The Year in Review: From Pastor Bryan
Our theme for this ministry year has been “Experiencing Grace.” When we introduced that phrase back in September, we had no idea how desperately we would need that grace, as the coronavirus turned our world - and our ministry - upside down.
But the Lord has been more than faithful, and we have experienced his undeserved goodness in so many ways: financial provision, spiritual vitality, congregational unity, and ministry impact. This year’s Annual Report provides an overview of God’s work in and through the Grace Chapel congregation.
- Humans of the Bible (June-July 2019): A closer look at some of the overlooked and underestimated people in the Bible.
- Clean Slate (August 2019): Preparing our homes, work, and church for the new year
- Experiencing Grace (Fall 2019): Exploring the meaning and impact of God’s grace in our lives, church, and world through a study of Paul’s letters.
- Grace Under Pressure (Global Awareness Week): How do we live grace-filled lives in the midst of challenging circumstances?
- Follow the Wonder (Advent 2019): Regaining our sense of wonder in a time when it’s hard to be amazed by anything.
- Googling God (Winter 2020): Confronting our culture’s toughest questions about God and faith
- BLESS (Lent 2020): Learning from Jesus how to bless the people in our everyday world
- Overcome (Easter 2020): Overcoming sin, death, and the coronavirus
- What Now? (Spring 2020): Guidance from the letters of 1 and 2 Peter for these challenging times
OUR THREE CORE MINISTRIES: SUNDAYS, GROUPS, NEXT GENERATION
This was our first year to align our ministry to all generations around three Core Ministries: Sunday experiences, group life, and ministry for kids and teens. Prior to the pandemic, we were beginning to see the fruit of that alignment in a variety of ways: greater creativity and synergy in our Sunday experiences; new groups and new leaders; and more kids and volunteers in our Children’s and Student Ministries.
Little did we know that this streamlined approach to ministry would serve us so well when we found ourselves quickly pivoting to online-only ministry! Our strategic focus on these three Core Ministries enabled us to quickly find new ways to serve our congregation well, and to connect with new people in the digital space. We’re now launching some new fully-online groups!
OUR PROMISE: YOU WILL EXPERIENCE GRACE HERE
In the fall we introduced our new Grace Chapel brand. A brand is more than just a logo; it’s a promise: “You will experience grace here.” It’s a promise that wherever and whenever anyone encounters a Grace Chapel campus, ministry, or person, they will have a life-changing encounter with the surprising goodness of God.
Our new brand has been well-received by the congregation and the broader community, and has provided continuity that makes us more recognizable in the many digital spaces we now find ourselves ministering through, from our website to YouTube to social media to our app.
THE CHURCH HAS LEFT THE BUILDING
The onset of the coronavirus pandemic prompted an immediate and radical shift to fully-online ministry. Thankfully our multi-site ministry platform and weekly sermon live stream and our presence on other online platforms meant we already had the technology and team in place to make that shift quickly and effectively. In one week’s time our Sunday experience was online, and soon after we were able to offer midweek ministry to children, students, and adults through our Grace at Home landing page on grace.org. Many of our groups are now actively meeting online, including our care and support groups!
The most exciting shift has been an outward one, as Grace Chapel people, ministries, and resources are now focused on being the church in their neighborhoods and communities. Through the #ThisIsGrace initiative and the COVID-19 Response Fund, our people and campuses are actively engaged with local agencies and needs.
However long the quarantine lasts, we believe this emerging online ministry platform and outward-focus will continue to be shape our ministry. As we say in our Sunday services, we’re no longer one church in five locations - we’re one church in thousands of locations.
A TEAM EFFORT
Ministry has always been a team sport, but responding to the coronavirus shutdown has brought out the best in our staff and elders. I am blessed by their creativity, their adaptability, and their pastoral heart to connect with and serve all of you.
It was just a year ago that Mark MacDonald accepted the call to serve as our Executive Pastor. What a year to get started! Mark has quickly won the confidence and affection of the staff and elders, and his executive skills combined with his pastoral heart have made a strong contribution to the ministry, and on a personal level I am deeply grateful for his partnership.
I’m also grateful for the thoughtful and steady leadership that Jimmy Su has brought to the elders during this tumultuous season.
In this 20th year of ministry at Grace, and in the midst of an unprecedented challenge, I continue to thank God for the vitality and responsiveness of this congregation, and for the freedom to learn and grow and experience grace in new and wonderful ways with all of you! May God continue to lead us in finding new ways to help more people discover life with God, for the good of the world.