Bigger Than We Know
“For who knows the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” – Romans 11:34-35
Every January EBC kicks off the year with a party called the Annual Business Meeting. Lame party name aside (maybe I’ll work on that throughout this update…), it is a celebratory occasion for the church body to come and reflect on what God has done and to look forward to what He might do in the coming year(s). As Toby and I were talking about it in the office this morning, Toby said (in only a way Toby can), “these meetings are always pointing to bigger things than we know.” He’s right. We don’t know the mind of the Lord or what He may be up to. What I do know, however, us that during the business meeting, there were a plethora of things that stuck out as anything but “business as usual.” Here’s a little recap of some of the things that God has been/is doing for His glory through EBC.
A New (Old) Pastor – At The Annual Party of Business we learned that the EBC pastoral staff is growing with an overwhelmingly affirmative vote to add Ryan Donovan as an associate pastor. Anyone who knows Ryan and Leanne knows that for years they have poured themselves into EBC – both vocationally and non-vocationally. Having been the youth pastor for the better part of a decade, both Ryan and Leanne are deeply connected to many families in the church. In addition, Ryan has been a part of the EBC leadership team now for 14 years! Anything I could write here would be an understatement of what a wonderful thing it will be to have Ryan back on staff investing in the lives of the people God has at EBC.
A Continued Strong Focus on Missions – One of the main agenda items at our Year End Business Sesh of Celebration is to reaffirm Missionary Support for 2-3 year terms. In addition to re-committing to financially support four missionaries who have longtime served in Peru, Senegal, and Haiti, the EBC body voted to approve financial and prayer support for four additional missionaries serving through Asia, West Africa, and the PNW. Next to the categories of staff and operations, the two biggest expense categories for most any church, missions makes up over 13% of our annual budget. It is a praiseworthy thing that God continues to connect us to missionaries who are committed to sharing the hope of Jesus around the globe, and that we get to play a role in their efforts!
Faithful Giving and Stewardship – Each year, Evan Chalker our Church Treasurer, gives a budget report at our Bodacious Bash of Church Body Business. This year, he reported that our church had given over a million dollars. Now, this is groundbreaking news for us, and certainly something to give praise to God for. But the real thing to celebrate is not the number, but the focus behind it. A million dollars of giving is worth nothing if it’s not being carefully directed toward something of supreme value. One of the large takeaways is that Evan Chalker, along with our finance team, is a gracious gift of God to our church body. He and his team are clearly gospel minded, helping us to steward this money well – not to simply store it up – but to use it for Jesus centered endeavors that further the Kingdom of God. One of these things is the possibility of expanding our current facility (Phase II, as we’ve called it). There are all sorts of blessings we could discuss that would come from a project like this – but we’ll save that for another update. Until then, I trust that you can use your imagination.🙂
Staff Transitions and Development – One last key takeaway at our Church Business Soiree is all of the various transitions that are happening at EBC. Toby will be taking a much needed, long overdue sabbatical in the Summer of 2022 and transitioning into a somewhat smaller role in the pulpit in the year to come. I (Ryan A.) will start to take more of a preaching role in the Summer/Fall. Matt Arnett will be taking on primary leadership of the youth ministry, and Anna Chalker is filling the large shoes of the legendary Beth Cummings as our new Children’s Ministry Director. All of that, AND (as mentioned) we’re welcoming a new pastor on staff (although we’re still working on changing his name). There is a lot happening at EBC, and it’s evidently clear that God has had a sovereign hand in all of it.
Friends, there’s so much to rejoice in here. Sunday’s meeting certainly was “bigger than we know.” I, for one, am grateful that I don’t know the mind of the Lord, but can trust that He has a good plan in all that is to come.
Rejoicing with you,
Pastor Ryan Aufenkamp