Report by Pastor Matthew Sampson
This has been an amazing year. When I take a step back and look at what God has done and how He has led us in 2017, it makes me so excited for 2018.
I’ve loved dreaming with Stuart Daniel about missions in our church and working with Emily to dream up ways that we can better communicate all that our church has to offer. I’ve loved watching Benson build his own core of youth in our youth ministry and inspire them to grow in their faith and make an impact for God’s kingdom.
Your staff at ABC are a united front, which was a major priority I set out to accomplish in 2017. We are a united front that is dedicated to serving you, challenging you, and yes, sometimes pushing you, to seek God and find ways you can build His kingdom. Every week we gather for prayer for our church and to seek God’s guidance on how we can share Christ with our community.
Over the past year I have focused on equipping you as our congregation to invite others to follow Jesus and join us as we gather to worship our risen Saviour. I have loved seeing new people connect to our church, engage in our worship services and begin to serve in a variety of ways. From greeting to reading scripture, or leading in Sunday school to serving a hot meal to the homeless in our community, our congregation should look back with pride on all that we have accomplished.
We kicked off the year with an Alpha course that 38 people attended, four of which were new to our church family. It was also an opportunity for four new youth to get connected with our youth group.
Benson has been going strong with Snack Attack this year, connecting with over 60 students every single week, some of whom are beginning to join our regular weekly programs.
We bookended the summer with Summer Fun in the Sun and Rally Weekend as we invited members of our neighbourhood into our church to experience the hospitality, joy, and community that we share. Over the summer, our teaching and preaching focused on equipping our congregation with “How to Read the Bible for Yourself,” as well as a sermon series on Job titled “Though You Slay Me,” focusing on how we wrestle with trials and suffering in our world. Then we kicked off a new ministry year in September with our Illuminate series, which looks at who we are as a church and how God has called us to make an impact among people of all nations.
Our fall Alpha didn’t go quite as planned, but our God is good and it was still a great opportunity to train small group leaders, to connect with people and to have in-depth discussions about who God is and what it means to be a Christian.
Finally, we ended our year with our Darkness into Light campaign. Our sermon series over Advent and Christmas focused on how Jesus is the light of the world, and how that light shatters darkness in our world and gives us the hope of new creation. The campaign included flyers and postcard invites for our friends and family, a banner out front, a social media plan, and posters around our community. Through this campaign, we saw over 100 people celebrate Christmas with us over three different services and three new families (11 new people) join us in our celebrations.
Along with equipping each other to invite members of our community to follow Jesus, we have also been focusing on how we communicate as a church, and establishing a presence in our city. This included creating a social media plan, revamping our website, and designing banners out front that will communicate who we are and invite passersby to visit our church. For those who are already part of our congregation, it included a monthly newsletter, both to highlight the events of the past month, but also to share with you what our deacons have planned for the upcoming month. It has been my joy to write to you every month and to connect with you at some of these events.
I’m very excited about 2018. We have a lot planned, and my prayer is that God will continue to challenge us, grow our faith, and shape us into His people. My personal mission for 2018 is lead well, teach well, care well.
As the lead pastor of our church, it is my responsibility to partner with our staff, our deacons board, lay leaders, and congregation members to be faithful in sharing Christ with our community.
The pulpit is a critical opportunity to disciple and teach the church. As the primary teacher, it’s a responsibility I don’t take lightly and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to speak to you week in and week out. But teaching doesn’t just happen there, it is a commitment of all our ministries, and so I’m grateful to share this responsibility with Benson as my partner in ministry and a Pastor of our church. Marilyn Kimberley, Majorie Monahan, Alyssa Sampson, and Bob Gazey are also all a significant and integral part of the teaching at ABC with the Wednesday night small group, TWIG, the women’s bible study, and the Men’s Breakfast.
Every Wednesday, our staff gathers to discuss the weekly affairs of our church, challenge one another in ministry, and pray for our congregation. My joy and vision is to see our staff thrive in their ideas, vision, and ministries.
Leading well in 2018 means being very intentional about how I support every member of our leadership team, from the deacons, to the staff, to our committee chairs, so that they can meet the needs of a very multi-faceted and multi-cultural congregation.
Teaching well means that I am always going to be learning, always challenging myself in knowledge of Scripture, devoting myself to prayer over my messages, and getting necessary coaching so that I can always improve in the craft of preaching.
But more than that, teaching well also means listening well. Listening to our leadership team as we pray together for our congregation, listening to our staff well so that they can fulfill their roles here at ABC, and listening to you well so that we can craft sermon series, and messages that meet your needs, engage your interests, and grow your understanding of God’s Word.
Of course, listening well will also help me to care well. Our church has many members with significant struggles, health problems, family trials, and spiritual needs. My commitment to you is to always have you in prayer, to walk with you and support you on your spiritual journey, and to be there as someone who will listen well.
My commitment is that I will also care for myself well. I will devote myself to God’s Word and growing in my personal relationship with God. And I will also focus on the simple things, like taking time for myself and my family, and using my vacation time and study time well, so that I am not burnt out when you are in need of support.
I will also always be pushing the deacons to spiritually care for you and support you in your walk—always pushing them to live their faith publically and to model what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
2018 will be another great year at ABC. I believe that God is going to grow our church, that we will be a gathering place for those seeking to lift up the name of Jesus and join our voices together for the cause of God’s kingdom. As your pastor, I will lead well, teach well and care well, so that we can accomplish all that God has laid before us.
Thank you for your support this year, thank you for your presence in church on Sundays, and thank you for being part of our congregational life here.
“To him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to God be glory in the church, and in Christ Jesus, throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21