Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Summer of Ministry in Review

Greetings All!
As we're nearing the end of the summer, thought I'd send a quick update to all of you wonderful supporters of New Day! It has been an interesting few months for New Day and many positive things have happened.

June brought Spud Fest and New Day's successful involvement in the parade and food tent work. Last year we threw out crowd pleasing beach balls at the parade, this year it was bubbles - equally crowd pleasing and a lot easier to handle! Along with those two events, we were involved in 2 others. Some of our New Day community put together a "Tator Tot Festival" on the Spud Fest grounds, which was an area devoted to Preschoolers with age appropriate activities (Inflated Jumpy thing, bean bag toss, face painting, etc.) Although like everything else new, it was not well attended this year, it was very well received by the Spud Fest Board and shows promise for growth as the word gets out! Secondly, Jim worked hard at gathering 3 other pastors from the Big Lake community (Lutheran, Catholic & Assemblies of God) to share in creating worship under the Big Tent on Sunday morning. About 250 people came and Jim helped lead a liturgical movement piece that was incredibly inspiring in that large space! I helped coordinate awesome hospitality (many of you heard about the 5 gallons of lemonade spilled in the back of my Prius - good grief!!!) and there were many positive comments about this event as well.

New Day celebrated 3 baptisms this summer, 2 youth who were immersed in the lake, and one baby - all from active families at New Day.

Jim officiated at a wedding in July - a young couple from the community who do not have a church home and were married at the local reception hall. Much good feedback from family and friends there, although we have not seen the couple at church yet...

Kids and Youth programming continued all summer every Thursday evening. Also, about 15 different elementary aged kids attended 2 day camps and 1 overnight camp throughout the summer - a first time experience for all these kids. And about 6 youth spent a day together in August: starting with a service project downtown Mpls. (sorting clothing for a homeless shelter) and ending with fun (time at Como Zoo).

45 folks associated with New Day attended the United Methodist day at the Twins Game on August 19th and had a great time even though it was a terrible game! Many of us ventured to Target Field on the train! Fun!

Then in August, we celebrated our first year of full-time ministry and raised some much needed funds for year two with our "Gala of Stars" - a Hollywood themed banquet complete with excellent food, entertainment, a fire-eating demonstration, and decadent desserts. Thank you to many of you for attending, working and supporting! About 60 family, friends, and United Methodists from around the Twins Cities area attended, while about 20 of our New Day community came to serve, sing, coordinate the auction, etc. It was a lively and enjoyable evening and will generate $9000-$10,000 in ministry support for New Day!!

Worship attendance averages during the summer dropped to 60, but commitment levels from many families increased. Their hard work on many of these extra projects was uplifting and hopeful to us. And their increased ownership and devotion to New Day is being expressed in many ways.

All of this is very positive and hopeful, however, we are facing some big issues as well. This fall will be a critical time to evaluate sustainability of this new church. Although momentum is positive, continued significant increases in numbers of committed families and financial support will be needed in order for New Day to survive the long haul. Changes will be made in staffing and worship this fall and we hope to begin a "Discipleship Process" that will guide adults to a deeper level of faith and teach the principles of sacred inviting and giving. These next few months promise to be even busier and harder, different work from last year for us and if you are so inclined to lift a prayer for God's guidance and provision, and for our physical, mental and emotional stamina, that would be most appreciated!

We are passionate and convicted that this work and new churches like this are vital to the health and well-being of young families in our world. Rob Bell has some great educational videos which we have been sharing this summer, and in a recent one he was talking about 'Rain' (hard times/storms in our lives.) One of his quotes is, "It always rains, doesn't it? WHEN the rains come. It's not like they might. They DO. It rains in our lives... a lot." Our burning question has been, what do the unchurched young families in our midst do when the rains come? Where do they turn? How does anyone face the rains without faith and the company of the faithful to offer support? We truly believe that Christ offers abundant life in each day, (peace, hope, joy & love that can overcome the struggles of daily life) and that the "church" can provide the best means to deepen that faith. The challenge continues to be convincing these young people that church can be this source of life for them.

Thanks again for being the incredible support you are to Jim and me and for your prayers for New Day. You are blessings beyond measure to us!

With love and hope for each new day,
Janet :->

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Breathe on Me, Breath of God

Greetings Everyone!

