In the past year we have heard countless stories of people who have joined our community and expressed their thankfulness to be a part of what God is doing at Good News, and they’ve shared with us their stories of how God is making them new. Those stories are represented here through so many names, numbers, and exciting things that are happening at Good News.
In 2018 we have over 200 visitors, people who have walked through the doors of Good News for the very first time, and out of those 200, and among those who have been with us, we have welcomed 31 new members, a highest, ever, in the history of Good News, and the cool thing is: we’re not even done with the year. In addition to those 31 new members, we’ve celebrated 7 infant baptisms, and 15 adult baptisms, and others who are also showing interest in following Jesus in baptism. In 2018 we’ve worked hard towards helping others take their next step in following Jesus, in the fall of 2018 we have rebranded and relaunched our membership process, which was formerly known as Foundations, and have launched Growth Tracks, which has gone through (3) successful rotations and have helped our people take their next steps in growth. In 2018 we’ve seen our Sunday service attendance grow by 13% over last year, and on one of my favorite days out of the whole year, we welcomed almost 800 people to our Easter services.
This year we made the decision to focus the majority of our time and energy on being a church that makes disciples who make disciples, and we do this primarily through our Missional Communities. In 2018 we started three new missional communities, with one of our missional communities birthing two new groups, and one starting from scratch, helping connect 44% of our congregation into a missional community, which is a 12% increase from the summer of 2017. Out of those missional communities we have witnessed couples grow in their emotional health, awareness of where God is working, and have seen people take monumental steps in their faith as they teach and lead others from within their missional community. What happens in the missional community does not just stay there, instead we have families who are developing new, healthy rhythms of prayer, study, sabbath, and worship -- some of these families are breaking generational patterns of discipleship and discipling their children for the very first time.
In 2018 we’ve blossomed beyond our local impact and have become a regional training center through events like: The Global Leadership Summit, Empowered to Connect, and the IF: Gathering. In addition to being a regional training center, there have been many exciting developments on our own home front. In 2018 Good News and its men’s ministry launched its first ever Men’s Retreat, hosting almost 30 men for an intense dive into life together and life in the scriptures. The Men’s Group has been a recurring brightspot throughout 2018.
God has blessed us immensely in 2018. Through the generosity of Good News, we hope to see December 2018 result in our best-ever financial year, hoping it tops a record breaking 2017. This summer we received our largest summer offering ever, totalling over $36,000.00, which helped pave the way for global missions as we’ve developed into a sending congregation as we prayed for the Popken family who recently moved to Hawarden, IA; we’ve built partnerships with Back2Back Ministries in Mazatlan, Mexico; supported Megan Struthers in her trip to Honduras; and have watched KC and Samantha Livermore catch a missionary heart for the people of Mazatlan, Mexico. That special offering has also paved the way for reaching families and kids from hard to reach places through the development of our sensory room and in equipping each room with sensory needs. To our current knowledge, we are the only church in our area to offer this type of support to families and kids in need.
Good News has faithfully modeled what James 1.27 says is “pure and undefiled religion” through our support of Kaden’s Kloset, which recently was nominated for the Valero Charity Award in Hartley, IA. It’s through ministries like Kaden’s Kloset that we’ve seen Good News members, and folks outside of our congregation, bring the healing and hope that only Jesus can provide.
Our heart for loving and serving people is becoming more and more known throughout our community. Most recently, Celebrate Recovery outgrew their space, and moved into our sanctuary on Tuesday nights. CR continues to be a beacon of hope for many in our area and we’re thankful for the passion they share in continuing that ministry.
In 2018 we made a step of faith to not continue in Wednesday evening children’s programming, but instead working towards whole-family and whole-community discipleship through missional communities. Not only have we seen our missional communities increase in participation by 12%, we have seen steady attendance in our Junior High and High School Wednesday night student ministries, where over 50 kids are involved in peer-to-peer discipleship every week.
One of the greatest joys in 2018 was the hiring of our new worship pastor, Brennon Kok, and welcoming him, Jordyn, and Elijah into our family. Since hiring Brennon our worship team has developed a songwriting team and we’re over 3/4 of the way finished with our first ever Good News worship album, with all original music written by Good News worship team members.
I am incredibly thankful for the amazing staff we have in Anthony Parrott, Kelli Achenbach, Steve Petty, Brennon Kok, and many don’t know this, but we’ve adopted Tina Vande Hoef and Jeff Berkland as one our own, only adding to the richness of the Good News Staff. I’m incredibly thankful as well for our discerning leadership team and executive team who works tirelessly behind the scenes, without a whole lot of thanks, for the ministry of Jesus and for all of you. The congregation is more loved by those groups of leaders far more than they realize.
Above all else, we’ve seen an amazing movement of the Holy Spirit at Good News. Supernaturally, God is up to something here and we are more than delighted to pursue more of what He has for us. In 2019 we’re looking for an increased year of faithfulness as we continue to respond to Jesus and His call of discipleship in the life of our church.