The Framingham building of the Boston church of Christ served as host for our 2013 kick-off staff meeting, which gathered approximately 100 leaders from around New England on January 15th.
The morning began with songs led by Tony Martin, a fairly recent hire of the Boston congregation who focuses primarily on the music ministry. Immediately following the singing, good news rose as further praise to God. Amazing stories, including the restorations of family members and conversions in France, were told in rapid fire sequence.
Rick Maule – the new, lead evangelist in Groton, CT – led the morning devotional. His emphasis on “lifting up Jesus” from John 12:32 was to be restated throughout the day. His penetrating question, “When people look at your church, what is the attraction?,” was answered by his closing declaration that “Christ must always be the star of the show.”
Before the lunch break, administrator Gary Slebodnick and friends shared important information regarding the ongoing business side of the church. Retirement planning, expense reimbursement policies and tax preparation were topics that showed care and concern for the overall well-being of every staff member.
The lunch hour was to be a bit different than most. First, a truck pulled up and help was needed in unloading food products for the HOPE worldwide Food Bank housed in the basement of the Framingham building. A large number of the fellas rushed out to form a human chain, unloading many pallets in only a few minutes. Then fellowship and food took over for the next piece of the day.
After lunch, Portland, Maine, evangelist Glenn Petruzzi led us in a “Visions and Dreams” sharing time. Many men and women spoke of their prayers and hopes for the year ahead. Church growth, ministry themes and leadership development plans flowed freely from many hearts and lips. Glenn’s closing challenging was to not just talk about what God can do but grab hold of it and make it happen. He then prayed to the God who “doesn’t even know what impossible means.”
In another dramatic turn of events, Valdur Koha spent his time highlighting the International Missions Society by giving all of the staff a New England and European quiz. Though his prizes were imaginary gold stars, the point was made that we should know about and pray for all of the fantastic work God has going on in “our patch of the world.”
Perhaps the most incredible news was shared next as Mike and Mike (not the morning show guys but Fix and Van Auken) told us that Mike and Kristen Balzer have been asked to be on staff in Burlington, VT, beginning later this year as there is an “insurgency/re-invigoration/renewed mission focus” heading northward.
The Balzers will be moving from the recently planted church in Portland, ME, that has grown so quickly. By the power of God, they will attempt to repeat the great evangelistic outreach they have been a part of for the past two years on the campuses and streets of Burlington. All of our New England churches are being asked to send additional disciples to join with the Balzers and about 24 other Christians who have persevered for many years in Vermont with no staff and challenging circumstances. We are convinced that God is setting up this great state with a vibrant team to make a huge, eternal difference for good.
Roger Lamb, now living in Boston, gave a report on Disciples Today Counselor Connect demonstrating how this site can be of benefit to disciples, families and friends to receive professional counseling online from commended Christian counselors. His section was called “Solomon’s Wisdom” and we are very grateful for the heart and expertise Roger has provided to so many in varied places over the years. It is wonderful to have him in New England again.
But the keynote address was to come at the very end on this mild-weathered Tuesday. Douglas Arthur finished up the monumental day with a tour through the Old Testament and his speech on “What Your Church Needs Most.”
In typical Douglas style, his points were humorous, convicting and insightful all in one. From I Samuel 17, the Boston lead evangelist challenged the young that “when you are getting no respect – get over it.” After reading Joshua 14:6-12 , he reminded us that “when you are old, there is a strong tendency to lose your passion.” For point #3, Doug even had a special thought for the sisters. It was taken from I Samuel 25:9-27 and was “when you’re a woman, if you have a problem – get around it.”
Inspired by all of those we get to serve with and called higher by the examples from God’s Word – we left determined to be passionate and faithful in the year ahead. We are asking all of the disciples around New England, Europe and the world to join us in the greatest cause that has ever been known. Let’s all lift up Jesus, be filled with His passion and faith, and turn our world upside down in 2013. Shared from Hartfordchurch.org