It feels like I have been holding my breath ………………………….. for a long time ………………. and I don’t even realize I’ve been doing it. Breathing again these quick, deep lungfuls of oxygen makes me realize how long it’s been. Faith has sustained us, until God has provided. And today, a ray of sunshine has renewed the hope, faith, and conviction of our souls. Today, an email came with good news for New Day.

Probably all new-church-starts face this hurdle along their journey. New people are coming, ministries are growing, but giving is not matching spending. A little shortfall this month depletes the reserves; another shortfall the next month we cover ourselves; reimbursements for personal expenses get put off, then start accumulating; cash flow squeezes by for one more week. Hold your breath, keep praying, share your needs humbly with others, readjust your strategies, keep going, dare to ask, hold your breath…

Doubts linger like dark clouds on the horizon of the soul. Faith pushes them back. Rejection upon rejection creeps forward like a cold front. But today, a ray of sunshine breaks through to warm the heart and chase away the chill. Today, faith is not just rewarded but overwhelmed! Today, we were made aware that a major financial contribution to the ministries of New Day will be coming our way.

One sentence introduces the email’s content: “Some good news for you today!!” The sender has no idea! The gift was practically three times larger than we dared to hope. Tears leaking from the corners of my eyes surprise me, and make me realize just how long and hard we have been at this. All gifts are valued, but this one was necessary, for with it came the renewing breath of God:

“So I prophesied as [the Sovereign Lord] commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet – a vast army.” ~Ezekiel 37:10 NIV

And so, we bob to the surface and drink in the wind of the Spirit before diving in deep again. One breath is sufficient to renew and restore for now. We praise God for every breath, and the life which comes with it.

We pray for whatever you need to breathe again as well.
Pastor Jim

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Yes, Jesus is Here!

(The following is an excerpt from an email recently sent out by our Director of Worship and Music, Amanda Weber. In it are some amazing faith stories of kids, youth, and families at New Day that we think will warm your heart!)

... New Day UMC is home to me. It will never be my “home church” like Coon Rapids UMC, but it is another place I feel like home – I suppose it’s like having all of my “second moms and dads.” Our faith community is small but growing in so many ways. Most of the people in our congregation grew up without a church home at all, or have not been a part of one in many years. It is our mission field; we are “journeying together, encountering Christ, and growing in faith.” That’s our mission statement. If I were to sum up my life with Solid Rock (Coon Rapids UMC's traveling youth choir), that’s the best way I could put it. That’s what this mission is all about – whether it’s at Coon Rapids, or Andover, or Big Lake, or Mexico, or from Coast to Coast and Boarder to Boarder across North America.

At this juncture in life, my mission field is Big Lake, MN. I serve a growing worship community of people thirsting for Christ, asking for more of His Word, wanting to live life together, and to serve Our Lord more. It’s incredible to be a part of that each and every week. I was able to lead almost 30 kids and youth in a Christmas musical in December, and after that, they were begging to continue, so we are working now towards a spring kids & youth musical called “Down By the Creek Bank” ....

I don’t know all of the numbers to be exact, but we have over 100 “regulars” now at New Day (not always weekly, but becoming more and more active as time goes on). This morning (March 21) we had 25 children and about 10 youth in church – out of 69 people total, and we were missing several more families. They LOVE to be at church; they run to the door smiling on their way in. Because of limited resources, our children’s group (1st-5th grade) and our youth group switch off which Wednesdays they meet. Both age groups want more: they want to meet weekly. They are curious and inquisitive.

Their questions about God and the Bible never cease to end. At youth group the last couple of times, I had questions asked of me from as simple as, “How did the snake in the garden talk to Adam and Eve?... Snakes can’t talk.” to deeper questions about why the Jews and Romans wanted to kill Jesus as a criminal if He was supposedly “perfect” and not a sinner. They want to know what it feels like to “experience God.” They want to know how to recognize His voice.

One of the two year olds asked his mom after Solid Rock Singers concert finished singing, “Mom, is Jesus here?” She started to say “no” - but caught herself. She told him, “Yes, Jesus is here.” He pointed a direction and asked if Jesus was over there. She said He is here with us always, but we can’t see Him. This family has 6 kids – from that two year old on up to a senior in high school. This is the first place they have felt like “Home” in a church – a place their whole family enjoys. And how amazing is it when a two-year old makes us stop and think so deeply about our faith – and helps us to truly “experience God” and His presence?

