Common Questions About the BibleMarch 2, 2021
March 17, 2021March 24, 2021
Dear Church Family,
I trust you are all doing well and rejoicing in the Lord. As I begin this letter, I can’t help but think of the Apostle John’s words in 3 John 2. “Beloved I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.” We all know there are times when it is not well with our bodies. Most of us will deal with sickness and pain in some form this year, but I echo the prayer of John here that it may “go well with your soul.”
What is your spiritual temperature?
Are you being well-nourished by the “solid food” of the Word of God (Hebrews 5:14)?
Are you detoxifying from all the corruption that is in the world which is caused by sinful desire (2 Peter 1:4)?
Are you drinking deeply from the fountains of living water that Jesus freely offers (Isaiah 55:1, John 4:10)?
I could stretch the health analogy further, but I think you get the point. My hope and prayer is that you would be “well” spiritually and know the joy of God’s salvation (Psalm 51:12). Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Amen!
As you will know by now, our annual meeting is March 10th at 7pm, which means it is less than one week away. It is important for you to be there, and even if you are not a member, you are welcome to attend.
The Annual Report has now been published. You can pick up a copy this Sunday at our worship service or you can stop by the church in the next few days to pick up a copy in the foyer. For those of you who picked up a copy Wednesday night at prayer meeting, please note that the budget included was actually for 2020, not 2021. That mistake has been corrected and you can feel free to take a new copy.
The remainder of this letter will be a “sneak peek” of my Pastor’s Report. Blessings on you, Pine Glen Church family.
The Lord bless you and keep you
The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you
The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace
2020 ANNUAL REPORT OF THE PASTOR
I don’t have to tell you that 2020 was a year like no other. It was a year of loss and change and so much more, but it was also a year of experiencing God’s amazing grace in countless ways. In this report, I want to take some time to review the year that was, and also to look ahead and offer a vision for Pine Glen Alliance Church.
Steph and I candidated at Pine Glen February 15-16. We had a strong sense that this was where God was calling us to serve. The next day we sold our house in Snow Shoe (without putting it on the market) and my first day was February 26. For four weeks, I travelled back and forth to the church (1 hour 15 minute drive) until we finally were able to move to Mifflin County on March 21. The following Sunday everything shut down in response to the Coronavirus and we wouldn’t worship together for another 10 weeks.
Over the next 5 months, we settled into a new “normal.” Then November hit. Everyone was anticipating this month because of the presidential election. What we weren’t anticipating was a COVID-19 outbreak. Many people from our church contracted the virus, and sadly, two people died. This outbreak hit our church hard and we didn’t open up again until December 13.
Understandably, given all that we went through, people have been slow to come back to church. We can no longer offer all the programs and activities that we once did. Average attendance has dropped from 125 to around 70. We are not alone in this. There are still some churches that are not yet meeting for worship.
The elders and I would only ask for patience and a spirit of grace as we move forward. By all means, if you have questions/concerns/ideas/etc. bring them to us. We certainly want to hear from you, but don’t “nitpick.” Grumbling and complaining and gossiping never serves to honor the Lord (Exodus 16:8, Philippians 2:14) and it doesn’t help to advance the ministry of this church.
When you look at the world around us, it helps to give us perspective. This evil, adulterous generation that we live in desperately needs the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are multitudes in Mifflin County and beyond that have never repented and given their hearts to Christ.
God has a great work in store for us! Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Luke 10:2). When we are mindful of these matters – evil world, countless lost souls, the need for gospel workers – it helps keep things in perspective. Petty differences and preferences soon fade when we know what’s at stake.
The mission of Pine Glen Alliance Church remains unchanged. We exist to glorify God (Romans 11:33-36) and make disciples of Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20). If we lose that focus, we might as well close the doors of our church. We are not a social club. We are here because our great God has called us into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Corinthians 1:9). He has given us the high and holy calling of being ambassadors for Christ and in the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).
I am blessed to serve alongside three godly elders who love the Lord and love you! The four of us would be lying if we said it has been an easy road to walk over the last year. It has definitely been hard at times, but we have seen God work in countless wonderful ways. We covet your prayers (1 Thessalonians 5:25) and are grateful for your support.
