Part One of Lead Pastor's Report to the Charge Conference

In the coming weeks, I will be sharing segments of my annual report to Charge Conference for the year 2020. The Charge Conference report gives a yearly review, shares realities and hopes for the upcoming years. This week is part one.

Jesus says you cannot put new wine in old wineskins. "No one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved." (Luke 5:37-38). Old Wineskins in Jesus' teaching was rigid and inflexible. The chemistry of new wine requires expansion. If the old wineskin does not stretch, the wineskin will burst, and the new wine spills and is lost. As you read this report, think of the wineskin as our church structures and the new wine as God at work seeking to reshape His Church. I believe the Church will COME BACK stronger than ever after this season of COVID-19!

The year 2020 has brought new realities! COVID-19 has made this a crazy year! The old wineskin of what we knew in the past will likely not ever be the same. Does this mean the Church is in trouble? Absolutely not! God is at work in such time reshaping our structures and seeking to pour in the new wine of abundant life!

There is good news. Jesus brings "new wine" to offer us a new path for present days and for the future. We at Shalimar are intentionally moving ahead, seeking God's guidance on changes to our wineskin, and seeking the new wine of Jesus!

There is new wine at Shalimar! A vision has been cast for the congregation to have 1,000 persons involved in discipleship each week by the end of 2022! This vision impacts our planning for the rest of the year and into next year! Even in a year as uncertain as 2020, we are taking active steps now to bring momentum to the vision of having 1,000 persons weekly in discipleship. Whether it be a small group, weekly study, Bible study, prayer group, or mission in action, we look for the next three years to be growing in making disciples! We are seeking to follow Jesus, who commanded us "go and make disciples of all nations." Matthew 28:19a

The wineskin is beginning to expand for new discipleship to happen throughout Shalimar UMC. We already have numerous discipleship groups in 2020. Just before COVID limitations started in March, we had launched 11 different 144 discipleship groups. Amazingly with remarkable resilience, these small groups made it through the twelve-week journey through Zoom. Zoom not only became an option for 144 but also some of our Sunday School classes. Our weekly pastor's class was also able to continue through Zoom.

Our new wineskins have been shaped by our COVID-19 Task Force Team. These laypersons have a wide range of wisdom and expertise in preparing our congregation for COVID-19 precautions and protocols. The Task Force has given us recommendations for navigating these uncharted waters. We are grateful for their leadership in advising us on matters that have no easy answers. Most of all, I am grateful for their Christian spirit for the benefit of our congregation and community.

Our wineskin has broadened to embrace the opportunities of expanding the quality of Livestream, ZOOM, and technology available. We have made significant strides this year as a church with our virtual presence and impact. We have had live streamers join our sermons from half the states in the United States. Proclaiming the good news of Jesus remains our mission, but our wineskin is new.

In February, almost as a sign of things to come (just before Coronavirus came to the forefront), Rev. Faith Parry made the shift to become our Communication Pastor. Some would have asked before COVID-19, "Why do we need a communication pastor?" This change has proved to be prophetic. This change has been invaluable in navigating the loss of in-person worship and other restrictions of COVID-19. This new role of Communication Pastor has been indispensable in keeping our congregation connected when we have been physically distanced as a church body.

Next week I will focus on part 2, featuring some of the other highlights from this year in ministry and how God is changing our wineskin and shaping us with His new wine!

Shalom,
Philip
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Philip McVay

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