One youth has been singing with our Praise Team off and on for several months now, but I’ve never met her parents. Her mom drops her off and picks her up. The youth usually is there alone and sits with the rest of us adults on the worship team, unless other youth are there. I never had much of an opportunity to ask her about her parents – the timing just wasn’t right. Last night after Solid Rock left the church to head home though, my youth stuck around. We had some great fellowship time as a small group and got to know each other better. This youth expressed that her mom was not a believer; that she had told her daughter years ago that the Bible was “Fictional.” The faith in this young high schooler amazes me. To have faith when your parents don’t and to seek out a church home on your own... When you didn’t grow up in the church... It just shows me even more how truly amazing God is. GOD IS GOOD – ALL THE TIME.

New Day’s youth and children swarmed me after Solid Rock sang for us at the Carousell Works – both Saturday night and again on Sunday morning. They were GLOWING! They want what the youth at CRUMC have – they aren’t looking for a place to perform – not at all – they are looking for a ministry to touch their lives, their hearts. They are looking for a place where they can truly “Journey Together, Encounter Christ, and Grow in Faith.”

This morning several of my youth came up and said, “We want to go on a mission trip this summer!” First I thought, “whoa.... We’re still growing!” They must have read my mind’s hesitation and concern... They want to do something here... locally... They don’t care... They just want to do something that makes a difference. They want the “God High” I experienced for years with SRS and at Star Lake and JUMY’s and UMY’s.

These are just a few of those stories of new found faith. I am at New Day for a reason. Not many people my age had the opportunity to be a part of something so impactful like I did. The youth at CRUMC are blessed; I truly hope they know that and appreciate it for all it’s worth, because I have youth begging now to be a part of something similar. Because of my experiences with Solid Rock, I am now able to follow God’s lead and to help create new opportunities for such amazing encounters with Christ.

... Always and Forever,
Your Friend in the Faith,

Friday, March 19, 2010

And the Award Goes To ...

Greetings Everyone!

Once again we are in the midst of a whirlwind of spirit-filled activities here at New Day! It’s been more exciting than the Academy Awards (at least to us). In case you haven’t been able to catch all of our recent releases, here are the highlights of our special features:

Sweethearts’ Delight – A romantic-comedy which opened Valentine’s Eve. Entire families enjoyed an evening of special activities in which the sanctuary was transformed into a dreamscape complete with balloons, dance floor, and full-flowing fountain for the adults, while the youngsters were entertained down the hall or at the bowling alley. 50 people enjoyed this debut. A sequel will be coming out next year.

Expo 2010 – A blockbuster which hit the town the first weekend of March. 2,000 eager attendees swarmed through the high school doors to take in this ever-popular annual event sponsored by the Big Lake Chamber of Commerce. Held on a Sunday morning and afternoon, this double-feature revolved around trying to clone the pastor so he could be two places at once. 600-700 visitors walked away with New Day coffee sleeves, coffee candies, coffee cups, and coupons for free coffee mugs. Tagline for this showing: At last a church that wakes me up! We hope to capture the buzz of next year’s expo as well.

Death by Fundraising – A suspense-drama which may keep you up at night (as it has for its church-planting leads). This classic saga captures the epic quest for survival of the young and faithful as they seek investors for their God-given visions. Will there be enough treasure found in time? Will they beat the odds with the help of outside angels, or will they crash in defeat after coming so far? No one knows how this one will end, but faith, hope, and love prevail throughout.

Solid Rock – A musical of youthful vitality to get your heartbeat a-pumpin’. Opens tomorrow night (March 20) at the local reception hall (Carousell Works) for a one time performance. Presented live by the Coon Rapids United Methodist youth, this special community event comes to Big Lake thanks to the heartfelt talents and connections of New Day’s Director of Worship and Music, Amanda Weber. A spin-off group of up-and-rising younger singers will be presenting their own inspiring performance at New Day on April 24th-25th; reserve your seats early since their last performance brought out record crowds last December.

These are the most recent highlights from New Day. The outreach to the community continues; new people continue to visit us each week; children continue to love our childcare room and new ministry programs; more and more adults are deepening their connections to God and each other; and the Holy Spirit continues to transform lives for Jesus Christ. Although the challenges are many, the people of New Day deserve all awards for the major and minor roles they play. For them, and all of you, we’d like to thank the Producer of us all!