor and faithful servant. I am thankful for the years we had together, but it seems too short. But God’s ways are perfect and though at times we cannot understand His purpose, we nonetheless trust Him.
We have been blessed by the addition of Pastor Bob to the leadership team at Countryside. He and his family have settled in nicely and we have given him more work than can be done in his part-time hours. Those responsibilities include teaching search classes, small group leader, leading the log college and helping build the internship program, teaching a Bible study for Hillsdale College students on Wednesdays, filling the pulpit, attending elders meetings, etc.
And, of course, we celebrated Pastor Rob’s 10–year anniversary. What a blessing he has been to me personally and to all of us.
The most recent challenge and blessing was our attempt to present a community Christmas program. This required the help of many different people who all stepped up and took responsibility for their specific area. These include: music, set building, program writing, directing children parts, lighting and sound…and then all the hands that worked together, on both sides of the curtain, to provide a good presentation on Sunday.
Working together has been one of the reasons God has blessed Countryside. We work together to face challenges and together enjoy blessings, purposing to continue in this unity for the glory of God. It gives me confidence as together we look forward to another year.
Pastor Rob Stewart Update These past 10 years at Countryside have been a true blessing to me. The Lord has given beyond what I could have even asked or imagined. I look forward with joy to the years that Lindy and I will have here and raise Titus with all of you.
The youth ministry continues to challenge and encourage me. I praise the Lord that He has allowed me to be a part of so many high school students’ lives. As the church as grown, so has the youth ministry. Our junior high group, led by Alissandro Pia and Abe Dane, has between 15 and 20 on Wednesday nights. They are studying Acts on Wednesdays and Luke on Sunday mornings. The high school ministry has been averaging 20-25 for the Tuesday night Bible Study. The combined group on Sunday nights is sometimes over 45. This growth has come, in large part, as the Lord has worked through Abe and Becky Dane who faithfully pick up students who would otherwise not be a part of the ministry of Countryside.
I want our church family to be aware of an important opportunity with our high school youth. We are in need of a faithful couple to take over the van route on Tuesday nights. Without this ministry, many of our students will be unable to attend. This is a large commitment, but know that whoever steps into this role will be blessed. Please pray.
Our singing on Sunday is only one part of our lives of worship, but I trust that the Lord is pleased by the truth that we sing as the songs are offered up with hearts of gladness, thanksgiving and longing. We have sought to open up more opportunities ties for others to be involved. These include the choir, offertories, praise team and occasional special music.
With Pastor Jack’s going home to be with the Lord, I have taken over some of what he did in overseeing the children’s ministry. But, the vast majority is directed by Deb Scripter as Children’s Ministry Director and Janette Brubacher in the nursery. Their faithfulness is impacting many of our families in way that many do not see. Be aware of continued ministry opportunities with our children.
I will leave you with a few ways that you can be praying for the ministry:
- Van driver and rider for Tuesday night Bible Study.
- Children’s ministry teachers and helpers.
- Faith and perseverance for those who lead and serve in various ministries.
Pastor Bob Snyder Update My wife and I appreciate the warm reception you have given to us and to our children this past year, and we thank God for the opportunity to serve among you and with you. Certainly the events of this past year were unexpected by us, but not by God and by His Son, who truly loves us and does what is best for His overall church. It is a privilege to be here. You have a strong church home, where both truth and ministry are valued.
As one of the pastors, I am mainly involved in teaching: my specific responsibilities include a Search class, a small group, a Bible study for college students, and the Log College, which trains men for ministry leadership. In the Log College, there have been six participants so far—Josh Potter, Jon Lewis, and Brian Rich this past summer, and joining Josh this fall, John Parker, Jason Thompson, and Dennis Lawrence. The focus is on knowing God, believing that this knowledge is transformative. In pursuing God, we have considered books on prayer, humility, loving leadership, grace, and evangelism. Currently we are considering Augustine, who is a strong model of making worship central to all of life.
It has been encouraging to see God’s hand in these endeavors. For example, one year ago, I spent a day at New Tribes Bible Institute, presenting the Log College as a ministry of potential attraction to students. Only one student talked with me that day, and we talked at some length. That student was John Parker. At the time, I strongly wished to be able to help train him in the Log College. This fall it has been a delight to realize that God answered this desire.
As we grow as a church, it is good for us to consider the paths God is already taking us along. One of these paths is leadership development. Right now, we have training for small group leaders and the Log College for potential elders and ministers. Please pray that God would stir up leaders for the people He is sending to us. We need this work of grace. Growth requires leadership. With increased shepherding and ministry needs, we ask God for leaders ready to handle the pressures with prayer and a hopeful expectation in Him.
Jinna and I are grateful to be here.
Pastor Wally Metts Update
Katie and I have been providing marriage counseling for three couples over the last few months, and have hosted (or will host) several events at our home including nights of blessing. As the pastor for family ministries I’m currently teaching “Biblical Foundations of Marriage” in the Discovery Institute and will offer a parenting course in the spring.
Some have expressed interest in a couples retreat and men’s or ladies retreats as well. Please let me know if you have an interest in events like this, especially if you would like to help.
The elders are planning a Ministry Forum this winter. A date and place will be announced, but this event will focus on ways we can effectively minister as we continue to grow. All interested people in the congregation are welcome to attend.
Managing growth is an important issue for our church, and will require some flexibility and grace from all of us. I’m working to get policies and practices in writing, so you will see new procedures for communicating with our growing congregation. (Attendance has increased by 75 over the same quarter last year.) For example we are currently working on clearer expectations for scheduling and using church facilities. Please be patient with us.
Katie, in her new role as church secretary, and I are grateful for the opportunity to serve you and work with you in these exciting days. The positive and helpful attitude of this congregation makes our service more joyful and our hearts more grateful.