From the Pastor

Dear friends,

I’m not sure what gives some people more courage than others, but it’s a character trait I’ve often envied.

From the wide receiver who leaps for the perfect catch to the first responders rescuing folks stranded by Hurricane Florence, there’s something about risking it for the sake of the play — or for the sake of the other.

Let me introduce you to Stacey Shafer. Well, “introduce” might not be the right word since Stacey has been around St. John’s for a long, long time. Let me introduce her as our new Children’s Minister.

What a courageous decision she’s made!

Not that it’s risky. Stacey’s been around long enough to know the DNA of the congregation. She knows the parents and kids and staff, the highs and lows, the challenges and opportunities.

And that’s the thing. To be honest, this isn’t an easy time to be in children’s ministry. It’s a conversation going on all around the country. Families and kids are stretched for time and attention. Traditional models don’t seem to be working and churches are scrambling for “the next best idea.” I read a statistic recently that US Sunday School attendance among children has dropped by over 50 percent in a generation. Young parents with kids are twice as likely NOT to go to church as their parents.

That’s not to be discouraging. “It’s just the fact, ma’am.”

It’s also a challenge. Is it worth it?

Think about it this way. It’s 3rd and long deep in Panthers territory. Are Cam Newton and Devin Funchess gonna pack it up and head for the showers? No way. This is what they play for. This is when it gets fun!

I know, I know, Stacey isn’t facing third and long and this isn’t a rescue mission for hurricane survivors. But I would contend that this is an exciting time to be in children’s ministry if you’re the courageous type … if you like a challenge … if you’re eager, deep in your heart and soul, to help make a difference in the lives of our children and families.

One thing is certain: Stacey isn’t a one-person show. She’s part of a team that includes parents, her supervisor (Pastor Laura), church staff, and others who want to be part of a new movement in children’s ministry. It’s going to be hard work. There will be ups and downs, successes and, well, non-successes (my new word for the month).

But it’s worth the effort. And Stacey — the mother-of-three, loving-wife, ever-happy, cancer-survivor — is courageous and determined.

And she’d love to welcome you to the team. There’s no doubt she needs some fellow-travelers, men and women who are, likewise, eager to make a difference in the lives of our kids. She needs some folks to join her on this new movement.

Interested? Give her a call. She’d love to chat.

Thanks so much for your work in the garden. Isn’t this a great place to be?

Pastor Rhodes


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