FBCP 2016 Assistant Pastor Annual Ministry Report
If FBCP had a 2016 theme, it could have been, Intentional Discipleship. We recognize that the greatest need in the Church of America, the greatest need in FBCP, and the greatest need in our own community, is discipleship. This is because everything that God has for us to be, to do, and to enjoy, flows out of discipleship.
In case you missed that point, I'll repeat it. "Everything that God has for us to be, to do, and to enjoy, flows out of discipleship." Put another way, everything in our Christian experience, from our initial hearing of the gospel, to our last breath on this earth, is a matter of discipleship. It's not just about being saved and going to church, it's about how we live our lives, how we walk with Christ, how we finish the race. Discipleship is about the decisions we make, the attitudes we hold on to, and the priorities in our lives. As Christians, we are grateful for God's merciful grace, and we truly want Jesus to be our Savior.
But do we, with as much enthusiasm, want Jesus to be our Lord? Do we obey Jesus as Lord?
Discipleship is when Jesus says, "Come follow me," and we actually follow Him. Following Jesus means taking the path He takes, going where He goes, living as He lives. If we are to follow Jesus, it means we lose our own agenda for life, we dream His will, and we have as the purpose for our lives, His purpose for our lives. This is discipleship.
A central motivating factor of each area of ministry at FBCP, is Jesus' command to make disciples. This commission from our Lord is not only that we are to make disciples of those outside the Christian faith, but is also to make stronger disciples of those inside.
This past year, in adult Sunday School, we began teaching the basics of theology. Because, to grow as a disciple, we must be grounded in the truths of God, the doctrines of the Faith, and their application to life.
Likewise, we seek to accomplish this during Wednesday evening Prayer Meeting, where we have a short Bible Study before going to the Lord in prayer. And then, with no subtlety, there is Thursday and Sunday evening Discipleship Class.
Jesus said in Matthew 28:19–20, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
For some, 2016 contained great sorrow, while for others the year is marked by great joy. How we respond to these contrasts in our lives, will depend on our relationship and walk with God. No matter where we are on the journey of discipleship, whether we've just begun, or if we've been at it for a while, we can have the assurance that we are not alone, for Christ said, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
May God continue to bless you, and may He allow 2017 to be the greatest year ever for the cause of the gospel, starting with us.
Pastor James M. Winslow
January, 2017, East Patchogue, NY