Covenant Member Update: April 2023
Covenant Members of Park Church,
A tension runs throughout my life that’s arguably nowhere more pronounced than during this time of year. Maybe you can relate.
I desire for my life to be oriented around and structured toward the voice and presence of Jesus. When asked what determines my priorities, my time, my thought life, I want my answer to be a perpetual, “the personal triune God, of course.” In some ways this is probably the case. Many of us can point to real commitments and practices that rightfully loom large in our calendars and conversation: Investing time in Scripture and prayer, gathering with our church family on Sundays and in homes, representing Christ to our friends and neighbors, practicing hospitality and generosity with what we’ve been given, and so on.
And yet, there’s another orbital pull. A sneaky competition emerges between my “life in Christ” and, well, just “life.” Scheduling and logistics occupy a growing number of my minutes in ways that baffle me. The purchasing and taking care of “stuff” always seems to take longer than hoped for. Time with people and space for simple fun seem to come at a premium with never enough time (or energy). Somewhere in the middle of the myriad expectations that thread through our lives, we’re supposed to maintain a vital connection to Jesus. Do you feel the tension? I hope I’m alone in this. But I imagine I’m not.
Perhaps it’s worth questioning whether the tension should be there at all. If it’s true that “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1 NIV) and we were designed by the One whom we image to “do all to the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31), then there must be a way to make more seamless what feels inherently divided. Right?
I have a hunch. Okay, more than a hunch—a biblically-informed sense of a foundational truth. We were hardwired for a 6-in-1 rhythm. Six days we leverage our lives to add value through our labor (whether we get paid for that labor or not). And one day we rest. One 24-hour period per week we cease value-producing activity in order to enjoy God, others, and the fruit of labor done on the other six days.
Maybe it’s partly our cultural (and personal) inability to maintain this rhythm that drives a wedge between these two “aspects” of our lives. Could it be that the simple practice of rest helps us to reintegrate our lives? To experience more life in Christ even amidst our everyday moments and to-dos?
I appreciate how Saundra Dalton-Smith speaks into this dynamic:
Healing and wholeness require access into our lives, and room to make us better. That is what rest does. Rest causes you to be still and seek to know God. It calls for you to look deeper at yourself and your surroundings. It forces you to stop… Rest…implores you to slow down and fully live. It challenges you to shift from having the scenery fly by in a blur to inhaling the scent of pine on the scenic route of your life. To take it all in and experience it. Rest is not simply pushing the pause button on your day. Rest is more than merely taking a break. Rest is about replenishing… It’s an opportunity to put back in order anything that has shifted out of alignment” (Sacred Rest, pp 28-29).
And could it also be—actually I’ll just say it—what we often count as “rest” is often far from what God is trying to usher us into. Dalton-Smith sheds light on this as well:
All rest is not created equal. Much of what we consider rest fails to work because it is not restful. Shifting our activities or changing the location of where we are active is no more restful than doing those same activities at home. The most effective rest occurs when we are purposefully reviving the parts of our life we regularly deplete. Any so-called rest that does not meet this goal isn’t rest; it’s just more work adding to the busyness” (Sacred Rest, pp. 15-16).
I have some updates and opportunities in this newsletter. There is a way to read and receive what’s here in a way that adds to the hurry and further prevents rest. But it doesn’t have to be this way. One of our aims as a church is to work, to labor, to invest our lives in ways that flow out of and generate from our life abiding in Jesus. A slowed down spirituality is not a passive or slothful one. It is attentive to the voice of God, present to our own souls and the people around us, and rooted in the unfailing grace and truth of God in Christ. All of this produces a fruitful life—individually and collectively—that maintains a being with Jesus and following his way of life.
Let’s seek to receive the invitation to rest—to rest for the sake of replenishment, yes—but also for some reprioritization and restructuring of the coming months. As a church family, let’s continue pressing into a culture of rhythmic work and rest that frees us to walk in integrated ways under the good reign of King Jesus. With this backdrop, I invite you to hear, receive, celebrate, and navigate the information and opportunities below. We’re excited for what God has in store—for us as a church, and for each of you as individuals.
