Renewal Team Retreat

On Saturday, July 8, several members of the Renewal Team and their spouses gathered at Rene’ Baatenburg’s sister’s cottage on Lake Macatawa.  Rene’, Pastor Mark, Jack Buys, Peggy and Steve Camiller, Helen Evenhouse, and Merle and Barb Koops came for a Renewal Team retreat for the morning and early afternoon that day.  After visiting on the back deck enjoying the beautiful view of the lake, Rene’ arrived and let us in to the cottage after 9 a.m. that morning.  After settling in the living room, Pastor Mark read verses about Israel’s covenant renewal from Joshua 24 reminding the group that church renewal follows the ancient biblical pattern of covenant renewal.  He opened the meeting with prayer.

Merle Koops then presented the results of a survey from the Renewal Lab that the participants took to evaluate 12th Avenue Church’s renewal process so far.  The team has been encouraged by the process.  They were grateful for 21 additional church members that were involved in the U-Turn Church study in January and February of this year.  The Remembrance Dinner was a success a couple of years ago, but the group agreed that it focused more on the past than on the future.  It was pointed out that older members also want changes and that we need to encourage members’ ideas and to change structures to make sure that ministry takes place in a timely fashion.  The facilities improvements were noted.  It was a blessing to see a couple of Kids Hope families at our recent church potluck.  We shared some ideas about streamlining our meetings and outreach efforts.

After a refreshment break, we gathered again to answer the question:  Where are we at and where is the Lord leading us?  It was shared that we should have a unique ministry at 12th Avenue which could include groups of church and community members gathering to do hobbies like sewing and wooden boat building.  We talked about some other outreach and facility ideas.  We agreed that we need to pray more intentionally.  We need to implement a more intentional discipleship process with intergenerational Bible studies and a fall evangelism class.  It was also mentioned that our worship format should be changed with faster-paced songs, having people sit toward the front for better singing, and varying the elements of the services more often.  Some other ministry ideas were also shared.

After a lunch break, we focused on this question:  What are the next steps the Lord is leading us to take?  We reviewed and refined the vision pyramid that had been presented to the congregation.  The team felt the mission and vision still reflected accurately how the Lord was leading us.  Some additions and wording changes were made to the objectives including adding 100% member prayer involvement and having 50% of the adults trained in evangelism.

Our final task was to articulate some potential SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely) goals to be presented to the Council and congregation to be carried out in the 2017-2018 ministry season.  The team agreed that the congregation should have the opportunity to share goals they would like to see accomplished in this coming ministry year too.  Goals that the team agreed upon included:

·         Send out postcards for a sewing ministry.

·         Start a boat-making ministry in the Youth Building.

·         Have evangelism training in the fall.

·         Offer a Christianity Explored course in January.

·         Evaluate Degage and Family Promise ministries.

·         Have a monthly community dinner.

·         Plan a congregational potluck with small groups for discussion in September (have a few questions for discussion passed out a couple of weeks ahead of time.)

We closed with group prayer asking the Lord to continue to lead our church in this renewal process.

I am grateful for the contributions of every person on the team and for how the Lord continues to help us to find ways to be a more intentionally missional church that reaches out to our neighbors deliberately with the good news of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Please continue to be in prayer about our renewal and feel free to contact any of the team members with thoughts you may have:  Rene’ Baatenburg, Jack Buys, Peggy Camiller, Merle Koops, Jane Krol, Bob Schut, and myself.

The team welcomes any ideas you have for ministry opportunities and ways that we can reach out to our neighbors and community.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Mark

Mark Bennink