Annual report 2014
John Lillie, Senior Pastor— And they (Paul, Silas and Timothy) went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. Acts 16:6-8
You would think that if there were anyone in the New Testament era that knew what direction God wanted him to go it would be the Apostle Paul. But we have a clear illustration in the above text that Paul’s method of doing God’s work was not much different than ours today: 1) identify a need, 2) develop a plan to meet that need, 3) take steps to implement the plan, 4) if door closes, start process over.
This year we have experienced this at Countryside. The identified need (step one) was we were/are growing out of our building. We talked as leaders and involved our congregation in a ministry forum to explore options (step 2). We began to move toward what seemed to be the most reasonable plan (yes, step 3) which was multi-site. That door did not open to us. Could we have pushed harder or found a way around the door? Probably, but that door has remained closed and we continue with a less elegant plan, three services.
As we prayed and asked God for direction the Lord literally put before us the Buehrer home. We took a step in that direction and it has demonstrated that God’s plan for the immediate future was not more space, but more staff and better care for the ones we have. The outcome of this has been growth in ministry opportunities, more people impacted with the gospel, and the evidence of God’s blessing and provision in and for this ministry.
That does not mean the matter of more/different space will not be revisited (Paul eventually went to Asia…in God’s time) but it does mean that right now, for this moment, we are doing what God has called us to do. And I am satisfied with that.
Rob Stewart, Associate Pastor—
When we look around us here at Countryside, some might say that it feels different than even just 5 years ago. New faces. New leaders. New ministries. I can relate to how many feel. Much has changed for me this year.
First, this year I have been transitioning away from leading the youth ministry as Joseph Parker has moved into this role. While I knew this would be difficult to do because of the joy that I have in working with youth, it has been a blessing to see God work out the details of this change. As a church we have sought to prepare our youth to serve the Lord in whatever way He will call them when they leave this place. And, now to have one of our own return to lead the group is a great testimony to God’s promise to use the church to prepare the next generation. In Joseph and Jean Marie we have gained a wonderful blessing to our ministry here. May the Lord grant them the delight that I have had these past 12 years.
Second, God has opened the hearts of people to see the value of small groups for everyone who attends. Those involved in small groups know the vital role that these times of fellowship play in our lives. And it is our love that should drive us to let others benefit from these groups. Three groups have decided to plant new small groups. Joseph Parker is taking over my small group in Jonesville as I begin a new group in North Adams. The Kauffman and Lillie groups are also gearing up for such a transition in the coming months.
As I look ahead, I am anticipating working with the men at Countryside. Our men need a concrete goal to reach for. They need to understand what it means to faithfully lead their families. They need the courage to be humble. They need to embrace selflessness. Single men (and women) need to know that they have an important ministry in this church. God has been raising up men ready to take this next step toward Godliness. God has begun His work. May we pray to see it completed here.
Bob Snyder, Associate Pastor— It is a privilege to participate in what God is doing at Countryside Bible Church. So many people, so much Bible, and so many aspects of church life that exhibit thought and care—all of these and more encourage us to praise God and to press on. In particular, as we have been taught of God to love each other, so may we excel still more and more in Him!
My personal responsibilities as an elder include teaching ministry, college ministry, and ministry training in the Log College. In addition, the Lord has blessed Spring Branch Academy with eighteen students this year, serving twelve families. It is a busy life, but it is fruitful, and I am thankful.
In looking back over the past year, two areas of ministry stand out for special mention. First, it is a delight to see Drew French and Jake Mueller teaching a Search Class this fall in the book of Daniel. Drew is a missionary intern called to the Middle East, and Jake is an earnest young man, gifted in leadership and called into business. Both are being trained through the Log College apprenticeship program, having completed a year of theological reading, discussion, and prayer last year.
Second, it is also a delight to see so many of our folks pursuing a better understanding of benevolent ministry. As part of the Discovery Institute, the “Benevolent Bootcamp” has required a substantial amount of reading and interaction, in order to participate in the class. While having a class on a practical ministry could lead to fruitless knowledge and little involvement, we are hopeful the Lord will give our leadership a better benevolent policy and our church and her people a stronger and more lasting effect in the lives of needy people. In truth, we are all needy, and the Only Benefactor is the Lord Jesus Christ.
In closing, thank you again for providing another parsonage for the ministry. Many hands are involved, and many hours have been manned. Thank you. May God enrich His ministry through this tool as well!
Wally Metts, Associate Pastor— We celebrated our 75th anniversary as a church this year, and it was a blessing to hear the testimonies of God’s faithfulness to this congregation. The courage and the commitment of those brave souls who banded together to provide a Gospel witness in the shadow of the Great Depression and two World Wars provides a foundation for thoughtful reflection about how God works.
Through all these years there have been other challenges and opportunities, church splits and building projects. But the Lord has blessed us and continues to bless us. Thanks be to God.
As pastor of family and marriage ministries, Katie and I are privledged to meet with couples and encourage them to understand how their marriages are a picture of God’s covenant-keeping love to his own people. We see this in the history of our church and in the realities or our family life.
And we are glad.
Joseph Parker, Youth Director—
I am excited to be back at Countryside with my wife, Jean Marie, and to be working with the youth as the new Youth Ministry Director. We arrived in June and immediately jumped into things joining some of the youth and many others in the church on the ICI trip to Chicago.
The rest of the summer the Senior High youth participated in serving others in work days on Tuesday nights. Personally, I enjoyed those times as an opportunity to get to know some of the youth and have fun working with them. This fall, Bible study nights replaced the work nights and we have begun studying the Sermon on the Mount. I have enjoyed hearing the youth participate in discussions and share their thoughts during our Bible study time.
Next year I am looking forward to spending time with the youth mentoring and challenging them to seek to grow in their own relationship with God and to serve Him where He has them now.