Christmas Eve Wrap-up
December 27, 2017
As we close out another year of ministry and life together, I wanted to share some of the highlights from our Christmas Eve Weekend Worship gatherings, as well as a few other closing thoughts for 2017:
- Christmas Eve worship gatherings set a new Christmas Eve attendance record. The total for all six worship gatherings at both our Apopka and Mount Dora campuses was 3,567. At three of the four services at Apopka, we had to open the additional viewing area in Adventureland Theater. Some people said they liked the service even better in Adventureland with the added visual effects and the large screen. My fear was I would be so big on that screen that someone would see my need of a nose hair trimmer!
- The music was outstanding at Christmas Eve services at both campuses. We are blessed with some talented musicians led by Pastor Jeremy Tomlinson. They always deliver, but Christmas Eve packed a little something extra. And the design of the stage at our Apopka campus looked amazing! Hats off to our tech crew and volunteers who pulled that together!
- We gave $29,500 to provide 10 villages in Southern India clean water from a well, mosquito nets, and basic medical care for children from a portion of our Christmas Eve weekend offerings. If you would like to learn more about these projects, click here. The founders of Awakening to God Ministries had a goal of providing 100 villages in India with these basic, but life-changing resources in 2017. Through our Christmas Eve offering, Journey just provided a tithe (10%) of that goal in one weekend. I love the generous heart of Journey, and the practical demonstration that Jesus’ coming is good news for all people.
- I loved meeting so many new people at our Christmas Eve services as well as seeing some familiar faces resurface that we haven’t seen in a while. I talked to several folks new to the area or new to Journey who shared encouraging thoughts about the service and their experience with us, and the desire to return. That’s why we put so much into these special services, and that makes it all worthwhile.
- But I also love catching up with some folks that I’ve missed seeing over the year for whatever reason. Christmas Eve services seem to be a time for many people to come back to their church home, and it does us all good to re-connect. Now if we could only figure out how to get those folks back more than once a quarter or semi-annually.
- Our Mount Dora campus experienced some technical difficulties with their screen. They couldn’t show words to the songs nor could they show the video of the message. Sooo, Pastor Joel Craig and his MD team did some fast adjustments, and pulled off a service with no lyrics on a screen and a message that Joel shared impromptu, and I heard it was all terrific! Multisite ministry can have its challenges, and will keep a campus pastor on his toes! Thanks, Pastor Joel, for your quick thinking, fast-acting response to what could have been a not-so-merry Mount Dora Christmas Eve service!
I’m already making notes for Christmas Eve services in 2018 and thinking through how we can learn from this year, and how to maximize the opportunity to reach new people and retain those who are marginally connected. Just in case you were wondering, Christmas Eve in 2018 falls on a Monday, and is just 360 days away!
Closing Out 2017
This weekend we welcome our new Pastor of Family Ministries, Dustin Aagaard. Dustin and his family just arrived in town on Tuesday of this week and are getting settled back in their Florida home. Both Dustin and his wife, TJ, are natives of Orlando, and Dustin’s parents are part of our Journey family. Dustin has just concluded a phenomenal season of ministry with one of the largest churches in America, 12Stone Church, with several campuses just outside of Atlanta, GA. He will be sharing with us this weekend at our services at our Apopka campus on the topic, I’m With You. And I for one, am very glad Dustin is with us!
It’s not too late to give a year-end gift to Journey’s ministry and the best way to do it is by giving online. Just click here to make your special year-end gift.
The news of last week’s Tax Reform legislation could have some impact on charitable contributions starting as soon as next year. I know that, as a faithful Journey partner, your desire to see a growing community of people on a life-changing journey with Jesus is why you give. However, as a tax-exempt charity, I also know that these types of changes might impact you. For some, it could be greatly advantageous for you to give a special year-end gift this year. I encourage you to seek counsel with a trusted financial advisor and then do whatever seems best to you and the Lord. I assure you, your gift to Journey will be used with wisdom and for maximum Kingdom impact.
I’m very grateful to complete another calendar year with my Journey family, and Melinda and I wish you and yours a very Happy New Year, and hope you are ready for a Growth Spurt in 2018!