A Letter From Pastor Mike
Sisters and Brothers, Mothers and Fathers:
The Leadership and Staff of our church will enter into a season of strategic planning in an effort to understand where we are, to determine where we are headed as a church, and how we want to get there. We covet and even beg for your prayers as this is a huge task that, frankly, we can’t begin to understand without the power and assistance of prayer. Although we have some pretty smart people in leadership, we are no match for what it will take to lead and care for a church as complex as South City Church has become in the last few years. We have encountered some serious challenges. You might respond to this; “What challenges?” And I am so glad you asked! Here are just a few from the last four years:
- Pastor Jay Simmons leads South City Church into a posture of humility on race issues
- New Co-Lead Pastor who is African American
- New (But Old) Building
- New Assistant Pastor who is a Genius
- Youth Director now transitioning to Women’s Director for First Light
- Fully embracing new ministries like Orphan Care and Adoptive Family Support, actively encouraging participation in standing ministries like Children’s Worship and Reading Club.
- The Ferguson Uprising of August to December 2014, and reverberating still.
- Vonderrit Myers, Jr. was killed four blocks from our church, October 8th 2014
- Pastor Jay and Sister Jen Simmons have been sent to help Build the Kingdom of God in Austin, Texas
- The Non-Indictment of Officer Wilson in November 2014, resulting in The South Grand Incident (actually The South Grand Explosion) which led to an encounter between police and civilians that was ruled unconstitutional.
- Dissolution of Engage Saint Louis, with absorption of Refugio, The Reading Club, and Youth Group under South City Church’s care.
- Congolese Ministry impacting large numbers of immigrants and refugees from more African countries than just the Congo
- Every day church family life! Welcoming babies, suffering heartbreak, jobs lost, jobs found, prayer needs shared, friends relocating, sweet potato pies delivered.
- The need for shared leadership in our family. Our church officers and staff are called to direct us in – and bear responsibility for – our ministries, they are not to complete every mission and ministry pursuit on their own.
I will stop here because I know the issues can seem overwhelming. But the Lord is active among us, and he has prepared mighty works for us to do through faith in him. So it might be time for us to humbly confess that we are overwhelmed more so by our own need to change.
Again, this is why we pray. My dear Family, as your Lead Pastor I need your prayers for wisdom, stamina, humility and courage. Pray the same for Pastor Sam as well. Pray as we attempt to help our interns understand ministry in context during the short time they are in our program. Pray for our staff; Jared (Refugio), Becky (Church Life, Women), Michelle (Worship, Outreach), Erin (Children), and Brooks (Youth), —some of the most passionate people I have ever worked with. Pray for your Deacons as they are striving to answer the Lord’s call in so many situations. Pray for your Elders as they attempt to provide righteous shepherding and governance to our flock as we move forward in building our small piece of the Kingdom of Jesus. We are participants in the work of Jesus, by The Holy Spirit. We are not adding anything new to his plan. He is working – even now – and we need to seek him to discover how we might actively submit to the call to join him.
Here are important items that need your immediate prayers (not in order of precedence):
- Direction from the Spirit of Jesus to our Congregation and Leadership—what does Jesus want South City Church to do?
- The Preaching of the Gospel—that we will never slide into bad doctrine, no matter what the culture does or says. The Gospel as taught to us by the Holy Spirit is our guide and our testimony. Pray that we will continue to hold it up as our banner, and cling to it as our daily bread.\A Heart for the Gospel—that we never be satisfied with just preaching the Gospel, but living out the Gospel in our every day life, among friends as well as strangers.
- Humility—South City Church doesn’t have all the answers, we have a lot to learn from other Christians, and yes, even non-Christian agencies. 2109 S. Spring Ave. is not the single location where people will find God’s truth.
- Racial Injustice —the Gospel is good news about God’s reconciliation to sinners through Jesus’ work on the Cross, but it is also about reconciliation between those who hate each other and need to be brought together in one Uncommon Family. Racism has made a mess of the United States since its founding. Only the Gospel of Jesus can fix it. This is a tough issue for many of you, and it could drive you out of any church, especially a PCA church. But I would challenge all of us to trust Jesus and hold on. The Holy Spirit has called us to move toward each other, to hunger for humility and listening in love.
- Mercy—how are we reflecting the love of Jesus to our South City Community? Do we really care about the orphaned, the widowed, the poor and the underprivileged? Do we? Really?
- Children and Youth—are we really ALL committed to loving and discipling children and youth at every level? All of us? Really?
- Community Groups—I confess that I am not in one, so even I need to change my behavior. My house is the church’s off campus site where people meet to talk over different issues. We all need to practice communing together in our homes.
- Justice—how does the church confront systems that victimize and oppress the marginalized in our community. We must understand how and why we must speak truth to those in government and law enforcement.
- Honoring Fellow Image Bearers —how do we address the sanctity of life from the womb to the tomb?
- “The Foreigner”— Are we honoring God’s call to embrace the immigrant and the refugee?
- Discipleship and Mobilizing — are we committed to teaching and learning from each other? How can we make more time for training and fellowship? Are we practicing grace and truth and humility
- Honoring Single People —the church must speak into how Singles are cared for without making single Christians feel out of place. Are meaningful friendships happening among our single people? Between single people and married people… and families? The Lord has made us a family, are we truly behaving that way?
- Pursuing our neighbors – how are we representing Jesus in the Shaw neighborhood? How are we engaging and inviting our neighbors to consider our church home their home as well? Do our nearby schools, fellow churches, Alderpersons and Council Members know who and where we are?
- Sexuality—what do we do when we don’t know what to do in this area? How are we addressing same sex attractions? Do brothers and sisters who have same sex attractions feel cared for and instructed in a way that honors their humanity and value?
- Volunteers – 15% percent of our church family does 80% of the ministry work. This is not sustainable. We must honor and engage these lay people who lead, support, love on and pray for our church family every day. We must strengthen discipleship and fellowship in order to change.