If there’s one word that describes our last year of ministry at Grace Chapel, it might be this: personal.
Okay, we’ll admit it: at first read, that doesn’t really sound anything like the way we began the year. Last September, Pastor Bryan told us it was going to be a year of “reaching wider.” Our approach to teaching and ministry was going to build on our NEXT initiative, and the year of #FindYourGo. We’d be reaching more people, getting outside our own walls, and having an impact on the many people right around us; in our neighborhoods, communities, schools, and workplaces.
It’s hard to imagine adding anything to the Great Commission: Go, therefore, and make more disciples. But if you did, we might have added, “lots more.” We started as energized as ever to make real progress towards our vision of changing the spiritual landscape of Greater Boston.
But along the way – as we saw for ourselves – it got personal.
Our first teaching series of the year, The Divine Invitation, helped us all understand how Jesus doesn’t just invite us to declare him our Savior; he invites us to a better way of living – one that isn’t just good for us, but good for the world. Changing the world starts with each of us living the way Jesus taught us to.
Last fall we also launched our fifth campus, in Foxboro. One of the best parts of launching a new location is seeing the campus leadership team come together: everyday people, answering the call to serve with their time, energy, and talents, all leading together in critical aspects of campus ministry. That team working together embodied this idea, from a sermon in September:
Jesus didn’t choose one religious professional for his launch team! Jesus is making it clear from the beginning that this is going to be a grassroots movement of ordinary people from every walk of life. The only requirement is that they are people who have answered the call of Jesus.
We’re grateful for what God has done in Foxboro, seeing a campus in its first year already serving hundreds of people each Sunday.
Our Advent teaching series, Peace Be With Us, started with a clear message for a world in the midst of injustice and conflict: the Prince of Peace has arrived, and he continues to speak today into our lives… personally. It was a beautiful reminder of how God’s plan for redeeming our world starts with Jesus redeeming us.
We began the new year with a teaching series called Your Place in God’s World. At some point in our lives, we all ask ourselves, why am I here? What’s my purpose? What am I here for, really?
Along the way, we learned that we are all called to be part of something bigger. We are all uniquely gifted and equipped to participate in the movement of God by the way we live out our faith – in our families, our schools, our workplaces, our neighborhoods, and our communities.
During Lent - a season of reflection, repentance, and searching our hearts - our teaching series, Broken, looked at what’s wrong in our world through the voices of the Old Testament’s minor prophets. And the longer we looked at what’s broken in the world, the more we realized that something is broken in us, too.
Our final teaching series of the year was also our Easter theme: Unbroken. In the traditional Japanese art of kintsugi, an artist restores a broken work of pottery, making it more beautiful in the process. We saw firsthand how, when God restores us from our brokenness, this very act of redemption changes us in ways that aren’t just good for us, but better for the world.
We faced the social and political broken things in the world today, and took time to consider the biblical values that inform our response to them. And more importantly, we named and faced what’s broken in us, inviting God to put us back together again.
Our Harvest Fest community outreach events in Wilmington and Watertown combined to draw over 1800 people.
We welcomed almost 7,000 people to our Christmas Eve services, and we had our most-attended Easter services ever (and over 800 people came to the Easter Egg Hunt at our Watertown campus, and over 350 came to our first Easter services at our new Foxboro campus!)
Winter Blast 2018 at our Lexington Campus welcomed thousands of people into our church on a cold winter’s day, and over 100 new families have been invited to Kids Week 2018.
Nearly 700 people served their local communities on 59 different projects through Spring Serve 2018.
People from all over the world spent over 1.2 million minutes watching our YouTube channel, which includes our Sunday morning worship services live stream and other videos.
We reached over 10,000 people per month on social media.
Over 2,000 people downloaded our app, Grace Chapel Connect.