It feels like it was only yesterday that 2014 started, but now it is the end of the year 2014. I want to share with you some numerical results of the year. First, this year as always we worked hard to save souls and the result was 130 accepted Jesus as savior, and 100 were baptized. I can imagine many stories leading to each salvation, God and our church members working together to achieve it through prayer, guidance and service, and it is very pleasing to witness.
During this year, we had 217 new registrations to the church. However, because of many short term visitors, the number of Sunday worshipers was about the same in the range of 1050 to 1100. The number of people who accepted Jesus, baptized and/or registered for 2014 has decreased from those of 2013. The reduction was quite significant during the months of October through December, which was time of my frequent absence. Therefore, it could be temporary occurrence but I think I need to pray more about this next year.
As for life bible study, 124 graduated from living life bible study and a total of 466 completed life bible study this year. Because of numerous short term visitors to Houston among class attendees, there were about 20 in living life bible study per semester who could not finish the class. This means about half of the church members were involved in life bible study in some way. Life bible study is an important element for spiritual growth. Therefore, for the coming year, I urge you for active participation in bible study to get to know God better. One fact that caught my attention was that there were only 5 who completed Experiencing God class. For the year of 2015, I hope that more shepherds and their spouses will take this class to be ordained shepherds.
As for mission trips, 175 went in 19 teams to 11 countries. Fifty one of these were first timers and many of those were fairly new to the faith. It is very encouraging to see many perceive a mission trip as a regular part of their dedication to God.
For this year, as always, many worked hard to spread the house church ministry. Last March, 88 pastors came to our church for pastor’s seminar. In July, 100 shepherds gathered for Shepherd conference. Also, in October, our church hosted 156 who attended the laymen’s seminar. Participation in English seminars and children’s shepherd seminars is steadily increasing. Forty-three families visited our church for house church intern program. I am very thankful for many shepherds who served these trainees with their time and materials despite of frequent requests. This year for the first time we accepted elders for intern program. (So far, House church training was only for pastors.) In Presbyterian churches, it is very important for elders to be in accord with the senior pastor. Because of this, it was decided to allow elders to attend the intern program. The church who sent elders for intern was very grateful for the opportunity. It is expected that there will be more demand for such house church training.
This year, I was involved in organizing pastor’s seminars, which were the first time events in China and Africa respectively. In addition, house church consulting I worked on was very worthwhile for the cause of house church ministry. The outcome won’t be clear until the next year. However, my labor in laying the foundations to build strong churches was very fulfilling especially because those churches were in the spirit of house church ministry and also in the target mission area.
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