You all are consistently involved in tremendous work—in your neighborhoods, at your workplaces, in your homes, and through our church family. We’re working to better capture and communicate the work of God through our people as all of us wield our lives in ways representative of the reign of Jesus, and not just the “formal” leaders of Park. (More to come on this in the months ahead!) There’s never enough space to tell all of the beautiful tales from around our church. But here are a few highlights.
Our lay counseling ministry consists of a group of non-staff leaders trained in the use of Scripture in a counseling setting. They are people who desire to walk alongside others to be used as instruments of genuine healing and life change. Earlier this year Jason Jones, Pastor of Care & Counseling, hosted a training for new counselors—our team is up to 11 with the potential of 3-4 more coming on here soon!
This team of people meets with those in our church family in a non-paid capacity, as additional hours to their regular work and relational obligations. We are so grateful for them! And would love for more of you to benefit from their training and giftedness. While they are not professional counselors or mental health therapists, they are recognized for their gifts, vetted by our leadership team, and trained to walk alongside fellow Christians in their pursuit of wholeness in Christ. If you’d like to learn more, you can email email@example.com.
Park’s Alpha course launched in February, led by a team of several non-staff leaders! Alpha is designed as a relational space for those skeptical or curious about the claims of Christianity—this includes those who have yet to trust Jesus and those who have been walking with him for many years. It is highly conversational and oriented around a meal, key topics related to the Christian faith, and the opportunity for the Spirit of God to work in the hearts of the spiritually hungry.
This is an excellent environment to join yourself and/or bring a friend! Each meeting is guided around a different topic so you’re free to come on any given night. Learn more about the specifics of Alpha here.
New GC Leaders:
Relational room for people to live in biblical community with others in our church family is an ever-growing need. (Quick example—our Community, Formation, and Missions Team just took around 25 people through Community Connect, most of whom are new to the church and looking to get placed in a Gospel Community.) Toward meeting this end, we’re in regular need of trained Gospel Community leaders who welcome others into life together.
This month, we have several newly trained GC leaders to celebrate! Taylor Carroll and Ben Topper (Northwest region), Joel and Kayla Bowen (Northwest region), Tim and Anneli Ginader (launching soon), Bill and Laura Lee (East region), Matthew and Diana Fonken (West region), Jae and Caden Burchard (South region). If you know any of these people, please thank them for how they are investing their time and energy to serve those in our church. If you are interested in a future GC Leader Training, please email Bailey Hurley, Community Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also have four exciting staffing updates for you. Please thank and congratulate the folks below if and as you see them!
Kristina Meyer, Connections Coordinator:
Kristina has led on our staff team since 2021 and is now stepping into an expanded role! She will give oversight and leadership to our entire Connections process. This includes everything from the hospitality shown on Sundays through the Welcome Team and Introductions, connecting people to a GC through Newcomer’s Breakfasts and Community Connect, creating relational space through a variety of events, and directing our membership process through the Foundations course and member meetings.
Calden Scranton, Formation and Missions Coordinator:
Calden has worn many hats on staff at Park Church, most recently as our Operations Coordinator. He is now transitioning to our Formation and Missions Coordinator! Calden will give leadership and oversight to our missions process and pipeline, provide support for our missions Advocacy Teams, strengthen our local partnerships, direct initiatives in the missions area, coordinate Men’s Formation events, and support the general formation ministries.
Brent Summers, Pastor of Leader Care:
Brent and his wife, Lou Ann, have served and led in multiple capacities throughout our church for many years. In May 2021, Brent was also ordained as one of our non-staff elders and has continued pastoring wonderfully. With three key areas in need of targeted oversight, Brent has agreed to come on in a part-time role for the next year. He will give his time primarily to building our shepherding regions, supporting the Community, Formation, and Missions and Park Kids teams while Kyle Nelson and Melanie Fenwick are on their sabbaticals, and providing particular care for our (growing number of) non-staff leaders throughout the church.
Office Coordinator (New position):
We’re hiring! With Calden shifting teams and a slight restructuring with the needs in our operations team, we’ve posted a new position. The Office Coordinator is an administrative staff role within the Operations Team that primarily serves in three areas. This person oversees our communication systems, facility care, and building hospitality; coordinates our staff systems and rhythms; and supports our centralized ministries and teams. If you or someone you know is interested in applying, you can find out more here.