I am also blessed to work with two gifted women that are on staff at our church. Chris Prough serves as our ministry facilitator and Margie Aurand serves as our church secretary. I am one of the few people who know how hard they work in order to make ministry and operations function as they do here at Pine Glen. They have both done a superb job over the past year and they make my job as pastor much easier.
I also want to make mention of all our church officers and volunteers who serve this church. Thank you for your faithful service and know that your labor is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58)!
Personally, it is a tremendous honor to serve as pastor of this church. Stephane and I and our children are grateful that the Lord has brought us to Pine Glen and I can only imagine what He has in store for this church (Ephesians 3:20-21).
In terms of moving forward during these challenging times, I would like to present a vision that will help to shape the future direction of our church. You will note almost immediately that this is a “simple church” kind of vision. In our current ministry climate, trying to do too much all at once would not be helpful, edifying, or even realistic.
Here are three biblical priorities for our church.
A Worshipping Community
We want Pine Glen to be a place where Sunday morning worship really matters (Hebrews 10:24-25). Rather than people looking for excuses to stay home Sunday, we want our people to be excited about corporate worship! Sunday morning affords the opportunity to hear the Word of the Lord, praise His holy name, and fellowship with God’s people. If you are a genuine believer, that should be exciting and energizing to you!
Additionally, we want our people to have the perspective of “worship as a lifestyle.” Yes, corporate worship is critically important, but worship happens every day, even every hour, and not just Sunday morning. One of the practices I never tire of emphasizing is “Family Worship.” Parents with young children (particularly fathers) need to be discipling and shepherding your children and pointing them to the gospel of grace (Psalm 78:1-8, Ephesians 6:4). But it is not just for parents of young children. Couples can worship together through the week simply by reading Scripture, singing hymns and praise music, and praying together.
Our great God is holy (Isaiah 6:1-7, 1 Peter 1:15-16)! Do we know the awesome God that we serve? Do we worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:23)? We want visitors to have the sense, Wow, “Surely the Lord is in this place” (Genesis 28:16).
Be sure and read Randy French’s report for the Music Committee, which gives a fuller treatment of this subject.
A Discipling Community
As a church, we need to get serious about the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The fact that the Living God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, wrote a book should be incentive enough to “take up and read.” If God has spoken (which He has), it should be our great business to read, listen, and receive the written Word.
Verse by verse, chapter by chapter, Bible exposition (1 Timothy 4:13) will always be central to how we work at PGAC. That is not the only way that preaching and Bible studies are approached, but it is the primary way.
Discipleship is all about “growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:17). If we are going to succeed in this then we must find ways to come alongside one another in order to better follow Jesus (Titus 2:3-4). Furthermore, we want to grow in our understanding of the glorious gospel of grace (Romans 1:16-17). The fact that God saves sinners by His grace should never cease to astound and amaze us (1 Timothy 1:12-16).
Lastly, we know that God has called us to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). While we start with our Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria (i.e., Mifflin County), we don’t stop there (Acts 1:8). God has called us to reach the ends of the earth, which is why we support global missions in every possible way.
A Caring Community
Simply put, relationships matter! People matter! One of the things you have heard me say before is the simple maxim “people over programs.”
Right now, there is a tremendous need for us to minister to one another. We have about two dozen widows, several widowers, and many others who are grieving deeply. The church needs to be the church. The Bible says, “always seek to do good to one another and to everyone” (1 Thessalonians 5:15). The Bible says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). The Bible says that true religion is, “to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27). There are a lot of people hurting and weeping in our midst and we want to be mindful of them.
As is evident from these three priorities, we are a “community” that does life together. Let me encourage you to show hospitality to one another (1 Peter 4:9). If ever there was a time for the people of God to come together in love, now is that time. Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
As I conclude this annual report for 2020, I want you to know that I love you and care about you, church family. You are very dear to my heart.
God’s grace was amazing in 2020 and there is every reason to look with optimism to the future. Jesus has promised to build His church and nothing, not even Satan himself, can stand against that promise (Matthew 16:18).
To God be the glory, great things He has done!
Pastor Daniel Stegeman