Me? Move to Gaylord, Michigan? I have to be honest…at first glance it didn’t seem like the best fit. I had never golfed or fished. I don’t ski or snowboard. And I had never in my life even owned, let alone used, a snow blower. But after my family and I visited on the weekend before Christmas (2010) God sealed in our hearts that this was exactly where He was leading us and we are thrilled be living here in Gaylord and to be part of the E-Free family. In the 9 months since I came to Gaylord I have seen many strengths that this church has and that we can build upon for the glory of God. Let me highlight just four of them:
First, is the rich history of being an outward focused church. All churches “talk” about being outward-focused, but few churches really are outward focused. Pastor Jim has truly been used of God these past 24 years in leading E-Free to be outward focused and that is a history that is unique and one that we are blessed to have.
Second, E-Free Church has an exceptional reputation in our community. When my family visited for the first time in December 2010, we spent a lot of time in the community asking people what they thought about E-Free church. Every comment, without exception, was positive. One greeter at Meijer (who attends a different church) said, “That church is the best thing this community has going.” The sad truth is that if most churches shut their doors today, the community around them would not even notice. This is not the case with E-Free. If we were to close our doors today our community would feel the impact greatly.
A third strength is the amazing amount of lay people involved in leadership throughout our church. From Elders to Leadership Team members, to Ministry Team leaders and more, so many are involved in leading the different ministries within our church. These lay people really are the backbone of our church. Along with full-time jobs, families, and all the other pressures of life, they still choose to lead within our church!
A final strength I will mention is a team of committed staff members. From our Pastoral Staff to our paid Ministry Leaders, to our Administrative Team that works in the office, to our dedicated Custodial Team, we have a staff that is not only talented, but committed to the Lord and to the ministry of E-Free. What a thrill it is to be able to rub shoulders with them and partner with them daily in this place for the cause of Christ.
2011 has been a successful year of transition for our church. I believe that 2012 will be a successful year of continued ministry effectiveness. You are going to hear a constant theme in 2012. It will be easy to identify and remember. All you have to do is focus on the letters “M&M”! What does that mean? You will find out in the year to come.