MINISTRY YEAR 2023-2024
Our ministry (and fiscal) year runs from August 1—July 31. This allows us to keep in stride with our fiscal year and ramp up and through the traditional school year. This timing means we are currently in the middle of annual planning. As we understand it, an annual plan is a strategic tool designed to align, coordinate, and orient our work in response to God and one another as a stewardship of our gifting and call. The annual planning process we’re in right now is the dedicated space to work out these commitments in community with appropriate humility, thoughtfulness, and wisdom.
Would you pray for us as we continue this process? We seek to be aligned with God’s Word and heart, coordinated with one another and the whole church, oriented around particular commitments, and responsive to our environment as needed.
While many more specifics are forthcoming, here is a general overview of where we’re headed thematically in our preaching series this coming ministry year.
- Fall 2023 Mini-series: “Prayer”
- Fall 2023 OT Book: Ecclesiastes
- Advent 2023: TBD
- Spring 2024 Mini-series: “Living as God’s Family”
- Spring 2024 NT Book: I Corinthinans Part 1
- Summer 2024: Christ in the Psalms (finishing the psalter!)
We’ll walk into these at greater length during our upcoming family meeting in May. For now, please be praying for our church as the Lord prepares us for the next year and yet-to-be planned initiatives that will stir our affections and direct our lives after Him.
FINANCES & BUILDING PROJECTS
Here’s a quick sketch of our finances year-to-date. God has been kind to steady and steadily strengthen our financial position. This is allowing us to plan well for the future and slowly push into areas of growth.
Let’s also celebrate the completion of the downstairs event space! Many of you have probably strolled across the newly laid floor and observed the glistening white walls. It won’t be long before you’re attending an event there. Thanks again to all those who helped make this a reality! The completion of the basement demonstrates how the stewardship and design of our building directly affects the ministry we do as a church. We are taking cues from this as we consider other projects on the horizon.
Here are some of the projects we will be eyeing and discerning with our building committee in the coming months and years: making our building more ADA accessible, expanding and redefining spaces for our growing Park Kids and Park Students ministries, prioritizing structural repairs in a few places, and moving office spaces to the top floor.
We are committed to maintaining financial soundness in any and all endeavors we pursue, our building included. Please pray for our building committee, governing elders, and finance team as we seek wisdom for how to best structure priorities and steward the resources God has entrusted to us.
It’s important to acknowledge how culturally strange it is to commit to a local church. But it is richly biblical and beautiful, and directly in line with how God has wired us as human persons in his image. We were made with and for covenantal bonds—we need strong relational ties rooted in something outside of whimsical preferences in order to thrive.
This is why, in part, we invite our elders and our people to sign a membership covenant. This is not a contractual oddity in order to rope people into “fine print” commitments that will prove burdensome. It is rather a set of clear commitments that the elders of Park Church make to its members and likewise the members make to the church more broadly. It is a way of specifying how we will engage the local church and orienting our lives to genuinely reflect that. And this frees us to live as the collective people of God in a localized context more fully.
But we are forgetful people! Not unlike our biblical ancestors, we are prone to drift and forget what we commit to and what that might mean for our everyday.
To help us in this, we are welcoming in a new annual rhythm as a church: Covenant Renewal.
As a covenant member of Park Church, each of you has signed a member covenant at the time of joining the church. Remember what was on it? Probably some of it. But as we said above, it’s easy to forget! So, we are asking each of you, as the members of our church, to read back through that member covenant, briefly reflect on its main points, and re-up your commitment.
We’ll spell it out a bit more at our next family meeting, when it will roll out. There’s nothing to do now other than to consider yourself aware!
EVENTS & TEAMS
In case you missed our last family meeting, here’s what we did!
Mark your calendars for our next Family Meeting. We’ll be at the church building on Sunday, May 21 from 5–7pm, walking through more vision and specifics of what’s above plus a few other goodies. Food and childcare are provided; just make sure you register ahead of time. We’re looking forward to gathering with you! You can RSVP below.RSVP
What a joy it is to pastor at Park Church and to follow Jesus alongside you all. Thank you! We’re excited for what’s ahead.